Had a nice break over the holiday season, and given our current state of affairs (two little boys, three sets of in-laws etc) it all was pretty low-key and stress free (relatively, of course). That’s all great, but the main drawback was our BJJ gym was close for two weeks for regular classes. There were a couple of open mat times each week, and due to family taking priority over the holidays, we were only able to attend one. This was interesting for two reasons: first, it was my first open mat, and more importantly, it was also my wife’s first open mat.
We were a little apprehensive about attending for a number of reasons. First, we were not going to be in the greatest shape due the holiday binge eating. Not to big of a deal, but we had assumed (and rightly so) that it would be 2 hours of sparring, and we’re usually beat after 15 minutes of sparing on regular class nights. We were also unsure how it would be different from regular class time. Would people be rolling harder than usual? Would they be annoyed that the beginners showed up and they’d have to “take it easy on us”? And most importantly, how would my wife fair rolling with other men given that there would be at most one other woman there? All in all, these little worries proved to be unfounded. The time flew by and we emerged at the end just how you should, smiling and exhausted.
My wife and the professor’s wife started by rolling the first couple of rounds together to warm up. After that the professor picked a couple of the more experienced guys to roll with her, I’m assuming based on their experience and his comfort level with them that they wouldn’t crush her accidentally. Anyway, as we’ve experienced before, everyone at the our gym is super nice, and she ended up rolling with everyone at one point. We were pretty excited about how well it all went for her.
My end of it went well, too. I rolled with everyone a few times and had a full range of experiences. There are somethings that I’m getting better at (top pressure, surviving a bit longer in bottom side control, some sweeps) but there’s still so much that I don’t know and/or haven’t made connections between. I’m doing my best to focus on anticipation and fundamental positions, but none of it is ingrained second nature yet. I find myself consciously thinking about the next move, and end up conceding an easy sweep or submission because my lack of awareness of my current position. I tried my best (which can be tough when you’re exhausted) to take a moment or two once I got submitted (which was a LOT) to see where the critical mistake was made that lead to it. Typically, the pattern is a beginner’s error (sloppy top pressure), followed by one or more panic errors (not moving hips to square up, etc.). I would add more here about what worked and what didn’t, but the main thing for me/us right now is reps. More time on the mat, more drilling, more sparring, more tapping, more questions.
LOTS to work on (read: everything), but it was a really fun experience. I’m looking forward to going to more open mat times in the future.