How to be a Good Training Partner

by | Aug 11, 2023 | Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Technique, Training

Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) is not a solo sport. Everytime you hit the mat you’re facing off against your partner and that relationship comes with a few rules. 

Some are obvious – be respectful, listen to your coach, stick to authorized moves – but others are often overlooked in the rush to win a match or try out a new technique. 

Don’t fall into the trap of winning at all costs. A good BJJ studio is one that builds camaraderie, creates a supportive atmosphere, and uplifts everyone, regardless of where they are on their training journey. Students who don’t follow training best practices drag others down and, worse, increase the risk of injury when sparring.

Protect yourself and your fellow students by developing good relationships in the gym and treating others with respect. When you train together, you learn together and their success is your success.

Martial arts training rules – how to be a good BJJ partner

Meet your partner where they’re at

Just because everyone in class is there to learn Brazilian jiu jitsu doesn’t mean that they’re all at the same level. Even those who started on the same day as you will learn at a different pace. This means you’ll often find yourself paired up with someone either more advanced, or less experienced.

That’s okay. Your coach paired you up for a reason – perhaps you’ll push your partner to another level, or maybe you’ll be the one getting the push. Either way, trust the process and try to meet your partner where they’re at.

Don’t be a noodle

No-one likes a dead fish on the mat. If you’re going limp in every match, you’re not giving your partner anything to work with. Add some resistance so they can effectively practice their techniques without feeling like they’re just going through the motions.

Don’t be too aggressive

At the other end of the scale from “dead fish” is “angry bear”. Yes, it’s a fight — but that doesn’t mean you have to hulk it out. You’re fighting to learn, not to win, so give your opponent a chance to work through their moves without aggressively resisting.

Leave the teaching to the coach

Be wary of offering unasked-for suggestions. Firstly, it’s annoying and distracting for your partner. Secondly, your coach knows more than you and if there’s any instruction needed, he’ll give it.

Don’t feed your partner the drill

Be careful not to signal your moves to your partner or otherwise feed them the drill. You’re learning, but you still need to mimic a real fight and that means being spontaneous and forcing them to react in the moment. 

Communicate well

It’s a good idea to have a post-match check-in with your partner. This is a great opportunity to discuss what you did well, what could be improved, and ask any questions. It’s helpful for beginners to get this kind of feedback from partners, and it also benefits more experienced fighters who have a chance to sharpen their skills.

If you think you’ve injured your partner, it’s even more important to reach out. Get in touch to see how they are, and let them know you’re available to help.

Sparring in Brazilian jiu jitsu

Sparring is a crucial part of any martial arts training, especially in Brazilian jiu jitsu where partners are in close contact as they grapple and wrestle on the mat. This provides a unique opportunity to build better relationships in the gym, working with your fellow fighters to address your own weaknesses while helping them improve their own skills.

Sparring isn’t about winning, it’s about strategy and sportsmanship. Don’t be the fighter everyone avoids in the gym, be someone people want to train with.

The Innisfil BJJ club isn’t just a gym, it’s a family. We work together, train together, and succeed together. Our Brazilian jiu jitsu classes are led by professional coaches and suitable for all levels. Book an introductory session now to get started!

Looking for a martial arts studio in Innisfil and the surrounding area? Innisfil Brazilian Jiujitsu offers professional Brazilian Jiujitsu training with a range of BJJ classes for all ages and abilities. Contact our coaches today to get started! 


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Innisfil Brazilian Jiujitsu

990 Innisfil Beach Road

Innisfil, ON



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