The benefits of rolling with lower ranked teammates

Kroyler’s Pro-Tip on the benefits of rolling with people that aren’t as good as you or with newbies…

So, if you are more experienced or better grappler what benefit could there be with rolling with a white belt? Or a newbie? Well to do that we must explain the difference between tough and good.

Someone can be very tough and not good at all…. Others can be good and tough…

So, for the sake of this pro-tip understand that good and tough are defined as follows:


I define someone that is “good” as someone that is technical, fluid and consistent. Technical in that is someone with a broad and deep knowledge base. Fluid as someone that can put their knowledge base to good use by connecting all the dots, and in a roll can flow in and out of a technique and in and out of other techniques. Consistency is someone that is fluid and knowledgeable in most positions is steady on a day to day basis, meaning they don’t have days where they are incredible followed by days where they are horrible.

These are the guys that are so flowy and technical that they make you feel incapable or as if you don’t know jiu-jitsu. These are the guys that seem to not be struggling. They make it look easy with very “minimal” effort.

Generally good guys are also tough guys too as they tend to be on the better end of every exchange.


I define tough as someone that is difficult to roll with. They may be the people that are stubborn, that break the flow, that perform anti-jiu-jitsu. Keeping these definitions simple, “stubborn” would be someone that is likely to muscle and fight everything that they want. These are the people refuse to tap to a submission, the people that fight out of things on sheer brute force or fight into things on sheer brute force or size or athleticism. Breaking the flow, would be the people that will stall out or hold on to a position once they achieve it with no desire to improve it. They are the people that get to side mount and just hold on and do nothing. The people performing anti-jiu-jitsu are the people that know enough jiu-jitsu to not make mistakes but that aren’t necessarily trying to win, they just don’t want to lose.

Generally tough people are good but that’s not always the case. You can be very tough and have complete garbage jiu-jitsu.

These are the guys that you know you will beat but that are going to just fight everything and that are more a chore to roll with than are worth it. On the other hand, good guys are guys that you know odds are you are going to lose to but that are fun to roll with.

So, when we are becoming more experience we may feel that we need to roll with all the good guys and the tough guys because iron sharpens iron and all that….

But that’s not true, iron does not sharpen iron… Steel, alloys and abrasives sharpen iron… Meaning its not toughness that makes you tough its quality of training.

Meaning while its true that rolling with good guys will make you good, its not true that rolling with tough guys will make you good, it will make you tough. But this is a discussion for a different episode.

Because of the commonality of the saying iron sharpens iron everyone believes it to be true which causes the less experienced people or the lower belts to feel that they aren’t a good roll for you or you may even feel they aren’t worth your time since they can’t make you better.

That’s so far from the truth…

To improve any skill, you must go through the following steps and different people will help you through these steps and through this process:

1.Learn the theory/concept

a.Learning the previous study done on a technique

b.This is your professor or coach teaching you

2.Understand and comprehend the theory/concept

a.Making sure the material from step 1 is being absorbed efficiently

b.This is you asking questions and engaging in class

3.Perform the skill that is to be developed

a.This is drilling

b.Any partner of any level can do this

4.Develop skill performance

a.This is executing the skill in a controlled environment (rolling) against minor resistance so that major/gross adjustments can be made

b.This can be done with anyone but its easiest to be done when rolling with people that aren’t as experienced as you. As even through their best efforts their resistance will still be very minimal. Gross adjustments can be made without any major repercussions.

If you try to make major/gross adjustments against your level or a higher level they’ll escape and the common thought pattern after a failed technique against someone more experienced is “I cant do anything to them anyways, or I will never catch them” because they will assume the gross error that needed correcting was caused by the more experienced partner not by their own ineptness.

5.Honing skill performance

a.This is executing the skill in a controlled environment against increasing levels of resistance and difficulty so that minor adjustments/corrections can be made.

b.This is best done with higher levels. This is where you discover the small imperfections in your game and what nuances need to be fixed. The higher the level the smaller imperfections that can be discovered and corrected. Lower belts can’t do that for you as they won’t punish you for the small nuances,so you’ll assume you have no small mistakes.

6.Reviewing the technique

a.Looking back at when a technique is most successful and when its least successful and trying to see where corrections need to be made so that it can improve.

b.This is all you or you and your coach. This is troubleshooting

7.Re-Develop and Re-Hone the skill performance

a.Upon reviewing the technique re-perform steps 4 and 5 for any issues you have encountered.

8.Reflex development

a.Removing thought from the action. Meaning you are now trying to develop awareness for the appropriate situation needed for the specific technique and you are trying to feel the right time. You at this stage are trying to perform the task without having to think about it or at least very minimally.

b.This is aided by everyone. If you are at this stage, you’ll be looking to develop this feel for the highest level possible but to get there you must work your way up from least level of experience to the highest level of experience.

Therefore, it's important to value people of all levels because you can learn from everyone. Avoiding a roll because its too easy or too difficult only hurts you. And if you think someone is so low level its not worth your time grow the fuck up. You were that someone that was so low level that you weren’t worth someone else’s time. But they invested in you not spited you. Don’t spit in the face of those that came before you, those that invested in your growth, by thinking you are better than them. You are not.

Kip Dice