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A Guide to Being an Effective Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Drilling Partner

This blog post is geared more specifically towards Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and helping my team. However, these principles can also be applied when practicing self-defense or other types of physical skills with a partner.



Introduction: Being a good training partner in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is an art in itself. Drilling techniques in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a crucial aspect of skill development. Your role is not just to endure the techniques but to actively contribute to the growth of your training partner. This guide outlines key principles, including adherence to the 80/20 principle, to help you become an effective and supportive BJJ drilling partner. Being a good drilling partner enhances the learning experience for both you and your training counterpart.


1.     Active Engagement:

  • Stay Focused: Be fully present during drilling sessions. Avoid distractions and maintain focus on the technique at hand.

  • Give Genuine Effort: Put forth genuine effort into each repetition. Your engagement directly impacts the quality of the drill.

2.     Consistent Pace/Intensity:

  • Match Partner's Pace: Find a pace that aligns with your partner's skill level. Adhere to the 80/20 principle, ensuring at least 80% of the moves are executed correctly to balance speed and precision.

  • Controlled Movements: Execute movements with control to avoid unnecessary strain or injury during drills.

  • Adjust to Skill Levels: Tailor your intensity to your partner's skill level. Be aware of the learning phase they're in and adapt accordingly.

  • Challenge, Don't Overwhelm: Provide a challenge, but avoid overwhelming your partner. A controlled and measured approach benefits both participants.

3.     Respectful Corrections and Appropriate Responses:

  • Provide Respectful Corrections: If you notice your partner making mistakes, offer corrections respectfully. This creates a collaborative learning environment without discouraging your partner.

  • Adhere to 80/20 Principle: Aim for at least 80% accuracy in executing the moves. Balancing speed with precision enhances the overall quality of the drill.

  • Effective Resistance: Be an active participant, not a passive dummy. Utilize good positions and offer appropriate responses and resistance to the techniques, ensuring that you don't foil your partner's attempts more than 20% of the time.

4.     Clear Communication:

  • Ask Questions: If you're unclear about a specific aspect of the technique, don't hesitate to ask questions. Clarifying doubts ensures both partners are on the same page.

  • Provide Feedback: Offer constructive feedback when appropriate. Positive communication contributes to a more effective learning environment.

  • Verbally Communicate: Clear communication is crucial. Discuss intentions, limitations, and expectations with your partner before starting a roll.

  • Non-Verbal Cues: Develop an understanding of non-verbal signals for tapping and discomfort. Respect these signals promptly to ensure a safe training environment.

5.     Repetition and Reinforcement:

  • Focus on Repetition: Drill the technique repeatedly to reinforce muscle memory. Repetition is key to internalizing the movements and making them second nature.

  • Rotate Roles: Switch between performing and receiving the technique. This allows both partners to understand the mechanics from different perspectives.

6.     Adaptability:

  • Adapt to Partner's Needs: Be adaptable to your partner's learning style and needs. Some may prefer more repetitions, while others may benefit from additional explanation.

  • Experiment with Variations: Explore variations of the technique within the drill, fostering adaptability and a deeper understanding of the move.

  • Adapt to Styles: BJJ encompasses a variety of styles. Be adaptable and open-minded when encountering different approaches to the art.

  • Problem-Solving Together: Embrace the role of a collaborative problem-solver. Work with your partner to troubleshoot challenges and explore solutions together.

7.     Encourage Open Communication:

  • Check-In Regularly: During drills, check in with your partner to ensure they are comfortable with the pace and intensity. Adjust as needed to accommodate each other's preferences.

  • Express Appreciation: Acknowledge your partner's efforts and express gratitude for their collaboration. A positive and encouraging atmosphere promotes effective drilling.

8.     Hygiene and Etiquette:

  • Personal Hygiene: Maintain good personal hygiene to ensure a positive training experience for both you and your partner.

  • Respectful Behavior: Treat your training partner with respect. Avoid roughhousing, unsportsmanlike conduct, or disrespectful behavior on the mats.

In conclusion, being an effective BJJ drilling partner involves active engagement, clear communication, and a commitment to the 80/20 principle. By embodying these principles, you contribute to a positive training experience and foster a culture of continuous improvement within our BJJ community at StandAlone MMA, Rice Bros Affiliates, and the American Jiu-Jitsu Syndicate team.

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