When NOT to leave the ego at the door?


Blue Belt
Oct 5, 2005
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OK...so I've been doing BJJ for some time now...enough to know that sparring and training is all about learning, and it's OK to tap, and all the other stuff about being helpful and courteous with the other guys in your school when rolling, etc. etc. etc.

But I'm wondering if I've become TOO much of a nice guy when rolling, and TOO relaxed about going for subs, and that it's starting to affect my progress in a NEGATIVE manner.

For example, a lot of us white belts realize that it's OK to tap to higher belts, since it's all part of learning. Leave the ego at the door, right? But what about when rolling with newer white belts? I mean, I SHOULD be able to tap those guys fairly easily, right? And if some of them start giving me a good fight, shouldn't I then get my ego back and go pretty full force to try to tear their heads off? I wonder if I'm worrying too much about being a "nice guy" and kind of letting them manhandle me more than they probably could if I was going full force, just to help them learn more. Then they learn stuff, use the stuff against me, and I feel like they're progressing faster than me.

PLUS, what about how that looks in front of instructors? I want my instructors to see that I know a lot and can roll intensely, but I also don't want to be the annoying guy in class who's always going 100%. I want to make my instructor proud to show that I've learned stuff and can go smart AND hard. I don't ever want him to be disappointed in me, like, "Why the hell is he rolling like a such a wimp more and more?", whether I'm rolling with another student or especially with the instructor himself. Like when you're rolling with a spaz new white belt, who's sweating and squirming like crazy...you can crank up the intensity and go full bore to manhandle him, or tap just to reset and try to focus on your technique...but what if the instructor looks over and just sees you tapping over and over again to a guy who's newer than you?

Anybody else have these doubts/questions when they were white belts? What are some tips for MAINTAINING intensity and keeping (but controlling) that "win, win, win!" attitude that we all had when we first rolled, so that you don't end up tapping more than you probably should? Am I even making sense? Have I just turned into a pussy and just need to crank it up?

All comments appreciated...please don't hesitate to be brutally honest, especially if I've really just turned into a big puss.
if the guy is being a dick put him in his place tap him 10 times in 2 minutes
I think you can use strength and be technical at the same time. just dont stick your forearm in someones face trying to get the rear naked choke.

I think its actually a little important to have some ego. when it comes down to it believing you're really good helps more often than it hurts. If you go to a tournament as a nice guy, you get killed. You have to go thinking that theres no one in your division who can touch you unless YOU make a mistake.

When you get stuck in a submission then you tap. But what does being humble have to do with letting someone put you in a submission in the first place? Jiu jitsu is a hungry sport, just about everyone who trains wants to be the best.. tell me that has nothing to do with ego.
for me, all the guys more experienced dont just tap me over and over again, however they do allow me some leeway to gain mount and different controls, then reverse them and then repeat. i feel we both are learning in this process, and if they dont know me, i advise them that i am still fairly new, and to go at whatever pace they want.
Um, I think the poster is talking about class, not tournaments. In other words, THE PEOPLE HE TRAINS WITH. Leave the ego at home. they're will be a lot of people better than you and if they see you taking it to the newer people, they will make your life hell. Learn to roll relaxed.
Well, from my experience - and I'm certainly not the best jiu jitsu guy in the world - I never let someone win if I can help it. But I do let them take better position. I.E. I give my back to people sometimes, so I can defend a choke, escape the back, etc.

Before I roll a new guy, I usually already know what I'm going to catch them in. I'll think, 'triangle choke', and I'll take and lose position until it's time, then I'll use half-assed submission attempts to set up the triangle choke. Or I'll do the omoplata, and set it up with an armbar or a triangle. Depends the new guy's skill level and size. Sometimes I'll give my back, and directly work all the way through the chain of positions to achieve rear mount on them, and get them with a rear choke or a rear lapel choke (a gi choke from rear mount). Sometimes, I might decide to get a guy with an armbar, but I'll work to rear mount and apply it from there. It all depends.

