If you’re not getting submitted in training there’s a chance you’re doing things wrong. When I roll, I’m not trying to beat my training partners. Rather, I put myself where I am vulnerable and uncomfortable and then I try to find my way out, all while this other person is actively trying to submit me. I call these spots the “deep waters.” It sucks. But I am better for it.
When you train you should explore the deep waters. A major goal that every jiu-jitsu practitioner should strive for is to be completely comfortable in the worst scenarios. If you’re rolling to “win” every time, there’s a good chance you’ll lose at a competition.
This comes about for two main reasons:
- If you do wind up getting caught in a bad situation, you won’t have the experience or comfort in those situations. This makes victory after a momentary defeat unlikely.
- Your game will be closed off and tight out of fear of being put in a bad situation, thus decreasing the efficiency of your jiu-jitsu.
Good jiu-jitsu is the ability to impose your will on others and force them to only do what you want them to do. Great jiu-jitsu is the ability to allow others to do whatever they want but still impose your will on them. I don’t want to settle for good.
If you explore deep waters you’ll find you get tapped out more often. Teammates who I know for a fact I could defeat in competition submit me on a fairly regular basis because I let them establish their most powerful and dominant positions and then and only then try to figure my way out. It sucks, it bruises my ego, but it has made me far more difficult to submit.
Doing this also gives me the ability to break opponents in submission-only competition. If they have no frying pan or fire to throw me into, what are they going to do? Because of this I have been able to win matches against people who probably would beat me if I weren’t so comfortable everywhere they put me. Become comfortable even when you are uncomfortable and you will be able to solve many more puzzles than most.
If you want to be the practice champ, never put yourself in bad positions. Fight tooth and nail to jockey for position, wasting probably half of every roll. When you get to those bad positions spazz and either get submitted or throw your training partner off of you, possibly hurting them with an errant knee or elbow.
Guess what? No one cares if you escape or get submitted. The reality is, if that’s how you roll, if you are so concerned about not getting to bad situations in training, you will be completely and utterly screwed if you are ever in one of those situations in a real life or in a competition.
Explore the deep waters and become well acquainted with them. Learn the nooks and crannies of your own game. Determine in what positions you are weakest, and work on those until they become familiar, comfortable territory. Or don’t and lose out on one of the best feelings in jiu-jitsu: the security of knowing that no matter where you are when grappling, you can be comfortable and safe.