BJJ Open Mat: What Is It and How Does It Work?

If you’re new to BJJ, you’ve probably heard (or been invited) to attend a BJJ open mat session. It’s one of the best parts of BJJ training. However, we admit it can be daunting if you don’t know what to expect. Let us clear up some of your questions about BJJ open mat sessions.

  • What is a BJJ open mat

    A BJJ open mat is a training session at any BJJ gym where students can come in and practice their skills with other students. Practitioners of all levels are welcome to come and train together. During these sessions, the mats are open, and you can do whatever you like. 

    Open mats are often informal and allow students to work on specific techniques or just spar with each other in a controlled environment. They are an excellent way for BJJ students to improve their skills, stay in shape, and build camaraderie and a sense of community within the gym.

    These sessions are often unstructured and allows you to practice your skills and techniques with various training partners. Open mats are an excellent way for BJJ practitioners to improve their skills, learn from each other, and get a good workout.

  • How does it work

    BJJ open mat sessions work by allowing anyone interested to come and train together. Participants are free to train and roll with whomever they choose. Some BJJ gyms may have a designated instructor present during open mat sessions to provide guidance and answer questions. But for the most part, you are free to train at your own pace and focus on the areas of BJJ that you want to improve.

  • What do you do in a BJJ open mat session

    You can engage in various activities to improve your BJJ skills and techniques. This may include drilling specific techniques, sparring, and rolling with different training partners. (Or the same one over and over, but that’s rather boring.) You may also work on specific areas of your game, such as guard passing or submission attacks. 

    You may also use open mat sessions to work on their physical conditioning. Or maybe try out new techniques and moves they learned in class. Ultimately, what people do during a BJJ open mat session will depend on their individual goals and the specific focus of the session.

    While you may roll, drill, condition, and try new tricks, it’s not always all training. Some like to sit and discuss BJJ-related things. These may be training or competition advice, fight analyses or just a general catch up with your training partners.

  • What if I have no idea what to do in an open mat session

    It’s good to arrange to meet up with a partner during open mats, but it’s also fine to turn up and figure things out on the fly. Even if you don’t know what to do beforehand, you’ll find (or get pulled into) something to do when you’re there.

    Gym culture may affect what happens in an open mat session. Some prefer drilling and conditioning, while others just roll. Some like to sit around and banter, and that’s fine too! 

  • What do I wear to a BJJ open mat session

    Typically, the attire for a BJJ open mat session is the same as for a regular BJJ class at the gym or academy. People often wear no-gi since it’s more convenient to bring around, but if you plan to practice gi-specific techniques, you have to wear your gi.

    Otherwise, all you need is a pair of grappling shorts, a rash guard and don’t forget your mouthguard! It is important to wear comfortable clothing you can move around in and doesn’t restrict your range of motion. A very important note is to wear clean and well-maintained gear. It’s a way to show respect for your training partners and the gym or academy where you are training.

  • Can I visit a different gym for BJJ open mat sessions

    Absolutely! Cross-training with other gyms is one of the best ways to ensure you become a well-rounded fighter. Many BJJ practitioners like to visit different gyms. This allows them to train with new people and learn from different instructors. (Even our coaches do it from time to time!)

    If you are planning to visit a different gym for an open mat session, let them know you will be attending. This will allow them to welcome you in advance. They may also inform you about any specific rules or guidelines you need to follow during the open mat session.

    Some gyms may require you to sign a waiver or become a member before you can participate in an open mat session. Check with the gym so you know what to expect.

  • How hard do I go on an open mat session

    How hard you go during a BJJ open mat session is mainly up to you. In general, it is always a good idea to train at a level that is challenging but safe for both you and your training partners. Yes, you should push yourself to improve and learn new techniques. However, you should also be aware of your limitations and the skill level of your training partners. 

    BJJ training aims to improve your skills and learn from each other, not to cause injury or harm to your training partners. If you’re not sure how hard to go during an open mat session, it is always a good idea to ask for guidance. Your instructor or a more experienced training partner should be present to provide some insight.

  • Final thoughts

    Since you can do whatever you like during a BJJ open mat, it can vary widely between gyms. At TFC, in particular, open mat sessions are friendly exchanges between people who love BJJ.