Developing a Stronger BJJ Game Through Play, Flow Rolling, and Situation-Specific Drilling… Plus a Few Fun Games

5 min read
Developing a Stronger BJJ Game Through Play, Flow Rolling, and Situation-Specific Drilling… Plus a Few Fun Games

Developing a Stronger BJJ Game Through Play, Flow Rolling, and Situation-Specific Drilling… Plus a Few Fun Games

Looking at the importance of exploration your game through play on the mats

Location: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Play is a vital skill used for exploration and refinement of your abilities. It allows for techniques and concepts to be explored and tried non-confrontationally. Play is not only for kids but also a vital tool to help adults work through their movements and develop pathways to favorite attacks and positions. Within the Jiu-Jitsu community, play is often referred to as “flow rolling.” The variables of Play can be adjusted to produce different outcomes or goals depending on the desired result. 

Purpose of flowing rolling

The purpose of flowing can be adjusted to help develop different reactions, transitions and create new systems to complement your style. Utilizing situation-specific starting points and allowing for instinctual mat development is a positive byproduct of Playing games. There are a variety of different games that have been developed that can be utilized to keep your training fresh. 

The objective

The goal or objective of Play can vary depending on what type of variable you introduce, take away, or change. Some common variables to adjust are partner reaction strength (partner reacts at a certain percentage, 20%, 30%), the intensity of action (perform at max speed), frequency of submission attempts, force of application, and playing defensively or offensively. By changing the objective, you will be able to produce unique results. Playing games will allow for hidden attributes to be developed. An example would be aerobic and anaerobic fitness, which is developed by the erratic movements associated with grappling and varying energy expenditure. 

Two Young students laughing in a no-Gi class

When you are having fun and challenging yourself with a game, you will either match or exceed your partner’s level of energy. Having favorite training partners with whom you can work well with will allow you to progress your cardiovascular conditioning without even knowing it.

Flow roll with purpose  

Giving a purpose to Play can help find optimal solutions to the complexities of grappling. Taking the serious nature out of the roll and just focusing on getting mat time can help unlock talent and movements that exist when exploring. For example, having one partner trying to escape while the other partner is trying to not allow the escape. When there is no imminent threat when performing actions, you gain the ability to try different actions and reactions you would not otherwise try due to the threat of being choked or submitted. 

By developing a purpose for your mat encounters, you can gain an understanding of what is meant by “flow” rolling. Many times, during exploration, you can gain insight into positions that may be lacking in your game and ultimately be able to develop new systems. Many top-level practitioners have developed new guards or have been able to enhance new submissions. One name that comes to mind is Keenan Cornelius, a mastermind in the Gi and has been able to develop many different guards, such as Worm guard, Squid guard, etc., through years of experimentation.

Situation-specific drills

Using the concept of Playing in training situation-specific drills can help figure out routes or transitions between different aspects of your game. Gaining valuable time in the positions that you may otherwise not experience frequently allows you to be more comfortable and gain familiarity. Playing around and flowing allows players the ability to work their kinesthetic awareness (awareness of one’s body in space and time). 

Taking the back No-Gi in class

For example, if you closed your eyes, you would know where your arm is in proportion to your head or legs. Feeling out the situation-specific position builds the mental pathways, so you understand what to do when an opponent puts you there. The deadliest Jiu-Jitsu players have split-second thought processes or don’t even think when encountering these positions.  If you use the mode of Play, you refine your skills with no pressure on performance. What is nice is if you get caught during rolling, you can just start again. 

The Game of T.A.P by Frontline Academy

There are different games out on the market designed to make playing Jiu-Jitsu easier. The games utilize positions, submissions, and commands that come in various forms, such as large dice, a deck of cards, and phone applications. Utilizing this new way of thinking for your training is interesting because it keeps things fresh and adds a new perspective on achievement. An exciting game that has been developed using dice entitled T.A.P comes from Frontline Academy out of Norway. The game follows the structure of the basketball game entitled P.I.G, where players who are successful get a letter. The players must roll a set of 4 dice and follow the guidelines on the dice. The person who can fulfill the dice requirements would get a letter, and the person who gets T.A.P wins the game. Check out the video:

Game of T.A.P with Tommy Lilleskog Langaked

“Game of Rolls”

Another great game that utilizes a deck of cards is entitled “Game of Rolls.” The premise of this game is picking a card in secret and fulfilling the requirements on the card. The conditions could be to submit your partner with a leg lock, achieve the mount position or get 6 points on your partner[1]

Foundation and next level

There is nothing more primitive than the art of Play. It can be used to help explore and enhance your Jiu-Jitsu game. Giving your Jiu-Jitsu an objective or purpose can help to unlock more potential from your sessions. The nature of Play allows for you to explore the various positions, and by changing variables such as intensity, force, or even frequency, you can develop a variety of attributes. 

Being able to flow in situation-specific positions makes your comfort level more fluent and allows for mastery. To help you utilize different methods of playing, you can utilize games that include dice, cards, or phone apps. There is nothing more freeing and liberating to your game than being able to have fun while helping to develop your game. If you are not engaging in sessions where Play is utilized, it is not too late to add this valuable tool to the mix.

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[1] https://www.gameofrolls.com/en/

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