Drills or Rolling?

The Man Monster

Orange Belt
Feb 7, 2005
Reaction score
Which do you find help you more in your progression?
Drilling moves over and over or learning it, repeating it a few times and then rolling?

The reason for my question is in all the time I've been doing BJJ (about 1.8 years) I've always been good with armbars but like everyone I had trouble doing it all the time and in every match, however after learning a new armbar drill I found myself getting it twice as much against people I could never get it on in the first place.

So drills or rolling?
Both but in general rolling > drills. I feel like drills are an addition to rolling (a very good addition). If you don't know the "fundamentals" of moving your body around and feeling different weights, sizes, and skill level during "live" sparring (where the guy is attacking you) then you really won't progress. In other words if you just drill all the time, you won't really know how to see the openings to apply the technique.

Like....hitting a punching bag. Sure you parctice in front of a punching bag and develop perfect form. Replace the punching bag with a person and its a totally different game. You want to practice with a punching bag but you can't do just that instead of actual sparring.
This goes hand in hand with what I had posted in the thread about lowering intensity while training.

When you drill, you are trying to engrain the movements into your head so that they become instinctive. When you put your hand on a hot stove, you don't stop and think "Boy, that hurts, I should take my hand off" and then do it. You just do it. That is what you're striving for in a fight. You shouldn't be thinking "Hey, this guys arm is right here, I should do this and this" and then put the armbar on. It should be a natural reaction to that arm being in that position.

When you drill, that is exactly what you're trying to get your body to do. Drill and drill and drill and drill and drill until it becomes reactive. Then when you roll, you wont be thinking about it.

Why do you think the best fighters in the world are so fast? Their brain and body has become reactice and can bypass a lot of the thought process involved with slapping a submission on, entering for a throw or countering a straight right with a left hook.
I enjoy both types of training, but where we train we do a hybrid of both. the tech is taught. you do it 5 times each. then the blues and up do the next 5 with 50 % resitance. the whites do it again no resitance. Lastly the blues and up do it with 90 % resitance and the whites try it with 50 % (read 110% for most white belts)

It makes you think differently when you tell your oponent what you will be doing to them and then make it work.
I generally like to roll more but sometimes on like Saturday's open mat time, I will spend the whole 2 hours drilling one or two things that are giving me problems. They are both good.
Rolling for me. You need an even balance of both but I think you naturally learn from your mistakes.
Rolling for me. The way i learn has always been time on the mat. I pick up new ways of submissions just by rolling which after i use in drills to perfect on them. There both important but for me rolling is key
I've drilled techniques that don't work in the step by step way I have been shown. By rolling, I can vary those dark patches in the technique.
I say 70/30 drills. Once you drilled to the point where you've perfected the technique, it will become a thoughtless action. you will see the opening and then explode with the technique. Like being of No mind. That is what has worked for me anyway.
kumite said:
I say 70/30 drills. Once you drilled to the point where you've perfected the technique, it will become a thoughtless action. you will see the opening and then explode with the technique. Like being of No mind. That is what has worked for me anyway.

I find it amusing that you say this, and at the same time you claim that you shouldn't train your throws at maximum velocity.

You're right... once you have attained a reactive state with any given technique, you will enter for it without even thinking about it. But you'll enter for it how you've trained. If you don't train exactly how you want to apply it in contest, then your body is not going to just magically respond how you want it to.
I drill the move then incorporate it into open roll. Often times when I want to use a new move I will ask my partner if we can start is a certain possition and go from there. The other thing you can do is roll with someone you know you are better then (that way you can control where the fight goes) and attempt only the move I am working on.
Working on drills in a weak position will increase your skill level faster then just rolling!
I say 60/40, drills help me a lot, and I see the difference in sparring. I love doing drills, since I have such a problem finding adequte people my size to grapple with, I do a lot of drills.
Both are important. There are some things one can teach you and the other cant. You cant get good form without working your drills a lot, and you cant learn the more complex moves while rolling against some huge spazzing freak, for that you need drills and slow rolling to get things down. But if your gonna fight or do tournaments you need to do lots of hard rolling because thats what you will be up against.
Well.. I like to drill for a couple of minutes, and then try the move i learned every chance possible.