Here at Team Casarez BJJ in Cary, NC, we have a few open mats every week, and that provides time for a student to work on what they have learned, try out some new stuff, or get some sparring with teammates. I have been training at Team Casarez Brazilan Jiu-Jitsu in Cary for a few years now and anytime there is a new student that shows up to an open mat, they will normally just come out and ask “what am I supposed to do?” For this reason, I think that each practitioner will have an opinion on what they do during an open mat session, but this game plan is great for anyone that is wondering how to approach an open mat for bjj.
Have a Plan
Showing up and not having anything in mind is not a bad thing if you are a seasoned student, but this can waste time if you don’t have a focus. A basic plan would be:
- Work on what you learned that week while it is still fresh in your head and other students are also in that mindset.
- Focus on your weaker side for passing or submissions.
- Pre-game a flow or sequence to practice.
- Write down a set of techniques you have been struggling with.
- Review your BJJ journal and pick a favorite.
Don’t Always Just Roll
There is no doubt that one of the best parts of doing jiu-jitsu in the first place is the rolling or sparring aspect. A benefit of using an open mat for more than that though is that you have time to work on the things that you don’t have time during the normal class and most of all at your own pace. For example, if you have a hard time getting out of side control you can literally take 10 min, 20 min, or even an hour to work on getting out of it with numerous different people. Also, things like stretching and body awareness are essential to upping your BJJ game so why not do it then.
Ask Others to Drill with You
Drilling or repetitions of movements really turn learning into muscle memory. Finding fun and enjoyable drills that you can do with a partner can make an open mat one of the best learning experiences. An example would be to take 3 armbars you can do from the close guard and get 5 minutes in drilling the technique and also having the other person escape each one. The drill then becomes a fluid memory in your mind and body allowing it to be executed flawlessly when needed.
Don’t be Scared to Ask Higher Belts to Review a Move
We line up in class from highest to lowest and sometimes due to the nature of class, we do not get that time to work with the more seasoned people we train with. There is a difference between a brown belt teaching you a basic move and a blue belt. When you have been doing a move for years, there is probably some tips and tricks to accomplish it with ease. This is not to say that someone with a lower rank does not know the move; just asking higher belts to work with you on something is perfect for an open mat.
I hope that this idea of how to best approach an open mat helps people get the most out of those opportunities. Here at Team Casarez Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Cary, NC, we make sure that all the people we train with are equipped with the best knowledge for their BJJ journey. Posts like this and others, such as, what to focus on as a white belt, food choices to help BJJ, and others are written to just assist in knowing what to expect from this beautiful gentle art. We offer adult BJJ, Kids BJJ, and even a tots BJJ program so no matter the size of the family, we are equipped to handle it all.