Rolling In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Here’s The Type Of Attitude You Should Have

Before you cinch up your belt and fist bump to start a roll, what is the voice in your head saying?

“What is best in life? To crush your enemies. See them driven before you. And to hear the lamentations of their women.”

That is one approach!

Different people have different mentalities. Some keep it playful and some think “go hard or home!”

Some attitudes are productive in that they support what should be the primary purpose of rolling…improving your jiu-jitsu. Other attitudes are counter productive.

Here are two attitudes I have seen, one bad and one good.

“My goal is not to tap to this guy.”

While it is understandable that your goal might be to make it through a roll without getting submitted, especially if you are new to jiu-jitsu and have been the proverbial nail a lot more than the hammer, it may not be the most productive.

Why? Because it may cause one to tighten up, not take any chances, shell up and not move. The worst is to not try the techniques that you have been drilling. In other words, you don’t attempt anything; you simply try to survive to the end of the round and consider that some type of measure that you are getting better.

I recall one BJJ student whose rolling strategy was to get into the fetal position, clench his weight trained arms as tightly as possible, and just lay there as training partners worked to submit him. He never tried any of the techniques from class. His philosophy was to be as defensive as possible and he thought that if he somehow managed to not to get submitted, it was some validation of his jiu-jitsu skill. Needless to say, I don’t think this student improved one iota during his few months in the class.

“Let me see what happens if I try this move.”

This is a far better attitude to have. For these guys, they see rolling as a chance to try to work the techniques in their game. Sure, they could play only to their strengths and not get their guard passed or lose position, but that is not their mentality.

One 2nd dan in judo put on a white belt and started attending BJJ classes at my academy. Being new to the tactics on the ground he would get submitted, but it never bothered him. He shrugged it off and saw it completely as experimenting to what worked and what he needed to improve.

Some guys hate getting tapped or having their guard passed again and will curse and swear and throw their belt on the mat as they storm away in frustration. No one enjoys getting tapped, but some guys look at it as “just training”.

A training partner who later went on to win many professional MMA fights was rolling when he was a white belt with a much more experienced blue belt. Despite his enthusiasm, he was tapped several times by the blue belt, but it didn’t seem to dampen his enthusiasm one bit. It would have discouraged me, but his attitude when re-tieing his belt after tapping seemed to be “Okay, you got me. Now let me try it again.” That attitude served him well later in a pro fighting career.

Professional fighters must have an intensely competitive attitude to drive them through brutal training regimens and to put it on the line in competition. Yet I’ve witnessed many top level BJJ competitors and pro MMA fighters display an amazingly open attitude to tapping in training with their regular partners.

We as BJJ students can learn from those attitudes and think more of training to improve our jiu-jitsu and not about proving ourselves.

What is your attitude in rolling?


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