Why are Open Mats Important?
By Gabriella McCrossan
Open mats are ubiquitous in Jiu Jitsu. Almost every gym or academy has open mat on Saturdays or Sundays or both. This is great because everyone gets a chance to train even when there isn’t a class. So, why should you go to open mat? No matter who you are, you can get something out of it, and more importantly strengthen your Jiu Jitsu community. One of the biggest things you can get out of it is the chance to train with people you don’t normally train with. People who don’t roll with you every day and already know your game. If you’re trying out some new techniques or a new guard it can be a great time to practice with others at a lower skill level so that both of you get something out of it when you might not necessarily train together on a daily basis.
If you’re just starting out, open mat is a great time to ask questions and get feedback from your rolling partners. Since the time is less structured there are more opportunities for discussion and reflection of what you’re doing. Most people don’t mind answering a question or two during this time (though do be mindful not to monopolize anyone’s time or try to turn open mat into a private lesson). It’s a great time to get to know people at your gym that you might not see on a regular basis due to your training schedules not coinciding. It’s a great time to get to know people who might not even train at your gym. Many academies have an open door policy for open mats and are more lenient about their members training elsewhere during open mats. This is especially true during holidays when many people from out of town or different academies come together in one place.
Open mats are also a great way to get a workout in on your day off. For a lot of people, Jiu Jitsu helps to provide balance in their lives and it can be a great way for you to blow off some steam and have some fun before dealing with the stress that comes with big holidays. Not to mention the crazy amounts of food! Ultimately, open mats are a great feature of the Jiu Jitsu culture and there are virtually no downsides to attending. They’re usually a lot of fun and a great way to expand your horizons, both in terms of Jiu Jitsu skills and connection to the Jiu Jitsu community. Let us know what your favorite local open mats are and why!