I don’t like my training partner

You know that person who stands across from you and just can’t seem to do their part correctly in the exercise? Perhaps they feel compelled to outsmart every exercise with a counter, or maybe they have their own ideas of what the exercise should be, or don’t care to listen to what’s offered, or perhaps they simply lack the experience or ability to hold up their side of the exercise.

This partner, though often good natured, can be supremely frustrating to work with. But working toward mastery requires a lot of time, and a lot of input from others into our own training, so these situations are unavoidable. Here are a few ideas on how to address this issue and turn lemons into lemonade.

Talk to them

Especially if your safety is on the line. Take the stance that your partner actually wants to help you but there is a disconnect in some way you don’t fully understand. Ask them about their role in the exercise, offer your help, or play dumb yourself and ask the instructor to help you out. Unless you already have a close working relationship, it’s better to call the attention to yourself first than pointing the finger at your partner.

Get a different partner

If the environment is right, it can often be for the best to simply switch practice partners. It can be socially challenging to say to someone “I don’t feel comfortable working with you.” But sometimes that just needs to be said. Be polite.  After all if they’re not a good practice partner for you right now, you may very well not be for them. If you’re in an environment where you switch partners on rotation, be patient and wait for the next change to be called.

Work smarter with the partner you’ve got

If you’re a more experienced practitioner, that challenging partner can present you with a whole new level of technique within the exercise. Try seeing your partner’s challenge as an added level of difficulty or a different flavour to the exercise you intended to practice. You may get an insight out of an exercise you would not have gotten otherwise.

It’s always worth consulting with your instructor or a senior practitioner to get individual help with a given situation. The main thing is don’t feel that you have to tough it out or resign yourself to bad practice. There’s nothing more demotivating than feeling powerless. So get help, get smart, and get your training back on track.

These ideas a but a small sampling of solutions to a common problem. What troubles do you experience with training partners? How do you deal with difficult or awkward situations? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below.


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