Sunday, June 21, 2015

Being a Good Training Partner

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” – Muhammad Ali

There are few better feelings than when someone I respect wants to train with me. When a buddy of mine who's a high level competition shooter makes sure to invite me out on range trip, or when a guy who I respect with good game on the mat grabs me to partner up for class I know I'm doing something right.

So what is that thing? What makes a good training partner.

You don't have to be the best, I know I'm often low rung on the pole, so its not raw overall skill, but you cant be a flailing mess. Work at getting better. Focus on technique. I know that when I see someone truly working at developing skill that that's someone I want to be around. That's someone I want to train with. I need to be working at getting better if I want to attract others who are doing the same. Water seeks its own level.

I have a limited number of hours in the day and a great many demands on them. Every moment I spend is valuable and irreplaceable. I'm not spending those with people who are toxic. I don't have any extra life to waste on people who don't enhance it. I better make sure I'm a positive influence on those I interact with. Every good training partner is a blessing. I can't do this alone.

This part is touchy. It could perhaps be better said to be sensitivity to pressure. I cant put the same pressure on the new guy that I do to someone at my own level. The really skilled guys who can give you just as much as you can handle are priceless, that's where I want to be one day. At the same time there is huge difference between pressure and just being a dick. There are guys I roll with that go hard, whom I am thankful for, and then there are guys who try to replace skill with their notion of going hard who I tend to steer away from. Same on the shooting range. I have friends who will up the ante, make me bring my A game, and then there are dudes who may be really really good who are just trying to show off or prove how awesome they are, and the vast mass of folks who just outrun their headlights.

Work ethic.
We've all done it. Had a shit talking session on the range geeking out over gear, or gone off the script when we should be getting our reps in. I know I'm guilty. I also know its not generally how I operate. I want to get my work in, and when I'm showing up to get my time in I'm steering towards those that are also focused. I don't want to be that off topic guy when your trying to improve yourself and I appreciate training with guys that are doing the same.

There is truly very little of what I do in regards to training that isn't dangerous. If I think this guy cant keep his muzzle in a safe direction, or my rolling partner is going to go a little too far too fast on the arm bar I simply can't take that risk. The pain, the injury, the recovery time as I age, the missed training, no thank you. Control is a combination of skill, emotional stability, and mindfulness. Its something I look for, and something I strive to develop.

This is not all inclusive. There are several other factors worth discussing, perhaps another time. How do we train with new people, what about rolling with the ladies, when is it time to be selfish, and how do we train leading up to an event?

Interactive training means working on our interpersonal skills, it means building a community, a tribe, and that team can make all the difference when it comes time to perform.

Thank you for being a part of this journey with me. I'll hold up my end.

Antifragile Training

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Thank You

When I have a room full of people having fun and learning, when I see the lights click on, and when people thank me after class and tell me how much they enjoyed the experience the fulfillment is real and palatable. By and large these are truly some of the best people I have in my life. They give me their precious time and work hard trusting the process. I couldn't ask for more.

And so this is perhaps a post about gratitude. A thank you to everyone who comes out to train, and for all the guys who have helped get me to this place. Who have guided, nurtured, and encouraged me along the way.

Its a symbiotic relationship the way I see it. This is not about playing instructor, looking for titles or accolades. This is about us leaving it all on the mat and enriching each others lives. We become better people through the work. We practice empathy, we get out of our comfort zones, and there is a certain kind of trust you need to have when you practice breaking limbs and choking each other unconscious on a daily basis. Lets not forget we are practicing killing each other over and over again in the mat room, that we are out on the ranges with little killing machines we carry around, and we are having a great time dealing with some of the most dire of subject matters.

For years now the local crew has had a private training group. We would get together at each others houses, strap gear on, and beat on one another trying see what worked and get better. We would go to training courses, come back, demo what we learned, and then go all in. We didn't know much. We went through phases on what material we focused one. We would get together and shoot, got simunition guns, did role playing. I have a lot of old video and man is it ugly!

A few of our guys went to a Shivworks (Craig Douglas) course called ECQC. When they came back to the group it was dramatic. It redefined how we saw wins and losses, it gave us performance goals, and we started to look deeper. I was skeptical, and my good friend Paul at Alias hooked me up with a class Craig was teaching. I had been hosting courses through Paul for some time and he said "You'll really like Craig, its just what your looking for." He was right.

Over the years I've attended multiple Shivworks courses, have brought them here to Pittsburgh, and from there met, trained with, and hosted a crew of dudes all working together. Cecil Burch has become another good friend and my sounding board for all things BJJ related. Paul Sharp has given me freely of his time and experience, pure gold, his love of the work is contagious. Larry Lindenman has gone so far as a distance health coach for me he will review video of my lifts, give diet and nutrition advice, and has added untold quality years to my life. Seriously.

Its been a special kind of intimidating honor to have been able to develop to a point where I can co teach with Craig. To have the responsibility for live training evolution's during his courses has been amazing, and I take that responsibility very personally as I present that material now.

I have been truly blessed to have found Stout Training Pittsburgh , and Warren Stout as a friend and teacher. Hes done the coursework, and loves learning. He trusts me enough to allow me to present the material in his school, and I'm honored to do so.

I love this work. I cant do it alone. Come out and train, we are happy to have you.
Antifragile Training