The moment that buzzer goes of in the gym, and you slap and bump everything else seizes to exist. You’re in a situation where even the slightest of motions can have dire consequences. Well, it might have dire consequences if it were real. Instead, you’re just a part of a roll, which is how we call BJJ sparring rounds. Rolling is as close to competition level, or a real fight for that matter, as you can get in a safe manner. Unlike most other martial arts, rolling in BJJ is live training where you can do everything within the boundaries of the sport. That said, as chaotic as rolling seems, especially during scrambles, there is a certain amount of order to it. And the only way to maintain that order is through some simple Jiu-Jitsu rules. Most of them are unspoken ones, but not unimportant by any means.
Brazilian Jiu-JItsu, as an art is based on a few basic rules. Respect, loyalty, safety etc, are usually in the creed of most academies across the globe. Beneath the few cardinal rules, there are a bunch of others. They pertain to behavior off the mats, how you act during class, what to do and what to avoid. Every aspect of training, from the warm up to technical drills has a set of rules that give meaning to it. Jiu-Jitsu rules help maintain the structure of the class and ensure progress. On the back end of most classes, is, of course, rolling, which many people regard as the “now I can do everything” part. Nothing can be further from the truth!
There are certain JIu-Jitsu rules, that, just like stated above, should even be beyond mentioning. When it comes to rolling, two of them take center stage with no competition whatsoever. The first thing is respect, without which there’s no productive environment to train in. Especially when it comes to free rolling, where no one can predict the correct outcome for sure. Next up is safety. When we roll, we allow our partners to use our body for a certain purpose. Our bodies are the most prized possessions we own, so getting them back safe is of the utmost importance. Respect and safety might be regarded as the cardinal Jiu-Jitsu rules, especially when it comes to rolling. Following them are osm very sensible, yet often overlooked, unwritten rule that can make rolling as pleasant or unpleasant as it can get.
Rolling Jiu-Jitsu Rules
You wouldn’t want to go to class, learn cool techniques, drill them, and then end up injured in the first minute of rolling. Of course, you wouldn’t, nobody does. It defies the point of Jiu-Jitsu. Rolling is a great tool for grapplers to put their new (and old) skills to the test. Rolling brings us closer to competition intensity and allows us to refine our game. It puts us under tremendous pressure, requiring quick thinking in order to solve complex problems.
However, as free-flowing and open as rolling might be, we need to keep things civil. After all, if we do not abide by certain Jiu-Jitsu rules, we’ll be in a full-blown battle every time we roll. And, as you know, doing that is virtually impossible as injury rate s skyrocket when people do not take accountability for what they’re doing during a roll. Jiu-jitsu rules are there for a reason, and that reason is simple – progress. There’s hardly any progress without rolling, and there’s no rolling without an efficient and safe manner of executing it.
Technical Rolling Rules
While some technical Jiu-Jitsu rules are universal, most are down to the academy you’re training at. By technical rules we mean the moves you can and cannot do, to begin with. For example, going for heel hooks while in a Gi class is usually unacceptable, unless stated otherwise. While you’re rolling with people who are trying to get ready for an IBJJF competition, it is completely counterproductive to use moves that they won’t encounter.
Furthermore, you need to be careful what techniques are used at what level. As far as Jiu-Jitsu rules go, when two partners of different levels roll, the rules that apply to the higher belt apply to both. So if a blue and a brown belt roll, the blue belt can go for kneebars and toeholds, for example. Rolling with people that have no experience should also merit some care. Going for stuff like inside heel hooks or spinal submissions on people who have no idea what they’re doing is just plain stupid. Leave your hardcore moves for more epxerienced grapplers.
There’s a code of conduct in BJJ that most people have no problem following. Until it is time to roll. It seems people take the freedom of rolling all too literally sometimes. Common gym etiquette should still be upheld while rolling. For example, shouting and talking while rolling is not acceptable at all. In that sense, even talking, apart from absolutely necessary, has no place during sparring.
Explaining techniques is a hugely annoying thing. There are certain people that simply enjoy explaining everything or even coaching. When you’re rolling, keep your mouth shut and try to apply your gameplan.
Apart from staying quiet, also show a basic appreciation for your partner. BJJ is though sport to train on a regular basis and many people have injuries. Ask your partner if they have any nagging problem and state one of yours if you have it. When you start the roll, make sure you do not go for the injured body part, even if it is your favorite move we’re talking about.
Rolling With The Opposite Sex
There are always two sides to the story for this one. For all guys out there, pay attention to what you’re doing but do not treat the ladies like they’re made out of glass. They’re training grappling just like you and the same Jiu-Jitsu rules apply during rolling. Give your female training partners good an challenging rolls in order to help them progress. Being decent and applying good etiquette goes without saying.
Ladies, you make sure you don’t give the guys a reason to treat you differently. make sure you keep your hair tidy so that both male and female grapplers do not end up pulling on it by mistake. Also, do not avoid rolling with male partners. It is a great way to gain valuable experience and a clear edge over your competition. Oh, and do not hold back when you’re crushing the guys.
This one is a staple of Jiu-Jitsu rules in general, but with rolling, it gets a whole different meaning. Imagine if your partner had a smelly and dirty Gi, came in without showering for days and sporting talon-like nails. That’s one roll that won’t be fun, let me tell you that! Furthermore, make sure you’re not sick, or having any wounds or skin conditioning when you go rolling. If you’re sick, stay at home, and with skin conditions, make sure you cover them up completely if they’re not contagious.
Having other people’s sweat drip all over you while you’re entangled in a Gi is bad enough. having to endure panic-inducing close contact, sweat and bad hygiene are unbearable. Respect your training partners and keep yourself clean!
This is probably one of the most important things gets on people’s nerves. Not everyone is training to be a world champion. Actually, not everyone can train like that. If you’re a higher belt, looking for competitive rolls, make sure you choose the right partners. Going all out with the 50-year-old blue belt with a spinal hernia is not going to win you any courtesy points. Figuring this out is easy – ask your partner if they’re okay with you acting like it;’s the Pans final.
And, all you lower ranked students out there, once again, remember that spazzing ut is not going to get you anything, Apart from less training partners of course. While its understandable for completely new students, others should look to loosen up. Spazzing during every roll is going to get you exhausted and or hurt, and it’s going to do the same to your partner. Save all that enthusiasm for the competition mats.
If there’s one thing you can do to make sure you calm down during rolls it is to improve your technique. There’s hardly a better way to go about it than with the “High Tech BJJ In The Gi” DVD set by none other than Tom DeBlass. Just like the name suggests, Tom focuses on technique in extremely high detail, going over all the common positions in BJJ.
Visitors / Visiting
Jiu-Jitsu rules in regard to rolling with people that are visiting your academy can’t be simpler. You’re not there to prove to the “outsider” that you can beat them. Jiu-Jitsu globetrotters rarely travel looking for challenges. Instead, they like the experience of rolling with different people (not competing) and exchanging knowledge. Plus, imagine how you’re going to feel when you visit an academy where everyone’s trying to kill you. Especially if one of the members have previously visited your academy. Once again let’s stay civil and train respectfully.