What is the best way to learn how to free train? Do we wait or do we just jump in??
In a lot of Jiu Jitsu schools, you’ll hear people making fun of schools that don't allow you to free train until you're a blue belt. The real question is simple. Should you be able to free train before blue belt? Is this as bad of a policy as everyone thinks? Let's dive in...
I know a lot of upper belts will use the same breath they use to make fun of the aforementioned free training policy to complain about the spazzy white belt they just rolled with. Could limiting free training for White Belts help curb their spazziness? As one myself, I will say yes.
Jiu Jitsu as an art has an ocean of moves to choose from, and in free training as a White Belt, it’s almost like drowning with all the options that are available. Since we don’t really know any better, we act like people that can’t swim and flail around helplessly. Instead of free training, wouldn’t it be more productive for White Belts to gain a grasp of basic positions and concepts? The other side of the coin is we should be free training from the very beginning to experience the necessary failures that contribute to our future skillset.
This is where something like live drilling can come in handy.
As we all know, Jiu Jitsu operates at a base level of chaos, and as white belts, we can’t expect everything to be fun and compliant like drilling. With positional sparring, the complex game of Jiu Jitsu can be condensed into something simple such as escaping side control. In these controlled drills, you can always take the time to talk to your fresh White Belts and get them conditioned to taking pressure and staying calm. Eventually as they improve at holding and escaping these positions, their spazziness should eventually subside. Doing this is much harder in a live roll, since as a KILLER or LION you gotta smash these spazzes into submission, right?
On the the other hand and in my personal opinion you should be free training from day 1!
You have to learn the way most of us learned and be spazzy and technically evolve. We do rely on strength instead of technique more often as a novice in any combat sport especially BJJ. We also need to start to generate the sense of feeling, timing and implementing our geometrical pathways when applying techniques. We cant do this by simply drilling like robots. I say we either jump in the lions pit and become a lion or unexpectedly get torn to shreds in a real confrontation. I will say this again, we fight how we train. The things you do on the mats are likely the same things you will use in the street or during a real confrontation.
Now there’s the issue of what happens at tournament time, when it’s time for your white belts to step up to the plate. If they haven’t free-trained, how can they succeed? Well, would you bet your money on the white belt that has consistent pin escapes and a basic guard game they like, or one that just knows a couple cheeky calf slicers and spazzes through every roll?
The real question is what's the best way to learn Jiu Jitsu long term....
Truly Yours - Anonymous White Belt