How to Be a Great BJJ Training Partner


When it comes to the effectiveness of BJJ, many people would say that it’s the techniques that are the key. While this is true, it is incomplete. There are many other styles that teach the same or similar techniques to BJJ but do not have the same track record in MMA or open combat. The key is how these techniques are shaped and sharpened by drilling them against full resistance, and testing them in tournaments against unfamiliar opponents. In this way, it is actually the sport component of BJJ that makes it so effective for self-defense. This means the true value of BJJ is in your training partners. Here are a few tips for taking good care of them:

  1. Understand who the drill is for. In BJJ drilling, usually the drill is more for one person than the other, and you must be sensitive to this. If the class is about mount escapes, it is not the time for you to completely shut down your partner and show how awesome you are at holding mount. It’s easy to counter when you know exactly what the person is supposed to be doing. Let them work through the technique and let the instructor tell you when it’s time to fight.
  2. Focus on improvement. This may seem obvious, but it isn’t. There is a big difference between focusing on getting better, and focusing on showing how good you already are. If you always drill the things you’re already good at and spend all your time rolling in the positions you like, it’s easy to fall into a rut. It’s good every few weeks to assess where you’re feeling good and where you could use improvement, and make an effort to put yourself in those positions you don’t like as much to get better at them.
  3. Communicate. If you have a neck injury or bad knee, don’t be afraid to tell your partner. It is true that BJJ is a tough sport, little aches and pains are always going to be there and you’ll have to work through them but if something is on the edge where you can train with it but it’s at higher risk for further injury, it’s important for your training partner to know. The whole team gets better when everyone stays on the mat and keeps training.

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