Brazilian jiu-jitsu isn’t a sport that you can practise effectively or entirely on your own. Being a good BJJ training partner by building and maintaining social connections with your fellow teammates will make your experience in the sport and those around you much more pleasant. Being a good training partner doesn’t necessarily mean being the best at Jiu-Jitsu. The competition side can have people performing individually, but to be a good training partner, you must empathise with and understand the needs of those around you.
Here are some of the most important factors to consider when you want to be a good training partner, making the experience of training Jiu-Jitsu more fun and enjoyable for you and your training partners. To get the most out of Jiu-Jitsu, you want to make sure that you are the person that people want to be paired up with because you are enjoyable to work with, and the following steps will help you become that partner.
Get To Know Your BJJ Training Partner
Introducing yourself to a partner, letting him know your name and getting to know their name is a small step toward being a good training partner. You may want to find out how long you’ve been doing Jiu-Jitsu, which can help you better understand what level to expect their training skills to be. Maybe you are the more experienced partner, or they will have more experience than you; knowing this can allow you to alter your training style to match their level.
Take Care Of Your Hygiene
One of the easiest things you have control over to make you a good training partner is your hygiene. Jiu-Jitsu and any form of grappling is a close contact sport where those around you will appreciate personal hygiene. If it’s not something you have taken care of, it will be self-evident and make you stand out. For something so easy to take care of, you don’t want to let it make you become that person in the training room that people wish to avoid.
Simple things like having an additional shower before class, wearing deodorant, and making sure you’re Gi or rash guards have been washed before class. Also, having your nails neatly trimmed, teeth brushed, and hair tied back if it’s long will ensure that you are considerate of those with whom you share the mat space.
Listen To The Coach’s Instructions
Paying attention to the coach while explaining the technique is another easy step you should take to make you a better training partner. Now it’s an expectation that you do this already, but you can be a better partner by listening and understanding the techniques as best as possible when the coaches explain.
If your partner has any concerns when you begin to drill the techniques, you can be the person who was reliably paying attention to what the coach is saying. If you can be dependable as a training partner, someone who can lead and follow directions well, it will mean that you’re not the one who has to ask your training partner what it is you’re supposed to be doing when you get the time to work in your pairs.
Practice Even When You Are the Dummy
As you’re paying attention to the coach demonstrating a technique, you also want to see how he has his demonstration partner reacting to the technique. To drill or train properly, you need to be giving your partner the correct feedback to make the technique work.
In my wrestling class, we have a phrase about not being a dead fish to your partner, which means you don’t ever want to flop on the floor with no purpose.
By giving your partner the correct responses to the techniques or drills you have to do, you make sure that you are a beneficial partner who people will want to work within Jiu-Jitsu class.
Part of this is listening to the coaches and following the guidance on what they want you to learn and how they want you to learn it. For instance, it’s not giving your partner the resistance to a counter that you had seen for the move in a previous lesson that they may not know.
While to you, that may seem like the appropriate feedback, you only want to be giving them the feedback that the coach has instructed for that lesson but allow them to be successful in learning the technique of the class. Then you can save that additional response for when you start to roll or spar. This element is perhaps the underappreciated side of being a good partner.
Don’t Try to Replace the Coach
Part of being a good training partner is paying attention and relating the coach’s information. But you don’t want to find yourself in a position where you end up over coaching your training partner or making them feel like you were trying to replace the coach’s role and instead substitute yourself there.
Remember that your partner is paying the coach for their time, and they probably want to get as much direct instruction from them as possible. The feedback you give on the techniques of the day should only come from what the coach has said.
If you are repeating the directions given by the coach, then it’s not you trying to replace them. You are only helping to amplify the central message of the lesson. If then, they would like to receive feedback on something you noticed. Giving them the option can help eliminate any ideas you are giving them unsolicited advice.
Train With All Students No Matter Their Level
Look to give back to the class once you’ve gained enough experience where you can do so. Helping new students in the class come to grips with some of the practices of learning Jiu-Jitsu can be rewarding for both of you. It might be tempting to always look to pair up with a partner who has more experience than you to learn from them and get the most out of your time.
Maybe some of the more experienced partners would have paired up with you when you started training to help your coaches make the new experience of their Jiu-Jitsu class even more enjoyable. And once you can be that person to others in the class, you should take the opportunity to help return the favour.
