Every BJJ Roll Spent Talking Is A Lost One


Are you getting annoyed with people when you roll? If that’s th case, you’re not the only one., Moreover, it would be very unusual if you weren’t getting frustrated. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be as much of a source of frustration as it can be fun and entertaining. Training JIu-JItsu is usually a positive experience, just as competing is a nerve-wracking one in most cases. However, there’s one aspect of Jiu-Jisu everyone universally enjoys, even when they can’t make a single thing go their way – rolling. As such, people mostly look at the fun factor of a BJJ roll and often miss the actual benefits of one. Of course, everybody knows you learn while rolling, but how exactly do you achieve this? Believe it or not, there are rules that you need to follow while you roll.

Remember that every time you slap and bump for a BJJ roll, you’re actually entering a social contract of sorts. You agree that you’ll look after your partner’s body, even though you’re simulating life or death combat as realistically as possible. Of course, safety is number one when rolling, and if you’re not respecting that you’ll end up kicked out of an academy. With most people, this is a no-brainer as nobody wants to get hurt. However, your duties as a good training partner don’t just end there. Rolling is only second to competition experience when it comes to the best ways to learn Jiu-Jitsu. So, how are you going to learn anything if you end up rolling with someone that just keeps on talking? Unfortunately, this is not such a rare occasion.

“Hanging Loose” and “Keeping It Playful”

Jiu-Jitsu is awesome! It is unlike any other martial art out there, in every sense of the word. It is the one sport in which you can compete in “all-out” and not get gravely injured. Moreover, it is a quite reliable and viable self-defense system, if that’s what you’re after. There’s also the option to train just for the fun of it, or even for the mental benefits. Whatever the case, BJJ is a real draw for all types of people.

A lot of this attraction can be attributed to the fact that Jiu-Jitsu is quite loose when it comes to the training atmosphere. Unlike traditional martial arts, you won’t find a lot of needless bowing, antiquated traditions or time-wasting. BJJ classes tend to be relaxed, quite informal, yet still, require a level of discipline. To that extent, the balance is somehow there in most academies around the world. However, there are still some glaringly obvious situations in which discipline is absolutely essential. Like the time an instructor is demonstrating a technique in class. Or, you’re doing drills with a partner. Or, during a BJJ roll.

Yeah, that’s right, rolling does not mean that everything goes out the window and you can shout, laugh and do whatever you want while you’re sparring. It’s not how BJJ rolling works. Phrases like “keep it playful’ or the ever-present “Hang Loose” are mainstays in BJJ, but they should not be taken out of context. Staying loose and playing refers to the technical part of rolling, not to your behavior while you’re doing so. After all, it takes two to roll, and your partner might not be in the mood to exchange stories about everyday life while doing so.

BJJ Roll Etiquette: “Chaos” Has Rules Too!

After you see your first share of rolls, you’ll probably think that there’s stuff happening that completely out of control. Some people are curious, some are scared, others are looking forward to the “chaos”. Well, that chaos actually has a perfect order to it. And with order come rules. Granted, compared to other martial arts they’re quite fewer, but they’re still there to be obeyed.

Talking is one huge thing that can derail every BJJ Roll. How can you presume that you can talk while you’re expected to solve everything that happens in a roll? If it was simply one person talking, maybe the roll would be able to go on. However, having to answer something to someone, as you’re trying to figure out how to deal with a spider guard is the last thing most people want. Talking, just like rolling, usually requires two willing parties. The thing is, these two don’t really mix together, and not just because of good rolling etiquette. Talking is simply a no-go when you roll – regardless if it is with a white or black belt.

And, while on the subject of talking, the same holds true for coaching. That should be understandable on its own but still merits specific mention. IF people talking are annoying, people trying to coach you while you’re rolling with them are insufferable. Don’t let me even get started on people that are of the same or even lower rank and try to coach. Or ask to be coached. Things alike drills and private lessons are there for a reason. Rolling is not the time to coach or look to be coached. When the rolling time comes, all you should hear is great Rock N’ Roll music on speakers, and the sounds of people rolling. NO talking, whatsoever, except yelling that you tap. Period!

Shut Up And Roll

Once again, a common BJJ phrase is “Shut Up And Roll”. If there’s one BJJ phrase that you need to take literally, it is this one. And it is easy! Let me tell you how. First, ask your partner if they have any injuries or things you should watch out for. Next, tell them the same about you. Slap and bump and for the next 5 to 20 minutes, or however long you roll, keep quiet and focus on the task at hand. It is hard enough and fun enough as it is.

The one major thing that you’ll disrupt while talking during a BJJ roll is the process of learning. Rolling in Jiu-Jitsu is very similar toa competition, just lower key. That means you’re robbing your partner of the ability to learn how to apply techniques in a setting that will massively benefit them when they actually compete. Moreover, you’re impeding your own progress by trying to make small talk or even technical talk during a roll. Even question asking should wait until a BJJ roll is over. How can someone learn an armbar if hallway through you start asking “what ifs” and “buts”?

Finally, there is the most annoying aspect of talking during rolling – using it as a submission defense. Starting to talk and explain once you’re caught is the one thing that’s as guaranteed to lose you, training partners, as is spazzing. Just accept that they got you instead of suddenly switching to coach mode and trying to explain things to everyone.

In the end, leave all the trash-talking for when you become a professional grappler. Trying to tell people what you’re going to do to them before or during a BJJ roll is not something most BJJ folks are into. Stay humble, have your fun, and keep your mouth shut. 

In Summary

While talking during a BJJ roll is a big no-no, it doesn’t mean you need to be all stuck up and acting like you’re a Samurai in ancient Japan. Stay relaxed, smile, be playful, just stay quiet during rolling. The odd laugh or two, or great job, when you get caught is perfectly okay. However, asking relationship advice or sharing stories about your pets is completely out of line while you roll. And the worst thing is trying to coach someone, whether it is genuinely or as an excuse. The solution is easy – shut up and train.