Sunday, January 23, 2011

The art of learning the art of slowrolling

I think we've all read these threads on the BJJ forums, where someone posts something like:

"I was tired/injured so I asked my sparring partner to go light, but after ten seconds he went really hard, so I just had to bring it to him to teach him a lesson so he'll go light next time"

This is a classic situation from BJJ training, that many people will experience and get frustrated by. If you tell your training partner to go light, why doesn't he? There are many answers to how to deal with this, but the typical one of turning up your own intensity to "teach him a lesson", is definitely not the way to go in my opinion.

My take on this is, that learning to go light or to "slowroll" is NOT something that you can just tell someone to do. It must be taught and drilled in class, in order for people to actually acquire the skill. It is as if people expect everyone to be able to do this with no training. In my eyes it is no different than asking beginner at first class to do some coordination drill and then get frustrated that he can't coordinate his body to do it, even though you have never given him the chance to learn and practice it. And even worse, "teach him a lesson" in sparring afterwards, then go post about your frustration on the internet forums ;)

In reply to all these posts around the forums, I have made this video on how I teach people to slowroll and go light in sparring. I've been working on this "system" for quite some time, and I think I finally got it right. I have never seen anyone actually teach this before, so I think this might be one of my most relevant instructionals in a long time. It is probably most interesting for people who run a class and would like to be able to teach this skill, but anyone who wants to take out some time to do these drills on their own with a partner, can learn how to slowroll. I do, however, think that going through this as a group/team, is the optimal way to get most out of it.

Ok, no more talking, there's enough of that in the video. It's 37 minutes long, so make sure you have enough time and patience to listen to me, when you decide to press play ;) Enjoy!

Here is a quick reference of the things I go through in the video, in case you want to print it out or something:

1. Everyone can spar together, regardless of the size or skill difference.
2. Good tool for warming up.
3. You can still spar, if you are injured or tired.
4. Good tool for experimenting.
5. Work on specific situations, without having to fight to get there.
6. Lifts teams level as a whole.
7. Create a training environment with room for everyone.

1. One move each turn
2. Gentleman rules
3. No resistance
4. No time limit

1. One move each turn
2. Gentleman rules
3. No resistance
4. No time limit
5. Do the LEAST likely move possible
6. If it resembles something you know, do ten pushups

1. Always remember the purpose
2. Turn down speed and intensity
3. 50/50
4. Submissions are catch and release
5. Communicate with your partner

I have decided to make a video on the guillotine choke (will be taught by my training partner and Master of the Guillotine, Kári), so the next videos coming up are:

- The loopchoke
- The guillotine choke


Mark said...

In my BJJ class I have students perform slow rolling too. I'll be adding the chess match slow-rolling tomorrow! I can't wait to try this out on my students :)

Some of my slow rolls are geared toward tactical reaction. For example, one slow roll we do is:
Sweep, escape, sweep: I sweep you into mount/sidemount etc..., then you escape and sweep me, I escape your mount/sidemount and so on and so forth. The only resistance we are allowed is 10% strength and 100% balance.

The other is: sweep, attack, freeze. They counter sweep, attack, freeze...and so forth.

The goal is to build up a series of muscle memory setups and keep injuries low.

Keep up the good work, I really enjoy your blog.


Georgette said...

Oh this is SO useful :)

Mark said...

As promised, I had my class try out the chess match today. They loved it! Infact, after class we spent another 10 minutes just playing with this slowroll!


Rex said...

thanks a lot for this dude, it's very insightful.
and Cornholio was hilarious,
I need tee pee for my bungholio!

fenix said...

Thanks very much for posting this.

I took class last night and told the guys they were part of an experiment ;-)

After a very light warm up (joint mobility exercises only) I explained the rules which I printed off from your post. We did the chess drill for a while, then the monkey drill and finally some more of the chess drill.

The guys seemed to enjoy it and it was well received by all, from exp. blue though to new white belts. There was lots of experimentation, laughing, thinking and learning.

Next opportunity we'll do more drills and then get into slow rolling.

Thank you so much!

SenseiMattKlein said...

This looks great! Can't wait to try it. Seems like my injuries are more common as I get older. This could be one excellent solution.

Bonnie L said...

Just curious if you're aware this content has been reposted at ? If not then, well...