Jiu-jitsu is a great sport for many reasons and one of them has nothing to do with the physical aspect of it. Everyone needs to be able to work well with others, communicate properly, and consider the best way to play their game. Every time you go to class, there is someone else to consider when drilling or rolling. Although everyone needs to be responsible for themselves when it comes to tapping, your partner is responsible for listening to any info you may give them. Did you ever have that favorite training partner that gives you a great roll? There is a great flow, you are able to go 100% without concern of them becoming to spazzy, and they listen to any concerns you have about healing injuries.
If you are returning from an injury and still a bit hesitant about rolling, you are responsible for tapping early. At the same time, it is not a bad idea to let your partner know, so they are aware of listening for a tap that may not be from a submission. It’s just a good idea to give them a heads up. Also, your partner may adjust their game accordingly, if your injured body part is in their game often.
When there is a size difference adjust your rolling so both of you get the most learning and practice out of the round. The bigger partner wants to continue to go for submissions, yet adjust their pressure as best as they can to match the weight of their opponent. This task may be difficult, especially for beginners which is why checking in with your partner is important. The smaller teammate needs to let their partner know if they are placing unnecessary pressure. To smash on someone smaller and barely going for submissions is not helping either partner.
If you do have a smaller opponent, it is a great opportunity to work on new skills that may be easier because of the weight difference. By doing so you get live practice which is more beneficial than just doing drills (although drilling is extremely important as well). On the flip side, there are sometimes moves/submissions that are more difficult to complete on smaller partners. You can improve your game by testing how tight your submission is on a smaller frame.
With any partner, move as smoothly as you can during your roll. We have all heard about the spazzy white belt which is common because they are beginners. Without much skill under your belt, you rely on defenses that don’t exist in jiu-jitsu. For the more experienced grappler, there is no reason to not be smooth and technical as you have the skill to do so.
If there is a significant difference in skill, I suggest a combination of letting them work some of the rounds on occasion and rolling as if you would with someone of the same belt. The lower belt gets plenty of practice on defense and also doesn’t get delusional about his/her skills with you. It is important that the higher belt continually goes for submissions and not just dominate in position just as you would with a weight difference. Both parties can get adequate practice with the higher belt working on new submissions and the lower getting proper defense work. I like to think,” How will we both get the most out of this roll?”. Do what best answers that question and you’ll be your favorite training partner.