Is There Value To Resistance During Drilling?

Very often I hear people complain about a partner’s resistance during drilling. They feel that it slows the drill down and makes learning the move difficult.  To a certain extent, I agree that in order to properly learn a move you need to go through the motions first, but I think that way more than that, you need to learn to hit moves on resisting opponents.

You obviously can’t resist 100% during drilling because if you do so, your training partner will likely never get anything done.  As a partner your responsibility is to help the other person learn the technique, but learning a technique isn’t usually enough. One must internalize it.

I have a method that I ask my training partners to employ when I drill with them.  Initially I want the person to simply try to use their body position and raw physical strength to stop my technique.  That is to say: if I’m doing a scissor sweep I don’t want them to post or do anything to actually stop the technique, but I want them to be stiff and try to be balanced enough that I can’t sweep them.  That is how I initially learn any technique.

Once I’ve gotten the basic movements down, I want my training partner to start trying to defend the technique.  Initially they should do so with light, deliberate movements, “50% resistance.”  They should try to stop me if they see any technical flaws, but shouldn’t actively look to shut the technique down.  Once I am able to execute the technique perfectly against mild resistance, we kick it up a notch.

At this point, I ask that my training partners try to stop the technique without actively looking to advance their position.  They can post, they can brace themselves or frame, they can do whatever they want, but wherever we start the technique is where they remain until I succeed.  The idea here is to learn to use the technique against active resistance without worrying about the subsequent positional options.

Once this phase is complete we step it up even further.  At this point I want my training partner to actively look for openings.  This is the closest to situational rolling that I get when I drill.  I want my partner to actively seek opportunities to nullify my technique and advance their position.

Once I feel confidence in applying the technique against a close to fully resisting partner, I like to add in at least two transitions off of the technique, and depending on the technique I may add a transition leading into it.  So using the scissor sweep example, maybe I add a guard pull and an arm lock off of the sweep, or I may use a secondary sweep to set up the sweep I’m drilling.

I believe that drilling should always be done with some sort of resistance because if you are not experiencing resistance you will not be prepared to hit the move in a live roll.  I also feel that it is important to communicate clearly and precisely the nature of the resistance that you seek.

What are some drilling methods that you have found work for you?

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Emil Fischer is an active black belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training at Strong Style Mixed Martial Arts and Training Center near Cleveland Ohio ( and teaching at Ararat Martial Arts and FItness Center. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at and Emil is sponsored by Meerkatsu (, discount code EmilKatsu), Eddy's On Coventry, North Coast Cryo ( NottaRookie, YM ( discount code COOKIES), Defense Soap ( discount code COOKIES) Impact Mouthguards ( discount code EMILIMPACT), and North South Jiu Jitsu Underwear


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