How Jiu Jitsu Classes Translate to Rolling

If you’ve taken a jiu jitsu class at Airlock Jiu Jitsu or elsewhere, you might have noticed the noticeable difference between the pace, resistance, and even the actual moves that you drill and learn in class versus the rolling (sparring) you do after. While classes focus on learning and practicing the techniques of jiu jitsu in a somewhat controlled manner, rolling is where techniques are put to the test. 

You could think of jiu jitsu like an iceberg. Any given class may show you the small piece of the iceberg above the water, but the roll may reveal all the things you aren’t even aware of under the surface. One concept that we explored in class last week had to do with the timing of a given jiu jitsu technique, and it may challenge or reframe your understanding of how we learn in class and apply while rolling. 

A jiu jitsu technique or ‘move’ in a class is broken down step by step into its components: Start here, control this hip, secure this underhook, step here, control this overhook, slide through to this position. Then you’ll practice that series of steps on a mostly unresisting partner, and they’ll practice back with you. Seems simple enough right? So why doesn’t it connect together that easily when we roll?

Well, first of all, when rolling, your partner is going to be actively resisting the technique that you are applying. And if they’re advanced enough, they’ll be actively seeking to apply their own techniques on you, which you’ll need to counter. But that’s not the only reason people get confused about applying a class technique to a roll. It’s also due to their sense of timing. 

When you drill a technique in class, the whole sequence may only take about 10 seconds to accomplish. You’ll learn it in small segments, but by the end of class, you can accomplish it on your partner in a mere moment of your time. But this changes when rolling, and your expectations should change as well. 

For instance, in the above example we were loosely referencing a knee cut pass. This pass takes maybe 5-10 seconds to go through at a controlled pace on an unresisting opponent. But in a live roll, each small move may take a lot longer to accomplish. You may spend 2 minutes of a 5 minute roll working through all the steps of a knee cut pass to reach side control. That doesn’t change the order of the steps or their importance, but it should change your expectation of how a technique in class compares to a real roll or even a real fight. 

Patience is a virtue when it comes to grappling, and there’s no better way to gain that patience than by consistent training! So what’s stopping you from getting on the mats this week? We know that we’ll be there learning and getting better.

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