One handed drill, will improve your open guard.
In any sport, drills are a great way to train your body to move the way you want it to. Here is an awesome drill to help develop your open guard. When using the open guard it is difficult yet important to learn to use your feet like another set of hands. This drill quickly forces you to really focus on using your feet effectively, and using proper hip movement.
The drill- Take one hand and put it under your belt, then grab the ends of your belt with that same hand. Start with your partner in your guard, and have them focus on passing. When they pass your guard stop, and restart from guard. Go for 2 or 3 min, and then switch hands. By holding the ends of your belt you will be less likely to accidently use your hand.
Do not- Your goal is to improve your open guard. Do not lock them in the closed guard and hold them tight with your free hand. The point of this drill is to improve your movement; it is not to prevent them from passing at all cost.
Tips for the guard guy- Concentrate on having 3 points of contact with your partner. This means that both feet and your free hand need to be on your partner. Have your partner try to pass standing and on his knees. If an opportunity to get a sweep or submission is there, go for it.
Tips for the passer- experiment with different passes. Your partner is obviously not at his top game, so this is a great time to try a new guard pass. If you always pass to the left try passing to the right or down the middle.
One of my favorite things about this drill is that is feels more like rolling than drilling.
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Just slow down and relax
One of the things I enjoy about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is being able to fight as hard as I can, with a competitive opponent and have no injuries or ill will after the roll. With most martial arts if people are going full speed the participants will be much more likely to get injured. That being said, slowing down is one great way to become better at BJJ.
It is common for new BJJ students to rely on speed and strength to make up for their poor technique. The student will have an idea of how the technique works and they will force it on their rolling partner. This is a recipe for learning Jiu-Jitsu the hard way. You will have many hard fought battles without learning much.
Rolling slower is less tiring and you get to roll longer. Many people get tired after just 5 to 15 minutes, this makes it hard to get a lot of “mat time”. Just by slowing down and controlling your breathing you will be able to roll much longer. The longer you roll the more your body can learn the subtle movements of BJJ.
It is common for new students to say “if I slow down I will get my butt kicked”. That is a good concern, you will likely be playing more defense that you typically do with people of similar skill. That’s great, defense is very important. The more advanced students are likely to notice you slowing down. Because you are not going so hard the more advanced students will probably slow down.
If you can do a technique slowly and without much power you can do it with speed and power. Being able to do submissions slow on a resistive opponent is a good sign that you are doing the move correctly. Your speed and power will be there for you should you really need it.
Another way people roll slowly is to suggest to the other person that you both roll at an easy pace. When you are rolling at an agreed slow speed don’t get competitive and speed up over the course of the round. Sometimes people will take turns doing submissions and escapes. For example the first student does one or two moves and the other student escapes and then does a couple of moves. This is also great if you are nursing an injury and not ready for a full speed opponent.
It may be hard at first to slow down but in the long run it will help you get better at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.