Just Roll BJJ Mentality: Is Rolling Always A Good Idea?

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The most fun part of training BJJ also when you get to slap and bump and go for a roll. Everyone enjoys it, even when we’re on the losing end of a roll.  The thing with rolling is that it just so happens to also be the hardest part of Jiu-JItsu. While it may be fun and exciting to do, it takes atoll on both our bodies and our minds. That is precisely why these common just roll BJJ mentality can actually be detrimental both to your progress and the health of your body and mind. Sometimes, as it seems, skipping rolling might just be the best thing you can do! 

I know, I know, how dare I say that you should willingly and intentionally skip rolling. BJJ Blasphemy! Well, you can go right ahead and jump in the shark tank, but the fact of the matter is, you’ll just end up more tired, beaten up and you’ll feel like you’re hitting a plateau or even regressing. And that is not the truth. Al those times you’ve felt like you can’t accomplish anything has nothing to do with how much knowledge you have. It has to do with the I’ll just roll BJJ mentality that has you doing rounds even when your body is suggesting otherwise.

The Just Roll BJJ Mentality

Let’s take a look at this “let’s just roll BJJ mentality”, we all somehow seem to take upon the moment we step through a BJJ academy’s doors. Usually, in class, we get to warm up, work on techniques, perhaps drill or do some position sparring rounds, and then we freeroll. I have lots to say about his non-efficient model of training BJJ, but that is the subject for a future article.

I have been training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for 10 years and I definitely understand the draw of rolling. We all have that “itch” whenever we’re forced off the mats. However, let’s take a look at how things usually unfold when we take a vacation, for example.

The moment you stop training, and more importantly, rolling, the first few days you will miss it. You’ll think about it, talk about it and reminisce. After a few days, though, you’ll suddenly stop feeling that urge to get on the mats. That is you finally starting to listen to your body (albeit only because you have to) which has been telling you to give it a day or two off!

The just roll BJJ mentality is universal in our community. The problem with it is that as fun as rolling is, it doesn’t mean you’re learning stuff, improving yourself, or progressing in the sport. On the contrary, going for rolls just for the sake and fun of them can actually stall your progress and lead to all those pesky injuries we take for granted as BJJ athletes.

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How To Know If You Are Ready To Roll

The best way to get around that just roll BJJ mentality is to have a system in place that will allow you to decide whether or not you roll on a given day, and if you do, how hard you go. To achieve that, you’ll need to use a grading system.

Basically, you need to develop your own personal daily grading scale. That scale refers to the answers you will give to predetermined questions which assess your mental and physical preparedness on any given day. Conversely, this assessment will provide you with realistic feedback as to whether you’re really ready to roll or not.

Example of a grading scale: Score from 1(bad) to 3(great) or a color-coded scale (green, yellow and red). 

Next, you need to formulate actual questions that will help you determine whether or not you are ready to roll. In that sense, you can use pretty much whatever you want, but there are universally accepted assessment questions that will provide you with the best insight into your current state.

#1. Assess Your Mood

The mood is a great determinant of how we go about our day. Some days are just “not our day” and that should be a factor when it comes to training. Using the scale above, make sure you assess your mood first. Are you happier than usual, or are you feeling a bit down? Are you irritable and bad tempted or laid back and chilled? Knowing what state you are in makes a huge difference in how you perform on the mats.

#2. Assess Your Body

This is probably the most straightforward assessment. Now, as BJJ athletes we do live in pain most of the time, but that is just another side effect of the just roll BJJ mentality. Do you know those days when you wake up tired, stiff, and sore? Well, instead of “pushing through” at all costs, stop and use the grading scale to assess the state of your body. Of course, it may go the other way too when you’re feeling lively, rested, and full of energy.

#3. Assess Your Energy Levels

Speaking of energy, next on our list of assessments are your levels of energy for the day. If you are trying to sleep as much as you can and can’t crawl out of bed, feeling tired, and can’t keep your eyes open, you will score the lowest on your grading scale. On the other hand, feeling joyful, waking up early feeling energetic and positive will earn you a top score!

#4. Assess Your Stress Levels

Of all the assessments, this one is the most difficult to figure out. Stress is with us constantly in the modern lifestyle and actually grading it will help you in all aspects of life, not just Jiu-Jitsu. You already know how you feel and act when you’re stressed. You could be lazy, anxious, irritable, sad, or everything else. Just make sure you’re honest in your assessment and grade your stress levels appropriately. Stress is one of the biggest reasons why the just roll BJJ mentality results in so many dumb injuries.

#5. Assess Motion And Movement

This one is a purely physical assessment. It ties in with how your body is feeling and usually works off of that assessment, which is why assessing the overall state of your body and what it is “telling you” comes first.

How do you figure out whether you’re ready to roll? Easy. Pick three movements that are specific to the sport. For example, bridge, hip escape, and a technical stand-up. Perform 5 repetitions of each and assess how you’re feeling while doing them, and how your execution is.

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What If You Skip Rolling Today?

The basic idea behind using self-assessments is to make sure your mind and body are ready for the stress of rolling. The just roll BJJ mentality can only get you so far in terms of progress. If you want to keep getting better at Jiu-Jitsu all the time, you will need to make every roll count. Sometimes, that might mean going for slow/flow rolls or even skipping rolling altogether. It will all depend on the self-assessment covered above, which is something you should do every morning.

How do you come to the conclusion whether or not you are ready to roll based on the assessments? You look at the scores for every assessment and see the “average” number or color you have used. If everything is perfect, you’re ready to go all out and do competition-style rolls without any concerns. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, one or two flow rolls should be the maximum, and an even better idea would be to just hang back and watch people roll and give yourself a rest. When you are in between, the style and number of rolling rounds should be appropriate to your score.

Lastly,. keep in mind that assessments in the morning usually give you an idea of how your day goes, but they are not always spot on. Going to BJJ sometimes results in such a significant swing in your mood and overall state that you end up feeling much better after you leave class. Going to class even on a bad day is a no-brainer. the only thing to keep in check is your just roll BJJ mentality and ego that comes with it.

Wrapping Up

All in all, assessing yourself every morning might sound like a chore. It takes literally five minutes or less to go through everything for the checklist. It will also give you a great insight into your overall state and will help you figure out how you’re going to deal with the day ahead of you. If you’re about to have a hard day, and assessments are not good in the morning, you’ll at least know that stepping on the mats with the I’ll just roll BJJ mentality is only going to make things worse.