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10 Tips & Tricks to Improve Your Jiu Jitsu Rolling Sessions

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What is rolling in Jiu Jitsu? Sparring in Jiu Jitsu is often referred to as “Rolling”. This is because it looks like you’re rolling around on the ground with another person.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the most popular martial arts practiced in the world. Having roots in ancient Japan, it has evolved from Judo to what is now known today. 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a grappling form of martial arts that can be seen in MMA, self-defense, and street fighting. 

With a few tips and tricks, you can significantly improve your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu rolling sessions.

10 Tips & Tricks to Improve Your Jiu Jitsu Rolling Sessions:

10 Tips & Tricks to Improve Your Jiu Jitsu rolling Sessions
1. Focus on Using Techniques You Learn Instead of Strength 
2. Communicate with Your Rolling Partner 
3. Understand That You Will Not Win Every Time You Roll
4. Have a Great Understanding of Your Body
5. Try to Set Different Goals Each Time You Roll
6. Switch Up the Partners That You Use As Often As You Can
7. Know Your Roll
8. Make Sure You Practice Combining Different Moves
9. Ask for Feedback after Your Roll
10. Don’t Be Afraid to Tap Out Early

While many of these tips are for use on the mat during your session, there are also tips that you can use to improve your sessions off the mat as well. 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that is continuously evolving based on new techniques and new practitioners. 

Let’s talk about why rolling is essential in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and how you can up your game on and off the mat!

10 Tips & Tricks to Improve Your Jiu Jitsu rolling Sessions 

Similar to other things, the more you practice, the better you will become. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is no different! 

Rolling is one of the best ways to practice the art, and it is encouraged in Jiu Jitsu as a whole. Once you have learned the basics of learning the technique, you are ready to roll. 

To get the most out of your Jiu Jitsu rolling session, here are ten tips and tricks that can have a significant impact on your performance. 

  • Focus on Using Techniques You Learn Instead of Strength
  • Communicate with Your Rolling Partner
  • Understand that You are Not Going to Win Every Roll
  • Have a Great Understanding of Your Body
  • Try to Set Different Goals Each Time You Roll
  • Switch Up Partners You Roll With
  • Know Your Roll
  • Make Sure You Practice Combining Different Moves
  • Ask for Feedback after Your Roll
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Tap Out Early

We are going to break these down further to explain how these tips can help you. 

There are also a couple of tips that you can use off the mat to enhance your Jiu Jitsu rolling even further! 

Taking the time to do your best in a roll can help make you a better BJJ student, and it can severely cut down on the risk of injury you face.

What is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Commonly Used For?

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that formed out of Japanese Judo. It is a full-contact grappling sport that is often seen in self-defense, combat fighting, and professional fighting. 

BJJ combines traditional techniques with modern movements to create this unique martial art. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can commonly be seen in MMA events like UFC, Bellator, OneFC on a large scale. 

What makes BJJ so different is that there are no intentional strikes as there are in other martial arts. 

The sport uses compression locks, joint locks, and chokes as a way to win a roll or spar. 

If you are training for self-defense or MMA, there may be strikes that you learn.

Why Is BJJ Still So Popular?

What draws many people into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is that it is known as a martial art for everyone. 

Strength is not something that is focused on in BJJ, and it allows even someone who may be small in stature to still be able to learn and succeed at the art. 

Since the majority of the work is done on the ground, it allows someone’s technique to show instead of their height and weight.

BJJ has become one of the most practiced self-defense sports in the world due to there being no size restrictions. 

It is something that someone can start with no experience in any sort of martial art. It is also widely considered as the safest martial art out there. 

Many people who practice BJJ look forward to sparing as the most exciting part of the training.

BJJ also has a strong sense of community, among other martial art forms. Connecting with your peers is partially from sparring with everyone in your group, but also because most people are there for the same reasons, which makes everyone have similar goals.

Why are Rolling Sessions Important in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

You spend hours learning the ins and outs of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, right? 

Well, rolling is the perfect way for you to put the skills that you are trying to learn to the test. 

