As grapplers, we are nothing without our training partners. They challenge us, encourage us, teach us, and allow us to grow as martial artists. Therefore, we should all strive to be excellent BJJ training partners. Not only will this benefit our BJJ classmates, but it will make us better as well. Below are a few tips for becoming an excellent BJJ training partner.
In order to be an excellent BJJ training partner, you must communicate with your BJJ classmates. As martial artists, we place a great degree of trust in our training partners, so we must ensure that we’re always on the same page. For example, if a nagging injury is preventing you from performing certain movements, let your BJJ training partner know. Similarly, you should ask your training partners if they have any physical limitations you should be aware of prior to training. Not only will this help keep you and your training partners safe, but it signals to other that you’re concerned with their well-being.
Speaking of effective communication, perhaps the most important type of communication in BJJ is nonverbal: the tap. Part of being an excellent BJJ training partner is tapping at the appropriate time. When you are caught in a tight submission, tap! By failing to tap when you’re all out of escape options, you force your partner to choose between hurting you or abandoning a hard-earned submission. Don’t place your BJJ training partners in this position! However, you can also stifle the progress of your training partners by tapping too early. If you always tap well before a submission has been locked in, you rob your training partners of the opportunity to test their techniques against realistic resistance. If you’re still in a position to safely attempt a submission escape, it’s probably too early to tap.
Shift Your Focus
When you focus on making your training partners better, you both benefit. Not only does focusing on the improvement of your partners help keep your ego in check (this is also an important part of being a good training partner), but it will make them better. In addition, sometimes, when we’re hyper-focused on our own improvement, our BJJ actually suffers. By focusing on your teammates, you alleviate some of the pressure you place on yourself to improve, and this can actually make you better!
Adjust Your Game
When rolling in class, you should adjust your game based on the skill level, age, and weight of your training partners. This doesn’t mean that you should become a pushover; it just means that you should remain cognizant of the abilities of each of your BJJ teammates. Your goal should be to provide each BJJ training partner you roll with enough resistance to improve. On the other hand, when your training is partner is more experienced than you are, you should treat the sparring session as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Remain Focused During Class
One of the best things about BJJ is hanging out and talking with your friends. However, there is a time and a place for everything. Chatting before and after training is fine, but you should keep the chatter to a minimum during class. In addition, although everyone has mental lapses from time to time, you should try your best to remain focused while your instructor demonstrates techniques. If you don’t pay attention to your instructor during class, your training partners will suffer when it’s time to drill. By remaining focused, you ensure that you and your BJJ training partners get the most out of every class.
Strive to Be a Great BJJ Training Partner
If you take an active interest in the progress of your training partners, it will make you a better grappler in the long run. Remember, without our training partners, we wouldn’t have BJJ!