Friday, February 17, 2012

The Right Sparring Partner


I am going to be reprinting some old classic entries from my previous blog called The Angry Grappler. It will chronicle the evolution in my understanding of martial arts.
08 July 2009 @ 12:09 am

I am one of those picky jerks that exist in most academies. That one guy who is real picky about who he rolls with. People always ask me why I roll with this guy and not that guy and what my method is. Because there is a reason for everything I do in BJJ.

Stephen Kestings wrote something recently about choosing the right training partner. The ideal one is someone around your level who will challenge you but not destroy you.

I have a totally different method that took years and years to create and has led to my higher learning curve in BJJ and my longevity of training almost daily and still survive.

My system is simple. It is based on a risk reward system. Meaning what do I risk for my reward for rolling with this guy. If I risk injury, and all I get out of it is... to say I beat this guy, or this guy didn't stomp me, or I was tough enough to roll with this guy...well that's worthless to me. I don't count what happens in training, just the long term affects of that training. Sometimes you may roll with a guy and though you don't risk anything, like injury, you will not gain anything with them either. Which to me = a waste of time unless he is a lower belt you like and want to help. Which happens as well but then again there are lower belts who don't even want to learn and that is truly the worst waste of time.

I typically only like rolling with guys I call techs. Meaning guys who are very technical, whether I win or lose or if I am better than them or not I always gain something out of it. I can take my time and see what they are doing or what I am doing and because they move in the ways of BJJ and not spaz, it helps me improve my BJJ.

Now no one means to hurt you unless they are just a sociopath. But there are some guys who want to win so bad even though its just training (to these guys training is their tournament and they count wins and losses) they put their want of winning higher on their agenda than your safety. Sacrifice your safety and throw you under the bus so they can win. Meaning there is a chance they could finish this takedown but you may run them off the mat, they will take you down run you off the mat and apologize if you get hurt. Or know you got a bad shoulder and attack a kimura. The worst is when you ask to go slow and they go fast, they want to win more than anything. My favorite are guys who let go of a choke because they think they are cranking your neck, or they stop in mid roll because they think you will run into something. Thanks!

In training you sacrifice your body to your partner to give them the ability to learn and hone their craft. It is the greatest gift we can give in martial arts so there is a trust, and if they trash your gift, then why would you be an idiot and roll with them? It's like they are spitting on what I just gave them and on the martial arts.

But then some would say you need to roll with those kinds of guys to make you tough, get you ready for competition, or who knows for some irrational ego reason. First of all I have never seen those sorts of brutes compete (why would they, training is their gold medal) and when they do they don't do well so how would that help you? Secondly the only challenge they offer you is speed and strength. Which you can get with rolling with a tech who is strong or fast.

I also hardly ever roll with some new guy I have never seen. I need to watch them roll before I can decide to roll with them. I have no problem rolling with big guys or small guys as long as they are tech. Due to math, and there will always be less big guys than small guys, there will just end up being less tech big guys to roll with depending on the day.

So now every time I roll with someone it becomes a positive to my BJJ skills. Like a +5 or +20 with a super tech black belt. If nothing else a +1. But compare this to a guy who rolls with just about anyone or only the psychos. Its like a -2 with this guy, a -10 with that roll, and over time they just seem to get worse. Meaning time is going by yet you are not progressing; means you are actually moving backwards.

This is also a message to myself and others. The better of a training partner you are and more respect you show to your partners, the better off you will be.

I don't care how many times someone tries to goad me to roll with someone. You need to roll with this guy, he is an animal. Yes, I could also eat a flaming hot jalapeno and though that may prove something to certain yahoos; to me it's neither enjoyable as a taste or experience, I gained nothing from it except not to do that again. I mean I could go heatbutt a ram...but why would I? What kind of moron would I be?

BJJ is a singular sport, not a teamsport. BJJ in nature is thus selfish. Put your safety above anyone trying to pad their training record.
About the Author:

Sam Y. is a Master Personal Trainer, Certified Nutritionist, Coach, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Corrective Enhancement Specialist, Yoga and Pilates instructor, and holds multiple certifications. He is also an avid Martial Artist, training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA. He is also the author of the popular fitness blog All Out Effort as well as the popular martial arts blog Inner BJJ. You can find him in the Los Angeles area personal training his clients, or at home annoying his wife, or on Facebook at his personal fitness page.

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