Rolling vs Drilling


Yellow Belt
May 12, 2005
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Ok, not that it has to be one or the other but...

I train at a pretty cool BJJ club. It's run by a brownbelt and the guys are all cool and you can roll with anyone and everyone, even though the club is pretty small (about 10 people a night). The only thing I've been wondering about is, all our classes are essentially broken up into; warm up (light rolling with people), technique being taught, drilling technique that has been taught, free training (rolling), whole class and 90-120min.

I've been to see a few larger clubs which are run by BB and have been to one seminar. From those and the people I've been chatting to, it seems other places do a lot more drilling. Some guys I've talked to have said they train guard passes and defending and escaps (mount, side, back etc) day in day out each and every class. Everyone from the white belts to the brown belts does it. Their motto "you can never drill the basics enough". It seems to work too. I guess you're not going to panic or be concerned if you get mounted or something if you've been there a 1000 times before.

I don't plan to leave my club, but just wondering if I should be trying to do more of that in place of the warm up rolling or even the end of class stuff. Don't get me wrong, I understand the importance of mat time with rolling and don't plan to skip it all together, just wondering if it would be a good habit to grab a partner and ask them to drill stuff on a regular basis. My concern is, if you just roll, there is a good chance you won't get to "practice" the basics enough.

Appreciate any advice.

my guess is that they do more drilling to compensate for the large amount of people present....

drilling is always good, but the problem with drilling is the fact that an armbar never goes the way you drill it. this is why rolling is so important. drilling is to learn the motions involved. rolling is to put those motions into practice and learn the bumps that come along with a real life situation.

I'm not discouraging you from drilling, they were right about never being able to drill enough, but I don't see anything wrong with the way your current school is going.
Drilling is essential to being a great martial artist or athlete, drilling something is how you get good at it and when you apply it is when you become a master of it. I have a serious lack of training partners and I quit my JJ school becuause of ego so drilling is all I have right now. Drills must be applied to perfect, but drills help more than they get credit for.
drilling is great because it trains muscle memory. muscle memory when used in rolling situations puts you in a place so that you won't flinch, you'll just move. at my gym we do 30-40 min instruction consisting of just drilling the movement, then 20-30 min of 50% drilling which looks like rolling but we're just working from whatever position was taught and 60 mins of live rolling where you can do what you please.

if its drills you want, im sure there is someone else like you at your gym who'd be willing to go over the movements over and over just to train the muscle memory or who'd try 50% drilling where you just work positions.

thing is, training in any form will be beneficial to you in the long run. drills, 50% drills, sparring...there's always something to be taken from it. i usually have a laundry list of questions just from sparring.
My club does drilling most classes, but its more full-speed/full contact drills. I think this way is more beneficial than just drilling half speed techniques. I do agree that light drilling has merit though.

We do positional drills with a partner in your guard, half guard, mounting you, side control, back mounted. We go for 1-2 minutes & try to escape while partner tries to hold, submit, or sweep, then switch. We usually do each position with multiple partners for a total of 20 minutes or so. It basically becomes short, hardcore rolling sessions.
You can also work on something particular while you roll. Like focus yourself on passing the guard or reversal. Once you pass the guard then go back in your opponent's guard and start over.
Drilling i think is more important esp when learning new technique, you need to drill entill you can do it in your sleep. It's like that in football, it's like that in hockey, and i assume many other sports. Not saying the rolling isn't important, but i think you whould spend more time drilling.
In my opinion drilling is just as much if not more important to roling.

Rolling gives you a real life feel for strength and pressure.
But drilling gives you the feel of the move.. When you pull it off right it should "feel" like it does in the drill.

I have personally added many days of the week where i only do drills.. and it has helped my game out by leeps and bounds.
Drilling is important. There is a clear difference between someone who has drilled 100 armbars and someone who has drilled 1,000 armbars.
IMO, drilling is very important. If you do something enough times, it sort of gets built into your head so you don't even have to think about it when your rolling.
Spoonman7 said:
D I quit my JJ school becuause of ego so drilling is all I have right now..

I talk to guys everyday who told me they quit this gym or that gym because guys were too tough there. or had to much ego...

I think that is just pussy.. but thats just me..

If you stick through it it makes you a better grappler.
if you have problems with other people's ego to an extent that you have to leave a gym, then you might wanna check your own.
I think I will try and incorporate some drilling during classes (as long as my partner wants to also). I find when I roll and I try to sweep or guard pass it's slow and clunky as I think through each step. Not that I'm expecting to blitz over night, but like someone said, gaining the muscle memory from repetitive practice is what I'm hoping for, then when rolling I'll hopefully be able to do the move with less thought - which means more thought for strategy and game plan.

Thanks appreciate the input.

Gsoares2 said:
I talk to guys everyday who told me they quit this gym or that gym because guys were too tough there. or had to much ego...

I think that is just pussy.. but thats just me..

If you stick through it it makes you a better grappler.

Believe me guys, I have gone through my ego checks, my instructor is only concerned with how he looks to people, how good he is, plus I am 6 foot 6, 240 pounds, and nobody ther is even close to my size, I am not getting any better fighting guys that I am significantly larger than I am just maintaining what I already know, and I wasted enoguh time there and didn't get very far. If you guys were in my situation you would have quit also. It is something you guys would have to go thtimerough to fully understand, I want to compete and get better but rolling with 160 pound guys even they are better won't get me very far in competition. Plus sometimes I was the only one showing up for class.