Training with Higher Belts

Jess from Jessjits wrote a post about training with higher belts and whether she thought it was ok to ask a higher belt to train at your own academy or at someone else’s, and whether or not it would be considered disrespectful.

I’m sure different schools have different rules for this sort of thing, but at ours in general, lower belts wait for higher belts to pick them for training.  Also for the most part it’s a non-issue, mainly because higher belts are asked to pick their sparring or training partners for matches before lower ranks. In more of an open mat situation, it’s a little more lax but for the most part  if you are a lower rank and you are not sure whether you should ask a higher rank to train (say there are like, 2 or 3 of them warming up or whatever), just sit and wait for someone to ask you. Obviously if it’s just you and one other person free it shouldn’t be that much of an issue. I know from our open mats you’ll be thrown into the mix one way or another: either through a round-robin or someone will grab you to jump in.

I would say if you are visiting another academy, I would definitely err on the side of caution. Also, talk to the instructor and see what their policies are when it concerns live training.

What are the policies at your academy: is it the same as ours, or a little different? Let me know and have a great Wednesday everyone!




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6 responses to “Training with Higher Belts

  1. Having a hierarchy based on belt color in deciding who can roll with who flies in the face of the mentality, “leave your ego at the door.” If a white belt asks me to roll, it tells me they want to learn, not that they are somehow disrespecting me.

    • Katie

      ::shrug:: I take the whole belt thing more as a way to decide who decides based on seniority- essentially, “you’ve been here longer, so you get dibs on who you want to go with.” Beats standing around with our thumbs in our belts.

    • On the one hand, I’d agree. Training with somebody less experienced than you is very beneficial, as it means you can work on techniques you’re less comfortable with. You can also use them to practice defending bad positions, your weak side, training with just your legs, etc. It’s important to train with people less experienced, the same level and also more experienced: ideally, you want the whole range.

      So, I would never turn someone down just because they are a white belt. However, I would absolutely turn them down if they are an injury risk, no matter their belt. Normally that flailing stops by the time they get past white belt, but not always: I have trained with somebody who was still an injury risk at purple. I can even think of at least one person who – though this was told to me second hand by their training partner – still regularly injured people at black belt, but that’s very rare.

      Of course, that doesn’t stop anybody asking me. I can always just say no if I don’t want to roll with them. It’s not generally an issue where I currently train, as the instructor normally pairs people up (and as that instructor is occasionally me, I get to choose my partner :)).

  2. The policy at our academy is anyone can ask anyone else to roll. We always ask the other person if there’s anything we should watch out for (injuries and whatnot) and the intensity they want to go for. I think the best thing about BJJ is the fact that you all learn the same techniques so the higher belts aren’t pulling out these crazy moves that you haven’t seen before (unless you just unwrapped your Gi of course). You may not know how to counter them and, chances are, they are already 5 moves ahead of that one but it’s all a learning experience.

    I think I have learned more (in the 6’ish months I’ve been training) by getting my butt kicked than anything else by the higher belts and I always thank them when we are done.

  3. Pecking order has it’s place, if handled with grace.

    If I take a trip across the country, stop by your academy, and ask you to roll, am I going to be met with a reluctant, “I guess so, Killer J,” followed by uncomfortable silence and eye rolling?

    Probably not, because based on your blog posts you seem pragmatic and not full of yourself. If I did receive that reaction, well, that would suck for me and would also be a poor reflection of your academy.

    For the record, since there isn’t a “light-hearted” font on my computer, please make sure to read my post as if there were.

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