It was at the end of a private lesson. Gathering my gear, Coach A came over, bumped fists, and over the background music mouthed Open mat? Grin and eyebrow wiggle, eh? It’d be my first time.
Well… I did miss all last week’s class (evening meetings and responsibilities, another post for another time). Had been attending classes regularly, no major malfunctions besides a shoulder bursitis, so no good reason not to.
“Sure, why not?”
The story has a happy ending. No bits broke, and I got to several 3-minute rounds in, including with Coaches J and A. I got to practice key guard concepts (sit back, sweep, or submit, and fight for grips right away), spider guard and a scissor sweep, plus top mount, half mount, and an Americana.
No broken bits. More training, working fundamentals, and rolling with high-level folks. My lizard brain was basking in the proverbial sun. Which is critical from a training consistency standpoint: whenever possible, reward the lizard brain for moving towards training, rather than making up excuses not to.
My Coaches love rolling
I don’t think they get to do it as much as they’d like, since they’re always teaching.
Palm slap, fist bump, and we’re off. They’re smiling but they’re not talking, or pointing out teaching points, or chuckling. They’re rolling. Appropriate to my level as a white belt, but the roll and smush is on.
I think that’s how it’s supposed to be. Clearly they want to roll, to be active participants in this space. And it’s bueno to feel the dedication, the banked hunger.
Open mat is a Whole New World
With my sample size of 1, open mat feels like a new training opportunity, like a self-determined class session. You can tap early and often to go easy, and sit out a round to keep it chill — or go bananas. You can work concepts and moves that you learned in class. And you can work with partners better than you, which ups your game.
Most important to remember, though, is something you might take for granted: a safe training environment. Open mat is a prime opportunity to work out things on your timetable, to scratch training itches that may be different from the regular class’s curriculum. That’s definitely a next-level step — refining what you personally need to explore — but it’s easy to fall down the staircase if you’re not careful.
It’d suck to get injured and derail your training for months. That’s my meme and I’m sticking to it.
Exploring and learning when you can trust your partners is da best. Anything else is a bit too Temple Of Doom, without the writers on your side.