Why You Should Sometimes Roll At 100% Intensity

Photo by: BJJPIX

A few days ago, I put out a post discussing the importance of not being a “practice champ.”  The notion is simple: if you’re going full speed, muscling things, only using positions in which you are competent and avoiding challenges at all times in training you will stagnate, be a dangerous training partner AND risk injury.  Bearing all of this in mind, there’s another side to this notion: if you want to get good at jiu-jitsu and grappling, you MUST sometimes put forth maximum effort, you must sometimes experience what it’s like to use strength and you must sometimes roll 100% like it’s the finals at world’s.

I want to preface this by saying that if you are trying to be the practice champ, treating every roll this way you are a risk to yourself and others and won’t get much out of rolling, but as with most things there is such a thing as a happy balance.  Also, if you don’t care about jiu-jitsu for competition or for self defense, this really doesn’t apply to you, this post applies to people looking to be able to use their jiu-jitsu against unwilling opponents who are trying to beat them either in competition or on the street.

You must find out if your technique works against a full resisting opponent, and the best way to do that is to find training partner who is willing to go 100% in training.  The flipside of this is that unless you are substantially more technical than the other person, you’ll need to use attributes that you may not want to use.  You might need to be a bit quicker, you might need to exert yourself more than you’d like to.

Ideally, your goal should be to do everything without exerting yourself, as exertion is part of muscling.  But you don’t see too many world champs get to that podium without sweating on the competition mat.  The reason for this is that competition jiu-jitsu requires athleticism AND technique, if either is lacking the competitor will perform poorly assuming their opponent is not also lacking in either.

Another real reason to at least occasionally train at 100% intensity is to force yourself into a “fight or flight” state to see how you react.  This is useful for both self defense and for competition.  If you and your partner are coming after each other full force, you will have to react quicker, you will have to use your grips differently and the whole experience will be completely different from normal rolling.

Choose carefully.

If you decide to go 100% with a training partner who doesn’t handle that kind of rolling well you may wind up hurting them or prompting them to get angry.  This kind of training generally works best with competitors, even if you yourself are not a competitor.  The respectful and safe thing to do is to discuss your plans to roll at a higher intensity with your training partner and make sure they are interested in that kind of rolling.

Everyone should sometimes go full speed and full strength on the mat.  If you’re not, you’ll have no idea whether or not you techniques actually work and you won’t know how your body reacts to that kind of stimulus.  Rolling hard can be uncomfortable, and should be reserved for people with the control and understanding to be able to feel and acknowledge the tap, so no, if you’re inexperienced this post is not directed at you.


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