If you only roll with people who train BJJ, especially if it’s just those from your own school, I think it can cause you to get stuck in a box that you’re not even aware exists, and if you’re concerned about self-defense at all, it could even result in you overestimating the real-world application of your skills, because people on the street might not react the way you expect. That’s one of the reasons I believe that training with my husband in Ethridge class has made me a more well-rounded grappler, since he doesn’t specifically train BJJ, but he has some skills, so it allows me to experience an approach to grappling that is different from what I’m typically accustomed to, and it doesn’t always follow the BJJ “rules”.
If nothing else, rolling with Joe has helped me to develop my problem-solving abilities, because it presents me with challenges I don’t often experience in BJJ class, and while that can be extremely frustrating at times, it also lets me understand some of the weaknesses in my own game, and helps me figure out how to overcome them. I had already been doing Jiu-Jitsu for a few years before Joe started training with me, and it was very eye-opening to discover that I didn’t really know how to deal with some of the unexpected or unorthodox things he would do, and rolling with brand new white belts can be a similar kind of experience, but it’s much more of a challenge when they have knowledge in other forms of grappling.
Yesterday was no-gi day in Ethridge class, and I’ve heard that if you mostly train in gi (as I do), it doesn’t apply as well to self-defense, but in my experience, I think I actually do better against Joe when we’re not wearing gis. I still haven’t gotten to the point were I can regularly defeat him, but I can definitely tell that I’ve been improving, and I’m becoming more of a challenge. Not only has rolling with my husband enhanced my grappling ablities, I also believe that it has strengthened our relationship, because just as it has helped me work on my problem-solving skills on the mat, it has done the same thing for us personally, and it’s improved our communication with each other. It hasn’t always been easy, but then again, nothing about Jiu-Jitsu ever really is!