Is it possible to become too comfortable with one's training partner?

girlbug2

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I have to wonder if I've been sabotaging myself unintentionally for the past few months. I have come to know a few of my classmates and reached a level of friendship and cameraderie with them. The class times that we attend for training normally coincides and we have found that we work well together, so it seems as if we've all fallen into the pattern of pairing up with eachother in our small circle. I notice a marked difference in how I feel when training with one of my friends versus students I've not gotten to know well; everything goes smoothly, we trade a few jokes and wisecracks, it all seems more fun and I relax and enjoy the session more.

But, is this a good thing or a bad thing? A reality check occurred to me, this isn't spin class, this is martial arts, shouldn't I be less comfortable and more "on edge", physically & mentally as I train?

Some hard questions: can one enjoy practice too much? Does familiarity with one or a few training partners breed lazy/bad habits? Can it give one a false sense that one is doing better and learning more than is actually the case? Should I seek out partners that are more critical of my technique, and would I learn more if I trained with people I didn't particularly like? Or, OTOH, is positive encouragement from friends the best way to build skills and better flow?

Please let me know of your personal experiences in this area. I value all feedback.
 

Aikikitty

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Just a quick note---I think that if you are really comfortable with your training partners, you're more likely to trust them. I mean, you know they would never hurt you on purpose and they will be more likely to help you with what you need.

However, if you're sparring then you still want to have a healthy competion in the sense that you don't feel like the other is going too easy or letting you win or vs versa.

My personal view is that "my guys" I train with have become friends and even like family to me. We truly care about each other and that means a lot and motivates me to train harder. A few years ago, there were a couple of people that I didn't particuarly like in our class and I did not enjoy or really get anything out of training with them besides what NOT to do! I also remember going to class with dread of wondering if "that difficult person" was going to be there. If they were there, that gave me the tendency of being nervous and tense in my techniques.

My 2 cents.

Robyn :wavey:
 

grydth

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My personal experience is that trust and friendship allowed us to go a lot harder on each other in sparring, and that was a good thing.

Yet, when I watch my daughters square off with other girls who are friends, the opposite often happens - good sparring matches become harmless patty-cake experiences.
 

IcemanSK

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I wouldn't say that it's not necessarily all good or all bad. My training partners in college were very good friends. But being guys, our goal was always to "one up" the other guy. We pushed each other & always trained hard. But there was a downside, too.

Because we were always training together, we knew each too well. When training w/ this guy, I knew his weaknesses & he knew mine. The "unknown" was rarely a part of working together. Our instructor would always break us up to work with others in class to help us change our thinking a bit.

If you've gotten to a place where you're "too comfortable" that you cannot train as seriously, maybe grabbing a new partner isn't a bad idea for awhile. I suspect that letting your friends know why you're doing that would be a good thing, also. If you can train seriously with your friends, I'd encourage you to do so. After all, if ya can't bruise your friends, what fun is taking class with them?:mst:
 

stickarts

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You raise some good questions. I think it's only bad if you become too complacent in your training and don't try anything new and stop growing. For example, I sparred countless times with my sparring instructor over several years, however, we each kept trying different things and would try and surprise each other with different strategies and techniques. I do also think it is good to keep working with many different people.
 

punisher73

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It isn't good or bad, it just is. I think I would be more worried if someone told me that they keep all of their classmates at a distance so it doesn't dull their "killer instinct".

I would just make sure that you aren't sandbagging your training. If you are supposed to throw a punch at the face, then you really throw the punch at the face, but this is advice I give to anyone. It just seems sometimes when you get too friendly the techniques get a little complacent.

On the other hand, you are more able to try different things because you HAVE worked with that person for so long you know how they are going to react to a technique and can have faith in both parties that you are safe.
 

arnisador

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The biggest danger is that training time becomes chit-chat time. (My instructor and I are guilty of this when training alone.) You need aa variety of training partners regardless!
 

Gordon Nore

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The biggest danger is that training time becomes chit-chat time. (My instructor and I are guilty of this when training alone.) You need aa variety of training partners regardless!

LOL. I had two classmates who became chatter pals. The two of them never stopped talking. I got so tired of the nattering that I would relocate to different parts of the dojo.
 

Nomad

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It's never a bad idea, IME, to mix things up and deliberately pick partners you don't normally work with... whether they're bigger, smaller, younger, older, better or worse than you. Each has something to teach you about martial arts.

It's important for smaller, younger women to work with the big guys to increase their confidence in their technique and to know they can't get away with poor technique. It's equally important for the big guys to work with the smaller women to know that they can practice martial arts without being too rough for their partner (a different focus than opponent).

