Is There Value To Being Mean And Rough In Training?

At EBI last night Vagner Rocha made a pretty clear statement: for some there’s nothing gentle about the gentle art.  There’s something to be said about Vagner’s tactics, and there’s something to be said about training both to inflict those tactics on others, and learning to cope with an opponent willing to use those rough tactics.

Being rough in training isn’t for everyone.  When rolling with someone for the first time or when rolling with someone more fragile, rolling rough is a recipe for disaster.  However, everyone should find a handful of training partners that they can torture, and everyone should find a handful of training partners that can torture them.

It is crucial if you are going to use pressure and pain compliance that you get a feel for how another person may react.  I’ve seen people react by shutting down and tightening up, making submissions far harder to attain. I’ve also seen people become extremely explosive and unpredictable in an attempt to relieve some of the awfulness being inflicted upon them.  My professor, Pablo Castro, always tells a story about when he was in college and there was a local bar that had a bear that people could wrestle, and the only person who was able to defeat the bear used finesse in doing so, simply coaxing the bear to relax and then getting the pin.  If you use pressure and pain compliance, there’s a chance you will awaken the bear in your training partners and opponents.

It is also important to learn how your body reacts to the shock of pain compliance.  One of my coaches, Sean Daugherty, a catch wrestler and leg lock specialist, will do certain things to cause me to open up, like for example shin on face. When I do open up to relieve some of that pressure, he uses those openings to improve his position.  A major part of the benefit of training with him is learning how to relax when in pain, and learning to intelligently counter what he’s doing.

Pain isn’t necessarily permanent, and pain doesn’t have to cause injury. There’s a difference between hurting training partners and injuring them.  One method that Vagner used at EBI last night was a forearm to his opponent’s face.  The chances of injuring someone or, for that matter, being injured by a forearm to the face are low.  However, it causes sudden pain and shock, which can evoke interesting reactions and subsequent transitions.

Many people choose to never train this way because it can potentially bring about hostility and can escalate.  For me, it is a great way to prepare for competition.  I need training partners to take me outside of my comfort zone because ultimately that translates to me not really being worried about what my opponent may do to me in competition.  At this point, there’s not much that opponents can do to me that I don’t have done to me on a regular basis at the gym, and I spend enough time focusing on these “dirty” tactics that when I get out on the competition mat my opponents are often unprepared for what I am bringing with me onto the mat.

Rough training isn’t for everyone, but the desensitization and stress inoculation that it offers those who go with it are valuable.

For those of you who train rough, what benefits do you see?  And for those of you who don’t why don’t you?


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