As both a teacher and competitor myself, I enjoy observing the room to see who is practicing Jiu Jitsu with the goal to win vs who is practicing with the goal to improve. I must admit that for the first few years of my training, I thought every roll was a competition. I viewed my training partners as opponents. Over the long haul, and as a result of this mentality, I experienced stagnation in my development for extended periods of time. However, when I started to practice BJJ deliberately, I saw a noticeable increase in my skill development.
If you’re training with your partners it doesn’t mean you can’t submit them, it doesn’t mean you can’t do good against them, it doesn’t mean you have to play dead. It just means that your training is objective based. You’re training is intended to develop new skills or brush up and revisit old ones. You won’t find yourself counting points or reacting negatively giving up position or getting submitted. You’ll find yourself leaving you’re comfort zone to explore new territories of skill.
Signs you’re training WITH your Partners
– You’re working on building new areas of skill
– You’re willing to leave your comfort zone to develop new skill sets
– You don’t mind putting yourself in bad spots to work out of
– You don’t react to being submitted with aggression or excuses
– You don’t ‘play dead’ when you’re going against a much lesser skill level
– You’re committed to the overall development of your skill
– The roll ‘slows’ down so you can see the bigger picture
– Your goal for the long term is skill development
Signs you’re training AGAINST your partners
– You’re committed to only working your proven skill sets
– You’re not willing to make yourself vulnerable at any time
– You’re rolls consist of ‘point counting’ in your head
– You react to being submitted with immediate aggression or excuses
– You don’t work well with noobs because you play dead
– Your committed to instant gratification as opposed to long term skill development
– Your goal is to WIN! WIN! WIN! ‘POOOOOORRRRRAAA!!!”
Now, I’m not here to say I don’t believe in hard, competitive training, because I definitely do. I believe that competitive training is good and indeed necessary; especially if your going to compete. But competition training has its time and its place. It doesn’t have to be an ‘everyday porrada’ type of thing. Depending on how frequently you train, or if you’re getting ready for a competition you can always adjust the type of training.
It’s a lot easier to leave your comfort zone on lesser experienced training partners then it is against superior training partners, but you can still roll with superior training partners, the benefit of being in a “with” mindset is you’re no longer caught in the chaos of having to go 150% with little results against a more experienced training partner. Sometimes the best thing to do is slow the roll down, it may even throw off your more experienced training partner.
Here’s a quick story to highlight the method of rolling with your training partners…I was in a training room with several high level blackbelts. One of the blackbelts was there to lead the session, but was resting that day. As he sat on the sidelines observing the practice, he said to another blackbelt at the end of a roll, ‘How do you do it? How do you train everyday?’ The other blackbelt smiled and said ‘Its easy, I train with my partners. I’m not afraid to tap or put myself in bad positions. When I’m tired, instead of taking the day off, I train with my partners.”
Here’s a great quote from Rickson Gracie on the matter:
“Even when you spar during training, you should minimize your natural talents. By limiting yourself, you may find yourself in a much worse situation, but you are forced to think your way out, using techniques you would not have otherwise used. When you start doing this, you begin to understand what is really wrong in a certain situation and you begin to understand what actually needs to be done in a technical way in order to improve the situation. You then begin to develop a real, deep progress, understanding the mechanics of any situation.
It is important to remember that in a serious fight or in a competition, the mechanics of the fight will be exactly the same as when you are training in a gentle manner. The only important difference will be your mental attitude. When you train, you should put more emphasis on learning than on competing with your partner.
You don’t learn when you are fighting, bringing in all sorts of tension and emotion. You learn when you are having fun, training in a smooth and gentle way. You need to work on improving your technique until you are comfortable in any situation. Eventually, you will develop a subconscious understanding of the techniques and they become reflexes. Only after you have done all this you are ready to take your natural abilities “off the shelf” and add them back into your game. Now the effectiveness of the technique will be at least ten times better.”
– Rickson Gracie