Should I Spar Hard In BJJ Class?
As you advanced through your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu career you will notice that most people are on the mat recreationally, which is absolutely fine. To some, jiu jitsu is an opportunity to get some exercise, lose some weight, and learn how to defend oneself. To others it all comes down to being a part of a community. Even masters of jiu jitsu who have been training for a long time will feel these things. So this begs the question, do people need to spar every single class? Or is it enough to learn, drill, do some flow and leave?
BJJ is one of only a few martial arts that can a practitioner can spar at full speed with no risk of injuring oneself or others. Certainly it is possible to spar more as a grappler than as a muay thai fighter or boxer. More importantly, you must remember that you are always with with the honest truth about your skills deficits. Be thankful for this kind of reality check! It is a great thing! Always know that it is a genuine privilege to spar and learn from one another, without this our martial arts would greatly suffer. But still, I ask, do I need to do it every single class?
Russians love to fight, their gyms are legendary for their hard training and sparring. Maybe if you’re feeling like a little wuss when it comes to sparring, you should add some Russian Sambo techniques to your aresenal and make you feel like strong Russian Bull.
There are legitimate cases in which you should skip sparring. But unless you are injured, or sick, or absolutely must sit out you should spar every single time you get the chance! And I am not talking about those times when you do not feel like it. I mean ESPECIALLY those times you do not feel like it! Let’s face it, you won’t feel like yourself all the time. There are days you are going to feel tired, there are days you are going to feel emotional, and there are days where you are going to be a little beat up. And that is plenty okay. We have all been there. But those are the opportunities you have to really improve your game. Why is it important to spar on these days? Let’s take a look three reasons.
#1 Speed Or Strength Are not Available For You
Well, you just can’t use what you do not have. If the only thing you have to rely on is technique you will found out very quickly just how much you know. We all force our way through spots we should. But honestly, that holds us back from our real study. Instead it is imperative to find times when your body just is not performing at its minimum in order to really test your techniques. By finding a smart partner you trust with sparring tactically and technically, you will give yourself the greatest opportunity to succeed.
#2 No Ego, And No Expectation
Who all know that ego is one hell of a drug. Every day we tell ourselves just how cool we are, an how awesome we are at jiu jitsu, or even how great it is to be at a certain belt level. But once you strip away that ego you will start to see areas of improvement much faster. Perhaps you are smashing people from on top, but your guard sucks! Or what if your guard passing is awesome to the left, but terrible to the right? Not expecting success can free your mind up and improve your learning overall.
#3 Self Defense Really Does Matter
BJJ will always remain the most effective way for any person to defend themselves in a real world street fight scenario Hopefully you never have to put this practice into use, but it someone intends to cause you harm you want to be able to take them down. These bad situations are possible and you need to know how to respond.
Give up the bad habit of making excuses. Get on the mat, battle shake, roll! Even if you can’t win, learning to survive in a terrible circumstance is a huge skill, and victory in and of itself.
Vlad Koulikov is a total badass grappler. He is a world champion competitor who’s been doing Sambo for over 30 years (in Russia), AND he has Black Belts in both Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
His approach of blending all grappling styles into one makes him one of the most dangerous people on the mat. He catches his opponents in submissions they’ve never heard of, and has the confidence to control and position. His DVD / On Demand Series: Sambo for BJJ will give you the skills to smash your opponents and make them ask where you learned all these crazy skills