BJJ Rolling Guide for Beginners

Discussion in 'Grappling Technique' started by Balto, Feb 19, 2009.

  1. Balto Silver Belt

    Balto
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    This is a brief guide to rolling (free sparring) in BJJ. If you are new to BJJ, you might not know exactly what is expected of you during rolling or even what the rules are. The purpose of this guide is to help clarify that. This guide applies to gi BJJ and the rules surrounding it. The no gi rules differ somewhat.

    Unlike certain other grappling arts, rolling in BJJ is not usually done with 100% effort. Most of the time the focus is on relaxing and applying technique properly. As a default, use 50-75% of your effort and maintain control of your body at all times. If you wish to go 100%, ask your partner if that is okay before you roll. Do not go 100% without warning.

    Rolling in BJJ is also not usually considered to be competitive. Expect to trade taps with your partner and flow back and forth. Do not attempt to win at all costs. When you are submitted, do not become angry or frustrated. Respect the fact that you will make mistakes and have to fight out of bad positions sometimes. Do not stop rolling just because your partner is getting the better of you.

    Tapping is a very important skill to learn. When you tap, tap your partner repeatedly with your free hand hard enough that he can feel it. Do not tap the mat with your hand because your partner may not hear it. You may tap with your legs on the mat if you do not have a free hand. While you are tapping, say
     
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  2. Balto Silver Belt

    Balto
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    Just some background on the above:

    I've been seeing some weird stuff from some of the newer guys in our class during rolling lately. I know that sometimes it can be confusing for beginners to understand exactly what is and is not allowed during rolling and what the general expectations are. I thought that writing a clear and concise guide might help with that.

    I think it is pretty accurate, but I might be incorrect on a few things or missing some important stuff. Feel free to give me your input, and I'll edit the guide accordingly.

    Also, I just did BJJ since it's the grappling art I am most familiar with. However, I'm sure that these issues come up all the time in Submission Grappling, Judo, Sambo, etc., so perhaps someone with more experience in those arts can write a similar guide for them.
     
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  3. MIGUELOCO Blue Belt

    MIGUELOCO
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    Agree with everything except for crossfacing and digging the elbows into the thigh, should always be legal IMO
     
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  4. Balto Silver Belt

    Balto
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    Some schools disagree and will label you a spaz for doing that. Other schools have no problem with it. I grouped it in the sometimes allowed section for that reason.

    I tried to make the guide as neutral as possible on those issues and just state the facts. Those are a gray area in rolling, so instead of expressing my opinion on the gray areas I just wanted to advise the person to ask the instructor.
     
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  5. pittfrog Blue Belt

    pittfrog
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    Nice post
     
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  6. TyroneSlothrop** Purple Belt

    TyroneSlothrop**
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    yup. crossfacing is an integral part of bjj. it is perfectly ok to crossface for a purpose, such as posturing up. digging elbows into thighs are a part of opening the guard.


    so these should be in the always legal section (doesn't matter if you can find some bizarre school that frowns upon them, you can find some bizarre school that disagrees with everyhting, it still shouldn;t make the list)


    also, any leg attacks often vary depending on the belt of the person rolling. i'd say don't leglock whitebelts
     
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  7. MIGUELOCO Blue Belt

    MIGUELOCO
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    I guess, I only crossface in no gi.

    Also I don't use the elbow pass, but I feel like its fine, I just end up locking on a triangle when they do.
     
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  8. iagox9 White Belt

    iagox9
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    i agree for the most part...i never thought of cross face as controversial
     
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  9. DON FRYE Orange Belt

    DON FRYE
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    I am white belt, and of course I can/will ask my instructors for clarification but, how do you feel about pushing your forearm into your partners neck when they are on top of you in side control as a way to create space?
     
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  10. Balto Silver Belt

    Balto
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    If enough people agree that crossfacing should be in the always allowed section, I will put it in there. I appreciate the input guys.

    I would disagree about digging elbows into the thigh being a part of opening the guard. It is one way to open the guard, but quite a few people consider digging the elbows to be an annoying beginner move.
     
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  11. TyroneSlothrop** Purple Belt

    TyroneSlothrop**
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    i think you might mean "crossfacing for no reason but to hurt the other person"... now that's bullshit.


    but if someones got double underhooks and you carefully slide your arm across their neck/face to break their grip, there is absolutely no grounds for complaints.


    also, regarding opening guard with elbow, just because some consider something an "irritating beginner move" doesn't make it illegal.
     
