Being a Good Partner :)


We have all had experiences with amazing, average, and, well..not average training partners on the mat. Personally, I think taking a reflective look at what kind of partner you are will help not only your training partner but yourself as well.

The following information was gleaned from The Grappler’s Guide, as they had an article that was much more organized then my own spastic thoughts on the subject πŸ™‚ Please feel free to click the link for the orginal article πŸ™‚

Different parts of class have different goals, so consider the goal of the portion of class you are in:

Goal Type 1: Learning a brand new move

Goal Type 2: Reviewing a newer move or a common move (ie armbar)

Goal Type 3: Slow roll

Goal Type 4: Live roll

Goal Type 1: Learning a brand new move

When you are learning a brand new move, you need to be able to move slowly and accurately, so you can teach your muscles the correct way to apply the move. To be a good partner while learning a new move, you should do the following:

1. Be cooperative–don’t put any unneeded resistance towards your partner–you are trying to learn, not compete

2. Don’t be 100% unresistant. If your partner wanted to roll with a floppy doll, they wouldn’t be coming to a class! You prevent your partner from properly learning the technique if you act like you don’t have any bones in your body. In addition, you may prevent them from being able to complet the move becuase some moves require the partner to put their weight in different places.

3. Unless blocking a technique is a part of the drill you are doing, you will not make any active attempt to resist your partner completing the move. Your job is not to trick your partner when they are trying to learn the move–save that for a live roll!

4. Keep a strong base. This goes along with #2. You want to make sure your partner is completing the technique properly. The example that The Grappler’s Guide gave is excellent, so I’m stealing it–If your partner is trying a sweep–lets say a scissor sweep–if you were rolling, would you just topple over? No, you would at least put some minimal resistance into the move. BJJ is all about momentum. If you don’t give enough resistance so your partner can learn how to use your momentum to their advantage–you are doing a great disservice to their training.

Goal Type 2: Reviewing a newer move or a common move (ie armbar)

During this part of class, you are reviewing a move you have already learned at least once before.

1. As your partner becomes more familiar with the move, add more resistance. Don’t go from 0-100 in sixty seconds–you aren’t a car–but as you feel your partner’s comfort level rising, slowly increase your resistance. This gives your partner the opportunity to see if they really understand the execution of the move.

2. Pay attention to what you are doing–if you aren’t executing your part right, your partner will not be able to execute the move, either. If they give you a suggestion, don’t freak out…push that ego aside, the world will not end–you’ll both be better martial artists for it!

3. LISTEN TO YOUR PARTNER! If they ask for more resistance, give more resistance. If they ask for less–Give LESS! Smushing your partner does not help either of you become better martial artists. If you aren’t sure if you are giving enough resistance–ASK! Communication is great–“hey is this enough resistance? Do you want more or less?” Easy, right?

Goal Type 3: Slow roll

This is NOT the same as a “live roll.” This is an opportunity for you and your partner to try out new moves without feeling pressure that you are going to get totally squished if you do them wrong.

1. At most, you should be giving 50% resistance.
2. You and your partner are working as a team–you are NOT at a tournament! Slow rolling is a LEARNING EXPERIENCE!!!! If you notice your partner struggling with a move, or they miss an obvious move, you should be rolling at an easy enough speed that you feel comfortable pausing and saying “hey, you have an opportunity for an armbar here if you do this”–and then reviewing what to do. OR, if you or a partner does something cool, you should feel comfortable saying, “hey I’ve never seen that before, how did you do that?” or “I don’t know how to defend that move, can you show me?”
3. Give your partner the opportunity to work submissions and escapes. An example: If you have your partner in side control, don’t smush them down to the mat–remember you are going at only 50%. Give them some room so they have the opportunity to practice how to correctly escape the position. You aren’t looking to completely dominate the game…it’s no fun that way!
4. You are not competing with your partner! You aren’t trying to be in a dominant position–you are just trying to roll–explore different techniques and escapes. Communicate–is there something you want to work on in particular? Tell your partner!

Goal Type 4: Live roll

A live roll is a safe, controlled roll that resembles a tournament roll

1. Safety FIRST! You are practicing–your partner is your teammate, not your competitor in the ring! Be careful when applying a submission–apply slowly–no quick or overly rough motions, and be aware of your partner and stop the INSTANT they tap.
2. Ego at the mat edge, please! If you are caught in a position or a submission, don’t get frustrated or ego-crazy. Use it as a learning experience. What did you do wrong? If you don’t know, dont’ be afraid to ask–“hey, partner, how do I get out of that?”
3. Be aware of your partner’s limitations–and be honest with your own. If your partner says, “hey be careful with this arm, I had surgery on my shoulder awhile ago”–be aware! Don’t ever get so “into” your roll that you forget those limitations and accidently do more damage.
4. You are not an MMA fighter. Okay, maybe you are an aspiring MMA fighter, but your partner does not deserve being mistreated–for example, digging one’s elbows purposly into the person to break their guard. OWCH!
5. All that said…your roll may become competitive at times. Just remember you don’t win any rewards for breaking someone’s arm–you just loose training partners for being too rough. Be aware of what your partner wants out of the roll–if you are going to be competitive, you should both agree on it.

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2 thoughts on “Being a Good Partner :)

  1. Great assessment! I also think the way you grapple should be dependent on the skill level of your opponent, too. If you are higher rank, my instructor tells us to work defense or else work moves that you are just learning. If the person you are grappling is higher rank, go harder to test yourself. But, as you said, safety is a priority even when you are giving it your all. In the end, these are your teammates and friends. Taps are unimportant.

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