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Rolling in BJJ – Beginners Guide for How to Roll

Jiu Jitsu Rolling

What is Jiu Jitsu rolling? Like any form of martial arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has a form of sparring session which is called rolling. This is usually the last part of the class, where you test your skills and knowledge in the sport with your teammates.

Related: Looking for our full list of beginner tips? Check out our post here

With this, you can actually develop your skills as a BJJ practitioner. 

One thing you can expect during these rolling sessions in your gym is sometimes, they are not as intense as you would see or watch in competitions. Why?

It is because you want to be able to pace yourself and using sparring to focus on learning and trying out new techniques.

Generally, each round of rolling lasts between 4-7 minutes.

Sparring It also does not stop until the timer runs out of time, or your training partner needs a break. If your partner tapped, you can reset and start all over to continue the rest of the 4-7 minute round before ending the round and choosing a partner for your next one.

You can expect that everyone has a different goal or agenda every time they step in the mats to roll.

I have listed below the possible goals down below: 

  • Try a new submission
  • Develop a technique 
  • Practice control in a certain position 
  • Focus on defense and escape

Beginner Jiu Jitsu

Whats beginner jiu jitsu like?

Are you a beginner in BJJ or atleast thinking about trying the sport? That’s great! We all have to start somewhere in order to get better, right? 

So for someone new to Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, one thing you have to always keep in mind is that it is about survival.

Any martial art is based on how you will be able to defend yourself in a dangerous situation.

As a beginner in BJJ, what you should focus on learning is how to escape and defend yourself.

You may wonder, why these?

Why should I learn these things, instead of submissions?

You will learn submissions as you go along! That is inevitable. But what you should focus on more for now as a beginner are your escapes and defense.

Why? Well, one thing you should remember is that in BJJ, if you are able to escape a certain position, then your opponent will not be able to do any submissions. You can stall the game and earn points with your escapes and then work toward achieving dominant positions. 

As a beginner, keep in mind that BJJ is also known to be the “gentle art.”

During your rolling sessions, learn how to focus on your breathing. Do not panic!

Try to stay calm as possible as you roll along with your training partner. Focus on the situation and let your mind and body connect. You will gain more confidence on the mats the more training and exposure you have to the sport. 

Related: Learn more about what you should focus on as a BJJ white belt through our post here.

Rolling Guide

Here is our rolling guide:

I know that trying out something new for the first time can be both exciting and scary! But I am here to help you out and give you information about rolling in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu. 

If you are new to martial arts, know that training with a sparring partner is inevitable, and it is one of ways to prove how effective a martial art actually as.

Related: Click here for some other bjj etiquette rules you should know before your first class

So for BJJ, there will likely not be any training days where you will not roll with your mates, unless you opt not to for the day due to personal reasons.

Most classes in bjj will have some sort of live sparring or rolling.

So why do we roll or spar in brazilina jiu jitsu?

We do this to test what we have learned from the techniques taught by our instructors or from other resources.

This way, we get to apply our knowledge of the sport and learn from it.

It is also different learning this way because you get to feel how certain moves and positions will actually be like on a fully restisting opponent.

The more you roll, the more understanding you will gain on what works and what doesn’t. 

What moves aren’t allowed

What moves are not allowed in BJJ?

BJJ just like any other sport wants to keep their athletes safe, so there are a set of moves that are illegal and not allowed due to the danger it can cause an individual. 

If you are not yet that familiar with jiu jitsu, then know that it is a grappling sport where striking is not allowed. There should not be any kicks, punches, headutts and other striking techniques. 

Here are some of the illegal moves in BJJ: 

  • Knee Reaping
  • Scissors Takedown
  • Backward finger bending
  • Slams
  • Heel hooks
  • Suplex Takedowns
  • Locks twisting the knee
  • Toe hold with turning the foot outward
  • Spinal lock without choke 
  • Jumping close guard

Tap early and often

Learn how to tap early and often.

If you are a white belt, one thing you have to keep in mind in BJJ is that you let go of your ego once you enter the mats.

