Why Would An Upper Belt Only Roll With Lower Belts?

Reader Question: Hello I have a question, I’m a one stripe blue belt, what do you do about people who ONLY, rolls with lower belts?

Jiu-Jitsu Times: I have never seen a serious student of BJJ who only rolls with lower belts. In fact it usually is the opposite where enthusiastic students want to get smashed by more experienced belts!

When I hear that someone only wants to roll with less experienced belts, I have an immediate bias that they may be protecting their ego. They may be seeking rolls where they can control their opponent, dominate the positions, and not risk getting submitted, leaving their fragile ego intact. This may or may not be the case in the situation with the student in question.

I don’t like to attribute a negative motivation to what someone else is doing, but anyone who has been around the BJJ school for a while has witnessed first hand guys who struggle with the force of their own ego on the mats.

There are valid reasons where a colored belt may look to roll with lower belts.

They are trying to incorporate a new position into their jiu-jitsu.

Royler Gracie said that when one is trying out a new technique, it will most likely fail against an opponent of similar skill. Royler recommends training with the lighter, lower belts until you start to make the new technique work and then roll with a heavier lower belt. When it starts working there, move up to a lighter blue belt and so on.

Joe Rogan said that he felt the best way for more experienced guys to get good was to smash blue belts. As opposed to being smashed every day by mat monsters, rolling up blue belts is the best way for an upper belt to sharpen the killer instinct and submission skills, Rogan says.

The student enjoys helping newer students.

Part of what makes BJJ academies such friendly places is a culture where more experienced students help teach new students.

Most academies have a few more experienced guys who enjoy working with new students. It can be very satisfying to share some tips with new students and feel their enthusiasm. It is crucial to the health of any BJJ academy to have senior students assist the less experienced students.

That said, a BJJ guy who only chooses to roll with less experienced training partners is limiting their own progress. You need time with different body types and different experience levels to develop your offense and defense


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