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Being a Quality Training Partner

Whether you're a seasoned practitioner or a fresh white belt, embodying the qualities of a great training partner not only enhances your own learning experience but also contributes to the overall growth and camaraderie within the academy.

Respect Your Partner's Space

One of the fundamental principles of Jiu-Jitsu is respect, and it starts with acknowledging your training partner's personal space. Give each group room to move and avoid unnecessary collisions. This not only prevents injuries but also fosters a positive training environment.

Early on, that awareness isn't usually there. As someone who's been doing it for as long as I have, I'm constantly keeping track of our roll along with those closest to us, and deciding if the technique I want to do can be pulled off safely with the room I have.

Communicate Effectively

Communication is key, both on and off the mats. Before starting a roll or drilling session, communicate with your partner about your goals, any specific techniques you'd like to work on, and what injuries you may have. If there are injuries or areas of concern, make sure to let your partner know to ensure that your safety is taken into account.

Saying no to a roll is also part of this communication. If someone in the academy is known for injuring people, being rough, or remotely inappropriate, you are within your right to say no.

Adapt to Your Partner's Skill Level

Jiu-Jitsu is a diverse martial art with practitioners of varying skill levels. As a good training partner, adapt your intensity and techniques to match your partner's experience. If you're more advanced, use the opportunity to refine your fundamentals, and if you're less experienced, focus on defense and escapes.

I generally try to match my training partner's energy. If they want a more intense round, I can do that. When I roll with training partners that are less experienced I will let them work for four of a six minute round. I'll play, allowing them to learn from mistakes and test them. The last two minutes of a round are mine to use as I wish. While I'm not wrecking them outright, I am a bit more selfish about that time.

Maintain a Positive Attitude

A positive attitude is contagious and can transform the entire atmosphere of a training session. Encourage your partner, celebrate small victories, and approach challenges with a growth mindset. Remember, we're all on this Jiu-Jitsu journey together.

The training room inherently creates competition, but we have to understand what that competition actually is. Our training partners are assets, not roadblocks. They should be viewed as "Healthy Rivals." Getting beat by a training partner in the gym should not sour your training experience for the day, understand it's just part of the process. That process is learning and learning happens best when you're in the right mindset and having fun.

Hygiene Matters

In the close-contact world of Jiu-Jitsu, personal hygiene is paramount. Keep your Gi clean, trim your nails, and maintain good overall hygiene. Respecting your partner's well-being by presenting yourself in a clean and well-groomed manner enhances the overall training experience.

Some of the unnoticed aspects of this are also wearing flip-flops any time you're off the mats, but especially in the locker room/bathroom. Using mouthwash and brushing your teeth before training. Not smoking before stepping through the doors of the gym. If you're attending back to back classes, I'll often throw on a fresh Gi. While not necessary, it does go a long way for that training partner that came in for only the second class.

Control Your Strength

While strength can be an asset in Jiu-Jitsu, it's important to control it during training. Focus on technique and leverage rather than relying solely on physical strength. This ensures a smoother flow during rolls and creates an environment where everyone, regardless of size, can benefit.

This does not mean that you don't use strength. I use any off my attributes at the appropriate levels specific to who I'm training with. When I train with someone smaller, I use less strength and pressure. If I'm sparring with someone who's not very skilled, I'm slowing my movements enough for them to have a worthwhile round, but have to work to defend appropriately.


Being a stellar training partner is an art that goes beyond mastering techniques on the mat. It involves embodying the principles of respect, effective communication, adaptability, positivity, hygiene, and controlled strength. By fostering these qualities, we contribute not only to our own growth but also to the collective development of our community. So, let's step on the mats with the intention of not just becoming better practitioners but also better training partners. See you on the mats!

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