By sparring, you or your coach can see where your strengths and weaknesses are. Not only is it a great way to know that you understand the art, but it is also a teaching approach that shows you how you will use the skills in real life. 

There are different degrees of rolling, which all have different names. Flow rolling and hard rolling are two of the most popular variations.

Flow rolling is often used to practice or to warm up, and hard rolling is usually used to prepare for a competition or professional fight.

When you spar with multiple partners, you will come away with a better understanding of where you are as a practitioner BJJ. 

You can refine your technique and see what works for you. Sparring has quite a few advantages that make it a necessary part of any martial art training.

Some training facilities will not allow new people to spar initially. They may require you to train a few months or achieve a certain level before you can participate in live rolling. Waiting to roll is so that you know the technique to reduce the risk of injuring yourself or your partner.

Advantages of Rolling in Jiu Jitsu

  • Helps you understand how to distribute your weight during fights.
  • Gives you a better understanding of what angles and moves work best with your technique.
  • Sparring is a great way to learn how someone may react to a specific move that you use.
  • Allows you to learn how to control your emotions during a fight.
  • You can begin to know how to predict what moves may be coming at you.
  • Is a great way to gain respect from peers and trainers. 
  • You can try new moves without feeling like you are risking injury.

Don’t Spar Until You are Ready

Many trainers will tell you that you should not begin rolling until you are familiar with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 

Your first roll is not going to be ideal, even with training in other martial arts. 

It is something that could possibly turn you away from BJJ, or you could also accidentally get injured by not knowing what you are doing or how to respond to certain moves. 

You can definitely give it a try when you first start, but you are going to be at a significant disadvantage due to a lack of knowledge of various techniques. 

At first, you do not know any moves or positions. You are also unaware of the risks of your movements and what to expect from your opponent. 

Some training facilities use the Gracie Barra Approach, which does not allow new practitioners to participate in spars until they have achieved at least three stripes on a white belt. 

While Gracie Barra’s 3 stripe rule seems a little excessive, you should consider getting a few classes under your belt before rolling for your first time.

Learning the bare basics in BJJ can take up to a few months, but it ensures that the individual knows what they are doing for the safety of them and others in the group. 

10 Ways You Can Improve Your Jiu Jitsu Rolling Sessions?

Sparring or rolling is an integral part of your Jiu Jitsu training. 

It is the perfect way to know exactly where your skills are, and even if your training facility is suited to your needs. 

There are many ways that you can improve the skills that you possess in Jiu Jitsu, and many of them require no additional effort from you at all.

Focus on Using Techniques You Learn Instead of Strength

Jiu Jitsu focuses more on the actual technique than strength. It is known for saying that the size of the opponent will not matter. 

In your sparring, you are trying to perfect your skills. In this art, technique is more important than physical attributes. 

A common mistake among those who are new to BJJ is to try and use their strength if they lack technique, which can lead to injury. 

Your main goal for every roll should be to perfect at least one move each time. 

Nailing a new move or combination of moves means you can continue on your journey and move onto the next lesson.

Communicate With Your Partner 

Again rolling is an integrated part of training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The best way to get the most out of your spar is to make sure that you talk to your partner. 

You can explain to them what you are trying to work on, and what they think as an opponent. 

Since you are both trying to work on your technique take the time to work on yourself. 

If you are new to rolling or sparring, make sure you let your partner know if you are feeling uncomfortable or unsure on what to do.

Understand That You Will Not Win Every Time You Roll

In rolling, you are not trying to win the match. Your focus needs to be on your actions and your body while you are in a match. 

If you happen to “win” a Jiu Jitsu rolling match against a teammate, don’t celebrate this, move on and continue to work on your technique. 

Rolling is meant to prepare you for real fights and to help you see what you need to work on. 

You also should not be afraid to lose spars, and you can use it as a learning lesson. 

