The First Rule of Open Mat Sparring…

By Toku

“Gentlemen, welcome to Fight Club.

The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.
The second rule of Fight Club is: YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB.
Third rule of Fight Club: Someone yells “Stop!”, goes limp, taps out, the fight is over.
Fourth rule: Only two guys to a fight.
Fifth rule: One fight at a time, fellas.
Sixth rule: No shirts, no shoes.
Seventh rule: Fights will go on as long as they have to.
And the eighth and final rule: If this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight.”

–Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Okay, so the “rules” of Open Mat Sparring are a little different than those of Fight Club…  

But the concept of the two is much the same (minus the beating each other up part). Like Fight Club, Open Mat Sparring (OMS) is a place to push yourself, to see what you’re made of as a coach. And to be supported and challenged and encouraged and tested by a group of like-minded people who believe coaching is an art, and who are in pursuit of the same goals: to improve the art of coaching through deliberate practice, to walk the path of coaching mastery, and to change the coaching industry in the process.

This is why we gather as fellow Samurai Coaches and enter the sparring arena.

Here are the rules of this arena:

1-2. The first (and second) rule of Open Mat Sparring is: We DO talk about Open Mat Sparring. We know this simple practice has the power to change someone’s coaching profoundly in just a few minutes, so we want as many coaches to experience it as we can. Know a coach who’d benefit? Invite them!

Here is where we skip the Fight Club rules about tapping out and no shirts (who wants to see that, unless you’re Brad Pitt?)

3. Our third rule is an adaptation of the rule above that states: “fights go as long as they have to”, because in Open Mat Sparring, the limited time simulates all the other pressures of the “real” coaching conversation. On our mats, coaching only goes as long as the Sensei allows.

4. The fourth rule of Open Mat Sparring is: Coach like it’s for real, because it is. And it’s just practice. Keep these two contradictions in mind as you spar.

5. The fifth rule of Open Mat Sparring is: Well, there is no fifth rule. There are guidelines, suggestions, and even a few safety tips. Open Mat Sparring has just enough structure and just enough chaos to maximize practice and accelerate mastery.

6. The last rule of Open Mat Sparring (and here’s where we and Fight Club agree): If this is your first time at Open Mat Sparring, you have to spar. (We encourage you to spar every time – that’s where the fun is!) Don’t worry – we’ll be gentle. Mostly.


Open Mat Sparring newb?

If you’re curious and want some more context, check out Sensei Toku’s primer on Open Mat Sparring HERE.

Then, RESERVE YOUR SPOT and JOIN US Wednesday, August 28th, 12pm EST. Consider it a one-hour investment (or a one-hour experiment) in the craft of your coaching.


Open Mat Sparring regular?

Cool. It’ll be good to see you again! For you: See Rule #1. Find a coach friend (or enemy!), and invite them. Share this post, or simply give them the registration link:, then call them before it starts to remind them.

You already know how powerful an experience this can be. Why would you deny someone else that opportunity?

Remember to reserve your own spot HERE. See you on the mats  Wednesday, August 28th at 12:00 PM (EST)


–Your Sparring-Obsessed Sensei and Dojo Support Team


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