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  12. jackandcoke Blue Belt

    jackandcoke
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    crossfacing should be legal.. i fucking new wrestler guys they love to neck crank.
     
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  13. KneeOnSkull Guest

    KneeOnSkull
    we just kinda went over some "rules for rolling" at my gym and i'd like to add 2 that came up that i didnt read on your list:


    RESPECT THE ROLL this means not stopping from "exhaustion" or "being tired." If you have to stop from being tired and just cant take it any more......tap out....you lost.

    Also.......play to your ability and roll honestly.....but if your skill level is much greater then your partner it will probably be a great time to work your weak positions or subs you might not go for usually....instead of showboating or just completely killing and demoralizing your partner....which you both wouldn't get anything out of.
     
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  14. brianX Green Belt

    brianX
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    Yes, a nice doc to have beginners read. A few comments: I'm with you on crossfaces, not on elbow in the thigh. I think that's a perfectly legit way to break closed guard, although you're correct in noting that not everyone feels that way.

    Where I would really differ is on the 50-75% thing. As a corrective to spazzing, I can see where this might be useful, but I don't think it's accurate. I doubt, for example, that any sub can be finished with 50-75% effort: if I'm going 2/3 speed, using 2/3 strength on an armbar, you're going to get out of it.

    I remember the first time I "rolled light" and was somewhat surprised to find that my opponent wasn't letting go of that RNC: he was cranking it. I assumed that rolling light meant practicing moves and positions--that is, not going for actual submissions.

    So I guess I'd go for something more along these lines:

    Although there will be times (in scrambles, in moments of transition between positions, in submission attempts and defenses against them) when you go "full speed," the normal pace of BJJ sparring is less than 100%. By relaxing and applying technique properly, you will be able to build a repertoire of skills and mastery of positions that is impossible if you go all-out, all the time. As a general rule, follow the pace set by more experienced grapplers: if you're working noticeably harder than they are, tone it back a notch.
     
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  15. Balto Silver Belt

    Balto
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    I edited the guide to reflect the fact that these rules apply to gi BJJ. Obviously heel hooks and neck cranks are allowed in no gi at some levels.

    I'd like to wait for a few more people to weigh in on the crossfacing issue before I make a change. Here is my argument in favor of keeping it where it is:

    This guide is explicitly for beginners. Anyone who has done BJJ for a while already knows everything in it.

    I agree that crossfacing is a legitimate move when done in a certain way. However, when done as a grinding crossface in other ways, it can be seen as a dick move. The distinction between an acceptable crossface and an unacceptable one is tough for most beginners to grasp.

    Almost everything in the sometimes allowed section is okay to use in rolling if you know what is expected and how to control yourself. However, it is for exactly that reason that these techniques are what I see beginners most confused about. They wonder why they get yelled at for cranking on someone's foot when they see other people do a controlled version of the same foot lock all the time with no problem.

    The issue is that most beginners fail to understand what is actually meant by control. If they really knew what control in the context BJJ was, they probably wouldn't need to read this guide in the first place.

    So I would just say consider the audience when you are reading this guide. If you have been training BJJ for more than a few months, this guide is not meant for you.
     
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  16. Jimmy Cerra Amateur Fighter

    Jimmy Cerra
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    You didn't lose. WTF Rolling isn't about winning or losing. Even if you tap out, you didn't lose. You just roll again or take a break. Stopping from being tired is the same as a verbal tap, so what's the problem. Do you really NEED your partner tapping your body with his hand?
     
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  17. Balto Silver Belt

    Balto
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    I removed the part about digging elbows into the thigh and replaced it with a better pressure point example.

    I like the respect the roll part. I will try to add something to that effect.

    I'm not sure I understand the part about not being able to finish subs with 50-75% effort. To be honest, I finish subs that way against newer guys more than 20 times per week.
     
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  18. Balto Silver Belt

    Balto
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    I added the following:


    Respect the fact that you will make mistakes and have to fight out of bad positions sometimes. Do not stop rolling just because your partner is getting the better of you.


    In simple terms, don't be the guy who goes 100% at the start of each roll and then suddenly gets "tired" once you put him in a bad spot.
     
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  19. MIGUELOCO Blue Belt

    MIGUELOCO
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    This is good, someone should sticky this.

    After crossfacing is moved to always legal of course:icon_chee
     
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  20. Byron Pechorin Top Level Human

    Byron Pechorin
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    Grabbing and twisting the foot does not always=heelhook...
     
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