Discussing the growing trend of all affiliation Sunday open mats
Every Sunday morning, people all around the country wake up, put on their Sunday best, and drive to meet up with friends and strangers to talk about and practice their favorite ritual: Jiu-Jitsu. The Sunday Open Mat Experience offers Jiu-Jitsu practitioners a unique opportunity to train with students and friends of all levels from their own academies as well as from other non-affiliated academies. All affiliation open mats are not necessarily the rule everywhere, but they are a growing trend and for good reasons.
The Sunday morning open mats have become Jiu-Jitsu’s version of the barbershop. It is where everyone gets together to catch up with old friends, make some new ones, and exchange ideas as well as maybe—most definitely— some Jiu-Jitsu gossip. At the Sunday open mat, you will see world-class athletes engaging in high-level competitive battles. You will witness hobbyists practicing the latest techniques they have learned with one another. And most importantly, you will see people from all different walks of life, academies, affiliations, white belt to black belt, sharing their passion and love of Jiu-Jitsu with one another. It is the one sure non-denominational gathering of people available on a Sunday.
The open mat experience can mean different things to different people. Some people look at it as a chance to test their skills against known opponents. For others, it’s a chance to socialize with other people who love Jiu-Jitsu as much as they do. Bur for most, a mixture of all of the above. One of the things Ronnie Flores, a black belt from Houston, says he loves about the open mat experience is seeing all the other black belts because it gives him a chance to challenge himself against high-level practitioners, he usually wouldn’t get the chance to train with. Ronnie also says he loves the opportunity to work directly with lower belts and continue to help them grow their game.
Brian Marvin, who is the owner and head instructor of Renzo Gracie Houston, sums up the Sunday Open Mat Experience this way: “It’s what Jiu-Jitsu is about. Sharing the art, meeting new people, having fun, all with a great vibe. That is what Open Mat is, smiling, hanging out, rolling, learning, and sharing.”
I hope more people take Professor Marvin’s perspective on the Sunday Open Mat Experience and open up their schools to other affiliations or at least offer their students the opportunity to participate in all affiliation open mats at other academies. Very few things bring people of all faiths and backgrounds together in the way Jiu-Jitsu does. I think everyone can agree that we can all use a little more togetherness and unity in these divisive times. So perhaps Jiu-Jitsu really can save the world, one Sunday at a time.
Comment below if your GYM has Open Mats Experiences every week with other GYM’s