“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.
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.