We must train with a purpose to get the most out of our training sessions. Every time we step onto the mats, we should get into the habit of achieving something better for ourselves – a goal. As the only real competition we have is the person we were yesterday, there are endless ways to improve, especially in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Little by little, improvements can be tracked in training, like being able to pass the guard and not having yours passed, successfully escaping bad positions, or simply just being able to roll more. If you need help with the latter, check out these six training methods to help you roll more rounds in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
1) Positional Drilling
Positional drilling is critical, especially if you want your techniques to stay sharp. The purpose of this drill is to work on your skills in defending or escaping bad positions so that you won’t reach the point of early exhaustion caused by the unnecessary exertion of energy, a common trait of most beginners (especially in guard retention and escaping pins). Positional drilling allows you to stay calm but not timid when put into dangerous situations, making you commit fewer mistakes.
Positional drilling is done with you starting the round from inferior positions, such as your training partner having your back (back control), side control, full mount, or have them perform knee on the belly as you look for ways to escape. The idea is to work on your defence to stay efficient without using excessive energy when attempting escapes in regular training rounds, allowing you to roll more.
2) Flow Rolling
Going all out every round can be exhausting. In BJJ, we must conserve our energy until we see opportunities to attack with sweeps and submissions. Flow rolling is a means of moving light with your training partners to give them room to work, which allows you both to flow smoothly between positions and submissions. Practice flow rolling with your training partners in between high-intensity rounds.
While it takes practice, working with your less experienced training partners to help them improve their techniques is always a smart idea. Have them positioned in a dominant position or a submission, and work your way out. Doing this allows inclusivity on the mats by rolling with everyone, especially the inexperienced and lighter ones, while working on your defensive ability when you are worn out. Remember that Jiu-Jitsu is a human version of chess; focus on working your techniques to solve the puzzle rather than overpowering your training partners most of the time.
3) Long Duration Rolls
Rolling more than your regular 5 to 6-minute rounds several times a week will condition you physically and mentally to roll more rounds should you return to the usual roll duration. An example is having 10 or 15-minute rolls (or even longer) to work on endurance. As John Danaher said, BJJ is a physical game that uses relaxed tension, and you will need to exert energy to get into positions or complete your moves against a skilled opponent.
As mentioned earlier, over-exertion of energy can be counterproductive. Rolling longer rounds teaches you how to properly manage tension, even in high-intensity situations. While this can be difficult initially, the long-term benefits you gain will seriously improve your game. Conserve your energy and practice a calm demeanour. Know when to exert energy, especially in specific situations like completing sweeps or scoring the submission.
4) Shark Tank
Similar to the training method mentioned above, the shark tank is a great way to build endurance, situational awareness, and technique, especially when a tournament is fast approaching. The shark tank is where you face several training partners coming in fresh one at a time, for a period (usually the time limit of the match), depending on the goal. One training partner replaces the other after having your guard passed, manages to secure a dominant position, a sweep or takedown, or when you have submitted them instead.
Occasionally, a shark tank is essential to see if your defensive skills are still instinctually on point when you are gassed out. Remember that the primary goal in the shark tank is to last and stay actively defending and not to constantly hunt for submissions, as it can be highly tiring with fresh training partners coming in every couple of minutes. Keep it playful and tap as necessary to avoid injury.
Strength and conditioning are super important, especially in today’s grappling landscape. Strength and conditioning build overall fitness and allow you to roll more mat rounds. It is common, especially for older grapplers who are out of shape or have taken a long hiatus, to have bodies that cannot execute moves as fast and efficiently as they want. A solid strength routine can help jumpstart the body so that techniques are applied more effectively. While BJJ mainly focuses on technique, it is still essential to work on your conditioning as you will always find an opponent of the same skill level that is well-conditioned, especially if they compete a lot. Not only does strength and conditioning enable you to roll more rounds, but they also help prevent injuries.
6) High-Intensity Rolls
High-intensity rolls are just as important as flow rolling with your training partners. You must find the balance between the two, so you can effectively match your training partner’s intensity and apply your techniques under pressure without unnecessarily tiring your body. An example of this is rolling with high intensity while having a clear movement, purpose, and direction. You can also perform 1-minute full intensity rolls with fresh training partners.
These tips will surely help you raise your gas tank to a whole new level. Remember that consistency is the key to improvement. Train as often as you can so you can roll more rounds. Be smart with your time and always have a plan to improve every time you train.
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