We often talk about how to better at jiu-jitsu, but a huge part of that is also in how we approach our training and act in relation to everyone else we train with. We’re only as good as the room we train in so here are some ways you can help by being a good training partner.
#1 – Make Sure To Focus While Drilling
How to get proficient at jiu-jitsu is no secret. It just takes lots of lots of repetition. That means drilling the techniques you learn in class against a partner that is simulating the movement of a live opponent – over and over again. Being a good drilling partner means offering the appropriate reactions and level of resistance. There’s nothing worse than drilling with a wet noodle who puts in no effort on their side of the equation. Likewise, it does not good to drill against a fully resisting opponent when you’re both still trying to master the details that make the move work. Neither one of these is productive. In order to be a good drilling partner, make sure to react accordingly when you’re having a move done to you. And when it’s your turn to do the move, concentrate on the details and be diligent with your reps – don’t waste time. This way, the drilling time is productive for both of you. This is how WE get better.
#2 – Train With All Different Kinds of Partners And Be Helpful
At its best, BJJ is the type of martial art that will teach you how to grapple and defend yourself with people of all shapes and sizes. Because of that, it’s important to train with everyone. That’s one of the benefits of a full class. You get exposure to all kinds of people anatomically. As you progress, you’ll become exposed to grapplers with different styles as well. All this will help you adapt and hone your own game. Likewise, different experience levels matter too. We can all relate to being the new person who knows nothing yet. Having a more experienced partner can help a ton in those instances. It’s very helpful to others to BE that partner so you can offer some advice. More experienced people can offer a lot of value to you. Pay it forward and do the same for those that come after you as well. The greater the overall skill level of the room becomes, the more it helps all of us in the end.
#3 – Know When To Give Advice Or Ask Questions But Also When To Be Quiet
Remember that when we are attending class, we are the students and it’s our role to learn from the instructor until we become proficient in what he/she is teaching. Thus, it’s important that we focus on the task at hand. When it’s time to drill, make sure to do so exactly how the technique was taught. There are time for variations or other moves later. There’s nothing worse than a contrarian who says “I like to do it this/that way” when the instructor is teaching something specific. They usually have a purpose. So when it’s time to learn, make sure to be a good student and follow instructors. If you have a question on the technique, raise your hand and ask away. If it’s a good question, it may even help the class. But if it’s irrelevant to the technique, it may be a good idea to keep it in your back pocket then circle back around to it when the day’s lesson is done. There’s plenty of time to ask questions on other stuff after class.
#4 – Safety First, Give Your Partners Time to Tap And Tap When Appropriate
We all want to be savages and submit everyone we train with, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of hurting our training partners. Always remember that its in YOUR best interest to keep your training partners safe. If you have a move locked in, go for the finish but don’t do so at the expense of hurting your partner. As you progress, you’ll feel your partner’s limits. At the same time, some people are more flexible than others but you shouldn’t overexaggerate your own limits either. There is no medal given to the person who went the longest without tapping and ended up hurting themselves. Injuries can happen out of nowhere if you’re not careful so make sure to take care of yourself, and also take care of others. Nobody should want the reputation of being the guy that hurts everyone else in the room. Why? Because nobody wants to train with that guy and ironically, that is also the person who usually gets hurt the most. Keep safety as a priority.
#5 – Always Be Respectful And Keep Your Emotions In Check
We should strive to be martial artists above all else. Recognizing that there will be good days and bad days in life, the mat should be our place to set aside all the stresses of the outside world and focus on jiujitsu. That means leaving your emotions at the door and respecting both your training partners and the academy. If you submit someone, great. Slap hands and go again. And if you’re having a tough go on the mat, don’t let your frustration show to the point where you slap the mat or scream or anything like that. It happens to the best of us. Focus on getting better and taking care of your training partners because there always be another roll, and another day. It’s in how we grow through these tough times and how humble we are in good times that we will ultimately grow stronger.