Training Partners, the Good, the Bad

Looking at the good and bad qualities of training partners

Location: Moose Jaw

In Jiu-Jitsu, a major aspect of training is choosing the right partner to train with. You will have some partners who you enjoy and others who you avoid at all costs. When you think of the qualities of a “good” training partner, you see someone much like yourself; someone with the same goals and training mentality. Conversely, “bad” training partners exhibit qualities that are opposite to your style. When we look at the characteristics of both types, we can dissect the situations presented and find learning opportunities. Every opportunity allows us to utilize what we are given and find ways to either combat or soak up the knowledge.


Within the characteristics of a “bad” training partner, we see different levels of the “bad” training practices.

A training partner should never look to hurt you and should always be considerate of your well-being. Some partners are just inexperienced and perform movements that are clunky, erratic, or even floppy. These movements can ultimately impede your game development.
Partners who constantly correct you during lessons, defend your technique during the initial learning phases, or treat every opportunity like a competition are not favorites to work with either.

Everyone learns differently during lessons but having counter-productive measures dulls progress. Partners who do not pay attention to the professor’s instruction stall learning and pollutes your ability to learn properly.

If you asked a group what makes a bad partner, they would have a story to tell which would contain a variety of bad training qualities they have experienced. If you ask them what they do when they are faced with a bad partner, you will hear a consensus: they avoid these partners. If you are not treated with respect or have a training partner who doesn’t meet your needs, you simply will not look to train with them.


Conversely, a good training partner is someone with whom you connect and are on the same page. When you perform your movements, you see more fluidity and the correct reactions that are vital to establishing important techniques. A good training partner will give you positive energy, encouragement, and help promote you to utilize your talents in achieving technique mastery.

A big part of progression comes from your ability to master techniques in practice and employ them in both sparring situations and in a tournament setting. There is a big difference to a training room when you have partners who are positively charged and are working for a common goal. Many times, you will not actually see how good you are getting because your training partner is getting equally as good, and you learn one another’s game. It is not until you roll with a different partner that you see how much better you have gotten. Finally, a good training partner will not brag or showboat upon catching a submission but rather help you understand how and why they caught you.

Photo by: Jason Church

What can you learn from both types of training partners?

When you enjoy your training partner, you get to learn and progress in your game naturally. If you have the same goals and ideals as your training partner, you will see that the sky is the limit to your achievements. A major advantage to having a familiar partner is the ability to communicate and let each other know of downfalls or weaknesses in one’s game. You have the ability to get immediate feedback and hear insight as to what your partner is thinking when you’re rolling. You have the ability to build up a comfort level that allows for transitions and correct reactions to be created.

When you don’t enjoy training with a partner, you ultimately learn what not to do. If you are not able to create a connection, you will know right away. Usually, bad partners have an inability to flow and use proper movements or reactions. Within a small time frame, you should be able to take your partner’s static movements and find solutions to one-dimensional thinking. You will learn to avoid danger zones and see limitations in your control positions. Training partners can turn a lousy day into a meaningful training opportunity. You can figure out key movement patterns or key points that you may have missed. When you look at your own learning, you have the ability to work out the bugs to your game.

What can I do if I don’t connect with my training partner?

If your training partner is using erratic movements or “spazzing,” talk to them and let them know a better method of rolling. Sometimes they are just not going to be an ideal partner. Just remember that you don’t have to roll or train with people who you don’t feel comfortable with. It is okay to say no. You can say that you are taking it easy, are avoiding injury, or that you just want to focus your day on certain aspects of your game. You have to be somewhat selfish in your Jiu-Jitsu journey in order to enjoy yourself while avoiding injury. In most cases, the more an individual trains, the more they will work out the kinks and stop being a “spazzy” white belt.

When picking a training partner, it is of the utmost importance to find someone who works well with you. Having someone whom you have a connection with and similar goals will allow your game to progress. No one will push you and help you succeed like someone who understands you and gets to feel your game each and every training session. On the opposite side, having someone who displays unwanted qualities of a training partner will hinder your ability to succeed or just kill your mood. There are ways to work with both styles of partners and allow for learning. Your ability for success and longevity is in part dependent on someone you enjoy working with, so make sure you surround yourself with positive partners.

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