Volume control grappling is something I’ve been experimenting with for a while. The general concept is that you have four levels of grappling. Each level represents 25% of the total volume. For example: Volume 1 = 25%. 2 = 50%. 3= 75% and 4 = 100% Volume is represented by the amount of effort, speed and strength being applied. During a sparring session the instructor can control the overall volume by saying the number. If they say level two then the group can only stay between levels 1 & 2. If they say 3, then they must stay within 1 – 3. If it’s four they can opt for anywhere between 1 & 4. This teaches students how to first draw awareness to their own internal fuel tank. They quickly realize that if you stay at level four the entire time, you waste a lot of energy. So they begin to assign the right level of effort to the right moment. For example if you have side control you understand that you don’t need to be at a level four. You can rest in side control and take your effort force down to level one and allow your natural body weight to control them. In addition you can also connect to your partners internal fuel tank as well. You develop awareness around the amount of effort your partner is utilizing at any given time. If you notice they are getting tired when you apply level 4 pressure, then you might exploit this by making them “suffer” a little longer. If you do a good job wearing them out in side control it will make your job in mount even easier. The energy they waste defending your side control may take their fuel tank down to one. Conversely if you are being held in side control and you can’t escape you might take your volume down to one and conserve energy from the bottom. You can then wait for them to mount, safeguard energy, and then dial it up to four when you defend the mount. Another great teaching methodology is to assign different volume levels to different belt levels. Foe example if you have a white belt rolling with a purple belt, you might keep the higher belt at 1-2 and the lower belt at 1-4. This allows for a more even playing field while still allowing both players to feel challenged. The upper belt automatically “handicaps” themselves which forces them to be challenged. The lower belt feels like it’s not just a game of “kill the white belt”and they can actually gain something valuable from the experience.
In my time teaching this method of grappling I have noticed a significant difference in how students grapple:
- Improvement in how well they conserve energy. Better cardio and less wasted energy. Students are not hammering the gas the entire time they roll.
- Lower incidence of injuries. Students don’t increase their output based on ego, but rather based on performance. So if one person is going really hard, they don’t immediately increase their own effort. This is how most injuries often occur: One person picks up the volume and the other person increases even further until it becomes more of a battle of egos.
- Better overall understanding of strategy and how the game is played. I have seen less “fight or flight” responses on the mat and more gamesmanship. People are actually playing the game, instead of become a victim to it.