By the same token, I think that adults should have time sparring (no contact) or working with kids... you don't have control until you feel comfortable throwing a technique with power at an 8 year old, who may move in unpredictable ways, and know that you won't hurt them. For the kids, it's a great reality-check that just because they dominate the 8-10 year-old group doesn't mean they're the toughest person in the room.

There's nothing wrong with having a group of preferred workout partners; most of us do (whether by size, time in grade, skill level, etc), but it's also very healthy in your development to keep going outside your comfort zone.
 

SensibleManiac

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It's good to be comforatble with who you're training with, the only downside I know of is when you get to know their style so well, ( as well as body type, strengths, etc...,) that it limits your training.
My instructor always encouraged us to spar in BJJ as well as Judo with as many different people from different schools as possible as this only helps your improvement.
In terms of knowing your training partners won't do anything stupid and injure you, it is good though.
 

Sandstorm

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The Gracie family is a superb example of how closeness does not interfere with training, provided your goals are set right and you each know where you want to go with your training. I have made many freinds, some of them absolutely great, through training. Yes, you need to keep a check on sloppiness, but the your friends will point out when you could do better or when you seem laclustre etc. As has been said above, the bond can also be great for the sparring to get a little rougher and there be no hard feelings. If you enjoy it, great! If you do it for the love of the activity itself and you are getting out of it what you want, fantastic. If you want to be world champion in your chosen art, or have specific goals that needs more than your circle of friends as sparring partners, spread your wings. At the end of the day, it's always better to have freinds than mere acquaintances. They will understand you more and be there for you if your on a low. So many perks here, I don't see you have anything to worry about.

Enjoy your training

Regards
John
 

Jonny Figgis

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This is something that comes up for every serious martial arts practitioner. I personally feel (and this has been reiterated by many top level martial artists) that there should be varying degrees of discomfort when you train. One 8th Dan karateka in the UK wrote that you should have 'that feeling' in the pit of your stomach every time you go to train...if you don't then you're not training hard enough. This is good for sharpening your skills and keeps you aware and your reflexes sharp.

I like to train with different people; different shapes, sizes, body mechanics etc. It is too easy to get into a rhythm with someone...you get into a groove and after a while, you don't stretch each other. Where I learn is when a technique works for me with one person but then doesn't on another; there is a great learning curve there. If you're serious about the training and the other students are too, you will have fun while doing some good hard training whether they are your buddies or not.

This is just my experience and opinions will differ but it's worked for me. So train hard and have fun but remember there is no growth in comfort!
 

theletch1

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In a word (at least for me) yes. I've trained kempo and aikido with my wife for years. The trouble there is that we know each other well enough that it's now hard for either of us to take the other by surprise. We still have plenty of other folks to train with and mix things up with but to truly work a technique to it's fullest we need to work with others to feel different energies.
 

MA-Caver

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Try this girlbug...
After class or before or whenever, have as many as you can corral together and have them sit on the mat in a circle and bring the subject up for discussion. See how they feel about it and go from there. It's your class and those folks you are training with. I could say agree to meet in a bar or restaurant or where-ever else but you got distractions galore there (anybody want another beer?--ok go on what were you saying?) but doing it there (even with instructor present and participating) helps maintain focus.
We here on MT can provide feedback and reassurances and personal experiences but we aren't the folks you train with on a regular basis (or even at all). Try to set up a round-table of sorts and see what others in your class comes up with.

I agree with the others that the more comfortable you are with your training partners/class-mates you are able to train better and if anything happens you won't be so quick to blame or become resentful. You can even feel comfortable enough to say "HEY! that hurt dammit! Ease up!" and not worry about upsetting the other person too much.

Being together with the same group of people working towards a common goal brings out (one of) mankind's strongest inherent traits: gathering for companionship. It's normal, it's natural and it's OKAY. As long as boundaries are established and adhered to ... no worries.
 

Aefibird

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I think there's good and bad in being really familiar with your training partners. On the one hand you know the person you're sparring/practising with and know the speed and force they can deal with. It also means that you can trust one another to work on new things and try techniques out.

On the other hand, you can become very aware of how they spar and what they're going to do next. Also, when working on techniques there's a danger that a session can become more of a chance for a chat or even time when the two of you are just going through the same old moves for the sake of it just because the instructor has told you to work on that.

Personally, I think that if you can get the opportunity to train/spar with new folk then you should take it.

Chances are it's not going to be your best mate from the dojo who will be mugging you in the street and what you may be able to do with ease against a friend becomes much more difficult against someone else, especially if they are of a body size or type that you're not used to being paired with (such as small women against heavyweight guys).
 
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