How To Be A Good Training Partner

Updated for 2018/2019! You may think you know this stuff, but we appreciate if you would read it anyway. Below are a copy/paste of two different missives from many moons ago, with some updated ideas and language.

With new folk coming in, we thought we’d include a note about methods we try to use to make sure we’re good training partners. There will be a second section some of you have already read, but will add it at the bottom.

Everyone is responsible for their own safety. There are of course, good, and less good ways of accomplishing this. Some ideas in this way, follow.

1: Both partners should agree on what type of work is being done.

What that means is, if two or more people decide to work on just boxing tools (for example), throwing an elbow (even with control) is not ok. We of course encourage doing work where one is surprised – by the presentation of a tool (weapon), for instance. However, to do so without agreeing on that level of awareness is a no-no.

Next, we recommend Burton Richardson’s term “progressive resistance” as part of what we do. To insure our material works, we intend to pressure test it. But doing so safely presents a challenge if you “wing it”. Far as I know, however, Burton doesn’t explicitly describe how to do this. We agree on levels of speed and power, a tutorial for how to accomplish this should be done in person. Specifics about this, next.

2: We recommend that each individual decides for their training partner how much speed and power that person should use.

As a 6’ 5”, two hundred thirty pound dude, my levels of speed and power have to be checked against my (albeit badass) 5’ 4” partner. It is up to her though to let me know how much speed and power she wants me to use before we begin. If I ring her bell (so to speak), it’s up to me to notice of course – but it’s also up to her to tell me.

Our stuff only works if it stands the test of critical thinking. To that end, in addition to: agreeing on the material to be worked, and agreeing on levels of speed and power, it is important to move towards 5 other principles:

3: Timing, energy, motion, resistance and non-cooperation.

We give credit pretty consistently, but want to be clear that these ideas, with much gratitude, are to be attributed to Matt Thornton. These require some fleshing out that would take more time to type. Will give a synopsis though. Timing: speeds and rests between attacks should be changed, along with trying to score against the timing of the “opponents” movement, guard, etc. Energy means that there should be some effort, including some pressure. Motion means not staying in the same place. Resistance and non-cooperation mean some pressure against someone’s specific “technique”, and non-cooperation means not going along with it. This last is sketchy territory, because it means one can employ ideas that violate the first idea presented – agreeing on the material to be worked on.

A few other things that are important, but don’t happen as frequently…

1. Watch where your partner is going! Don’t back them up (or let them back up) into another two or more people training, trip over obstacles (like gear, etc.), changes in terrain, into trees or posts and the like.

2. Please don’t invite people to train without asking, first. We usually tell people, “If you vouch for them, they are nice, and can train safe, bring them!” But until we’ve told you that? Please ask.

3. DON’T OFFER RANDOM FOLK OFF OF THE STREET A CHANCE TO TRAIN! There’s a bunch of reasons for this that should be obvious, but it’s happened. If anyone is curious about what we’re doing or asks to train, I’d encourage being nice, being vague, and if they press, tell them to talk to Peter and I’ll screen and/or tell them we don’t take people that one of us do not know. Some of these folk are my neighbors, some are homeless folk, some mentally ill, some straight sketchy.

4. Related to the above: NO PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF 18 MAY COME TRAIN. Even with adult supervision.

This next section has already been endured by older members. Some are essentially repeats of items above, but not all. That said though, doesn’t hurt to revisit it, and if you’re new, it’s really worth reading. Thanks in advance.

Couple notes about being a good training partner that bear repeating. Please review them, as they’re important on a lot of levels. Having a cool environment to train is important, some of these are also health considerations.

1. Show up clean, in clean clothes.

2. USE PIT PUTTY, AKA deodorant/antiperspirant. I know that some folk worried about chemtrails and old folks’ disease don’t want to, but it’s inconsiderate with people you’re gonna be sweating and bleeding on/with.

3. Trim your nails!

4. If you’re getting away with stuff and don’t tell your partner how you’re doing it (not coaching), that’s not cool. It’s also not cool to be teachy, without finding out what other people know first. Everybody at Lab Rats knows a lot of stuff, and if you’re talking about THE DEADLY __________ (insert pet ideas here) without assessing/knowing your audience first (maybe even being asked?), you’re taking hostages.


6. We’re punching each other in the face. We’re rolling. We’re swinging knives and sticks at one another. Don’t wear jewelry, sun glasses, hats, etc.

7. For the love of Vishnu, physics (or whoever/whatever), don’t spit where we train!

8. If you borrow someone’s gear, put it back where you found it! If you’re always borrowing gear, get some. Once in a while using other folks’ stuff is ok, but please think about what you need and get it ASAP. There’s a page for gear we use here:

9. Try to train with different people.

10. Try not to interrupt people who are clearly working on stuff. Asking someone questions while they’re trying to keep from getting brained by a stick or elbow is really uncool.

11. Train smarter, not harder. Being intoxicated (or any variation thereof) that day or the day before is not only going to make you lamer, it’s not safe for training partners. If you show up smelling of booze/etc., plan on being asked not to, and/or simply asked not to show up at all.

12. If you get a lock/choke/sub, APPLY IT SLOWLY AND WITH LITTLE POWER. Tap early, tap often. If they’re ankle or knee locks, tap BEFORE it hurts. You will get hurt if you don’t!

13. It is not up to someone else to insure that someone understands the methods of training with pressure, but not being too aggressive. That means it is not Petar/Will/Michael/Andrew etc. responsibility to tell someone you are training with to cool it. Everyone is responsible for themselves. It is the hope that we’d all support and self-regulate, but at the end of the day, everyone is responsible for themselves.

14. Already been said, but saying it again: train with different people.

15. It’s important for everyones’ fun and safety that you moderate your speed, power, AND skill, when banging, rolling, sticking, knifing. Make sure you’re using the principles of timing, energy, motion (thank you to Matt Thornton for the principles of “aliveness”), non-cooperation and resistance. A great principle is Burton Richardsons’ “progressive resistance”. Everyone should agree on levels of speed AND power when rolling/sparring/drilling, with consideration for someones’ size. Again, really appreciate everyone’s efforts. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s