The roll between you and your partner should not be to beat the other one, and it should be to work on your skills in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Have a Great Understanding of Your Body

As with any sport, you need to make sure that your body is in the best shape that it can be. You don’t need to be in shape to start BJJ, you will get in shape by doing Jiu Jitsu and you will stay in shape as you continue training. 

You also need to be able to understand what your body’s limits are in terms of what you are actually able to do. 

Knowing your body is an easy way to help your trainer know where you need work, and you are also more likely to prevent any injuries that can come from rolling. 

Knowing your body is essential to your technique as well. If you find yourself running out of energy early in the roll, or a specific part of your body gets fatigued, it may mean that you need to work on that outside of sparring.

Try to Set Different Goals Each Time You Roll

While rolling, make sure that you are creating goals for what you want to work on. 

A goal could be to combine different moves while your match is going. You can work with your trainer or a journal to set goals that you want to work on. 

Setting specific goals can help you perfect techniques or movements that you are looking to improve. 

Establishing a goal is also an easy way to know how far you want to go into your roll. 

A good idea could be to try and incorporate at least one new technique per week. Creating goals can also make sure that you stay focused throughout your roll.

Switch Up the Partners That You Use As Often As You Can

If you are really looking to improve your roll, then make sure that you are sparring with as many people as you can. 

You should try and practice with different people to get the most experience you can. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, which can help you learn to identify yours. 

Before you spar with someone, make sure they are looking for a roll with a similar style, and be sure to communicate what you are trying to work on. 

Before you choose a rolling partner, make sure that your training facility has no restrictions on who you can and cannot choose to be your partner.

Know Your Roll

We talked earlier about how there are different styles of rolling in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 

You can use a flow roll if you are looking to work on your technique or just to practice with your peers. 

There is also rolling hard, which is mostly reserved for preparing for competition. 

Your roll goes back to communicating with your partner to make sure that you are both expecting to get the same thing out of a spar. 

A rule of thumb in Jiu Jitsu is to stay at least two moves ahead of your opponent to make sure that you are in control of the roll.

If you’re not sure on the training partners pace just feel them out to gauge what your intensity should be from there you can choose to step it up or dial it back. 

Just be careful engaging in a hard roll where ego’s might get the best of you and possibly your training partner.

Make Sure You Practice Combining Different Moves

If you are practicing the same moves over and over again, you aren’t going to improve much elsewhere. 

By keeping a journal or some sort of record of movements you are trying or combining, you can make sure that you are not just repeating the same moves again. 

Combining different moves can help you understand what moves work best together, and you can also learn how to react to what your opponent is doing as well. 

Some movements in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be hard to transition in from another move. Combining different movements can help you identify moves that can be used as great as finishing moves.

Ask for Feedback after Your Roll

Rolls are meant to help you. You can easily ask your coach or another training partner in your group if they can watch your match to give you any feedback on your technique. 

Although your partner can offer feedback to you after your spar, having someone on the outside is a great idea. 

They can watch your movements from the outside to see where you are making mistakes. 

They can also help you identify how you react to specific movements. 

You can set up a camera or cellphone to record your rolls so you can watch the tape and spot areas where you can improve.

Don’t Be Afraid to Tap Out Early

By now, we know that sparring is not all about winning. You are looking to help your teammate improve their skills and your skills as well. 

Since winning is not what a good roll is about, don’t be afraid to tap out of the match early.

If you think you have succeeded in finding your weakness in a match, or that you have already achieved the goal that you set, tap out! 

Tapping early when you’re sparring is also a great way to prevent any possible injury or overexerting yourself during the match.

Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Jiu Jitsu Rolling Sessions Off the Mat

There additional tips that you can use to improve your BJJ skills of the mat as well. 

These are things that you can do to prepare for a roll, or they are just things you can do to improve your overall health. 

You can get nervous before you go into any sort of roll, but being as prepared as you can will cut down on the anxiety.

Keep a Jiu Jitsu Journal

We mentioned how useful a training journal could be earlier. 

Not only is it a great way to make sure you know where you are in your training, but it can have a significant impact on your spars. 

You can keep track of what moves you are using, the goals you have created for yourself, and your progress. 

