It’s something that almost every BJJ white belt has worried about at one point or another, but how does one become a good training partner? It’s an important thing to think about really because of the impact it has on the wider gym, the better training partners there are in the gym then the better that place is to train. It’s ultimately down to the gym-owner and head coach to establish a good culture in a BJJ gym because that is what encourages more membership and a thriving business, but everyone needs to do their part in becoming a good training partner as well.
How to be a Good Training Partner in BJJ
There are a few things that everyone should really keep in mind and if you manage to tick all of the boxes below then you’ll quickly become a fantastic training partner. Some of the advice we’ve got for those looking to be a good training partner in their next BJJ class is absolutely mandatory and some is more like a recommendation that will help both you and the other people in your gym develop your skills.
Have good hygiene
This is the biggest non-negotiable when it comes to being a good training partner in BJJ. It’s so important that it wouldn’t be unheard of for coaches and owners to ban students who are incapable of maintaining good hygiene. Shoes should never be worn on the mat, and shoes should always be worn anywhere off the mat. Showering or bathing regularly should really go without saying, regardless of whether you’re joining a BJJ gym or not. More than that, you need to make sure you’re washing every item of clothing or equipment that you use in the gym after each and every training session. Finally, your fingernails and toenails should be trimmed as well in order to make sure you do not cause unnecessary scratches or open wounds on your partners. Doing all of these will keep the risk of infections like Staph and Ringworm to an absolute minimum while also ensuring that being in close proximity to you is not an unpleasant experience.
This is solid advice that will help you limit the risk of injury in BJJ for both yourself and your training partner. There’s a popular saying in Jiu-Jitsu ‘If you don’t know what you’re doing, doing it harder isn’t going to help’ and this is definitely right. Flailing in the wrong direction with power can result in you causing injury to the person you’re rolling with, or even causing injury to yourself if they have good control over you. This is the single most effective and cheapest method of injury prevention in the sport, preventing the problem before rehabilitation or recovery is needed. Coming at it from an even more selfish angle, relaxing and rolling with a more mindful approach will actually enable you to progress faster as well. You’ll be able to take half a second to think about what to do next and start putting the techniques you’ve been learning into practice, or at least attempting to.
Train to learn
This piece of advice isn’t strictly necessary. You’re more than welcome to try to ‘win’ every single roll that you have in the gym but realistically, you’re not going to get a whole lot better at Jiu-Jitsu. You can keep doing the same takedown and guard-pass that you always do in BJJ, but a training partner who starts working on new aspects of their game until they become good at them will always overtake you in the long run. Trying to work on new things will not only allow you to develop but it will also allow your weaker training partners to take advantage of you artificially lowering your skill level. This will allow everyone in the training room to develop as quickly and efficiently as possible, helping your partners just as much as yourselves.