Let the Bodies Hit the Flow


Flow rolling is to a grappler what improvisation is to a jazz musician. It’s a fun, creative experience that develops your skills and helps you connect with your partner.

Every grappling gym has its own way to get grapplers warmed up and ready for maximum athletic performance and the rigors of the full intensity of ground fighting. I prefer what I call “flow rolling”: a series of grappling rounds at low intensity with no submissions allowed and an emphasis on constant motion, cooperation, and resilience over static resistance and competitiveness. Since most grappling matches demand explosiveness, strength, and competiveness, flow rolling puts many students off their game, but the benefits can be substantial.

Here’s my pitch for why you should flow roll every time you warm up

  1. Maximize athletic performance. Studies have demonstrated that athletes who warmed up for 20 minutes just before intense athletic activity are actually stronger and have improved muscle flexibility.
  2. Expanded creativity due to lack of competitive pressure. When you aren’t fighting off submission attempts or stuck inside a tight guard, your mind has more time to work though new moves, alternate routes, and unconventional ideas. You can improve your mindset and patience about working through disadvantaged positions. Creativity is limited when you are under pressure. Relax your mind and let the ideas flow.
  3. Improved mat dexterity and coordination. Watching 2 experienced flow rollers is really impressive. You can develop improved mat dexterity with consistent flow rolling.
  4. It’s fun and develops teamwork. It’s a nice change to roll around with your mat partners when you aren’t trying to submit them. Put a smile on your face and enjoy the interactive dance. I tell the youngsters in my kids class “play like monkeys!”

So go ahead, improv like a jazz musician. Play like a monkey. Flow roll.