Bad Boys & Grim Gals
Frustrating Habits in Martial Arts Partners
Martial arts training can be a sweaty business. Whether you’re doing stand-up sparring or rolling in BJJ class, it doesn’t take long before the perspiration kicks off. There’s no way to stop that from happening, so it’s expected. However, we all know that one guy that has decided that washing his Gi, or himself for that matter, is simply too much work. Don’t be a Dirty Doug. Make sure you and your uniform are washed regularly. Oh, and for heaven’s sake, please use deodorant.
We often don’t know how to move and react when learning and dummying for new material. Nowhere is this more obvious than when you try a new technique on your partner during basic drilling, and you’d swear they had a full-on case of rigor mortis. Don’t be a Stiff Sally. The person practicing their technique should work with you carefully so you can relax and let them run the basics of the new move. Then when it is your turn, remember to move carefully with good control so they can do the same.
If you thought Stiff Sally was bad, hold onto your belt and meet Resistance Ralph. He goes one step further while practicing techniques. As he dummies up for your practice, Ralph offers Hercules-like resistance to every step. While you are slowly and carefully trying to learn a new movement, he squirms, pushes, pulls, rips, and everything else under the sun as if it is a real fight that he can’t lose at any cost. Don’t be a Resistance Ralph. Sure, there are times to add some resistance during drilling, but learn how to incrementally add some challenge to a technique for your partner as he improves during a training session. The beginning of a new move is not the time to offer 100% resistance. If you do that, no one learns.
You’re not expected to be a master of a new technique the moment you first learn it. That’s why you’re at the dojo Donna. Don’t be a Downer Donna and talk negatively to yourself as you’re trying to learn something new. Remember, it has taken your instructors years to master what you’re just seeing for the first time. Be gracious with yourself and your fellow classmates. You’ll get it if you stick with it.
Never Work Neil
These guys usually don’t stick around, because why would they. You know this chap. No matter what the instructor is showing, Neil must tell everyone how it would never work on the street. When, in actuality, it would never work for HIM because he’s unwilling to put in the work and become proficient at the skill. Don’t be a Never Work Neil. Remember, it takes time to incorporate and become proficient at most anything worthwhile.
Someone is teaching the class for good reason; they are the instructor. How many times have you seen fellow class members trying to teach their training partner, and their “instruction” is entirely wrong? Don’t be Instructor Irene. If your partner asks your opinion or you see something blatantly obvious you can help with while practicing, then lend a helping hand, but leave the fine detail corrections and class instruction to…you guessed it…the instructor.
In American Kenpo, after we learn a technique, we are encouraged to ask, “What if?” During that process, we quite literally as “What if they do this?” and work through a multitude of scenarios that go beyond the simple base technique lesson. However, this comes after the basic lesson is absorbed. Advanced Adam, on the other hand, already knows so much that he’s so busy practicing his “advanced” responses before he ever even learns the base technique. Don’t be an Advanced Adam. Take your time to understand what the art has to offer and adapt after you’ve assimilated the knowledge.
Some practitioners cling to their understanding as if it is the gospel. They always have the answer, and absolutely nobody can tell them any different. Don’t be a Master Marge. Remember that there is always more to learn, no matter the rank, no matter the years, and no matter the style.
I hope some of these characters have given you a chuckle and brought some humor to what can occasionally be frustrating in class. Now that we’ve covered what not to do, get to class and be a great partner!
3rd Degree Black Belt American Kenpo
1st Degree Black Belt Tae Kwon Do