Do you remember the 300? The movie about the Spartans that was released was released in 2006. I was watching a rerun on T.V and one of the lines kinda reminded of something in BJJ. In one scene King Leonidas says “…Each Spartan protects the man to his left from thigh to neck with his shield”. This made me think that being a good BJJ partner is like being a Spartan. If you think about it, it is exactly this sort of mentality that applies when training.
If you are rolling you end up in positions where you have to rely on your partner for safety. With heels and elbows flying around, unless you have a good partner to look after you it could get risky. When you compare BJJ to other sports like football or rugby there is a much lower incidence of injury in BJJ. Why is that? Despite BJJ being a combat sport our intention is never to physically hurt our partner (well they don’t grow on trees after all). Our goal is to exert enough control over them that they have to acknowledge the danger and tap.
But during a club roll it is important to remember that even if you are in a great position and ready to finish, your partners safety is way more important than a tap. In most gyms I have trained at, the lower grades are meant to give way to the higher belts. This is fair enough as it shows respect. But whether you are a higher grade or not you need to be prepared to stop and keep your partner safe. This may mean resetting somewhere down the mat. But your partner will thank you for not getting a heel in the face or swept off the mats onto a hard floor or wall.
Protecting your partner is not only a sign of respect but a reciprocal agreement. During a roll positions will change, from top to bottom. If you are stuck and can’t see what’s happening, you want the guy who has a better view of the mat to protect you. It’s not a big thing to do, but it does make a difference. It is another example of where you need to let go of your ego as part of your BJJ training. There are way more important things to protect when training than your ego. An emotional injury to your ego will heal pretty quickly, most physical injuries will take a lot longer.
Being a good training partner is a big part of BJJ.