GB Values: 5 Things A Great Training Partner Does

One of the most common things that we hear in any interview with a Jiu-Jitsu or MMA champion athlete being interviewed on the podium with a medal around their neck or the belt being strapped around their waist, is them giving much of the credit for their win to their coaches and training partners.
The truth is that even though martial arts are considered to be an individual sport, we can only go as far as our coaches and training partners can lift us. Even though the competitor steps on the mat by him or herself, their teammates at Gracie Barra were an indispensable part of their preparation. None of us can accomplish much alone.
We all have our favorite training partners at the Gracie Barra school who we look forward to seeing at each class. They push us, offer constructive criticism, help us and even tease us sometimes and together we experience the great art of Jiu-Jitsu. Many students form their closest friendships off the mats with those same training partners.
When I think of the ways that my favorite training partners helped me over the years of enjoying Jiu-Jitsu, I think of a few important things. Here are 5 things a great training partner does for us in Jiu-Jitsu:
1) Show up to training before a competition to support the team. Not every member of the Gracie Barra school is planning to enter the upcoming tournament, but even the non-competitors make an extra effort to show up for those critical training sessions in the weeks leading up to a competition. We NEED our training partners to sharpen us for that upcoming tournament and the best training partners feel an obligation to be at the class to help us prepare.
2) Ask you if you want to drill something. That training partner who offers to be a drilling “dummy” while we get in some repetitions of a position that we want to add to our game. It is not always the most exciting role to be the recipient of another student performing endless sweeps on us – but there is simply no other way to burn those moves into muscle memory. The training partner who offers to be your drilling “dummy” is someone who cares about helping you get better.
3) Protect you. The best training partners are aware of the walls, other pairs of grappling students or any of the many other potential hazards that may occur during intense rolling. An attentive training partner can feel you fall awkwardly during takedown practice and prevent a knee from twisting or a hard impact. They will pause when they feel fingers or toes wrapped up in a kimono and in danger of being painfully twisted. A great training partner is letting go of a submission before a joint is extended too far. We protect each other on the mats while we train hard.
4) Push you when you feeling lazy and unmotivated. I’ll bet something like this has happened to you in the Gracie Barra school: the end of the round buzzes and you retie your belt at the edge of the mat as you try to catch your breath. “That’s it. I’m done for tonight” you think to yourself.
Then your training buddy suddenly appears for the final round. “Come on…one last round. You’ve got one more round left in you!”
And you do. It turns out to be the most productive and fun round of the class.
The same goes for refusing to let you skip class on a night when you are looking for an excuse to watch Netflix at home. They push us to go further and we piggy back on their enthusiasm. And we are better for it.
5) Learn your game and force you to evolve. Are your favorite training partners also some of the most difficult opponents for you to submit or sweep? They know your game inside and out. They can defend all your best moves because they know what is coming. You are not going to surprise them and catch any easy subs.
So, you must adapt. You must study the counter to the counter. You must be better with your setups, tighter with every technique. You must diversify your game and explore new positions to once again have a chance to catch them in submissions. This friendly rivalry might be the greatest force that pushes your technical improvement.
Tag your favorite training partners and share this post to let them know how much you appreciate their positive influence on your Jiu-Jitsu!
See also on Gracie Barra : Life’s Challenges – Jiu-Jitsu Helps Off The Mat
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Asia