Excelling at a martial art isn’t just about how often we win or how quickly we tap our opponent; it’s also about being a good training partner. Partner training is an essential part of martial arts, and our training partners play a big part in how we learn and perform.
Since our ability to be a good partner impacts the quality of training our partners get, we have some tips to share on how to be the best training partner on the mats. We’ve broken this post into two parts, so make sure to check back in August for Part 2!
Embrace differences in your partner’s training level
We won’t always have the same experience level as our training partner – that’s okay! As a more experienced student, this creates an opportunity to help our partner and teach them. For more novice students, partnering with a higher belt becomes a great way to learn more.
Don’t worry about being at the same level as your partner; embrace the differences — everyone has something to learn.
Find the right amount of resistance
Giving our partner the right amount of resistance, especially when drilling, is important. Good resistance gives them an idea of how the technique will work in a live setting, but giving too much resistance can hamper their ability to learn the technique and get enough reps in to commit it to memory. It’s a good idea to not be overly difficult.
But don’t be a dead fish
While too much resistance drilling is a thing, so is too little. Don’t just flop over before the sweep has even happened. We need to give enough resistance for our partner to understand where they need to direct their weight and movement, and why.
Ask for help
If you’re having trouble with the sequence you’re drilling, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Ask your training partner or your coach to walk you through it again. Even if your partner has the technique down more than you, the extra cues from your coach can help them better understand and commit it to memory.
Practice good hygiene
Good hygiene on the mats cannot be overstated. We train in close contact with others in martial arts, especially grappling. No one wants to partner with someone whose rash guards or kimonos smell like last night’s Randori.
Wash your gear after every training session. Come to class clean. If you worked out before class, take a shower. Don’t show up already sweaty. Wash your feet before class, especially in the summer when feet are more likely to get dirty wearing flip flops or sandals.
Beyond just being respectful of our training partners, practicing good hygiene and cleanliness helps keep fungal infections like ringworm off the mats.