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Unproductive to roll against vastly superior BJJ players?

I've trained BJJ for about 1.5 years, 1-2 times pr week. 

When sparring, I sometimes pick lesser experienced students in order to practice attacks, and sometimes I pick partners that are stronger/more skilled than myself to practice defense and to challenge myself.

However I occasionally meet a purple, brown or black belt and am utterly destroyed and I get the feeling that these sessions are very unproductive.

I am immediately pulled into positions/guards that I have no idea on how to defend, and just do random stuff in order to not get submitted. These random movements are never remembered should they by some miracle work, as they are not in any context or related to any position that I'm familiar with. (Exaggerating a bit to make a point.)

Any offensive moves that I try are immediately negated, normally before I am close to finishing a technique. Passing guard or getting into sidemount or mount never happens.

Some of the high belts, put themselves in vulnerable positions and destroy me from there, this I don't mind as I get to practice the stuff I've already learned like passing and maintaining mount and so on. 

But as explained above, other high belts just leave me with the impression that I've learned/practiced nothing after a roll. This leads to the initial question, was the roll unproductive or even a waste of time? If so, should these partners be avoided in order to learn more/improve faster?

Not sure if it's the best example, but how much would a novice chess player learn from playing a world champion? 
Another: When beginning to learn to throw a tennis ball with accuracy, do you learn more from throwing at an object at 5 meters or the same object at 30 meters?


  • jackjitsujackjitsu Posts: 19,353
    You're right that youre probably not getting a lot out of those rolls because they are just too far ahead of you.  Try to make them better by ASKING THEM how you could have done better every time you get submitted.

    I always do this with early belts, even when they dont ask.  I identify their overall issue and coach them on how to improve in that area.

    So try getting feedback from them moving forward.
  • Tyharris14Tyharris14 Posts: 3,418
    I would say it isn't as beneficial for someone very new (read:white belts/maybe early blue) before you're familiar with all positions and submissions and situations, but for someone at mid blue belt up through black belt you can learn a ton by rolling with people much better than you.
  • lzybmbjj30lzybmbjj30 Posts: 317
    I think it's important to build on your knowledge of jiu-jitsu and make sure you have a solid grasp of the basic fundamentals.  You would be surprised at how many people with your level of experience don't know how to do a simple hip escape from the mount.  This is usually the fault of the instructor in not providing an easy to follow curriculum for his student to follow.  The instructor also needs to make sure his students actually know and can perform such techniques even if only in demonstration.

    It's funny that at my last school where I trained we had a morning and evening class.  The morning class had like 3 black belts and a few browns and purples.  The evening class was mostly whites and blues.  Some white belts could only attend the morning class so they were constantly rolling with higher ranks.  We used to joke about how there was definitely a difference in rolling with morning white belts as opposed to evening white belts.  That being said regardless of how tough you get rolling with higher rank, it's better to have the knowledge rather than struggling in vain making every mistake in the book.  I suppose it's possible to learn that way but why not take the guess work and frustration out of it?

  • Keep in mind that upper belt is training too.  Sometimes I beat the crap out of lower belts, but GENERALLY I let them work and use it as opportunity for me to work certain things (like guard retention or back escapes).  So if for example they are using correct technique on a guard pass I may let them pass...then work restoring guard.

    Said different remember sometimes you will be the hammer and sometimes the nail.  It depends on what both parties are doing.

    You can learn from EVERY roll.

  • GABJJgirlGABJJgirl Posts: 57
    I agree with Jackjitsu -- use your words and ask what to do. when I roll with people much better than me, I go into with a learning mentality, see if I can survive their attacks and Ask when I get stuck.
  • regaldeagleregaldeagle Posts: 290
    You don't realize what you are learning subconsciously. If you keep at it, you will get better but it won't be overnight. Just keep training. Is normal.
  • jthomas1600jthomas1600 Posts: 555
    If you're just catching random purple, brown and black belts once in a while and they're just destroying you you're right, it can be hard to find the value in it. However, if you don't shy away from the upper belts and roll with them every chance you get, chances are you'll earn their respect and develop a rolling relationship with them and they will start to roll with you in a way that is beneficial to you and them. 
  • squintssquints Posts: 12
    I know the feeling well being just a 2 year white belt.  But like others have already said once you change your mindset into a learning type mindset.  At first it was frustrating because you seem like just a grappling dummy for them.  Once I started asking questions however every higher belt I roll with is eager to offer suggestions/guidance.  Sometimes during the roll sometimes after.  I have found it to be very valuable for my type of learning.  It especially helps me to pay attention to what they are doing to me to understand what I should be doing should to others. 
  • rediskarediska Posts: 1,265
    While it can be extremely painful to have the shit smashed out of you, there is a value to rolling with those who have technical superiority. One of the reasons I got good was that I constantly challenged my teachers. They warned be to cool off and back down into "my spot", but I wouldn't listen. 
  • honkytonkhonkytonk Posts: 225
    I think its important you do but its all about balance you need to roll with all levels.
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