Band of Brothers and Sisters

Hi Evolve Family

This is Mani Ahmadi, one of the wrestling coaches at Evolve MMA. One of my favorite aspects of competing in wrestling and jiu-jitsu was the individuality of these sports. When a match started, it was just me and my opponent. Success or failure rested on my shoulders alone. The result wasn't determined because of a star teammate or a weak bench. I wrote my own destiny.

However, what I realized over time was that a large part of my success depended on my training partners. How vested were they in my success and I in theirs? It was no coincidence that the best wrestlers in the state of California were often teammates and training partners. This is true today in BJJ and MMA as well, where the strongest camps produce champions in pairs or triplets. With that fact, comes the realization that each of us has a responsibility to our teammates to be the best training partner we can be.

The following five points are aimed at bringing out the best in your training partner:

Focus - Good practitioners keep their training partners focused on the task at hand. It is easy to daydream, talk, or crack jokes with your teammates. Sometimes that is part of the appeal of coming to train. However, when you are serious about improving your game, you must keep yourself and your training partner focused on each drill, on each position and each technique. If your partner's focus is waning, get them refocused and maximize the benefits of your training time.

Encouragement - We have all had training sessions where our motivation and energy start to crash and the body refuses to listen to the mind's urging. This is when a good training partner's words of encouragement can push you to levels that you previously did not believe you could achieve. Know when your training partner needs you to push them and be that voice. On a bigger scale, the rigors and challenges of martial arts lead many to walk away either temporarily or forever. By helping their training partners work through these challenges, you can have the most dramatic impact on a teammate’s career and life. Take a vested interest in your teammates’ success and do your best to keep them on the right path.

Instruction - As a martial artist, your knowledge of your art is always growing. Yet, there will always be someone who knows more than you and someone who knows less. When you are training and you notice an area where your knowledge can be of use, speak up and point out the details that will improve your training partner’s game. There is no room for ego or shyness here. Of course, use your best judgment and don't break up the flow of training too often.

Proper Resistance and Position - I find that for beginning grapplers proper resistance and position is the hardest skill to master. By proper resistance and position, I mean the ability to provide your partner with the right amount of resistance and provide the proper positioning for them to achieve the desired result. For example, if you want to drill fifty takedowns in a manner that will improve your speed and explosiveness, the wrong type of resistance is a partner that pushes you away or sprawls on each takedown attempt. On the other hand, if you want to drill your ability to get past your opponents defense and sprawl, you don't want a partner that flops like a noodle to the mat as soon you attempt a takedown. Learning the right amount of resistance and proper positioning is one of the most important skills you can learn to improve yourself as a training partner.

Safety - The key to improving in martial arts is consistency in training. This requires you to stay injury free. In addition, we all have lives outside of the gym that we want to maintain without having to come to work on crutches. Yet the fact remains that the martial arts are dangerous. A minor or devastating injury can occur in a split second. That is why it is critical for participants to do their best to protect themselves and their training partners. First, be fully aware of your surroundings, including other people training nearby and even fixtures in the gym. Second, even though it is important to push the pace of training with your partner, always be ready to take your foot off the gas and slam on the brakes. Let me give you an example that will demonstrate my point. In high school, the walls of our team's wrestling room were covered with mirrors (kind of like the scene from Enter the Dragon). In a heated exchange for a takedown, my training partner and I went full speed into the mirror, and we spent the rest of the day getting our bodies stitched up at the hospital. This wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t lost awareness of our surroundings and been unwilling to slow the pace of our training. Sometimes it is best to stop, cool off and then start the engine again. Leave your ego at the door and keep your partner’s safety as a top priority.

Apply these principles each time you train, and seek out training partners that will do the same. Do your best to meet your responsibilities as a teammate, because it is not just your success and dreams that are on the line.

Mani Ahmadi

Evolve Mixed Martial Arts® is Asia's premier brand of MMA academies.  Evolve MMA ranks among the best academies in the world for Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Mixed Martial Arts.