Starting the sparring classes
So you have just completed the fundamentals classes. You have worked your way through the basic BJJ techniques and you are now looking forward to joining the main class. There are now both sparring and technique only classes available to you. Not only are you learning new techniques, you can now start using them in the sparring classes if you like. So what will sparring be like?
Being able to use your techniques against a resisting opponent is known as sparring or rolling. Firstly you have nothing to be nervous about! There is nothing harder than that first step into the gym to start training. You’ve already done that and stuck to it by completing the fundamentals course.
Maybe the thought of being submitted is worrying you? Everyone on the mat has been submitted hundreds of time. We all just carry on rolling and get up for work the next day. This is because you are totally in control as you can stop rolling any time by tapping. The first thing to remember about sparring at the club is that you can tap. Tapping is when you lightly slap your partner a few times. Yes it’s that obvious. It is also worth remembering that you don’t have to tap with your hand. You can bang on the mat with your foot a few times. Or you can always just say “tap” out loud. You will end up in some unfamiliar positions whilst sparring, but you always have options. Most of the times you will use your instincts and try and figure a way to better the position. You always have control of the situation. If you’re uncomfortable or want to stop you can simply tap. The biggest rule on the mats is when your partner taps you stop!
So you are good with the idea of sparring but the next question is where do I start? It is usually a good idea as a beginner to start from a specific position. This could be closed guard, so you can practise your sweeps. Or you could go on top and work closed guard breaking. This is the start of something I will continue to repeat. Use each roll as an opportunity to learn. As a beginner you should not really be looking to “win” a roll. Your main focus should be learning. Learning to apply your techniques and learning what others are doing to stop you.
Another good way to learn is to talk to your partner. If they sweep, pass or submit you, ask them for some feedback. Remember just because you get your guard passed or tapped does not mean you are not doing it right. Knowledge of techniques and counters to these techniques comes with time. So if your rolling partner has been training longer then you this is going to happen. Don’t worry about it. Keep asking questions and training the techniques you have been shown. If you are getting really stuck speak to a higher belt. Higher belts have all been beginners just like you. They will have no problem giving you a few pointers about a specific issue you might be coming up against when rolling.
Oh and you don’t have to worry about finding a partner when the rolling starts. Head Coach Steve will match you up until you start to get the hang of things. Just breathe and have fun, that is what training at Stealth BJJ is all about.