Why Do I Roll Better With Higher Belts And Roll Worse With White Belts?

Is it normal to roll better with higher belts than lower belts?

According to Professor Nick “Chewy” Albin, yes. This is surprising because, obviously enough, higher belts are generally better than lower belts.

But if you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense. Higher belts may play down their techniques when rolling with lower belts — especially if there is a huge gap between them and the lower belts they are rolling with. Most black belts are not going to smash their white belt teammates during open mat.

However, because the higher belt might not be putting the effort into defending herself, and because she might even be intentionally falling into her lower belt partner’s submission “traps”, she is more likely to get submitted. And even if she doesn’t get submitted, the lower belt may think the trap works.

As Professor Albin explains:

If you and I rolled, there’s no point in me just smashing you. What do I get out of that? But if I’m someone…like… I get a lot of value out of 1) maybe playing around with techniques and going a little bit slower to think about what I’m doing or trying new stuff that I’m working on. And also, I get to sort of, like, the sense of helping someone out by slowing it down a little bit and helping you along just like someone helped me along.  

Lower belts, however, are fighting for their very survival up against you:

They don’t have that ability to simply stop you from beating them, right? They’re fighting like life and death because they know if you get into a good position it might be possible for you to beat them. 

So, if you’re a blue belt and you just swept a brown belt, don’t excited. He may just be going easy on you.

Check out Professor Nick “Chewy” Albin’s post below…

… and stay humble, no matter who you “beat.”


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