How to Piss Off Your Training Partner, Part 3

In Part One and Two of this guide, we looked at several things your training partners do to piss you off. Perhaps they do it on purpose, perhaps not, but you’ll have to deal with it one way or the other.

bite-me

So what can you do?

A bunch of things actually and not all of them work with everybody. Sometimes you have to mix and match, other times nothing works and you skip to the bottom of this list of suggestions: 

  • Communication. You need to figure out a way to explain to your partner  how he’s pissing you off. And you’ll have to stay calm too or the situation might escalate. Easier said than done with some people but this is the most polite way to settle the problem. Some ideas:
    • Just tell him in the calmest possible way what it is he does that upsets you. Be precise about it; don’t go into a long winding speech.  Then ask him not to do that anymore. Say please and be as polite as you can be.
    • Humor can defuse a lot of situations. Make fun of it but try to get your message across. My personal favorite for guys who crank it up too much: “Dude!  I’m an over-the-hill, brittle, old fart. Stop hitting me so hard, man. Otherwise I might break and I left my wheelchair at home!”
    • Involve the teacher. Instead of arguing with your partner, just state that you think you’re supposed to practice another technique than what he’s doing or in another way. Before he can reply, tell him you’ll ask the teacher and simultaneously start walking away.
  • Demonstrate. Show the partner what he’s doing. He might not realize he’s messing up and getting on your nerves. You could say: “Hey, we’re supposed to work on a wrist lock, not an elbow lock. Can we get back to what the teacher showed?” In other gyms and schools the same thing might be said like this “Hey man, you’re doing a frikkin’ elbow lock again. It’s supposed to be a wrist lock, dumbass. Get with the program!” Of course, there is a lot of middle ground between both extremes here. You decide which way to go, it’s your face… :-)
  • Call him on it. This takes it up a notch and could get you into trouble. But it’s something a certain type of training partner gets real well. I think it was John who gave a good example (Not sure as the comments got lost when I started over, sorry):

Seriously though, every time I learned a lock , the idea was that I should generally do something to distract them first and then apply the lock. While I understand that this is *practice* and you shouldn’t have to do that while learning, I’ve found an incredulous “Is _that_ really how you want to do this?” question, followed up if necessary by softening them up just a bit, lets them understand that YES this technique could work in a fight, just not in the unrealistic you-stand-there-while-I-make-a-pretzel-out-of-you manner learning and practice sometimes requires.

This is the equivalent of giving a final warning. By calling your partner on his behavior, especially if he’s doing it intentionally, you let him know playtime is over. He now knows you’ll do unto him as he did to you. If he still doesn’t get it, then you move on to the next bullet.

  • Reciprocate. Some people won’t get it at all, even if you draw a picture. Then you have to do to them as they do to you. Just today, I taught a class to a bunch of young guys. In the end, they wanted to do something fun and I let them try to wrestle me off one small judo mat. If they could make me place one foot outside of it, they won. The rules were no striking and no dirty stuff. Three of those guys started clawing with their fingernails to make me move. I told them to stop clawing or I’d return the favor. That didn’t work so I grabbed some skin, closed my hand and twisted. Two of them let go and didn’t do it again. One guy let go and then resumed his clawing. I responded in kind. He stopped but tried one more time. I told him I could rip him up harder than he could and dug in a bit more than before. He yelped in pain and then left it at that. Some people, out of malice or ignorance, have to learn the hard way.
  • Let it go and walk away. This is arguable the hardest part. Especially if the partner pulled crap on you before, you feel entitled to give him a piece of your mind or make him suffer a bit. We’ve probably all been there. But if you can hold back your temper just a bit, think long term: What do you gain from letting the conflict escalate? Nine out of ten, it won’t be worth it. Then just bow out, step away and change partners.

Whatever way you do, remember that next class, that guy will be there again. If you choose to get all bent out of shape and bust him up, odds are he’ll try to return the favor then. If you make a fool out of him, you might just have made an enemy. Or you might open his eyes and get a friend out of it.

One of my best friends was the guy I’d fight tooth and nail in class. We didn’t like eachother at all and would play for keeps. After bashing each other’s skull in a few times over the years, our attitudes changed and we became brothers in arms. So everything is possible.  Consider your approach wisely.

As always, feel free to comment or drop a line to share your own experience.

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Comments

  1. Wonderful part 3 to the series! Yes, some people do need to learn the hard way. Its unfortunate when it has to go that far, but sometimes some people just get so engrossed in whatever is going on in their heads (thinking too much, “look like bad-ass I am”, “It’s not working so I’ll do something else to a similar result”, etc) that they need a wake up call.

  2. Wonderful part 3 to the series! Yes, some people do need to learn the hard way. Its unfortunate when it has to go that far, but sometimes some people just get so engrossed in whatever is going on in their heads (thinking too much, “look like bad-ass I am”, “It’s not working so I’ll do something else to a similar result”, etc) that they need a wake up call.

    • Thanks Restita!
      Yes, some people really need a reality check. Sometimes it just can’t be helped. It’s never fun, but the way they act, accidents will eventually happen. Worst of all, they’ probably won’t be injured but you will. So maybe it’s preemptive self-defense? :-)

  3. Great post!

    I remember there was this one guy I used to spar with occasionally – he used to have poor control and what I initially read I thought was aggression in his technique. Over time it turned out none of it was deliberate at all, and I found out he was a really nice guy. Shows the misunderstanding part I guess when it comes to sparring!

  4. Great post!

    I remember there was this one guy I used to spar with occasionally – he used to have poor control and what I initially read I thought was aggression in his technique. Over time it turned out none of it was deliberate at all, and I found out he was a really nice guy. Shows the misunderstanding part I guess when it comes to sparring!

    • @ Sean: I have had several students like that always young guys. It’s my responsibility to tone them down. But that doesn’t always work. If all else fails, I spar with him and crank up the power just beyond what he can take. The look in his eyes is usually one of pain and then helplessness. When I see that, I explain that every one of his sparring partners feels just like that with him. And it’s his responsibility to hold back, just as I always do with him.
      Usually, this works. Sometimes, I need to repeat the lesson. :-)

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