Days till fight: 143   |   Current weight: 202.3lbs   |   Goal weight: 185lbs

Most Saturday mornings, my jiu-jitsu team has an "open mat" session - no lessons, no format, and anyone can drop in and practice with anyone else who feels like pairing up. As with the "free rolling" sessions at the end of classes, these are broken into 5-minute "rounds," and many students opt to spend 5 minutes grappling followed by 5 minutes of recovery and observation.

This past Saturday was my first time participating in an open mat session. I arrived a bit early so I could stretch and warm up a little, while watching the more formal class that preceded the open session wind down and wrap up. Since many of the students from that class opted to stick around for the open session, I wasn't actually quite sure when the class formally ended and the open session began. I stood around and just watched for a few minutes, until I saw some other guys arrive, bow at the entryway to the cage, and step in. I followed them in, and spent the next ~90 minutes rolling with several other students. As with my previous sessions, I never posed any serious threat to any of the other guys, but they were uniformly gracious and helpful, pointing out my beginner-level mistakes even as they were taking advantage of them. 

After the session ended, my classmate and frequent training partner Jay was willing to put in an extra 5 minute session with me, while another student recorded video on my phone. I'll embed the unedited video below. Note that by this point I was utterly exhausted (and Jay wasn't - his conditioning is outstanding), and he handled me with less trouble than I handle my four-year-old son when we play-wrestle. Note that I'm wearing the blue shirt (and purple face) in the video.

Even someone ignorant of jiu-jitsu can watch the above video and point out my mistakes: I repeatedly pushed Jay away (thus creating space he could use to tie me up), failed to scoot out of bad positions, and (the worst sin of all) turned my back to my opponent, effectively handing him my neck on a platter, ripe for the choking. Some of this was due to exhaustion, but mostly it was just inexperience. I'm in the no-mans-land between knowing on a conceptual level what to do or not do ("don't give up your back!"), vs. millions of years of instinct ("HIDE YOUR VITAL ORGANS!"). In any case, I look forward to the day when I can watch this video and not experience a full-body cringe. That glorious, glorious day...