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  • Writer's pictureJess D

How to Be a Better BJJ Training Partner

Updated: May 17

Having a reliable BJJ sparring partner is integral to your jiu-jitsu journey. Elevate your role as a BJJ training partner with these tips.

Two men doing no gi grappling in a martial arts gym


Jiu-jitsu is inherently a two-person sport centered around grappling. Consequently, having a reliable BJJ sparring partner is integral to your jiu-jitsu journey. Being an excellent training partner not only benefits your teammates but also enhances your own BJJ skills and effectiveness. In this blog post, I will delve into how you can elevate your role as a training partner and become one of the most sought-after BJJ partners at your gym.

The Roles of Training Partners Explained:

two jiu-jitsu grapplers one doing a throw takedown in blue and white gis

It's not merely about being the one executing moves with maximum intensity or passively serving as a practice dummy while your partner performs BJJ techniques. It's about fostering effective teamwork. In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, each training partner assumes a specific role and name. The 'Tori' is the one executing the technique in the moment, while the 'Uke' is the recipient of the technique. Both roles carry an inherent respect, and even when you're the Uke, your contribution holds immense importance during the training session. Recognize that you may switch roles throughout a training session, so strive to be an exceptional partner, whether executing or receiving techniques. While you may not always have the choice of your BJJ training partner, being an exceptional one benefits the entire gym community, promoting growth and learning.

Communicating with Your BJJ Training Partner:

Jiu-jitsu training etiquette discourages excessive conversation during practice since the primary focus is on training. Nevertheless, effective communication within BJJ is paramount. This entails providing constructive feedback if a technique feels off or if the pressure applied seems insufficient. Communication should flow both ways: The Tori should feel free to ask Uke for feedback on the technique's feel and inquire if adjustments are needed in terms of body positioning or movements. Conversely, the Uke should communicate any discomfort, corrections needed, or any unnatural pain resulting from the technique.

Controlling Your Intensity When You Drill in BJJ:

Kimura held in jiu-jitsu gi grappling

A drilling session is not the time or place to exert 100% effort. It's essential to be mindful of the pressure, strength, and force you apply during drilling, particularly when working on BJJ submissions. It's crucial to understand that BJJ beginners, especially white belts, may not possess the knowledge to tap promptly. Therefore, adapting your intensity based on your partner's skill level is crucial. As you gain a better understanding of techniques, you can gradually increase your speed and resistance.

Maintain Proper Hygiene on the BJJ Mats:

woman with long hair showering in green titled shower

Maintaining good hygiene while on the mats is of utmost importance. A foul odor or a smelly gi can deter training partners and disrupt the training environment. Prioritize personal hygiene, including pre- and post-training showers, washing your gi and training gear, refraining from reusing unwashed equipment, and keeping your nails trimmed. These seemingly small actions demonstrate respect for Brazilian jiu-jitsu and contribute to a clean and healthy training environment.

Be Encouraging, Positive, and Adaptive During BJJ Training:

woman and man train no gi grappling with onlooker

Acknowledge that everyone possesses strengths and weaknesses in BJJ, and individuals may have distinct goals. It's crucial to train with a diverse range of partners, even if they differ in skill levels or interests. This means occasionally partnering with a BJJ hobbyist, especially if you're a competitor or an upper belt. In such cases, make it a point to be encouraging, offer guidance, and maintain a positive demeanor during training. Many have experienced feeling like a burden, especially as white or blue belts, when partnering with higher-ranked individuals. Additionally, if there is a substantial weight or size disparity between you and your partner, refrain from using your full weight or strength. Allow them space to improve, reserving intense efforts for positional sparring or open mat training sessions.

Be the BJJ Partner You Would Want:

bjj partners fist bump. Slap and bump

Partnering in Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a cornerstone of training in the sport. While you may not control your partner's behavior, you can become the partner everyone desires by embodying the qualities you value in a training partner. This demonstrates respect for yourself, your gym, and those around you, fostering trust in your BJJ training and creating a positive training environment.

Share your thoughts on what attributes you value in an ideal training partner in the comments!

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