What Makes a Bad Martial Arts Training Partner?
A bad martial arts training partner is easy to spot:
“The big white belt was completely exhausted by the end of the three minutes of rolling. I held him in mounted position for almost the whole time, stifling his every attempt at escape. Gee, won’t the black belts be impressed.”
“I tapped the dude out seven times in three minutes. Man, I’m awesome. Wait until I tell everyone”.
“The guy did not score a single point on me. Wow, am I getting good! I wonder who was watching. Where is the teacher when you need them?”
Unfortunately, there is one in every academy, dojo, kwoon, or training hall. A big ego has gotten in the way again. One result: many of their martial arts training partners will quit before they have had a chance to develop their skills, out of frustration and a feeling of failure. A crying shame, and not only that, they will tell everyone they know about the “cruddy school where they took martial arts”. Another result: no one will want to spar with “that guy” anymore, and he will not progress.
Saulo Ribeiro, one of the world’s top Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu experts, puts it best in his book, Jiu-Jitsu University; “I cannot have a top student take the Mount and expect a white or blue belt to escape. This is because the school’s blue, purple, and brown belts all know the same techniques. With everyone sharing the same knowledge, the upper belts can stifle the progression of new and white belts! How can a white belt progress? By feeling how a good student can put him in danger and then working the escape. That’s the only way for him to train escapes as a white belt. The upper belt benefits by fine-tuning his timing and sharpening his submissions.”
John Will, one of Australia’s top BJJ coaches, added this; “Great partners are those kinds of people that will work with us to help us solve problems – and we are great partners when we respond in kind. Problem solving is more often than not, a collaboration. Two minds working on a problem are far more likely to come up with a workable solution than is a solitary effort. A great martial arts training partner has us leaving the mat with a smile on our face and looking forward to geting back there as soon as possible – a bad training partner has exactly the opposite effect”.
The moral of the story: put your ego aside and let your training partner taste success, and everyone will benefit. Even you.
Please read my post for more on ego in the martial arts.