Sometimes this could mean just helping someone through the warm-up showing them how to tie their belt, and letting them know some of the gym’s culture. As I was learning Jiu-Jitsu, I remembered and appreciated that training partner’s the most, even if they may not have been the most competitive, to take the time and help me along showed me a lot about their character. Those people are certainly ones that I look back on and think of as being good training partners.
Consider Your BJJ Training Partner’s Style & Goals
As Jiu-Jitsu attracts members of all walks of life with different goals of self-defence competition or just getting fit, it’s important to remember that your training style may change depending on who you pair up with.
If someone is not a competitor, then expecting a competition level of drilling and rolling will be aggressive or unwelcomed. Before rolling, you might need to ask if your partner has any injuries you should be aware of, or you could even ask what kind of round they are looking to have so you know their expectations. You don’t come across as entirely inconsiderate of them.
It’s essential when people are older, younger, or a size difference between teammates. Jiu-Jitsu players to keep in mind as well people may be in class as it for the fun hobby that it is and want to get a sweat on and you can still roll with them learn techniques get better and have fun without turning it into a competition.
The ability to do that and still have fun and improve is a skill that will make your Jiu-Jitsu improve as you’ll be able to practice with anyone on the mat. That gives you more training partners than if you were only to roll with specific teammates’ styles.
Be Considerate When Rolling & Sparring.
A good training partner is always one who people feel safe to roll with, and that doesn’t mean safe from the threat of submission or sweep, but someone who they know, if they do get caught in a submission, will not crank it or overextend, and they’ll have plenty of time to tap. You don’t want people within your club feeling that they are at risk of injury if they choose to roll with you. That’s a fast way to find the available numbers of people you have to train with dwindling.
A common meme is for people to suggest that they want to roll light, and then one person turns it into a competitive role at the first opportunity. Instead, if you talk to your training power beforehand about any injuries or what level of roll they’re expecting, make sure you stick to that and don’t alter it to increase the risk of injury. Part of this can be keeping the rolling time fun and playful so that you both enjoy the round rather than simply looking to maximise the amount of knowledge and experience that only you can gain from the roll.
If you are going to, then after a roll is when you should be giving feedback. Another common meme is people stopping in the middle of submission and explaining what their partner needs to do to apply it correctly. You can save that for after the round is up, and again asking them if they want any feedback is an excellent way to make sure you don’t come across as a know-it-all.
You should also be receptive to any feedback your partner may be trying to give you, even if you feel it’s not warranted. Perhaps they are only trying to help you out, and even if they put feedback to you that you think is incorrect, you can consider it and at least be respectful of them.
You don’t where comfortable giving you feedback because you feel disrespected by it. Providing input at self is an art form and something we can cover in-depth later.
Be Grateful For Your BJJ Training Partner’s Time
Remember to thank your partners after rolls and after training sessions. While this is often a traditional part of jiu-jitsu where people line up after class to thank everyone, it’s crucial to mean it.
Without your training partner’s there, you won’t have anyone to help you improve or practice the sport. They are giving up that time and their bodies to help you practice the sport you love. It would be appropriate if you were grateful to be surrounded by people who all share the common goal of helping each other.
If you train for any length of time, then good training partners will come and go. People get new jobs, have to move or perhaps other priorities in life take over their time for training, and they may not be able to make it to class any longer.
That makes the time that they’re giving you unique and valuable. You might be a good training partner for someone in their Jiu-Jitsu journey for maybe a few months, but that time can be memorable, and you want to appreciate it while it’s happening.
A Good BJJ Training PartneR – It’s How You Play The Game
An old saying goes that a rising tide lifts all ships, and that’s what being a good training partner can do. Because if everyone in your club is suitable to train with and is focused on being able to help everyone else in the club improve, you won’t be in a situation where some training partners get left behind while others excel. But you will be in a room where everyone is improving, and everyone has an opportunity to be one of those who can excel.
But to create an environment, it must begin with your personal ability to be a good training partner for others. They’re jiu-jitsu more enjoyable and, in turn, make your Jiu-Jitsu more satisfying, resulting in your whole club’s training time being more enjoyable.
Training Jiu-Jitsu will bring you into contact with people from all walks of life, occupation and social status and put you in a situation where you must trust each other. Becoming a good training partner by communicating with them and being considerate of them will be a skill you can take off the mats and have lasting value in your life.