The point is to commit. Rob Kahn advocates a 70/30 rule, wherein you roll with people you can beat 70% of the time, and the other 30% you go for other far more challenging rolls. Before I started committing I was literally just rolling around with no purpose trying not to get caught in submissions.
In either situation, one must commit to something. In the 70% situations, you are doing a few good things for yourself. The first thing your doing is overcoming obstacles easily to get to your end point. Psychologically, you are conditioning yourself to win. Every time you win, you are getting better at doing your reps--the movements that take you to your end point.
As your opponents get better at defending, you will hopefully get better at overcoming obstacles as they occur more frequently and defensively.
For the jits, I like to give myself the following checklist. I don't actively think of it in list form during rolling, but it's there. The list is as follows, if I am starting in guard:
- Get control in a dominant position
- Work the submission
Initially, this will not work 100% of the time. You'll go to pass, and fail or get caught in a submission. You won't get the sweep, or you won't lock the submission correctly. That's ok. One of the things Kris emphasises to me is that he worries about his own shit and not what the other person is doing--when he goes to pass the guard, he gets the limbs out of the way to get the position and gets the pass, while the opponent is doing their thing.
From Gabe I learn to accept and get into positions in a way that leaves me calm and not in a frenzy. I can't emphasize this enough for a beginner: don't go apeshit if someone gets you in side control or full mount. Let them move, let them fuck up and capitalize on it.
Among these four steps listed, learn a few different ways to accomplish the goal. If one pass doesn't work, do the other one. If it gets defended, go back and forth and land the damn thing (whichever one you end up going for). In one of his after class speeches (which he swears none of us ever listen to) Rob will always ask who the better person will be--the one who went for 200 arm bars in a year of training, or the person who backed out, didn't engage and didn't go for anything (I listened, Rob).
One of the final pieces that I don't do nearly enough of as specifically as I could comes from Frankie. Use the rolling to find out your weaknesses, and drill them so they aren't so weak anymore, while using the minimal effective amount of effort. Use the 70/30 method, you will have a good cycle of training ahead of you.
If you follow the 70/30 rule, you'll get better at not getting caught while being an active player in your own jits game, and you will land the passes, and what not provided you commit to them. Don't stop the pass at the slightest indiscretion and give up. You won't have a clean rep of what you want to do. These steps helped my game out tremendously and will do so for you, most likely.
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