What is a BJJ Open Mat Session? A Simple Guide and Benefits Explained

Last Updated November, 2023

Inside a brazilian jiu jitsu open mat
Image by Derrick Breaux - Flickr

If you've recently embarked on your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) journey, you might have come across a timeslot for "open mat" in your clubs timetable. But what exactly is an open mat? Is it different from regular classes? How? And most importantly, is it something that you should consider participating in?

A Typical BJJ Open Mat

Essentially, a BJJ open mat session is a structured but informal training opportunity where practitioners can come together, roll (spar), and practice specific techniques. Unlike traditional classes with a set curriculum led by an instructor, open mats provide a more freeform environment.

The mat is “Open”, you can do Gi, No-Gi, even wrestling or MMA training if your club teaches these disciplines and there are other practitioners there willing to train them.

What to Expect During A BJJ Open Mat

  • Welcoming Atmosphere: BJJ communities are renowned for their warm and inclusive nature. Don’t hesitate to approach someone and ask if they want to roll.
  • Safety First: As always in Martial Arts, respect and safety are paramount. Be aware of your surroundings and the level of your partner. It's not a competition; it's about learning and growth. Your training partner's safety is your responsibility.
  • Don't roll to the death: If you're in a position where you feel discomfort or potential danger, tap out. It's a learning process, and there's no shame in tapping. Tap early, tap often and leave your ego at the door.
  • Ask Questions: Got a doubt about a technique? Need feedback after a roll? Don’t be shy. Most practitioners are happy to share their knowledge and give you tips on where to improve.

Why Attend Open Mat?

  • Practice Makes Perfect: Open mat sessions are an excellent opportunity to practise the techniques you’ve learned in class, try new techniques or improve in areas which you are having trouble with.
  • Self-directed Learning: Something specific in mind that you want to try? Here's your chance. Decide what you want to work on, whether it's refining a specific move, improving defence, or simply focusing on the basics.
  • Community Building: Connect with fellow BJJ enthusiasts. Share tips, feedback, and experiences to foster a sense of camaraderie and learning.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Hygiene: Always remember to wear a clean gi (or no-gi attire). Cut your nails, and keep personal hygiene top-notch. This ensures a pleasant experience for everyone.
  • Be Humble: Every roll is a learning opportunity. Whether you're tapping someone out or getting tapped, always remain respectful and gracious.
  • Familiarize yourself the Gym's Rules: Each gym might have its own set of rules for open mat sessions. Familiarise yourself with them to ensure a smooth experience.

In summary, BJJ open mat sessions offer a wealth of experiences and opportunities for those eager to learn and grow in the art.

Whether you're looking to refine your techniques, meet new training partners, spar hard or simply want a relaxed environment to practise, open mats have something for everyone. So, gear up, step onto the mat, and get involved!

We hope that this article provides a clear picture of what to expect from BJJ open mat sessions and encourages you to participate. Remember, every journey starts with a single step—or in this case, a single roll!