If you’ve been training for a while now, you’re probably excited to be trying out new techniques. Berimbolos, deep half guard sweeps, reverse De la Riva guard techniques… these are all terrifically fun BJJ chess moves to figure out. Very few things feel better on the mats than executing something you just learned how to do last month.
However, jiu jitsu offers a great deal more than just flowing through complicated, advanced techniques. Rolling with new guys on a regular basis is incredibly important to you. Here’s why:
1. Practicing the basics
This is an often-overlooked aspect of training- not simply because more advanced guys don’t think they need to work on their fundamentals, but rather because the brand new guy offers something the more advanced practitioner doesn’t: the true beginner’s reaction. When I roll with blue, purple, brown, and black belts, I enjoy playing all kinds of open guard, using intricate passing combinations, and chaining together submissions in order to try to finish the match. However, with brand new guys, I get the opportunity to practice fundamental guillotine chokes, hip bump sweeps, and basic rear naked chokes on a regular basis.
2. Unexpected reactions
Rolling with a new guy (or girl) is like a box of chocolates. You really have no clue what kind of reaction you’re going to get when you try a technique. Watching how beginners deal with your attacks can actually give you some great ideas as to how to adjust your game accordingly. Ask yourself: what did that guy do that frustrated me? Why did it frustrate me? Most importantly, how can I integrate this into my own game?
3. Controlling the spazz factor
This might be my favorite thing about working with the jiu jitsu novice. My style is a creeping, slow one that involves relatively little risk for injury for both me and my partner. When you are faced with a brand new beginner, protecting yourself and them has to be paramount when you roll. Learning to take care of your partner is extremely valuable in both the short and long term, and so is learning to slow down the spazz. This attribute becomes reflexive after enough work with beginners. When a blue belt suddenly flips out because you have caught him in a submission he hasn’t seen before, instead of injuring, you will have the familiarity with the position and be able to control the spazz factor.