Today I went to open mat, it was a two-hour session and, even though my body feels broken down and tired, I feel brilliant. It’s good to use that time to practice what you’ve learned throughout the week, and because you’ll have to roll with a lot of different body types as well, it means that you have to approach each roll very differently. Today there was a good mixture of levels, mostly white and blue belts, but some purple belts and a black belt too. I started off rolling with the white belts and kind of progressed up through the belts as I went along. I hadn’t planned on doing that, it’s just how it worked out, as I always wait for the higher rank to ask me to roll. I’m not sure if that’s a thing or not, but I don’t want it to look as if I’m challenging anyone. I was holding my own with the white and blue belts, not really threatening much, but not really finding myself in bad positions either. When I’m rolling, it still feels a bit disjointed, it’s not like when I watch the higher belts and they’re flowing from one position to the next in very fluid movements. I feel like I get to a certain position, stop there, while I think of what to do next, before attempting to move to a better position. It’s all very stop start stuff. But, of course it will take time to be able to flow between positions without thinking. When I rolled with one of the purple belts, he submitted me five or six times by Triangle Choke within the five-minute round. He must have been working on his triangles today and I had no chance of stopping him, even though after the first two I knew what he was trying to do. The difference I felt between blue belt and purple belt was crazy, and it’s just one belt. For my last roll of the day, I got to roll with the black belt. I’m very grateful to him because he could have easily smashed me and submitted me twenty times, but he didn’t. He went very chilled and allowed me to attack him and work through offensive positions. It was the closest that I’ve ever felt to being able to roll fluidly, so that was cool.

For anyone who hasn’t experienced open mat yet, I would definitely say to give it a try, as it is great practice and heaps of fun. You’re going to be put in uncomfortable positions, and you’re going to tap many times, it’s a part of BJJ. It’s good to feel the different levels and practice the movements in a live situation. It’s extremely helpful and everyone is happy to share their knowledge. After I had tapped so many times to the triangle, the guy told me what I’m doing wrong and now I can take that information and work on the defence. It’s awesome.

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