Do you gas after your first three or four rounds of rolling? Would you like to increase the amount of time you can roll during a given training session? Here are some tips to help you be able to roll for longer.
1. Roll with less intensity. That’s right- less intensity. BJJ is not a Crossfit workout or a sprint. Although intensity, speed, and power have a time and place in grappling, most people who have been training for less than five years need to seriously dial back the ALL CAPS INTENSITY that they bring to jiu jitsu practice. This will not help you learn jiu jitsu, which should be your ultimate goal with any training session (not beating your partner up, by contrast). For more information on rolling with less intensity, check out this article on the subject.
2. “Flow roll” some rounds. This isn’t quite the same as simply rolling with less intensity, although you certainly have to start to master step 1 before you can attempt step 2 in earnest. You will need a partner with a similar mindset in order to accomplish flow rolling. You have to relax and allow your partner to achieve the next position after you achieve a position, and he or she should do the same. In this manner, you can go back and forth in a sort of “jiu jitsu chess match” that will end only when the round is up. This kind of mental exercise is truly beneficial for working through some interesting positions; you can roll completely without fear.
3. Hydrate! Often neglected, always important, staying hydrated while rolling will ensure that you don’t feel like you’re dying quite as quickly. Remember that if you’re extremely thirsty, it’s already too late, so you should attempt to show up for practice already hydrated. Make sure you are drinking water throughout the day, especially on days when you’re going to be training. Your body will thank you with increased endurance.
4. Relax at the right times (when you have a dominant position, or when you have a neutral, static position). At its core, jiu jitsu is primarily anaerobic exercise, meaning that you will use short bursts of energy during certain portions of the roll, but will rest for larger stretches of time. Learn to relax at the right times (more than half of the time!). This is not stalling, but rather using proper control and maintenance to control your partner. Start resting when you have a dominant position, or even when you have an inferior position, but you are waiting for your opponent to move so that you can look to escape. This will require more patience than you may be used to using when rolling, but the benefits will be tremendous.
5. Let your partner escape. Wait, what? You want me to do… what?
Take a deep breath. This is going to benefit you on several levels you can probably already figure out to an extent (less energy expended on your part, not trying to “win the gym Olympics”, etc), but the main reason this helps you is that you get to see how your partner is escaping. This is tremendously beneficial. You will find that unexpected reactions will occur the first few times you go for a submission and allow your partner to work out of it, but eventually patterns will form. If you simply shut your partner’s escape attempts down every time, you won’t get to see how they are escaping. On the other hand, if you resist the urge to get the tap every single time, you will learn a great deal more about how to prevent it in the future, especially if someone more athletic (or far better at the escape) than your partner tries it next time.