I recall a conversation with a white belt friend of mine who was one year into BJJ.
He told me that he was rolling with an experienced blue belt and suddenly, “without reason” the blue belt turned up the intensity and went really hard, tapping my buddy out with a knee on the belly.
I explained to my naive white belt buddy what likely happened. This is based on my conversations with a great many advanced guys.
What probably transpired was the advanced belt (from this point on known as AB) was looking to enjoy a technical, fun roll. The AB knew he could control the white belt quite easily, but the AB decided to “let his foot off the gas pedal” and let the white belt into the game.
Unfortunately, my buddy probably didn’t recognize the AB was going easier and “smelled blood” as soon as he got into a submission position. He started panting and saw his chance to finally tap an AB after months of tapping to them. He attacked 100%.
This dismayed the AB. Here he was trying to exchange positions with the white belt, and the guy was head hunting him! This must be corrected. Order must be restored. The level was therefore turned up with the inevitable result of the white belt getting emphatically tapped.
Before you criticize the AB for bringing the weight of the law down on my buddy, understand the AB.
He just wants to get in some fun rolls. He is not entered the finals of the Mundials! If he shuts down the white belt, the roll will be boring. Pass the guard, submit from top, repeat. So for the benefit of all involved, he lets the white belt get some positions.
But the white belt doesn’t recognize this. He thinks that he has suddenly figured out the AB and is going to dispense some righteous retribution!
This pisses off a lot of AB’s. They really want to have fun, productive rolls with you. But if you try to take advantage of a position that they gave you, they feel that violates the spirit of the roll.
I had the chance to roll with the great Andre Galvao at a seminar once. I could approach this one of two ways:
1) Go 100% and see how long I could survive before the inevitable
2) Try to move and exchange positions with one of the best grapplers on planet.
I decided for #2. Galvao interpreted this as being playful and ran circles around me. He would catch a submission and then allow me to escape, prolonging the roll. After allowing me to roll around for a while, he mercifully delivered the coup de gras with a rear collar choke, which I vowed he would not catch me with! It was really fun.
What is the takeaway from my ramblings?
When you are rolling with an AB, please recognize that they are looking to have a technical roll in most cases. If you find yourself in a dominant position, it is most likely that they allowed it to happen. Don’t be “that guy” and try to take their head off. Then they will let you play.