I hit Brandy in the head tonight....TWICE!
Okay so this got me thinking about what it means to be a good partner. We have been doing a lot of partner work this week and switching on and off. Over the years here is what I have learned about being a good partner:
Be strong: Have you ever tried to spar with a wet spaghetti noodle? That is what it is like when you are working with a partner who has limp arms. When you are working with knives and sticks it is important to be relaxed but not so relaxed that there is no tension in your strike. In order for your partner to block effectively they need something solid to hit. Aim for the spot you are hitting and then hold your arms firm so that your knife or your stick is where it is supposed to be when your partner goes to block. When it is your turn, don't fish for it. Wait for the stick or knife to be where YOU need it to be so that you can build the muscle memory you need to be faster and more accurate.
Start Slow: When you change partners you need to adjust and build a rhythm. Don't start off at full speed 110% with someone new. They not be as confident in the technique as you, OR they might be better at it then you. Start slow then speed up when you feel more confident.
Adjust for size: I'm small. So when I have to go against one of the tall guys I have to strike higher because that is where my target it. Yes my shoulders get sore but it won't do me any good to strike them with my stick on the side of their arm. If you partner is shorter than you, adjust down so that they can be effective when they practice their blocks.
Be positive. Andrea said to me the other night "you are always so positive!" Give your partner encouragement. Tell them when a strike is good or when they hold well so that they will do more of the same! Talk constantly to them and they will talk back to you. That way you can adjust and give them a better training experience.
Yup. I hit Brandy tonight...TWICE. We have been training together for a long time. Her pads were blowing my hair they were so close. But we know each other and have training together for years. That kind of bump feels different then the kind that happen because your partner is not in control. There is simply nothing worse then someone flailing around with a stick! As black belts, it is critical that we set the example for those below us in rank by being the best partners we can be for each other and for them.
Thanks to ALL my partners this week. You were ALL great.