Your Role in learning to Roll – The Bjj student's responsibility in self learning

I read one black belt quote that by the time to student reaches purple belt, they should have seen nearly all of the techniques they need to become a black belt. This is not a comment that the student no longer requires the influence of their black belt professor!

This suggests that the student now has a larger role in directing their own training and perfecting the techniques that they know.

Read also: Ideas to Improve Your “A Game”

I have observed two different approaches to learning bjj among students who are training regularly:

1) The student who comes to class, performs only the moves and repetitions prescribed by the instructor during the class, rolls and then heads for home.

And this is fine. This is what the student wants out of their training and will continue to improve with regular class attendance and training.


2) The student who will see the techniques demonstrated by the professor in class, sit at the edge of the mat and make notes of what they saw in class. Then go home, get on YouTube to search for every variation and study different details.
They might look through their bjj instructionals collection to see what another top instructor says about that same position and the variations. The student will return to class, ask another student to drill the technique over and over again.
The student will deconstruct the technique: “What if I place my grip higher instead of lower?” “How does it work if I put my body weight higher or lower?”
The student will bring some further questions to the instructor about the position: “How will my opponent seek to counter this?” “What is the way to set up this technique?”

This student has taken the technique the instructor introduced and then applied their own self-study to go deeper into the position.


There is a word for this: autodidact.

While it is possible to learn by more passive methods – just repeating what the instructor shows – students in any area of learning will take that initial exposure of a new idea and apply their own efforts and research to go deeper.

Another important point to understand is that one’s bjj is highly individual. You may have physical attributes and preferences for a different game than your own instructor.

It becomes more important for you to take an active role in your own learning and seek out other advanced students for their advice, numerous online sources of learning and getting together with training partners and deconstructing and putting back together the techniques.


Look for ways you can take an more active role in your own learning and deepen your knowledge of jiu-jitsu!

Read also: Advanced Methods: Limit Your Training

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Taipei, Taiwan
Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJEND