Drilling vs Rolling; which one is the best way to evolve?

Drilling vs Rolling; which one is the best way to evolve?

You can roughly split up the BJJ community into 2 “categories”:

Those who believe in drilling to evolve and

Those who believe in rolling to evolve.

When it comes to learning a Martial Art like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, where Leverage and Momentum are the core elements, your technique has to be flawless.

How to get a flawless technique? Drill until it becomes perfect or roll “till you die”?

Let us go through this Topic to see if there is a good and a less-good way!

Analysis of Drilling vs. Rolling
Acquiring a Technique
Tips for Beginners

Analysis of Drilling vs. Rolling


Allows you to develop

  • a Flawless techniques
  • on-the-point body positioning
  • amazing coordination
  • deep understanding of the techniques.


  • you can tend to adapt to slowly during the fight.


Allows you to develop

  • Great capacity in transitions


  • stress-tested


  • you probably risk to be injured more often (by rolling to hard or “too much”)

If you mainly “learn” through rolling, you may miss important technical details, flawed body-positioning and weight distribution,… techniques may look sloppy.

Acquiring a Technique

Acquiring a technique has different stages:

  • You learn the technique
  • You practise the technique
  • You master the technique
  • You apply it in your sparring

The fourth stage will help you to cristalize out what works for you in what situation. Unfortunately, realizint that some of your stuff doesn’t work (at least not in every situation) can lead to failure, … Which means that you have to learn how to deal with failure. I recently wrote an article about that topic.

Acquiring a technique also means, that not only your brain will have to learn it, but also your Body.

This is where Muscle Memory will have to do its job.

If you want your body to make a particular move, you have to acquire it and get it into your muscle memory. Drilling allows you to make it a muscle memory. Your body will know what to do at the right moment.

Repetition is the core element.

The goal is to execute your technique in hight repetitions, in perfect form and correct speed. If you don’t take drilling seriously, you will only waste time. Bring in different set ups, positions, angles this will allow you to know your technique in various situations.

Tips for Beginners

Firts of all: Slow down! When you drill, your job is to be the practice dummy. Learn to slow down, give the resistence that your partner needs. Only by allowing your partner to practice his technique properly, you can help him improve. Don’t try to “kill” him. Closely listen to your Instructors advice. It is a drill, not a fight, it is not about winning or losing, it is about learning.

The goal of drilling is repetition, not resistence.


The best way to evolve?

Don’t forget that there are no shortcuts. At least not in Martial Arts or anything that has to do with fighting. If you want to take shortcuts you will probably run into a wall (or an opponent) and get hurt…

Drill enough to attain technical “perfection”, add “topic sparring” and work toward free rolling. This is the method that I use in my classes and I realised that it is the one that fits the best with our curriculum and our approach of learning.

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