Only 3 days after Halloween and the commercial industry is already cramming Thanksgiving and Christmas down our throats. Decorations, coffee flavors, movies, and music all glorifying “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Whether or not this cold, grey season is the best is debatable but I do think there is no argument that it is the most charitable time and I CAN get down with the that. Whether through guilt or the threat of being on Santa’s naughty list people seem to be more willing to donate during this 2 month window.

I say all of that to remind everyone that this weekend is Veterans Day, November 11, and there is still time to plan to attend one of the multiple events lined up to support and honor our Veterans. These events are perfectly lined up for you to have time to go out and take advantage of the freebie veteran deals while taking a moment of your time to remember those suffering from homelessness, mental illness, depression, suicide.

Ruck and Roll 22 will be held at Mongrel Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Chesterfield, Va. From 2:00 pm on Nov 10 to 12:00 noon on Sunday Nov 11. Whatever your pleasure, they have options. Pick your poison from 22 hours of open mat time, a 22 mile ruck from Northside to Midlothian, or CrossFit style WODs dedicated to fallen first responders and service men and women who died in the line of duty. Shoot, if you’re squirrelly and feeling extra motivated you can hit a WOD, take a short break, and then still hit the mats. This event is free and open to everybody, of course donations are welcome but not required. All donations will go to VAU – Veterans and Athletes United – dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of Veterans of the War on Terrorism. The event will close out with a cookout. If you can’t make it the event you can also donate via the Ruck and Roll 22 Facebook page and help them reach their monetary goal.

Monday, 12 November there will be a Veterans Day Open Mat at Ground Control in Columbia, Md from 11:00 – 1:00. This event is also open to all regardless of academy or affiliation. Veterans and active duty are admitted “for free” while non-military / non-veterans are asked to bring a donation of toiletries or clothing/ coats. Of course all donations are welcome. There will be drinks and snacks and lots of rolling. This is not a competition atmosphere, we will definitely “keep it playful.” All donations from this event will go to The Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training and their effort to treat veterans with homelessness and substance abuse.

If you cannot make either one of these events, please, at a minimum spread the word. For those in need “the most wonderful time of the year” is often the most difficult time to deal with depression and suicidal thoughts.

Hope to see you on the mats.

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Traditionally the winter months present more of lull for non elite level grapplers in the DMV. There just doesn’t seem to be as many competitions available and money is tight for those saving for the XMas holiday. It makes it the perfect time to drill, develop new tricks and to hop around to open mats and visit new gyms.

I am starting my “expedition series” in search of the “best” open mat in the DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia). I’m also open to travel as far as Pennsylvania and New Jersey if I receive any invites or recommendations.

I’m open to Gi or No Gi sessions, Friday night, Saturday, or Sunday. Anywhere in the DMV is game and I’m willing to pay a mat fee is applicable.

I will take photos, do interviews, and post my experience to FB, Instagram, and the website. Think of Yelp or Zagat for Jiu Jitsu Open mats. Or you can consider this free advertising for your academy.

Just so it’s out there, “Best” does not mean the place with the most high ranking belts on the mat, the toughest competition or people rolling H-A-M. I’m looking at number of people in attendance, number of different academies represented, friendly atmosphere, people who are willing to share experiences / share advice, etc. Essentially, I’m looking to go out, learn, a little, and have fun in a friendly atmosphere.

So that’s the scoop. Hit me up, send me an invite, let’s do it!