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Have you heard the term ‘open mat’ and wondered what is an open mat? In this article, we answer the question and give you some pointers to adhere to when you go off and attend a session! Let’s dive in!
What is an Open Mat in BJJ?
An open mat is a time when your gym opens up the mat space to people outside of the gym. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a community-based hobby that many people all around your state are probably actively training. Open mats make it easy to meet new people in sister schools or from gyms around your area. Open mats are a great way to meet new community members who share the same interests as well as a great way to get new looks from new training partners and try new techniques.
Sometimes, we can get in a rutt training against the same training partners every time, it is important to switch up your looks to increase your overall skill level. Open mat sessions are typically held over the weekends and consist of a lot of sparring rounds versus having a structured lesson or drilling techniques.
While you can use this time to drill techniques and work on things you have been trying to experiment with, majority of people will be using the time for situational rolling or live rounds.
What do I wear to a BJJ open mat session
The short answer for this is to wear gi attire. Bring your nogi shorts, rashguard, and even spats (if you wear them) if you want to find some no gi rounds, but majority of people will be rolling in the gi at open mats. Different schools will have a different gym culture, so be sure to respect the rules of the gym. New friends come easy at open gyms, but be sure to be a good training partner and practice good hygiene, proper mat etiquette, and respect higher belts that you may come acorss when you decide to attend open mat sessions.
Benefits of Open Mat BJJ
In the following paragraphs, you will find the benefits of going to open mats. Open mats are not only a great way to make and meet new people in the community but also a great way to refine your skills, get extra practice, test new things,
Refines Your Skills
Anytime we get the opportunity to hone our skills at something we love we do our best to make an effort to actively participate. BJJ open mat sessions are a great way to hone the skills that you have learned throughout the week at your home gym. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is something that takes a lot to master and you will need open mats to test techniques against guys (or girls) that do not know your game already.
Extra Time To Train BJJ
Getting extra time for your BJJ training is ultimately the best way to progress and level up. The more time you get on the mats the better you are, it really is a simple equation. Open mat sessions are a perfect way to get that extra mat time and again, hone those skills so you can get that next belt level.
Exposes You to New Techniques
Different gyms have different curriculums this should be no secret. The game of Brazilian jiu-jitsu is constantly evolving and there is no way for everyone to have exposure to all things related. One open mat session can expose you to a whole new game, new techniques, and different submissions that you may have not known how to defend. This can be both exciting and challenging.
Meet New People from other Gyms
Adults are always complaining that it is hard to meet new people and make new friends, well, this is your opportunity. You have something in common and more than likely have seen them around at a c competition or two. Open mats are perfect for making new friends that you would not have met otherwise.
Get Advice from Higher Belts on a Technique, Position, or Submission
The majority of higher belts are going to be very nice and willing to help you if you ask questions about techniques, positions, or submissions. If you find yourself rolling with a higher belt, do not be afraid to ask them questions, they will be more than happy to help!
Be Open About Your Experience Level
The first thing that you should ask a new training partner at an open mat is the following:
“How long have you been rolling?”
“Do you have any kind of injuries I should be aware of?”
These two questions alone will save you. The answer to the first one will tell you their level and how much expertise they have. When they answer this question tell them how long you have been rolling and they will be able to approximate your level. Now, if you are rolling in the gi, your belt will be around your waist so the first question will be easy to answer but the second question will just show that you are trying to be a good partner and won’t go all out if you know they are not 100%.
Really the second question is there for common courtesy.
Mistakes to Avoid in Open Mat Sessions?
You are going into a new environment for training so you need to heed warning to what you may or may not experience. Going into an open mat session blind without these tips could end up getting you hurt, someone else hurt, or someone getting mad at you and taking the aggression. Let’s dive in a bit.
Don’t Be a Spaz
Please for the love of god, do not go in an be a spaz and flail all over the place. This is not ADCC or IBJJF Worlds, you go to open mat to try new things, meet new people, and get new looks from different training partners, not to win a world championship. White belts are going to be the most susceptible to doing this and I want to take the time to say that is okay.
Just realize that you will get smashed and choked out by higher belts if you start acting like a fool. I tried to warn you.
Be Careful With Higher Belts (Learn to Say No)
learning how to say no in BJJ open mat sessions can be your saving grace. Sometimes, the size difference between two people is just too much, especially if the bigger person is a higher belt level than you are. There is no shame or animosity in saying ‘no’ to a rolling session to a bigger person that also happens to be a higher belt than you.
Unless you like getting smashed for 5 minutes with no real fighting chance be my guest, but you will not see me taking part in that. At the end of the day, jiu-jitsu is a combat sport with weight classes for a reason, be smart and do the right thing to make sure you stay healthy and away from injury.
This also has a little thing to do with the above point, don’t spaz out and accidentally knee or elbow a higher belt in the face. This could just lead to a number of chokes you have no idea on how to defend… trust me, I say this from experience.
Look out for weird vibes from people. This is more of a feeling thing. Again you do not have to roll with everyone and some people just lead with their ego. It is easy to spot this kind of person as you spend more time on the mats but just be aware that not all people who train martial arts are nice. Usually the BJJ community does a good job at snuffing out these people over time but you never know what could happen, it is important to be diligent about who you trust to train with.
People Also Ask
Are BJJ Open Mats Free?
Open mats are free to attend and are typically held on the weekends. Other schools you train at are going to be different so be sure to respect each gyms rules. Attend open mats at your own pace and be sure to go into rounds unknowing that you may end up rolling with a complete stranger. This ca be a good or bad thing.
Is Open Mat Gi or No Gi?
Typically, open mats are gi training but the best things about having a gi is that you probably have no gi attire under all the clothing to begin with. Some people may want to roll and get som rounds in with no gi, so be sure to bring your favorite pair of shorts in your training bag.
Should Beginners Go to Open Mat?
Yes, beginners are welcome and should go try out open mats. This a great way to get the training wheel off and get more time on the mats.
Should White Belts Attend Open Mat?
Yes, white belts should attend open mats. White belts are probably going to get the most out of the sessions because it opens them up to new faces, new techniques, and new skill levels then what they may be accustomed to at their old gym. White belts should test themselves with other white belts from other gyms so they can gauge where they are.
How hard do I go on an open mat session?
This is a question that can be relative to how hard your opponent goes. It is important to remember that you are not competing at ADCC or an IBJJF World Championship. Feel out your opponent and match their energy levels, if they are going hard you know you can turn up a bit but if you are just trying to get a flow roll in be sure to voice that.
Can I visit a different gym for BJJ open mat sessions?
Open mats are typically held at other gyms on the weekends. They are open to the public, so if you want to get out of your comfort zone and try a new gym out you are more than welcome to.