Once you start rolling and your training partner is able to stay in a position and ready to submit you, then you have to see if you can still escape.

If escape is no longer possible, and you can’t fight the submission, never hesitate to tap!

When you are at your bjj gym you shouldn’t let your ego stop you from tapping to a submission.

Don’t be afraid to ask your rolling partner for help/guidance

Never hesitate to ask your rolling partner for help or guidance.

They are your teammates, and they are there to help you grow as a martial artist. You can ask them after your roll about things you noticed during the round. 

If your training partner was able to submit you, you can ask them how they were able to achieve that submission.

This is another way you will learn. If youre training partner is able to achieve a dominant position or perform an effective technique you should always ask them how they did it – I guarantee they will be more than happy to guide you.

From there, you will know which positions to avoid and what you should improve on.

Keep in mind that learning BJJ is endless. There are always new things you will learn or discover the more you train and roll. 

Be courteous to your teammates

Be courteous to your teammates.

Keep in mind that martial arts is a form of discipline grounded by respect.

Learn how to accept defeat, if your training partner was able to submit you.

This does not mean you are weak, it just simply means that there are new things to learn and your training partner and teammates can help you out. 

 Focus on defending and escaping

You should focus on defending and escaping.

One thing you have to keep in mind about BJJ is that you have to have gain the dominant position first, before you go for a submission – especially when first learning bjj.

Your submission will not work if you do not have some sort of control, and your opponent will very likely be able to escape.

Check out the video below to know more about what to focus on rolling as a white belt. 

When should you start rolling in BJJ?

If you are wondering, when should you start rolling in BJJ?

Then know that the answer can vary here.

Do know that sometimes, it would depend on the gym that you go to. Some gyms expect you to roll on your first day of training (Don’t panic! They will definitely give you a training partner who is most likely a higher belt who is more than capable of walking you through your first roll.)

The other gyms would have their students do a couple of classes first before they will allow you to roll. 

If you feel like you are comfortable to do so during the first day of class, then you can reach out to your coach. If you think you will need a few more classes to feel comfortable, then that is totally fine.

Your coach is there to guide you and your teammates are there to support you.

How do you get better at rolling in BJJ?

How do you get better at rolling in BJJ? Trust me, every time you roll, you improve.

You may not notice it but your training partner and coaches do. 

But here are some tips that can probably help you improve more as a BJJ practitioner. 

  • Focus on your techniques and escapes 
  • Ask for your coach and training partners feedback 
  • Switch training partners
  • Do not be afraid to try something you learned/watched
  • Understand yourself and your game 

Do not worry about defeat!

Always try to think that you are there to learn. The more you expose yourself to rolling, the greater understanding of the sport and what you need to improve on will come to light. 

Remember, do not be too hard on yourself if you tap out. BJJ beginners/white belts should master knowing when to tap early because you have to protect yourself and to avoid needless injuries.

How to improve your jiu jitsu

How can one improve their BJJ? Of course, no one gets better overnight but here are some tips that we have so you can improve in BJJ. 

  • Show up to class and train – this is the most vital thing. Showing up and training means you already won. You get to learn new things every time. 
  • Repetition is the key – the key to master anything is to keep on repeating it. The more you repeat drills and try to apply techniques then the better you will become at it. 
  • Strengthen your mind and body – Take care of yourself! Work on your stamina to last longer on the mats. Focus on improving your mind and body and it will definitely reflect on how you play your game. 
  • Learn from your defeat – Ask why your partner how they tapped you in a certain position. Ask your training partner and your coaches what you can do to improve yourself as you go along. 

Here’s a video about defensive guard, strategy, fundamentals, building walls, sweeps and submissions.

For more information on how to get better at BJJ faster check out our post here.

Hopefully, this post has given you some insight into rolling in jiu jitsu and what to expect when beginning jiu jitsu.

Rolling in jiu jitsu may seem scary at first, but you try to stay calm and focus on performing the techniques that you are taught in class.

Thanks for reading and see you in the next one.

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