REPORT: Hannukah Open Mat Lasting A Lot Longer Than Local Blue Belt Thought It Would

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A blue belt in Warren, MI, is suffering from extreme fatigue in the midst of a holiday open mat that is significantly longer than most open mats.

Adam Katz, 29, had prepared himself for a normal holiday open mat this morning, assuming that he’d be able to get some good rolls in with his teammates and coach before heading home to “eat latkes until [he] wanted to die.” But as the hour set aside for the Hannukah open mat came and went, Katz began to feel that his coach had other plans.

“There were only eight of us. Well, nine, if you include my coach. The Facebook post said it would just be from noon to one, so I thought I’d be good to get in at least one roll with everyone and then be done with it,” said Katz.

At 3:15, though, Katz’s coach, Ben Dreyfus, was still resetting the clock.

“I don’t even know why, man. I just keep going,” said Dreyfus, shrugging as he set another timer for six minutes and walked to the center of the mats to call on another student to roll with.

“He’s not holding back or going soft with all these rolls either,” said Alisha Portman, a brown belt under Dreyfus. “He’s been lighting us up.”

Between rounds, Katz explained that the duration of the open mat session was even more surprising given that the special timeslot was normally occupied by the advanced Muay Thai class held at the gym. Katz says that it wasn’t easy to convince the Muay Thai coach to give up the class so that the BJJ students could have their Hannukah roll.

“Coach Ben had to really fight to even be in here today. There’s been a lot of weird inner-gym political garbage going on. Like, at one point, that douchey Muay Thai coach was straight-up trying to eliminate all jiu-jitsu classes from the gym, and we had to train somewhere else for a while until Ben and few of the assistant coaches stood up for themselves and got our place back. I think this open mat symbolized a lot for Ben,” said Katz before returning to the mats to roll again.

Portman says that she and the other students — and even Dreyfus — have surprised themselves. “I didn’t know I had it in me,” she said. “I skipped breakfast today and was up all night trying to meet a deadline for work, so I thought for sure I’d be out of energy within the hour. But, I dunno, no one seems to want to be the first one to quit, so I guess I’ll just keep going.”

At press time, there were still people rolling in the gym. When asked by a Jiu-Jitsu Times reporter when the Hannukah open mat would conclude, Dreyfus once again shrugged. “No idea. We’re still rolling and no one’s kicked us out yet. I guess we’ll just keep going until everyone burns out.”


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