You know the feeling… It’s an open mat session and you’re looking forward to it. You change your clothes, put on your gear, and step on the mats. You warm up thoroughly and are now ready to roll.
But then, you get paired up with someone you’ve never rolled with before – it’s going to be your first time sparring with this person. And, well, they seem to be a higher belt and very skilled at what they’re doing.
It’s alright to feel a bit nervous about it. However, you have to change your mindset to a learning one; to the mindset of seeing this as a learning opportunity and as a chance to further improve in your craft.
Felipe Costa, BJJ world champion and elite coach, explains why this is the case:
To roll with someone for the first time or someone you haven’t roll in a long time, in a friendly environment is always an opportunity to learn, whether for the opportunity to try your latest moves or to get surprised by a technique you are not familiar or expecting to be done that certain way.
He always approaches these situations with a willingness to learn:
I always go with an open mind and keep my ego under control, I know that is the only way to actually improve and take something out of a random roll.
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So what are you waiting for? Slap and bump with that new training partner – and start getting better.