A training journal can be a physical journal that you keep in your gym bag, or you can just keep one on your phone.

Check out our article “BJJ Journal: What It Is And How Can It Help You Improve?“.

Track Your Strength and Weaknesses

A good Jiu Jitsu coach should be able to help you know what you are excelling at, and what you need to work on. 

You should also keep track of them on your own. Strengths and weaknesses don’t have to just be on the outside. 

How you feel performing a move can make a significant impact on how you complete it, and how you incorporate it into your BJJ routine. 

Your strengths and weaknesses do not have to be relative to the specific move you are trying to do, and it could also be reflected in the actual strength of your body and stamina.

Watch Other People Roll Jiu Jitsu

Watching your teammates or other people in rolling Jiu Jitsu is a great way to see the variety in their technique, as well as how they transition into moves throughout a match. 

You can also watch how they react to different types of moves. You can watch rolls at the facility where you train, or you can watch high level competition matches on Youtube. 

Watching other rolls is something you can do anywhere, which makes it easy to incorporate it into your training routine.

Understand the Theory Behind the Technique 

If you are serious about improving your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills, then you need to make sure you understand the technique beyond just training. 

In Jiu Jitsu, you are ultimately trying to immobilize your opponent instead of beating or injuring them. 

Knowing the significance in the martial art that you are doing will allow you to connect with what you are doing. Take some extra time to research the history behind BJJ. 

What are Some Reasons You are Not Improving in Your BJJ Training?

If you are currently training in BJJ but are not seeing any changes, there may be a few things that you are not doing that are really holding you back. 

As with any martial art, dedication is an essential part of training and get have negative results if you are not serious about your growth. 

You are Not Practicing Enough

Dedication is vital to your success in anything. 

If you are trying to improve your technique truly, then you need to make sure you are spending the appropriate amount of time training. 

You should be training at least twice per week if you are trying to stay familiar with the art. If you are looking to grow your skills, then three to four days a week is often what is recommended.

If you only go to a few classes a month, not only is everyone going to be ahead of you, but you may not remember what you were taught. 

It can also show to your trainer that you are not as serious as others who are training. On the opposite spectrum, you may be training too often. 

Training too often could result in injuries that cause you to take breaks that can interrupt your training.

Check out our article “How Often Should You Train In BJJ? Here’s The Truth“.

It is Not the Right Form of Martial Art for You

If you are dreading going to your training, then Brazilian Jiu Jitsu may not be for you. 

Although BJJ is actually perfect for everyone, the training and technique may not be what you are looking for. 

If you do not have the time to dedicate to the martial art, then you may want to either take a break or even move on. 

It is something that is meant to improve the quality of your life, not have a negative impact on it. 

Additionally, if you are finding your training to be boring or not looking forward to it, then you may want to discover more martial arts.

Your Body is Not Ready 

The good thing about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is that you can start no matter your physical fitness level. 

Most training facilities have different levels where you can start training. 

If you are having difficulty with basic moves, you might need to dedicate more time to getting your body in shape. 

Doing some physical activity outside of your training will not only improve how you can perform, but it will also have a significant impact on how you feel before, during, and after. 

You Are Not Setting Realistic Goals

Goals are an essential part of getting the most out of your spar sessions in BJJ. 

They help you stay on track, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and they make sure that you are following technique. 

The goals that you are creating should be realistic goals. While beating everyone in your training facility may be something you hope to do, that is not a realistic goal. 

A realistic goal would be to try and master one technique each week. It is something that is attainable with practice and will actually make a difference in your abilities.

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By Let's Roll BJJ

Let's Roll BJJ aims to be the leading source of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Grappling information and news on the web. Dorian, the owner and editor of Let's Roll BJJ is a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu and has been training and competing for over 6 years.

Apart from being a BJJ geek, Dorian is a software developer by trade, a husband, and a father of two wonderful kids who he's recently began teaching Jiu Jitsu. When he's not training, coding, or writing, you can find him hiking, camping or occasionally binging on video games.

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