Why You Should Attend Class More Than Open Mat
Photo credit: Bryant Pangelinan
I recently had a conversation with a black belt friend who has always been a proponent of attending and/or hosting seminars, as well as continuing to be a student of the game by attending classes with his professor. This brought up the topic of jiu-jitsu practitioners who would rather spar than attend class.
Regardless of whether you are new to jiu-jitsu or even a colored belt, if you find yourself constantly just rolling (i.e. live training/sparring)… you end up doing the same things over and over. Yes, you may pick up a few tips or tricks in between rolls, but nothing can replace a class setting.
First, in a class setting, you properly warm up. In an open mat setting, you may get in a good stretch, but never a good warm up. As we all know, if you begin an intense training session without the proper warm up, you increase the likelihood of getting injured.
Secondly, in a class setting, you learn techniques, which you will continue to drill in class. As we noted in a prior blog, drilling helps turn techniques into muscle memory – which will help you spend less time thinking of doing them during a live situation, as your body will just automatically do them in a familiar situation/position. This is where the skill building happens.
Don’t worry, you will get live training in a class setting, whether it is via situational sparring or several rounds of live training starting from either the feet or knees.
Finally, in a class setting, you get structure. Without structure, chaos is imminent.
If you are just looking to roll, the only benefit is that it teaches you attrition – gradually reducing the strength or effectiveness of someone or something through sustained attack or pressure. This is not learning the fundamentals. Nor is it really learning much technique at all.
No matter what belt color you are, be a student of the game. Don’t skip the educational aspects of jiu-jitsu, as you will miss out more than you realize.
And lastly, when you do attend class, don’t be the jerk who shows up late to class so that they can skip the warm ups and be fresh for sparring so they have a “one up” on someone who stayed for the entire class.