Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ideal training partner.

I've been thinking about what qualities make up the ideal training partners lately, mainly as I count my blessings for having many many people who fit the bill.

I can summarize it by saying it's kind of like how you know when two people probably have a great marriage-- because they both believe they got the better end of the deal.

I rolled with a guy in morning class today that I'd say is one of my ideal training partners.  We both sat after our roll and insisted that the other person kicked our ass.  Yeah, sometimes that's one person being sincere and the other person being nice (and it could have been that this morning; I was definitely being sincere, and he was definitely kicking my ass.)  But that's still part of the ideal thing.  Every day isn't an ass-kicking day; it's nice to have a partner who is warm and positive about the things we do right even when it's our day to be the ass that gets kicked.

My ideal training partners are a smaller subset of those I consider favorites.  Why?  Well, some of my favorite training partners are years ahead of me in experience and technique; some are enormously big and strong; some are a little newer to the game than me.  I love training with them for many different reasons, and they all share some of these qualities-- but an ideal partner has all of these:

  • Not so physically disparate that one needs to hold back to make it fair
  • Kind, generous, enthusiastic, supportive
  • Aggressive, not timid, so you can be the same way
  • Evenly matched enough that you feel any letting up will result in your loss of position
  • Evenly matched enough that even with best effort and good technique, you might still not get a submission
  • Evenly matched enough that regardless of who gets position/submission in the end, you'll both transition through successes and mistakes on the way
  • Creative and open-minded
  • Clean and well-groomed
  • Finds joy and laughter in the process; isn't too critical of themselves or others
  • Focuses time and energy into efficiently using training time
  • Spends some time off the mats thinking about jiu jitsu
What makes an ideal training partner for you? :)

Oh-- here's a recipe for some good food.  This satisfies ALL my requirements for a "great" recipe: it's quick and easy, inexpensive, attractive to look at, delicious, and very very healthy. It travels AND refrigerates well and it can be eaten hot or cold. I like to double the batch and bring it to work for lunch. Sometimes I add chopped red bell pepper to the onion and garlic saute.  Sometimes I put in halved cherry tomatoes or kalamata olives; basil instead of parsley (I don't care for cilantro) and pine nuts or walnuts and feta or goat cheese.  You can toss in grilled chicken or shrimp, but the quinoa is an excellent source of complete protein. It's also excellent just the way it is!

Black Beans and Quinoa-- makes 10 servings; 76 calories per serving

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley


Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.

Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,

Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

Enjoy!  And good luck to everyone competing this weekend! :)


Marie said...

I was actually talking about something similar to a newish white belt woman last night - that you need to be "aware" of your training partner, and know who is a good fit for you and who is not. Obviously, not in the "he's too good and I'm going to get my ass handed to me" sort of way, but in a "that person is the type who will try to rip my arm off and beat me with it" way.

I love, love rolling with either: 1) higher belts who are willing to show me holes in my game by being able to articulate *concepts*, as opposed to specific techniques; or 2) same or lower belts who will deconstruct a roll with a give and take. Either way, I get new fodder to get the brain going when I'm commuting.

Agree with the rest of your list. Especially the clean bit. Although, I will add, last night I rolled with a guy who evidently just showered, and his hair was still wet (and longish). While I appreciated the effort, wet hair in your face that is not yours? Still a little gross. :)

SavageKitsune said...

My favorite training partners are the ones who give enough feedback to be helpful, but not so much that it seems condescending. And they ask for/take similar feedback from me. There are a few people that I really feel confident that we are prioritizing helping each other improve.

Meerkatsu said...

Your list sounds like me...Im blushing already!

My best training partners are very good blue belts who are a touch bigger than me.

A.D. McClish said...

I have the same list! lol My favorite training partners are the ones who leave their ego at the door and have the capacity to both grapple with intensity and grapple to just move and experiment. Being willing to just "play" has been a big part of my growth and I couldn't do that if I didn't have people I could trust.

Anne said...

You definitely have a long list of criteria to make someone ideal - those are some big shoes to fill for sure.

My ideal training parters are generally like-sized and experience. So small-ish long-overdue whites to new purples. They give and take in equal measures, and we understand what the other person needs at that moment (to go light, to get ready for competition, whatever). Most of all, my ideal training partners are FUN! I finish a roll with them and, whether I was the hander or the handee, I have a smile on my face!

slideyfoot said...

The criteria for my ideal training partner is perhaps a little less strict than yours: humble (as I'd struggle to form a good relationship with somebody really cocky and arrogant), better than me, likes giving advice and values technique above all else. :)

I don't mind if they're bigger, smaller or the same size, though if it's a massive discrepancy (like they're double or half my size), that would make things more difficult. Don't care about gender either: my favourite training partners are generally women, but there have been a number of really helpful men too.

Anonymous said...

My ideal training partner is:
-someone who is around my size (size, not necessarily weight)
-someone who has a push-me/pull-you relationship with me - as in there's a balance in our rolls, no one person completely dominating each other
-this person will have something they are great at (sweeps, escapes, etc) so that I can measure my growth against them when either I escape a sweep or am finally able to pull off an armbar/choke
-this person will also be actively working to pull off their own game against me because I'm not so easy that they can just roll me over and pull off every technique against me
-so my ideal partner will ideally think that I'm their ideal partner
-this partner can help work with me afterward to help me work out how to close the holes in my game
-they're aggressive enough that I can feel comfortable putting real pressure on them and them on me
-they're not so aggressive that it feels like a fight

I have two guys in my class who are ideal training partners for me. One is The Sweep Guy in our school - he's such a great partner, and when I defend successfully against a sweep I feel like "huzzah I'm getting better" the other is a white belt who I cannot for the life of me pull off a submission against - he's a great escape artist. Plus, he likes rolling with me.

I may have to supplement this post with a blog post of my own.:)

Alex J Kennedy said...

1. someone who is not afraid to lose and as such will use technique rather than strength in their rolling.
2. someone with a good sense of humor and is willing to laugh at you and themselves as you train.
3. someone who know how to roll "light"
4. someone who isn't selfish and isn't afraid to take a week off if they have ringworm.
5. to me it doesn't matter the level of ability or rank just the level of respect. (I learn more when I get my butt kicked by a blackbelt than I do if I beat someone.