Do You Take Rounds Off To Rest During Live Training?

The owner of another BJJ blog, Guillaume Huni, made a Facebook post recently regarding people who take rounds off during live training. It got me thinking about whether or not this sort of behavior is acceptable…

Here’s Guillaume’s post:

During training, if you sit out a round because you’re tired, it’s a waste of precious training time. When you roll/spar tired, that’s where the magic happens. That’s when you use the real Jiu-Jitsu without all your physical attributes. When I’m really tired I just defend and work on my escapes. It’s always better than sitting on the side. Ps: Nobody cares if you tap. Every single one of my students including all my white belts have tapped me out.

For starters, let’s look at some instances in which taking rounds off is perfectly fine:

  1. If you have a health condition.  Different people come to jiu jitsu in different levels of physical fitness.  Maybe you just had surgery.  Maybe you have heart issues and are feeling wheezy or light headed.  I’ve taken rounds off because I thought I may be injured and was testing the range of motion of the joint I thought was injured just to play it safe.  It’s better to take a round off today and train tomorrow than have to take a month off because you exacerbate a minor injury.
  2. You ONLY do jiu-jitsu for fun.  Not everyone who trains jiu-jitsu does so to compete or to become “street ready.”  Some people purely train as a fun, social activity.  If you only do jiu-jitsu for fun and training that extra round would ruin your session or make you miserable, why do it?  Who do you have to prove anything to?

If you fancy yourself a competitor, and you take rounds off to rest, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

The truth is you don’t have to go full bore every single round.  When I am tired in training I may work on my defense, if I’m too tired to do that I’ll have my training partner make me as uncomfortable as possible in order to allow me to start feeling comfortable in bad positions.

It also prepares you for deep brackets in competition.

In competition, when you step out on that mat the first time, you feel fresh and ready. If you have a battle over the course of your first round, however, the second round will be rough; and if you are in a deep bracket, you may wind up being exhausted before the finals.  Spending time rolling when you’re already spent and ready to take a break is the best way to prepare for deep brackets and later rounds.

Also mentally seeing an opponent who has gone through a bracket and is not tired is mentally damaging to opponents.  Nothing’s worse than feeling exhausted, wanting your opponent to also feel exhausted, but seeing them visibly ready to take you on.

Another key point is that if you train jiu-jitsu for self-defense, training when you’re already exhausted instead of taking a round off will prepare you to fight off an assailant even after a long day.  The truth is that self-defense is never pretty, and situations in which it’s needed seem to never be opportune moments.  Pushing through exhaustion at the gym is a great way to prepare yourself for a real fight.

Do you take rounds off in training?  If you do, do you have a good reason for it?  Have you thought about it in depth?


  1. I’m a relatively-new white belt, and for me, taking rounds off when rolling is beneficial because I get to watch how other people link techniques together. Being able to see a fighter’s decision making process happen live is extremely helpful. When to hold on, when to bail, different ways to go after an opponent based on their reactions – all of this is pure gold and worth the potential reduction in cardiovascular gains to be had when continuing to roll.

    • Watch youtube videos of people rolling, no need to see it live and waste valuable rolling time. If there are other reasons you take rounds off that’s fine, but if you’re JUST taking them off to watch people roll you’re making a mistake IMO.

  2. After the age of 40, the balancing act between pushing yourself beyond your limits in order to improve and avoiding overtraining and injury becomes a bit tricky. It’s not black and white. You can’t just say that nobody should ever take rounds off. Everyone is different when it comes to this. Someone who’s been training / exercising the right way for years (and thus not wrecked their body) will have more resilience due to stronger connective tissue and / or superior technique. So, they might be better able to tolerate sparring when they’re gassed. Furthermore, choosing the right training partner becomes even more important when your already tired before starting your roll. A 20 year old blue belt who weighs 215 lbs and is aggressive might not be the best choice. Above all, you should listen to your body and live to train another day!

  3. I take a round off between rolls when I’m preparing for competitions. I find it puts me into much more of a competition mindset and speed. If I roll every round, I’m going to go about 50-70% most rounds, which is fine for regular training, but not to get ready for competition speed. By taking rolls off, I can go more than 90% every roll, which is better conditioning (HIIT) for me and more realistic preparation.


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