10 Golden Rules To Follow To Be A Great Training Partner

You’ll run into all sorts of training partners during your martial arts journey. Some will be major assets to your skill development, while others might be detrimental to your training. Martial arts gyms typically do their best to ensure positive atmospheres, but some people are simply better training partners than others. 

This article will go over some of the little things you should or shouldn’t do to develop a reputation as an excellent training partner. Being a good training partner comes with many rewards. Your training partners and instructors are more eager to work with you, speeding up your progression. 


Ten Golden Rules Great Training Partners Follow

Let’s dive into our list of golden rules for training partners:


1) Don’t Be Intimidated By More Advanced Students

boxing sidestep

It’s easy to feel intimidated when you’re the new guy at the gym. Don’t let it deter you from training with senior students who know much more than you do. Many advanced students enjoy training with beginners since it allows them to brush up on their fundamentals. Advanced students also know they’re better than you, so they’re more likely to take it easy on you and give you pointers to improve your game as you train. You’re training/sparring sessions with more advanced students will be some of your most productive times in the gym. 


2) Try To Match Your Training Partner’s Level

Try to keep up with your training partners regardless of their skill level. For instance, try to push yourself when training with more advanced students, even if you’re unlikely to win. Don’t be afraid to go for techniques even if you know there’s a good chance you won’t be successful. You’ll get better with each mistake until you perfect the move. 


3) Don’t Resist All Your Partner’s Techniques When Drilling

Don’t be the person who puts their all into resisting techniques when drilling. The point of drilling techniques is to learn their mechanics while dealing with minimal resistance. Communicate with your training partners, and don’t resist more than they can handle. 

This doesn’t mean you should be a dead fish when drilling. Some resistance is okay. Just ensure your partner is okay with your level of resistance. 


4) Avoid Over-Coaching Similarly Skilled Or More Advanced Training Partners

That gets annoying quickly and can earn you a reputation as a know-it-all. It’s like a person who can’t swim giving swimming advice to an Olympic competitor; it’s really irritating. It’s okay to give some pointers if your training partner needs it, but don’t stop drills or sparring sessions to give unsolicited advice. If your training partners think highly of your abilities, they’ll ask for some advice. 


5) Learn To Accept Constructive Criticism

Sure, it’s always more fun to hear about what you’re doing right than what you’re doing wrong, but you need to learn to identify and accept genuine criticism that comes from a desire to see you improve. Don’t get frustrated if an instructor or training partner points out flaws in your game. Think of it as these people caring enough for you to want to see you grow. 


6) Ask For Help If You Need It

Senior training partners and instructors are there to answer any questions you have. No one will judge you for asking about things you don’t know, so don’t be shy. If there’s a particular technique you’re struggling with or a part of your game that’s stagnant, talk to your training partners and instructors for advice. 


7) Be Gentle With Sparring Partners

bjj students rolling

Always remember that the point of sparring is for you and your sparring partner to finetune your skills. Don’t use your sparring partners as grappling dummies or punching bags. Communicate how intense you plan to go before your sparring session and ensure they’re okay with it. 

Don’t dominate your training partners just because you’re more skilled, bigger, or stronger. Match the intensity of your sparring partners and only go all out with consenting equally skilled and sized training partners. 


8) Know When To Accept Defeat

Never let your ego get the best of you when sparring, and acknowledge defeat when it occurs. For example, tap out if you’re training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and get caught in a submission. Don’t be the person who refuses to tap out in such situations, forcing your sparring partner to decide if they want to snap a limb or let you go. Most good training partners will let you go, but they might not be eager to roll with you next time. Accepting defeat is a sign of respect for your training partners. You’re acknowledging that they got the best of you, fair and square. 


9) Learn How To Hold Pads


Learn how to hold pads if you’re learning a striking-based martial art like Muay Thai, Boxing, or Kickboxing. Focus mitts are major training tools in these sports, and your training partners will typically hold them up for you. Pay attention to senior students and instructors whenever you see them holding pads so you can do the same for your training partners. 

People at the gym might start to avoid you during drills if you build a reputation as someone who doesn’t know how to hold pads correctly. They’ll also be less likely to hold pads for you, which can impact your training. 


10) Keep A Positive Attitude

How you behave in the dojo impacts how your training partners view you. You don’t want to show up at the gym every day with a frown on your face as if you aren’t happy to be there. People tend to gravitate towards those they are comfortable with, so be positive and helpful to others. This will earn you a reputation at the gym as one of the people everyone feels comfortable coming up to ask questions or training tips. 

Your instructors and senior training partners will notice how helpful you are around the gym and be more willing to go out of their way to help you with things you might be struggling with since they see how helpful you are with others.


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