We’re going to get deep with this blog. It will involve us diving into the depths of human behavior and it’s connection to jiu-jitsu, especially when we roll. The thought has maybe dawned upon you when describing friends and acquaintances to others: when describing that person, you realize that your description of him or her was very similar to their style of rolling. Perhaps that person doesn’t like to take chances and will play a super safe game. Oddly enough, this kind of outlook is something that person may subconsciously follow outside of the academy as well. Any sort of commitment with a level of risk (even minimal) they won’t do, or at least won’t do alone. The list can continue, but what is curious is whether there is truly a consistent correlation between personality and rolling. Try and keep an open eye for this connection at your gym. It can be a fun mental exercise in the academy and it’s an interesting exercise to do since you know the personality and rolling style of your teammates.
So what are the different types of jiu-jitsu styles? This is important to know for this exercise as a guideline. There are many styles to play on the mat, so it’s best to mention the most obvious and common games. The two that standout the most are the ‘tight’ game player and the ‘loose’ game player.
The ‘tight’ game is for guys that like to close any space between them and their opponent as soon as possible. They like staying on top and clenching down tightly on their opponent. They like to take their time. Everything is slow and methodical - they will only explode if they really need to. To pass guard, for example, they probably prefer to neutralize the legs by clamping them together to the ground. You won’t usually see these guys preferring to pull guard either - they would go for the takedown and play a top-centric game.
So how does this connect to personality? Perhaps it would be interesting to observe and see if these people tend to be more stubborn? That they prefer to have their way? By looking at their jiu-jitsu, they don’t like to give up an inch or even try to trick you. They can be somewhat predictable, but very forceful, in their game.
The ‘loose’ game type is usually favored by the smaller practitioner who likes to surf and move around the guard. They look for the catch submission and try to surprise you. When Bruce Lee said, “be water, my friend”, these competitors heard him well. We’ve all run into players like this, whether it’s someone at your academy or an opponent in a tournament, they know how to move and flow.
What personality traits can we possibly connect with this game? These would be the energetic and easy-going types. They go with the flow and take life as it comes, same as their rolls. They hunt for the submission that is available and they don’t so much mind crushing you in the process. Next time you’re at the academy, observe and keep an open mind about personality and rolling type.