There’s a common thing with rolling Jiu-Jitsu attacks across all academies in the world. Well, around most, at least. White belts try to do them every chance they get. Of course, they do the horrible job of doing anything but getting stuck. Most old-school black belts fringe at the sight of white belts (or most other students) attempting such moves. And purple and brown belt competitors who follow modern BJJ simply thrive with them. While this is not a situation common to all, it is a pretty usual one. And it shouldn’t be. Not for all rolling Jiu=Jitsu attacks.
The things that make white belts stuck like fish in a net are the same that make black belts cringe. Rolling Jiu-Jitsu attacks do not always work, even if black belts are performing them. The reason for this is that some attacks are far from high percentage moves. This, in turn, raises the question of which of the rolling attacks are worth your time? Well, the old BJJ mantra “when in doubt, go with basics” is the answer here.
While rolling attacks do seem impressive and cool, they also need to be effective. By effective, I mean land you in a better position than your starting one. The best outcome is getting a submission straight away, but this is not always possible. The key is in finding a balance between rolling and having a clear-cut purpose for doing so.
Rolling As An Attack
Rolling as an attack is not an easy thing to do. While there are some rolling Jiu-Jitsu attacks that really work, they’re not for beginners. So, white and blue belts, stay away from rolling attacks, at least for the time being.
The goal of a rolling attack is to help you get into a better position to finish and/or control your opponent. In order to achieve this, you’ll need to not only know what you want but how to roll precisely to get it. Rolling requires you to part from the ground completely at one point, which can easily be used against you. You have to have clear intentions and know the shortest route possible.
As far as positions from where you can roll, surprisingly to some, you’re not restricted to the top, you can also use bottom positions for rolling Jiu-Jitsu attacks, sometimes even more efficiently. Regardless of position, you need to know how to set your body up for the roll. Even more importantly, you need to know how and where to anchor yourself. Which is where the grips come in.
And finally, if you ever have a hope of mastering rolling Jiu-Jitsu attacks make sure you drill them. If you need to drill basic BJJ moves 10 000 times, you’ll need to double that for rolling attacks. So get to work!
Rolling Jiu-Jitsu Attacks
Rolling Jiu-Jitsu attacks are actually nothing any. They’re just another means to an end in BJJ. The roll itself does not do anything but get you into an improved position. You could even go as far as looking at it as just a step or hand placement that opens up more opportunities. The thing to remember is that you need to start from a position of stability and control. You also want to end up in a position of even better control and/or stability. If you manage to slap on submission while you’re rolling, good for you.
In order to make things easier for everyone looking into rolling Jiu-Jitsu attacks, we focus on “just” four of them. yes, “just four” attacks but each one as secure as reliable as the Rear Naked Choke is.
As interesting as rolling Jiu-Jitsu attacks are, make sure you master the basics first. Kurt Osiander is a great coach to teach you the basics in an unorthodox way. His “Fundamentals Of A Jiu-Jitsu Renegade” DVD instructional is full of great moves that are as attractive as rolling attacks, but way simpler to master.
If there was ever a rolling BJJ attack that you could call “classic” it is the Kimura. This one is the most recognizable rolling attack from the top. the thing with the trolling Kimura is that it offers a lot more than just a Kimura position.
One great advantage of the rolling Kimura (and all rolling Jiu-Jitsu attacks from the top is that it brings you a bonus guard pass. It works against all kinds of open guards, ranging from De la Riva to the butterfly guard. The first thing you need is to have a leg deep in between the opponent’s legs. This is your base. Next, you’ll want to get a Kimura grip on the arm that’s on the opposite side of your leg. The goal is to place the shoulder that’s on the same side as the base leg on the ground first. Use your base leg as a power source for the roll.
The aim with all rolling Jiu-Jitsu attacks is to finish as close as possible to your opponent. With the rolling Kimura, you get an opening to take the back, or transition into a North-South Kimura after the roll.
Rolling Back Take
The rolling back take is also a recognizable BJJ move. It is a great way of obtaining the back from side control, half guard, or the mount. It is also a surprising move that most opponents won’t be expecting. However, it is, arguably, the most complex of all the rolling Jiu-Jitsu attacks we’ll cover today.
Let’s say you find yourself in your opponent’s half guard. The goal is to use the fact that one of your legs is in between theirs. You’ll want to fall to the hip on the side of your trapped leg. Make sure that you keep the leg inside theirs, and press your knee to their bottom hip. Also, make it a point to have the opponent on their side, and not on their back. For the roll, rach over and look to place your shoulder on the ground, while you grip their bottom leg with both hands. All you want to do now is go to your back and extend your legs.
While this roll gets you straight into back control, you also have a great attacking checkpoint along the way. Right after you get your back on the mats, you’ll be in the track position. From there you can go for leg locks, neck cranks, or get to the back. If you go straight for the back, you’ll end up with a Rear Naked Choke directly most of the time.
The rolling kneebar is great as a takedown or even as the move from the bottom. From the feet, you can do it reactively, if an opponent gets behind. You can also do it proactively, and position your body so that you hunt for it. From the bottom, you can use a multitude of guards to get into position for such a roll.
When on top, using any tie-up you want, the goal is to end up slightly sideways to your opponent. From there, you want to place one leg in between their legs, and one leg out. Once you do that, you want to face your body away from them. This is when you can abandon your tie-up and go for a roll. What you absolutely have to do is grab the leg you’re attacking while you roll. You’ll end up in a tight kneebar position straight away. Of course, you can easily transition into Inside Senkaku as well.
The rolling guillotine is one of those rolling Jiu-Jitsu attacks that have the wow factor. This is due to the fact that you need to be fast with it. It also has to do with the fact that you end up in the mount with a full-on choke.
Similar to the rolling Kimura, this attack works from any open guard variation out there. It might even work from certain half guards as well. The thing about this one is that you need to be fast. Otherwise, your opponent can easily get their head out and you’re left with nothing. A short and fast snap-down is all you need to get your grips in. Once you have them, you roll over the same as with the Kimura. This time though, you’ll end up in an inverted North-South position, where you can attack with a variety of front headlock attacks. Or, you could use the grips to roll back, ending up in the mount.