BJJ Etiquette: Asking Higher Belts To Roll - alldaybjj

BJJ Etiquette: Asking Higher Belts To Roll

When we start Jiu-Jitsu, one of the very first things that we learn when sparring is whether it’s appropriate to ask a higher belt to roll. There is no hard and fast answer as to whether it’s okay (or not) to ask a higher belt to roll, as it varies from academy to academy.

Perhaps in my experience, I have always been too shy to ask a higher belt to roll; which may have been a good thing since etiquette wasn’t clearly discussed aside from the usual hygiene and rolling with smaller people caveats. Although the proper etiquette regarding asking a higher belt to roll (especially a black belt) may not specifically be addressed prior to a sparring session – primarily to new and excited white belts, the answer to that question will definitely be revealed shortly thereafter if it IS or IS NOT okay…

Most recently, I’ve been in training and watched excited white belts ask EVERYONE to roll, including black belts. I have seen black belts oblige and roll with much larger, spazzy white belts. What usually followed that interaction included a lot of judo throwing, chokes, and arm locks, to which many neighboring colored belts looked over and chuckled to themselves a bit. I have also seen black belts completely deny rolls from lower belts and politely remind them that it’s not appropriate to ask a black belt to roll.

Some believe that it is common sense that as a lower rank, you should not ask a higher belt to roll – primarily in a situation where a white belt is asking a black belt to roll. At the lower belt levels, a white belt asking a blue belt or blue belt asking a purple belt to roll may not be as big of a deal, as there is not such a huge discrepancy in skill level. Some say that it comes down to respect of the belt. A black belt has put in their time and they should be able to dictate who they train with and it would be a rude gesture to ask them for a roll.

While not all schools and black belts follow the same rules, I think it’s safe to say that if you are visiting another academy and you are not a black belt, I would think twice about asking a higher belt to roll, as you don’t want to come off as rude or aloof, nor would you want to disrespect the rules of the academy. Worst case scenario, ask if it’s appropriate. If it is, great. If not, you’ll just have to wait patiently to get to roll with the higher belts that you want to. After all, it’s much safer to learn this way rather than be on the opposite end of an annoyed black belt ready to submit you as many times as they can until you learned your lesson…

Lea Young

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