Positional sparring in bjj – bridging the gap between drilling and live rolling
So one thing I’ve seen a lot in both training and teaching is that many times people won’t try to use what they’ve just been drilling in class. It makes sense as most people want to win and in their mind they will work on that technique “later”. I’ve been there and I’ve thought the same thing. My perspective only changed when I started teaching. I got frustrated that I would spend all this time working on the lesson and then when it came to sparring, it was like the class had never happened. So I dug around a little bit and decided to give positional sparring in bjj a try.
In the past I had done a decent amount of positional sparring in bjj but it was usually just starting sparring in a certain position. Once the position changed, the sparring continued. The problem with this is if training partners of unequal are matched together then the lesser skilled partner is going to get much less practice. For instance let’s say your side mount control from the top is not very good and your partner is a Houdini of escapes. Well you will probably only be able to hold him for a few seconds before he escapes and if you continue training for that you may not even get back in the sidemount position for the rest of the match!
This is where controlled and short interval positional sparring comes into play. The idea is to keep a competitive resistance and allow one person to control and/or finish the position/submission and the other person to escape. After a minute you switch places. You repeat this three times then switch to a new partner. What this give you is many reps with resistance on a variety of opponents who have different experience, instincts, strengths, and skills. But it’s important to stay disciplined in the parameters of the drill. Oftentimes people will just keep rolling after the position is lost. You need to start right back where you were and keep repeating for the allotted time. This type of positional sparring in bjj will help bridge the gap between regular drilling and live rolling.
You can watch me ramble about bjj positional sparring here.