Sometimes I may just completely thrash the guy. All depends on my initial perception of their attitude.
*shrug* if you know you have vastly superior technique compared to someone then take it easy

if you know someone is at a comparable skill level, then try to beat them. and if you get stuck in a submission then tap. I think its definitely important to have some guys close to your level who you get in battles with from time to time. I dont think its good to get in the mindset of rolling 50% too much. Then it becomes disorienting when someone is actually trying as hard as they possibly can to beat you.
Everyone spars at different levels. I try to give it my best regardless of my opponent. For a while I relaxed against newer guys but beating newbies aswell as being beaten is just as useful as one another. Try your best, but be safe.
i hear what youre saying. for me it used to not be cool to tap to newer folks. in the grand scheme of things, how the next person is doing is of no consequence to you. your instructor will look at you for what youre doing, not what someone else is doing to you. ultimately its all about learning from your mistakes.

my instructor is big on not spazzing & ego seeing as most folks get hurt at the the hands of spazzes or at the hands of their own ego. he does, however, encourage us to meet intensity with intensity which doesnt mean spaz with a spaz...just put on some spaz guard and play good defense, work your sweeps, play positions.
hamoom said:
*shrug* if you know you have vastly superior technique compared to someone then take it easy

if you know someone is at a comparable skill level, then try to beat them. and if you get stuck in a submission then tap. I think its definitely important to have some guys close to your level who you get in battles with from time to time. I dont think its good to get in the mindset of rolling 50% too much. Then it becomes disorienting when someone is actually trying as hard as they possibly can to beat you.
It's like this if YOU KNOW the guy youre rolling with isnt at your level, wreslte hard but give him opportunities..
If the level is close or he is better wrestled hard the whole time.

Its grappling, you compete/fight like you train..so if you are ALWAYS laid back and ok with with losing then what do you think will happen when it's time to go all out?
i won't let them win.
what good is letting someone win?

basically it'll go like this. i'll do some half ass take down that won't give me the ippon. I'll pull them into guard, or maybe do a pin like kesa that even the new guys know how to escape.
lets say I won't let them bridge and roll, nor will I allow their leg in my grill. But I will allow the shrimp and uphill turn.

now when they start to escape, then i'll anaconda choke them, but hey
they are learning :D

as for meeting intensity with intensity. nah, i'll stick with technique and a little extra strength.
i don't think I have an ego, but I get upset and
frustated at myself if someone on my level is
constantly tapping me. It's the little mistakes
I know not to do that makes me kick myself in
the ass. But alot of times, their technique is abit
sharper and I always give them props when I see it.

I recently realized I'm not aggressive with the armbar.
Early in my jj training, I got that put on me alittle too hard
and my elbow joint ached for days. I don't want to hurt my
partners, so I subconsciously apply it half-heartedly (I think,
or maybe I just have bad technique).... I think it's both.

I've been catching people in triangles, which is
why I came to that armbar conclusion.
Ego is pretty interesting. the problem you face is that if a guy is easy to tap, there is no challenge. Then you create the challenge: you can set the goal of only going for an armbar to test your technique regardless of what your opponent is doing. You are then working on your strategy on how to get an unwilling opponent in an armbar. If he proves too hard to catch, then you have to figure out what is wrong with your technique. You can then call the sensei or instructor over to evaluate and instruct you on what you are doing wrong and what your opponent is doing right to counter. You can then add this to your kitbag. In that sense, you are satisfying any ego misgivings on sacrificing positions or your opponent doing better than he should because you are purposefully limiting your repertoire to the one or two techniques you are working on.

I agree with the poster that said if the opponent is being rude and just going all out to hurt you, then submit him quick and fast each time (RNC and/or gi chokes will tire him out quick if you can't submit him).
YEAH iwas being too nice, but i stepped it up, now its pretty much evened out, do the same, bemore intense for a week of so, just to get into the rythm of sparring harder, some guys are assholes but thats in anything in life
Leaving your ego at the door doesn't mean that you have to lay down for people (i.e. letting them tap you or control the position). What it means is that you don't need to fight to the death and feel like you have to sacrifice technique for strength. If someone has you in a bad position don't fight until the bitter end, just tap. On the other hand, as a white belt you are still new to the game, and thus need to continue learning yourself, so you have no business LETTING someone control and tap you. If you have the ability to control them and submit them...do it. If you become too passive and let other people work too much...you will be hurting your own game as much as you are helping them. You don't pay all that money to help them, you pay to improve YOUR game. Tap when you get caught...but do your best to not get caught. Good luck with the training, keep the thread updated on your progress.
I fyou know you can beat em theirs no point however if they start getting cocky about it teach em a lesson by showing superior technique if you don't have superior technique there is nothing to discuss.
I give 110% no matter who I'm rolling with. I'm training to be the best I can be and I want all my training partners and instructer to be the best they can be. My feeling don't get hurt if I tap. If I make someone else tap I assume they just work/train/think harder to make me tap the next time.

I assume if I'm to "gung ho" people will just avoid grappling with me in class.
make sure you focus on technique. if your technique is good then you will have no trouble dealing with agressive white belts. Class is not the time to show up your team mates. If you want to make an impression on your instructor, do it in competition.