Become More Creative in BJJ by Rolling Like Rickson Gracie

Become More Creative in BJJ by Rolling Like Rickson Gracie

Do you feel as if you’re somewhat stalling with your progress in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu… As if the things that used to work for you don’t work as well anymore, and as if you’re reaching the pinnacle of your creativity? Well, don’t worry – this happens to every single one BJJ athlete. It’s just a matter of how you’ll push through this plateau that will define your success or lack thereof.

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), growth plateaus are a common challenge, and it’s at these moments that the creativity of your practice is truly tested. If you find yourself in a rut, perhaps adopting a technique inspired by the legendary Rickson Gracie could reignite your progress. Rickson’s approach to training offers a unique blend of challenge and restriction that forces an increase in technical creativity and could potentially accelerate your development in the art.

The Rickson Gracie Training Method

Rickson Gracie, a prominent figure in the world of BJJ, practiced a distinctive method of sparring that involved setting precise goals for each roll. He would often start a training session by asking his partners which submission they would like him to use, and even more specifically, on which side they would prefer it. This might sound like a casual challenge, but there’s a profound strategic depth to this approach.

By allowing his training partners to choose the submission he would execute, Rickson limited his own options and, consequently, was forced to innovate within very confined parameters. This not only enhanced his ability to perform under pressure but also deepened his understanding of the chosen techniques. For instance, if a partner asked for an armbar on the right arm, Rickson would focus solely on achieving that submission, adapting and adjusting his technique against active resistance.

Applying Rickson’s Method to Your Training

Incorporating this style of training can provide numerous benefits:

  1. Increased Creativity: By limiting your technical options, you’re compelled to think outside the box. This can lead to discovering new setups, transitions, and counters, enriching your overall skill set.
  2. Focus on Detail: Concentrating on a single technique allows you to explore its nuances in greater depth. Each attempt provides immediate feedback about what works and what doesn’t, facilitating a faster learning curve.
  3. Adaptability: This method teaches you to adapt to various defensive strategies your opponents might use, as they know in advance what you are trying to achieve. This can be particularly useful in high-stakes scenarios where adaptability is crucial.
  4. Pressure Testing: Regularly succeeding in applying a known technique against a resisting opponent who is also aware of your intent is an excellent way to test and refine your skills under pressure.


Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or relatively new to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, integrating elements of Rickson Gracie’s training approach can dramatically enhance both your creativity and effectiveness on the mat. This method challenges you to improve within constraints, pushing you through plateaus and helping you turn predictable patterns into unpredictable opportunities. By focusing on specific submissions as Rickson did, you can develop a deeper understanding and a more resilient, adaptable style of BJJ.