I always hear people say "Use technique not strength". I understand this principle and want to use it, but don't know how it works against someone who is going 100%? I.e how can u just focus on technique when rolling if the other person is going as hard as possible

I don't mind "losing" a roll as long as I am learning which is why I want to stop using strength/speed and focus solely on technique in order to actually improve! Thanks!

  • Please select an answer.
    – coltonon
    Commented Jul 20, 2014 at 19:42

3 Answers 3


I agree about slowing down. Also, pay attention to what you are doing. If you do any move that would not work on somebody twice your size and strength, then let it go. When with a tiny partner, never crush them with more than a similar body weight to their own. It takes practice, but it makes it more fun. I have never been prouder than when some smaller partner tells me that it felt like we were the same size. I also like rolling with bigger stronger folks, and never try and match their muscle, as I am usually two or three times their age. It still goes fine.


If the other person is going as hard as possible neither of you are training properly.

Just slow yourself down, focus on your movements, then explode when moving. Think about doing the move correctly, not just 'enough'. Thinking about the kimura, you CAN explode and finish it with just strength, or you can, in a much more controlled and deliberate manner, add pressure in each direction to defeat their grip defense, and the slowly and steadily, focusing on the crank, crank it to a finish.

Same with the trap and roll mount escape. I especially in my own (135lb) weight class, can trap the arm, and explode and roll my opponent over 9/10. But in the absolute division I can't just do that, I need to have almost perfect timing between trapping the arm in a transition, and bridging, and turning over, in order to complete that escape. The same with many side-control reversals. The biggest thing I've noticed is that perfect timing and technique give you a sense of 'lightness' while completing a technique. The Tornado sweep is also one of my favorite sweeps, I have strong legs and can get it fairly well, but when I hit it on a 210lb guy, I KNEW it was perfect. He was too light, it was too easy. That's what technique and timing is, it's synergy and everything is just, easier. Focus on rolling, and finding that synergy. Flow-roll. Then do a competition roll. Focus on escapes and reversals and guard passing with good technique, not power by going slow. Have your partner point out any flaws or descrepencies that they in particular feel in your techniques. Sometimes it helps to stop mid-technique and feel it out. The scissor sweep is a great one, when I teach that, I LOVE to have my students stop and just float the person on their knee for a minute. Feeling the motion of the technique, the intended force of the technique. Where possible counter-pressure and resistance to their sweep attempt may come from. It doesn't have to be active resistance, just take the time to feel and think about it.

And remember, Jiu-Jitsu is a life-long journey. Enjoy it. Don't get frustrated. And sometimes, it's ok to use a little muscle or a little speed to get that W. It's all about putting it all together, THAT's jiu-jitsu.

  • This is a great answer. I will slow down on purpose now and focus on what you say. However, how can I deal with someone e.g. going 100% tryin to pass my guard etc. I have heard people say just use technique, i.e. if you have to use too much strength then just let him pass etc? I.e. dont try to stop the pass using muscle
    – RNI2013
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 17:17
  • yeah, let them pass :) Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 21:11
  • No, don't ever let someone pass! This is a real and stupid thing to do. You just need time to adapt the technique.
    – Tassisto
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 5:26

First, I am still very much a begginner, so take everything with a grain of salt.

I develop when my opponent is going 100%, because I must use technique.

For me, I think I develop my technique most when going against someone who is substantially stronger than me and not afraid to use it. When I am going against someone smaller, I can muscle through some techniques. When I am going with someone noticeably larger and stronger, evening surviving, much less getting a submission, is all about technique. Going against someone smaller, or someone who is not using their full strength, I might pull something off like an armbar because of raw weight overcoming their resistance. If I do it against someone larger and succeed, it is because of tight technique overcoming their strength.

I also frequently ask for feedback, especially when rolling with someone much more experienced (but even people less experienced can sometimes give good feedback).

(Just to be clear, when I say going 100%, I mean they aren't holding back, deliberately going light, or trying to be easy on me. If someone is actually putting in 100% muscle effort every single second and never relaxes, they may not be taking the best approach. The only time I've faced that is with people in their first week or two and they tend to tire themselves out very fast if they aren't amazingly athletic. In that case, you may be able to play defense until they wear themselves out, then focus on the technique you want.)

Consider flow rolling

Flow rolling is the idea of deliberately changing position often and both partners focusing on technique. It is discussed here: http://www.grapplearts.com/Blog/2012/07/5-ways-you-can-best-use-open-mat-in-bjj/ This is in a sense reframing your question since flow rolling relies on both partners agreeing not to 1go 100%. But when they agree it gives you a chance to practice techniques without worrying about strenght - yours or your partners. It also gives you both a chance to experience more positions in one bout since neither of you will try too hard to hold the top position.

Drill, with feedback

Again, it may be something of a dodge if you want to know how to practice technique while they are going 100%, but in the spirit of the question, if you want to improve a specific technique, drill it over and over with a partner who provides light resistance. Preferrably a partner who is experienced enough to give you specific feedback and tweaks.

Self impose limitations

I have never tried this, being a beginner. But some of my more advanced friends and some articles talk about imposing limits that make you rely not just on technique but on specific techniques. This doesn't require your partner to accept, or even know about, the limits. If you want to get better at armbars, call your shots before the opening bell. The only submission you will try is armbars. This helps you focus on the technique and the setup.

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