Everyone was a beginner in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), everyone was a white belt at some point. Even with this knowledge, it may be difficult to build yourself up to join an open mat session, especially with other more skilled fighters already active.
White belts should join open mats, it is a great way to refine new techniques and learn from more experienced BJJ practitioners how to roll. You can ask questions, see new techniques you have yet to learn, and even overcome some challenges you may have been facing without realizing it at first. Open mats are usually open to all skill levels and are great for the growth of the whole community.
There are still many confusing things you will be facing on your journey to the mats in your gym and you need to know what to expect before you go in. Just knowing what types of open mats you can join and which one you can simply go to see how more skilled fighters are rolling can be vital to your growth.
Some of the most amazing things you can learn are how to do things by watching others before you have to implement anything new. With that being said here’s everything you need to know about open mats!
What Are The Benefits Of Open Mat?
The benefits of the open mat at BJJ is being able to do live rolling for an extended amount of time with higher belts, students that may not be in your class, the ability to ask questions to different people, and work on techniques you haven’t had the chance to in class.
The biggest and most important benefit of joining an open mat session is the experience you will gain from actively using skills. These are many times when you will be learning a lot of new skills and techniques without even realizing it, having new techniques being used against you while trying to figure out how to do something yourself.
Open mats are not just ways of showing other students what your capable of doing, it is about those that are practicing on the mat to learn how to effectively fight. To get better at BJJ it is highly encouraged to participate in live rolls to practice and refine your skills.
While tournaments can help in refining how you fight the best way is always to join open mats for the reason that you never know who you may be fighting. Sometimes you can go up against other white belts that are just as lost as you are while other times you are going up against black, blue, or maybe a purple belt. These rolls are when you see exactly how far you still have to go and what skills you will need to learn to be effective.
How Often Should A White Belt Join Open Mat Sessions?
A white belt should try to get to the open mat once a month after they have some knowledge and skills to use during an open roll, typically after 3 months of training. Some BJJ gyms do not allow white belts to roll until the blue belt level so be sure to ask your instructor about their policy.
Some gyms will actively have their white belts join in on as many open mat sessions as possible to get them to learn as fast as possible. This is also the prevailing opinion of those that are in the BJJ scene, to join in on them as much as possible when you get the chance.
The real answer is that you should join in on as many open mats as you feel comfortable joining if you are still not ready after your first session then you may stay away. Sometimes you may want to practice a few things in private on your own, and that is also good.
Open mats are places where anyone can go to roll with anyone else and if you are not yet comfortable or ready to join in then that is perfectly fine. However, you should join open mats eventually, becoming more skilled and experienced with the rolls that you have been taught.
Practicing against an inanimate dummy will never give you the same experience as practicing against someone living and able to respond.
Be sure to listen to your body to decide how often you should go to an open mat session, as rolling can be hard on the body.
What Should You Do While At Open Mat?
At an open mat decide on what positions and techniques you want to practice and roll with purpose. It’s a good time to practice techniques so that you can get feedback on the details you’re missing or where the technique is failing you.
For example, if you’re struggling with side control, ask your partner if you can start from side control and work from there.
Don’t be afraid of “losing” because you are trying new techniques. Try the new techniques and if they fail ask your partner after the roll why they were able to overcome your technique.
Take On Others
The main purpose of an open mat or open roll session is to take on other of the same or differing skill level. Many times this will only involve taking on other white belts, while you may find yourself facing off against someone that has been practicing BJJ for many, many years.
You should never be cocky and think that you can take on anyone, but asking some of the senior fighters if they are willing to roll with you will teach your more in few seconds than rolling with others of your level will in a year.
Some rolls that you have against those more experienced will only last a few seconds, things happening so fast and in such a skilled manner that you may never fully comprehend what happened.
It is in these situations that you need to do the second and most important thing everyone should be doing at open mats.
Whether you are in a roll that took up half the night, neither one of you getting pinned or you are pinned in what felt like the blink of an eye, you should always be willing to ask questions. You should not stop the roll to ask them though, most people will wait until a winner has been declared to ask their questions.
This is the most important part of open mats, never be arrogant, always be willing to ask those that are competing against you. Wondering how something happened or how you did something is a vital part of overcoming a lot of your faults.
If you are beaten in less than a second it can be vital to ask your opponent exactly what they did and to show you how they did it.
Other times you can ask an instructor or more skilled practitioner about a move you are trying to perfect, many times this will lead to you rolling around. With the instructor or opponent, you are fighting actively giving you advice and showing you what you are doing wrong.
This way of learning is vital to becoming better and will ultimately teach you more than almost any other way of learning could.
How Can Open Mat Be Listed?
The open mat can be displayed differently at other gyms. The most common various it is displayed on the schedule are open mat, open roll, or open mat – all levels.
This means that knowing what some of the most common ones where white belts can join in is vital to ensuring you have the best open mat experiences. Sometimes you may only want to observe and looking for open mats where more experienced fighters will be can be an important skill. There are three types of signs that you need to look out for if you want to join and open mat while you are still
- Open Mat: This is the most common one that you will see, usually being announced at one of the training sessions as well. These can still be in different ways but almost always allow white belts to join in and do a few rolls until they’re too sore to continue. These are usually used to invite outsiders into the Dojo as well, either from other schools or just people curious about BJJ. They can be paid entry or entirely free, sometimes there are mat fees as well.
- Open Roll: Much more common for internal open mats an open roll usually involves people from inside the school or dojo joining in to roll with each other. Learning and training skills until they feel more relaxed in their fighting. Many times these are at the end of sessions where a few groups all join in to practice.
- Open Mat – All Levels: These are clear and simple to understand, open mat for anyone to join, even those that do not have even a white belt yet. These are sessions where schools and dojos may even send out invites to people looking to join the world of BJJ. All levels do mean all levels and even white belts that have only gone through one session are welcome to join in and get the experience of rolling.
Open mats are exactly what is described in the name, an open mat where anyone of any skill level is welcome to join in and improve their skills. If you are still learning the basics or are already on your way to moving away from being a white belt you will learn a lot by joining in on any open mats you can find.
Just be sure you don’t lose your cool when you inevitably lose for what feels like the millionth time that evening! Losing is part of the journey to becoming better than you were before.