1. Keep it playful
"When the coin lands on the KeepItPlayful side," Ryron writes in his blog KeepItPlayful, "we play jiu-jitsu, we allow movement at all costs because that is how we learn. We take submissions and we give submissions. We acknowledge that the need to be in control and be victorious is important but just as important is learning to relax and building comfort in all positions."
The other option is:
2. Keep it real
And it got me thinking - What do I do most? And what do I prefer? And most importantly, which is most beneficial - keeping it playful or keeping it real?
Out of my regular training partners, I think I am able to keep it on the playful side about 75% of the time. I'm not flowy the way that Ryron describes, but there is room for joking, encouragement, and playfulness with most of my rolls. This is especially true if my partner is significantly more or less skilled than I am - that takes part of the ego out of it. When rolling with someone better than me, whom I suspect is not going at 100%, I am able to focus on movement and techniques. I defend submissions with 70%-80% effort, but tap quickly when needed and do not risk going to sleep or straining a joint. After all, I know my partner could tap me again pretty quickly if desired. I try to survive and escape, but if I can't it's no big deal. On the other hand, if I am more skilled than my partner, it is also easy to keep it playful (unless they are much bigger or stronger and are trying to beast me). I look for submissions and attack them with moderate effort. If my partner defends, I benefit more from moving on and chaining my attacks then by doing mean and nasty things to break through their defenses.
I would describe most of my rolling as hard but playful - the best of both worlds. I prefer to roll this way, most of the time. But there are some folks with whom I keep it real on the regular. Truth be told, I can like these rolls just as much. During evenly matched rolls, we may start out flowy but the intensity can escalate quickly. It is not that we are trying to kill each other - I don't roll with people who make me feel unsafe - but we are so closely matched that our intensity picks up naturally.
I also keep it real with brand new folks who, often through no fault of their own, do actually try to kill me. If someone spazzes at me with full throttle, I'm not going to relax and flow with them. Or if they brag about passing my guard, obtaining a dominant position, or even not getting tapped by me, I am going to up the ante during our next roll.
In my opinion there is an important place for both types of rolling. Keeping it playful helps me practice what I am working on, defend and execute chains of attacks, and keeps rolling fun. Keeping it real tests the effectiveness of my jiu jitsu and shows me what I need to work on.
Which do you prefer? Do you like to keep it real while you roll or do you prefer to keep it playful?