The Importance Of Flow Rolling In BJJ: Enhancing Skill Through Cooperative Training

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is widely considered to be the most effective grappling-based martial art for self-defense because of how its techniques allow smaller fighters to dominate much larger and stronger opponents.

One of the things that separates BJJ from other martial arts is the rolling culture. Students get to test their skills against each other after every class, sometimes going at a hundred percent intensity while pulling back the intensity at times for flow rolling. This article will discuss the importance of flowing and how it can help to enhance your grappling skills.


Exploring How Flowing Improves Your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Skills

Flowing is a type of BJJ sparring where both partners offer minimal resistance to the other’s techniques instead of trying to tap each other out. Flowing is about constant motion, with both partners exchanging techniques and positions so they can experiment and fine-tune their skills.

Some of the benefits of flowing with your training partners include:


1) Helps To Refine Techniques

Flow rolling lets you practice your technique with a partner without resistance, helping you perfect the steps.

Flow rolling allows you to apply techniques you’ve learned in the dojo without having to deal with a resisting opponent. Think of it as a more fluid version of drilling techniques. Instead of repeating the same technique repeatedly as you would when drilling, you exchange techniques with your opponent.

Flowing allows you to focus on the finer details of techniques as you roll, allowing you to learn how to execute them correctly. BJJ is about paying attention to detail since it’s often the minor details that determine how effective a technique will be.


2) Improves Timing

Flowing enhances your ability to identify opportunities and react to your partner’s moves during rolling sessions.

Timing is crucial in BJJ since many techniques depend on your partner’s movements. For example, it’s much easier to sweep someone on top of you during a transition than when they are stationary.

Flowing improves your ability to identify opportunities to execute specific techniques and counter your training partner’s actions during intense rolling sessions.


3) Encourages Creativity

Flow rolling allows you to experiment with new techniques and fosters creativity during practice.

BJJ rolling sessions should never be about winning and losing, but that’s easier said than done. Fighters often get carried away while rolling and become obsessed with winning the session instead of improving their skills.

Rolling makes it easier for BJJ students to focus on improving their technique since there are no winners and losers when you flow. This encourages students to experiment with all sorts of techniques they might not be confident enough to attempt during intense rolling sessions, like helicopter armbars.

The creativity BJJ players get to experiment with while flowing is essential for developing a versatile fighting style.


4) A Safe Environment

Flow rolling helps you learn to control your movements and techniques, reducing the risk of injuries and making practice safer.

Full-intensity rolling sessions are much safer, with everything being more controlled. Everything is slowed down while you flow since the emphasis is on control and cooperation, not winning. This significantly reduces the risk of mishaps occurring while rolling, making it an effective way to introduce new students to BJJ sparring.


5) Builds Grappling Endurance

Flowing builds your endurance more effectively than intense rolling sessions with resistance. So, if you want to enhance your grappling endurance, give flowing a try!

Regular Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu rolling sessions can be pretty intense, so you might be unable to keep up if you’ve never grappled before and are out of shape. Flowing is much less intense since you don’t have to deal with resisting opponents, allowing you to gradually build up your endurance until you’re ready for full-intensity rolling sessions.


6) Helps To Relax Your Mind

two students rolling in bjj open mats

Flow rolling sharpens your focus and relaxes your mind by allowing you to concentrate on executing the correct technique while enjoying the training experience!

The cooperative nature of flow rolling helps to develop a calm, focused mind. Instead of trying to find out who’s better between you and your sparring partner, you only focus on executing techniques correctly when you roll. Both parties offering minimal resistance leads to a rapid exchange of submissions and positions, so you get to perform more techniques than you would during an intense rolling session. When done correctly, flowing can be one of the most fun aspects of BJJ training.


Getting The Most Out Of Your Flow Training

Some of the things you can do to ensure you and your training partners flow effectively when you train include:


1) Make Sure You’re Both On The Same Page

Discuss your goals and the intensity of your flow session with your training partners beforehand. True flow requires mutual resistance!

Ensure you and your training partners discuss your goals and the intensity of your flow session beforehand. You’re not flowing if you’re not offering resistance, but your training partner is acting like they’re at a tournament.


2) Prioritize Movement Over Strength

bjj half guard

BJJ focuses on movement and technique rather than strength, so there’s no need to overpower your training partner during flow rolling.

Flowing is about making smooth transitions and executing techniques with proper mechanics. You shouldn’t try to force techniques by overpowering your training partners; instead, you should use good form so they can flow with it and respond.


3) Stick To The Basics If You’re New To Flow Rolling

Mastering the basics will help you build a solid foundation, making advanced BJJ techniques more effective as you progress.

Don’t try to execute advanced techniques you barely understand if you’ve just started incorporating flow rolling into your training. Instead, stick to the basics until you get the hang of things before playing with more advanced techniques.

A progressive approach to flowing allows you to build a solid foundation with the fundamental techniques before you move on to more complex moves.


4) Give Your Training Partner Feedback

Learning is a two-way process, so providing feedback to your training partner on how they can improve their techniques benefits both of you, enhancing the rolling session and creating a better learning experience.

Flow rolling should mutually benefit both parties, and you should exchange insights that help each other improve your understanding of  BJJ strategies and techniques. Remember that flowing is about working with your training partners, not dominating them on the mat.

Say something if you notice your training partner executing a technique incorrectly so they can work on their mistakes.


5) Stay Focused When Flowing

BJJ students rolling

Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts during flow rolling; it enhances the training session for both participants!

Focus on keeping the intensity of your flow sessions casual so it’s mutually beneficial for you and your training partners. Although it’s important to stay focused to make the most out of the roll, don’t be shy to sound out if a flow session is beginning to look like a competitive rolling session. There’s nothing wrong with rolling hard, but you don’t get the benefits of flowing, such as the opportunity to experiment with techniques you haven’t mastered yet when both parties are going too hard.


Flow Training Helps To Refine Your BJJ Techniques

Flowing is an indispensable aspect of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training, helping to refine your BJJ game. It allows you to work on the sport’s essential aspects, like timing and technique.

Flow training is beneficial to all BJJ students, regardless of what stage of their development they’re at. You can check out what flow training looks like first-hand by attending one of Evolve MMA’s complimentary Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes.


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