Rolling ability vs knowledge

Kroyler’s Pro-Tip on Rolling ability and should we all be held to the same standards?

Well I can’t speak in the behalf of all instructors out there, I can only speak on my own thoughts and opinions on this topic.

So, are we all born the same?  No, we aren’t.

Are we all raised the same?  No, we aren’t.

Do we all have the same lives?  No, we don’t.

So how does that fit into a sport where we try to standardize teaching and the students progress? It doesn’t.

The way I personally look at it is we are all different, from different background, with different life factors, so why not focus on the end goal instead of the mile markers?

Here’s what I mean...

Everyone is concerned on comparing how good they are, or someone else is, in comparison to others. Quit it. Think simply on how good you are. Not on how good you are compared to them. We have discussed this in great detail during the episodes in which we discussed the stripes in the white belt.

So, Paul asked me the question of if we are all different and whatnot why do we hold everyone to the same standards? Or rather he wanted to know if we shouldn’t hold everyone to the same standards.

Before I answer Paul’s, question let me throw something out there.

To me personally, someone naturally extremely talented, with no responsibilities, with lots of drive and hard work, no injuries, with the means to train all the time should have no reason to not get his/her black belt in 3-6 years. We hear of this all the time with people like, Caio Terra and BJ Penn, and of course it makes sense. And this is very impressive.

On the other hand, to me personally, the naturally untalented, with tons of responsibilities, with lots of drive and hard work, potentially previous injuries, without the means of training all the time should still be able to get their black belts if they are driven and work hard. May take 12-20 years give or take. This too is extremely very impressive.

People will say clearly the faster superstar black belt is more impressive or deserving than the overly-ordinary slower black belt. I say that’s bullshit. Anyone can do something that they are naturally good at for 3-6 years, hell, you’re good at it, it’s  going to be fun every day, you're only going to have good days. However, being in training where you struggle more constantly than others, meaning sticking to something you may not love, due to your struggles or seeing others moving past you or being tapped by people that don’t know as much, for 12-20 years is fucking impressive. Its impressive because preserving though hard times is hard. Imagine for 12-20 years.

Side note, I think anyone can get to blackbelt if they work hard and they have the drive for it.

So now with all those things in mind lets answer Pauline’s question.

I personally hold everyone to the same standards, I test all my students for their belts, they must know the same exact curriculum and be proficient at it in order to pass the test, meaning the knowledge portion. When it comes to live application of knowledge, meaning the rolling, that is where things get more complex.

Live application of knowledge translates to ability. I expectallmy students to have the same minimum ability level as their peers. Meaning my blue belts should easily beat out the white belts and occasionally struggle with the white belt that is near the blue belt. Those same blue belts should occasionally cause a purple belt to struggle.  And so on and so forth.

The maximum ability level at each belt is where everyone gets caught up as everyone measures or feels they should measure to the best guy in each rank.

Let me ask a better question does maximum ability level change?

Absolutely! Age, illnesses, injuries, life, family, work, stresses, all of these will lower or increase your maximum ability level and they will change over time both for the better and for the worse.

However, the minimum ability level should never change. Meaning at your worst day against the toughest opponent you should be able to perform at a certain ability level dependent on your rank and experience. Meaning if you’re a blue belt, on your worst day you should still beat out the white belts, occasionally struggle with the more senior white belts, and you should occasionally make the baby purple belt struggle.

I hope that makes sense.


Where I may differ from other instructorsis that I expect only the best from my students and should they not reach or meet my expectations then it is not them that fail, but me.

My job is to make my students the best version of themselves and to make their jiu-jitsu incredible. To make them surpass me. Until they have done that, it is my failure not theirs. This allows me to put the burden on myself. To drive me to find ways to improve them. Ways to motivate them. Ways to make them see their potential and their maximum ability as I see it, something that can be achieved.

Until my students have surpassed my knowledge and ability level I have failed. I teach my students to think of making the team better and not just themselves as the better our training partners are the better we become collectively.

This ideology causes 3 amazing things.

1: It inspires everyone to reach out and try to reach their maximum ability and knowledge level.

2:  it allows for an environment where everyone wants to see each other succeed and will work to that.

3:  it allows me to hold them to a higher standard which I do.

I got side tracked there.  So, Pauline should we change standards? Long story short no. Because I don’t measure how fast someone got to a destination, only that they achieve the same destinations with the same traveling experience. Its about the end destination not the speed. After all we are all journeying the same path in this amazing jiu-jitsu lifestyle. Right Kippers?

Kip Dice