Head jiu-jitsu instructor at Dojo Americana/99 jiu-jitsu in Vista, Ca., Mark Hopkins, is a 53 year-old black belt at around 175 lbs. In any given day a larger, stronger and younger guy will walk in my door and want to roll with me. I’ve rolled with guys as large as 350 lbs. It’s no fun, especially if they have some skills. As an instructor, I have to roll with my students, no matter what size they are. I have to represent what jiu-jitsu is all about: a smaller guy defending and overcoming a larger and stronger guy. To do this takes technical skill. And that’s what I have developed over the past 20+ years.

Now Harry isn’t super big, but he outweighs me by almost 50 lbs and is very fit and strong, and he has some grappling skill. In this video I narrate what is going through my mind as we roll. I hope this gives you, the viewer, some additional insight on what one is trying to achieve while rolling. Many beginners often misunderstand the nature of rolling. Many believe and assume while rolling, you must go 100% and go for top position. Although my takedowns are quite good for a jiujiteiro, I often play bottom position. Playing bottom position is the only way to develop a better guard and bottom game. And I feel this is where most people will lose or become defeated, while they are on the bottom.

Dojo Americana represents the NineNine team in San Diego North County. We are located in Vista and have 2 black belt instructors of different styles teaching on our mats, professor Mark Hopkins and Martin Figueroa.