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Picking The Right Training Partner, Does It Matter?
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Picking The Right Training Partner, Does It Matter?

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When you are just getting started in Jiu Jitsu it’s important that you pick the right training partners.  Having the right training partner in the beginning can make all of the difference in the long game. While there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing this person, as a newer practitioner, there are even more things to consider.  Additionally, when we start to add in things like physical limitations such as flexibility or injuries, the list grows to be even more stringent.

In my opinion, as a someone new to the Jiu Jitsu scene, or any martial art for that matter, the first thing you should be looking for a training partner that has more experience than you.  While this may seem intimidating, look at it like this. There is typically one instructor and a number of students, right? It is not possible for the instructor to spend all of their time teaching and reteaching one pair of students when there is an entire class that needs instruction.  

The ideal setup in this situation is for the more experienced students to pair up with the less experienced students so that when it comes time to drill there is someone there to help them along the way and correct the minor things and the instructor can come around and fine tune the techniques as needed.  With the assistance from the higher rank the instructor can keep their tips high level and rely on the assistance of the more experienced student to break it down for the new student. 

As a new or newer student, you want a training partner that is able to do this well, and without making you feel like you are stupid or that you should be learning more quickly than you are.  Remember you are exactly where you should be. Everyone is progressing at a different speed and you will progress at your own as well. Make sure you have the right training partners and you can maximize your time on the mats. 

There are other things to consider other than simply the persons rank and ability to assist you in drilling, as I am certain you assumed.  Your training partner should be someone that is roughly the same size as you. For example they should be about the same height because that will make drilling a lot of techniques easier than it would be drilling with someone much taller or shorter than you.  Likewise, you should ideally be looking for someone that is also in your weight class. Now I don’t mean actual competition weight class, but someone that is close in weight to you. Please understand I am not expecting you to walk around the mats and record everyone’s height and weight to determine who should be your training partner, just use common sense and select someone that is roughly the same size. 

As a newer practitioner you will likely be clumsy at first.  For some this may not go away for quite some time, and that is ok, just be aware of it.  If you are 220 pounds and clumsy, you pose a major risk to opponents that are much lighter than you and should avoid training with them until you are able to control your body movements.  Falling on someone because you lost balance is never great, but it may happen, let’s just make sure the person you fall on is someone that can handle the blow and not get injured.  

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Likewise, if you are a 130 pound practitioner don’t pick a training partner that is 200 plus pounds.  It takes a very special skill set to be able to manage someone with such a large weight advantage. Make no mistake, Jiu Jitsu absolutely provides this ability, it just doesn’t happen on day one.  As you start to progress and feel more and more comfortable with the training partners that are slightly heavier you can start to move up in weight if you would like. Even at a high level you may not want to make this a common practice, especially with the newer heavy weights, only because it only takes one slip up for them to fall wrong and break your ribs or something along those lines.  

At the end of the day when it comes to the size of your opponent, pick someone that you feel comfortable with and use common sense so that you do not put yourself in a bad situation.  Remember, it’s not just about the size of the opponent but also about the ability to help you in the beginning stages and make you want to come back to the next class.  

We have talked a lot about how to pick a partner to benefit you, but understand that as you progress and get a solid understanding of the fundamental movements you should be seeking out those new students and becoming the reason they keep coming back time and time again.  

You may be asking yourself, how do I become less clumsy or get better control over my body movements, and rightfully slow.  No one wants to be falling down when they are intending to, but how do you fix it? There is the first and obvious answer of, well, train more.  The more hours you spend doing anything the better you will get at is simply by repetition. However, there are a number of other things you can do to add some stability to your training.  

 

Enter, Tom DeBlass with his video instructional titled “Solo & Partner Grappling Drills for Rapid Movement”.  In this video Tom shows a number of things you can do at home or before and after class to build your movement control and stability in various Jiu Jitsu positions.  If you are really serisous about advancing your game as quickly as possible, learning how to move is one of the most fundamental things you can possible do.

Maximize your training by picking the right partners and doing the right things on and off the mats.  You will see rapid advancement in no time at all and be happy you did. Remember as you start to progress it’s not all about you, it’s about the new starts as well and it is your obligation to make sure they have a great experience.

Adding a health portion of drilling to your BJJ diet is ALWAYS a good idea. Whether for muscle memory or just to increase your Jiu-Jitsu specific endurance, Drilling is a proven method to increase your performance! Solo and Partner Grappling Drills by Tom DeBlass is one of the very best resources on the subject! Check it out!

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