How to be a great training partner!
A good training partner can make all the difference when it comes to making pratice safe, productive and enjoyable. And, of course, when everyone shows up prepared and participates wholeheartedly everyone experiences a better class.
While the title of this post is about being a great training partner, the thoughts that I discuss below are not just about your partner. Like so many other aspects of Budo, the more you look out for others, the more you will improve yourself!
Basically, it all comes down to respect.
Here we go…
1. Show up.
The best way to keep up is to show up. And the only way you can serve as a training partner is by being on the mats.
2. Be on time.
Be on the mats before class begins. The initial line-up and bowing in is when I optimize my class plan for the specific people in the room. If you want to be part of the plan you need to be in the room when the plan is made.
3. Attend the right classes.
If you have trouble keeping up you might want to switch to a class that moves at a slower pace or spends more time on the material you are having difficulty with.
Attend class with a clean uniform, clean breath, and a clean body. Sweating is okay, body odor is not. If you sweat a lot bring a fresh keikogi top to change into if you are taking additional classes- don’t start a class soaking wet! Keep some breath mints in your gym bag. Of course, wash your hands thoroughly after using the rest room. Comb your hair!
We are practicing a cultural art. Cleanliness and presentation are ways that we demonstrate respect, readiness and seriousness. It is also how we keep our practice sanitary.
5. Never, ever, come to class if you are sick, have a cold, think you might be coming down with something, or have any other malady that may be shared. Just don’t.
6. Don’t over-coach. Provide helpful feedback when appropriate, but avoid over-correcting your partner.
7. Develop your ukemi skills. Don’t fall if you don’t need to. Don’t begin your ukemi prematurely. React, don’t anticipate. Be loose. The better your ukemi, the faster and more realistically your partner can practice nage (throws).
8. Work at a level appropriate for your partner and the class that you are in. Observe your partner carefully. When holding targets or practicing techniques try to improve your sense of speed, distance and timing. Be present. You are trying to learn to read people.
Some may prefer a more casual approach to training and might feel that some of these thoughts are superficial or excessive, they are neither. These practices help to preserve order, maintain safety and good health, and set the tone for training.
See you on the mats!