By Elisabeth Clay
When you first start training, everyone is better than you, for the most part. The aspect to training that should receive the largest focus is having an exceptional professor to teach you correct technique. As you learn and grow in the sport, the training partners gradually become more and more important. This is especially true for competitors. By the time you are at brown and black belts, partners are even more important, at least in my opinion.
There are certain characteristics I look for in partners. It is not that they are champions or are strong, or anything like that. Even when working very hard, it is critical to have enjoyment and keep the love of the grind and the art alive. Because of this, I seek out partners who have certain characteristics and try to be these things for them as well.
One of the most important characteristics is being dependable. Know yourself and commit to whatever it is that you can do. Whether that is multiple sessions a day, one session daily, 3 days a week, or whatever. Do not commit to something you cannot do. We all have a life and limits; look for a partner who knows theirs is valuable. Partners who do whatever it is they tell you make for a less stressful training experience.
A large portion of success is not being the very most talented, but being willing to walk through, push through, and sacrifice to become something or to excel at something. Not every partner needs to have the same level of determination, but they at least need to have some amount to be able to push through. Determination is what helps you get through all of the down time and tough times. Partners need to have this determination to help themselves and you get through rough training.
Training partners need to be consistent. Every now and again does not make for good training, not for either partner. Showing up when it is important for you and your partner helps both.
Training partners need to have goals. Those goals are what help to align partners. Goals in the sport as well as goals to help each other succeed are important.
Partners need the mental strength it takes to train when you are hurting, frustrated, sad, and all other emotions and physical stressors of life, especially when things are not falling together and are overwhelming. It is at these times that without that mental fortitude we falter. When partners have similar mental strength they help each other achieve what their goals. Partners with less mental toughness tend to quit or take time to mentally regroup, which sets both partners back. Together we strengthen each other, but in weakness together we set each other back.
Love of the Sport
When you spend so much time training and working through struggles, aches and pains, you must love it to give it your all. Love to learn it, to share it, to explore different ways to approach it. When your partners share this love with you, it only helps to fuel the drive to train more and harder.
Love of the Grind
The grind is what gives you the edge to be aggressive in competition, to push when all else is at it’s limits. When you are tired, hurting, or mentally and physically exhausted, this is the grind that you have learned to love, and you embrace it. Partners that love the grind as together push each other to greater and greater heights. This is the one component that it took me a while to realize was crucial for me and my game. This may not be something that is critical to others, but in my training I have to embrace and love the grind, and so too must my partners. I found that when my training pace and the grind slows, my competitive mind wanes. This type of grind is wearing on the mind and the body, so even though my mind would like it everyday, several days a week is sufficient.
Choose those who will push the pace with you, train with razor focus mentality, are there on a regular and dependable schedule, have and share your passions, and support your dreams, goals, and passions. These training partners will be your support and lifeline. Become your lion or lioness.