Important Things When Training

By Brian LaMaster


I have been in and out of training for the past 17 years, but the following information about training has stuck with me for all that time. Although I learned most of it in another organization, I still feel that it is very good information to keep in mind while training because when you train, you are affecting others with your actions (both mental and physical).

1. Introduce yourself to your training partner if you don’t know them.
2. Ask if your training partner has any injuries and do your best to remember them. If you are the injured person, then it is your job to make your injuries known.
3. You are lending your body to others as others are lending theirs to you. It is your job to protect your body, so if someone is being abusive or training too fast, tell them to slow down or not to apply so much pressure. Counter a technique only if you are about to get something broken or injured. If you counter a technique for this reason, kindly say something to the effect of, “I’m sorry, but I almost got injured. Could you please slow down or release the pressure at this point”. Respect the body of those who are lending you their body and only apply a technique such as a gyaku once or twice with a significant amount of pain to your training partner to know that you are able to correctly apply the gyaku. Do not constantly apply maximum pressure to a gyaku, arm bar, etc., hurting your training partner. We all know what it feels like, but we don’t need to feel it EVERY time!!! Remember, you are going next!!!
4. Training is role playing. This means that there is some amount of acting involved. First of all, provide realistic energy. This doesn’t mean that you need to go more than ½ speed to give realistic energy. The truth of the matter is, you can go about ¼ or 1/3 speed and learn as much if not more than going ½ speed or better. Don’t fall down just because they are applying a gyaku or throw. Depending upon the situation, such as a throw, make them execute the throw properly!!! React to the technique. For example, if someone hits you in the stomach, then bend over at least a little. If someone delivers a strike upward to the bottom of your chin, then tilt your head back. If you don’t play along, then you might just deserve some added pain in order for the training partner to properly execute the technique being taught. And if you aren’t going to play along, don’t complain about it if someone does add the extra pain to their technique. If someone constantly adds the extra pain, then you might just question yourself as to how realistic of an adversary that you are being. The other side to the coin is that if you aren’t going to be a good training partner, then more than likely people aren’t going to like to train with you.
5. Learn as much as you can while at the dojo. If you are throwing a punch or kick, do it to the best of your ability. Don’t just sloppily throw a punch or kick. You are not only cheating yourself, but your training partner as well. Just because you are the person who is the ‘attacker’ doesn’t mean that you should not learn from the technique that is being executed.
6. Delivering the attack. It is your job to throw a punch or kick in a straight line. Just because you know where the defender is going, doesn’t mean that you throw the punch or kick where they are going – this is how people get hurt. Or purposely throw the strike the other direction just to ‘help’ them with the technique, because in reality you aren’t helping them at all. Now, having said that, as the defender it is your job to not get hit!!! To keep everyone honest, every once in a while as the attacker is delivering the strike (punch or kick), move straight back just to make sure that they striking in a straight line like they are supposed to be.
7. Don’t circumvent your training partner’s technique unless you agree to that as a part of your training. However, you should always look for the opportunity where you could have delivered a counterstrike, counter the technique, or even escape.
8. Don’t’ offer advice unless asked for it (unless you are the sensei). Of course, the exception to that rule is if you can’t resist, then do it politely!!! Such as, “I see that you are having trouble, may I suggest something to help you out”.
9. Ukemi. Proper ukemi is what is going to allow you to remain in the fight or escape. Practice rolling in as small of area as possible. More than likely in a confrontation, if the attacker knows what they are doing, you are not going to be able to roll ‘big’. In other words, in the dojo we are polite and let you role in a ‘large’ area, but in the real world, you may only have about three or four feet to roll in, if that much.
10. Don’t stop in the middle of a technique if it’s not working. If you are having trouble getting something, ask. But whatever you do, don’t stop. If you are training slowly, you should have more than enough time to adjust and execute the technique correctly. There are a lot of variables when training; such as your energy, your opponents energy, body shapes and sizes, timing, distancing, and angling. Timing, distancing, and angling are enough to give you endless variations in a technique. In any case, if you are unable to perform the technique from your immediate position, then do SOMETHING to finish the technique –IMPROVISE!!!
11. Always, always, always, maintain good kamae whether you are the attacker or defender. Always finish the technique with good kamae.
12. Constantly humble yourself. When you think that you are good at something, just ask the sensei what they think!!! Egos destroy people and dojos. We are here to train and learn. FYI, there is a difference between an ego and confidence. It is up to you to figure out what the difference is.
13. Lastly, you are only as good as you are!!! Just because you have been around for a while or that you have a certain rank doesn’t make you better than others. In other words, the belt that you wear is just that. It is only a symbol of the level of training that you are at. Learn from others as much as possible. Maybe the white belt that just walked in the door knows a little more about life than you do. I have learned a lot from people who have just started, or those that are of a lower rank. Many of the people who have come to train have valuable information inside, or real ‘combat’ experience. They may possess information that they don’t know that they have, but if you are looking for information, then you might just learn something that will become a ‘wall buster’ in your training.

If you aren’t going to train realistically, then why train at all? You may very well be a hindrance or nuisance to others in the dojo.