Father, husband, soldier, Jiu Jitsu junkie, amateur photographer.

I know I’m a day late but gotta get my mat crush Monday post out to the public. Nope, this is not a male – female post or reference to any physical attraction. This post goes out to all of those grapplers who feel their heart start to race when their favorite training partner walks through the door. That guy or gal that consistently pushes you, challenges you, or gives you that roll that makes you go straight to YouTube to figure out how to beat that f*cker. We all have one, some of us are more polygamous but either way it’s pretty much a blah training session if that special someone or few people doesn’t show up to train.

While my mat crush is more along the lines of a “nemesis,” that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case for everyone. I enjoy being pushed and I prefer to leave the gym trying to figure out what’s not working and what to focus on next but that’s just me. Some people approach their training as a bit of a social event so their “relationship” is more casual. They drill with their crush, probably own one or two of the same gi’s, spats, or rashguards as their crush, and you’re definitely not rolling with their crush before they do. Just think back on if you’ve ever noticed giggling or laughter during live sparring and thought, “What the hell are they doing?” Or maybe you actually saw it happen and someone was just swepted or submitted with a technique they probably saw coming from a mile away or have been hit with millions of times. That’s the tell tale sign of a mat crush or a budding mat crush. No ego, no animosity about it, just “you got me again man, damn, good shit ha ha” and back to rolling. They just chill out and have the most fun rolls possible, technique may slip at times but who cares. You may witness a bunch of cartwheel passes, berimbolos, or flying submissions those are definitely telltale signs of two people in a “relationship”.

No matter what and all judgment aside, we all need this type of teammate. They push you when required, provide assistance when we hit plateaus, and add humor to something we all take pretty seriously. If you know what I’m talking about then the next time you train thank your mat crush. No, I don’t mean verbally, I mean a solid fist bump before sparring, choke the sh*t out of them, laugh, and then get back to rolling.

That’s what they’d want you to do anyway. Anything more than that or different would just be awkward.

*This is not my man crush btw. I happen to like the pic. Justin is a cool dude tho. LOL

#keepgrinding

One of the most highly debated items in the Jiu Jitsu community relates to its purpose or why people commit to training. The argument has divided most people into the self defense or competition/sport camp. Of course there are people who enjoy both aspects, but in the end even they prefer one over the other. Today, it dawned on me that most people are overlooking one aspect which I would argue could be the most important, community. The recent success of events such as Cosmic Rolling, the Martial Arts Sparring Club of Md, and now Grapple in The Park 1 and 2 are a clear sign that people are interested in more than paying for comps or drilling self defense scenarios. They enjoy the sense of community and the people who come together to train Jiu Jitsu.

Some quick atmospherics from Grapple in the Park 2 to support this theory – At least 60 attendees and that’s a swag because people arrived and left as needed. Over 11 academies represented from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, some from over an hour away, again a swag based only on people I personally rolled with. Representation from every belt level actively participating, instructing and rolling not just “gracing folks with their presence”. Men, women, teens, and below. No incidences of “ego overload” on the mats and no injuries. Add in free drinks and free wings and what more could you ask for?

After a few unsuccessful attempts I finally grabbed Zach Davis and asked him a few questions about Grapple in The Park. Zach has been extremely busy running the event and answering questions from the local news reporters all in between rolling and answering technique questions from attendees. I wanted to know where he came up with the idea for Grapple in The Park and where he saw it going in the future.

First, why a park and why not a gym? The key here is the independent nature of a public park. The park is a community space designed for recreation in nature. By utilizing a non affiliated space it opens the event up to everyone and does not indicate any bias or affiliation with a particular gym. This turns out to be a great idea considering the unfortunate partiality that still exists in the Jiu Jitsu competition based community.

The “Why” of Grapple in The Park is pretty straightforward. To create a place for people who may never compete / have no desire to compete to roll, meet, and learn from different people in a fun, safe environment. Of course, there are active competitors there as well, but they are also just trying to relax and have a good time.

As most people know, Jiu Jitsu can be pretty insular, especially at the strict competition schools, and it’s interesting to note the number of people who have only trained at their home academy or one of it affiliates. I personally think this is quite unfortunate. I understand a professional basketball player wouldn’t just go play pick up at the city park so I get it for the elite grapplers or the people who only train with focus on their next event. I just don’t understand why someone would not want to experience everything Jiu Jitsu has to offer on and off the mats. Some of these people are more comfortable being big fishes in small ponds or are simply attempting to hide their lack of skill behind their schools name / reputation, because every IG post shows “the best class with straight killers”. Either way they are missing out on a great opportunity to make new friends and enjoy a great time.

So what does it all mean? I guess I have no idea. All I know is that events such as these are great for building the Jiu Jitsu community and building relationships. I know I will fully support them as often as I can and I recommend you check them out. I think Zach may have mentioned the next event will be around January and held indoors. Don’t worry about being cold and don’t worry about snow they have those covered. Pack your gear and come on out. You’ll have a great time and meet some great people.

Until next time, Keep Grinding.

Expedition series #2 took me to 2nd Gear Jiu-Jitsu in Laurel Maryland for Ken Brown’s Sunday open mat. Some people may look at the schedule and notice that it states “advanced practice” and not open mat BUT the very thing that makes it look weird on the schedule is exactly what makes this open mat so special. I know, I know, this really isn’t an “expedition” for me because I go here kind of often but seeing as its not my everyday academy and it is a weekend “open mat”, I wanted to show the love during the expedition series.

So back to the open mat thing, so while it’s not an “open mat” in name it is an “open mat” in the sense that its free and that there are people from multiple academies. What makes it different is that the practice is directed / guided to include drills and scenarios that honestly, most people don’t spend enough time doing. The actual techniques applied are left up to the individual but the drills are provided, maybe something like take down for take down or sweep for sweep, for example. So its kind of a directed open mat for people who need a little direction or who don’t want to feel awkward asking a stranger to drill for 5 minutes when most people at an open mat just want to conduct sparring rounds. Of course there is rolling at the end as well but thats really the sort of cherry of top.

I love this setup, in fact its one of my favorite practices to attend. This practice provides a great opportunity to rep out the new techniques you may have learned that week or to really get quality reps on things you like. I’ve been to open mats where maybe you only know one or two folks, you roll once or twice then get stuck sitting on the wall trying to get someone to roll with you.I have witnessed this being the case with the white belt nobody wants to risk being by or the advance purple / brown belt that people are afraid to roll with. Its strange that everyone wants to roll with blue belts and of course black belts??????

So yeah, week #2 down,  2nd Gear Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Laurel Md, Sundays 10:00-12:00. Its two hours of legit work with good people.

Next stop is Grapple in the Park #2 Frederick, Maryland. Heard they have free wings, so I’m there! Hope you see you there too. If not, more wings for me suckas.

Side note- If you know of any academies in the Virginia area close to Fort Belvoir please hit me up. I’m trying to scout some locales for the military men and women who train at the Fight House during the week. I’m open to travel Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I’d love to swing through, train, and spread the word about your academy. No matter what it’s free advertising for your academy. How could you lose there?