Running with the Wolves: Matching your opponent’s pace.

“Hey, can we roll light?”
I think every grappler has heard this question at least once, only to have it followed by a roll with the intensity of a mundial final… How should you deal with a training partner or opponent who keeps elevating the pace or does not know how to moderate it? 

The answer is quite simple: you need to be capable enough to either match their pace or use your technique to dictate the pace your want in a fight. At the very bottom line, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a self defence based martial art. In a self defence situation, your attacker is not going to ask you how hard you want to go; you are most likely going to have to fight for your life. This is something you should be aware of in your training and practice too. Do you avoid rolling with the spazz dude or the guy who goes 100 % before they bass out after one roll? If so, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You need to learn how to roll with that person just like you need to learn how to roll with a very technical, tactical opponent. 

Setting and dictating the pace of a roll or a competitive bout is an important skill to develop. Does your cardio suck? Then you better hope you can slow your scramble-prone opponent down enough. Is your cardio good? Then you better know how to sustain a pace that your opponent can’t match. You can only learn this by varying your pace during training.

If you roll like a sloth very time you bump fists with your training partner, you’re not going to be prepared for the opponent who is agile and quick. And I’m contrast, if you only rely on speed and agility, you’re not going to be prepared for the slow, steady and methodical opponent who takes those tools away from you.

So next time someone asks you to roll light, tell them you will only go as hard as they go. Watch the expression on their face change. And if at the end of the roll they’re lying in a pool of sweat dying for breathe, you won’t have to say you didn’t warn them. Learn to dictate the pace and you will learn to run with the wolves.

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