In case you haven’t already guessed from reading my previous posts, Marcelo Garcia is probably my favorite grappler. His transitions are amazingly fluid, his style of rolling is dynamic and fun to watch, and he doesn’t hesitate to go for submissions.
I recently got a subscription to MGinaction (Marcelo’s site), which offers daily instructional videos from Marcelo’s own lessons, as well as a massive library of his sparring videos. Immediately upon watching his daily rolls with other instructors and students, I was struck by how dynamic each sparring session is. He and his training partners seem almost care-free when they roll. They don’t hang onto submissions at all costs. They don’t stall and wait out the clock. They smoothly chain techniques together, and allow each other to work.
To see what I mean, check out this video. In it, Marcelo is rolling with one of the black belt instructors at his school (and describing his thoughts on the roll with a voice-over).
After watching this video (along with many others from his site), I’ve realized that I am far too rigid when I roll. Of course, these guys are some of the best in the world, and my rolls are not going to look this fluid. However, I am too focused on playing the best part of my jiu jitsu game, and not relaxed enough to let my training partners work their games as well.
I love playing closed guard, and as a result, my rolls will often end up with a training partner stuck in my closed guard for 5 minutes (or a training partner clenching onto side-control at all costs after passing my guard, out of fear of ending up stuck in it again). For example, check out the video at the 3:20 mark. Marcelo mentions that he opted for the 1-legged X-guard, which kept the roll active by offering his opponent an easier escape. In a different video, Marcelo points out that “it’s important to loosen up, let the guy go, to see how he is escaping.”
From now on, I’ll work towards opening up my game. I’ll let myself get taken into deeper waters, and placed in uncomfortable and unfamiliar positions. Rather than constantly using the same submissions, sweeps, and positions I am accustomed to, I’ll strive to incorporate and improve upon techniques I’m less familiar with. I’ll strive for relaxed rolling, and hopefully improve my game (and that of my training partners) as a result.