Why You Should Be Grateful For The Hammer When You’re The Nail

Flickr/Creative Commons: ironsidemma

Do you have a few guys at your BJJ academy that you secretly hope aren’t at class?

I don’t mean “stinky gi guy” or “let’s just go easy guy” who turns every roll into the finals of the Worlds.

I mean that training partner who is faster, bigger and has crushing pressure, or the one who is super flexible and has a guard that is frustrating to pass? I’ve had a few of those training partners. It seemed they had an answer for all of my best positions. Every roll was a test of will and endurance. Every time.

One of my earliest training partners was an Eastern European guy who was humble and soft spoken. He would politely ask how I was and how school was going; then, we would bump fists and he would roll me up! After tapping me multiple times and grinding me into the mat, he would compliment me on how my jiu-jitsu was getting better! He was always the hammer, and I was always the nail.

I recall one of those rainy, cold mornings where your joints and muscles seem to ache worse than normal from the previous day’s training. I showed up to early class and was relieved that maybe today he would not be there. Just maybe I could have an easier class for once.

The next thing I hear is, “Hey buddy! How you doing today? Ready to train?” Uugghhh!

I thought about it later and decided that I had the wrong attitude about it. I felt guilty that this guy was a great training partner, but I was privately hoping that he wasn’t going to come to class.

Getting worked by this guy was making me better. If I could learn to survive rolling with this guy, most other opponents would be easy by comparison. Anything else I had to deal with the rest of my day was a piece of cake compared to having him mounted on top of me.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

This is a favorite quote of UFC legend Randy Couture. The message in this context is to seek out those training partners who will push you. They will push you (and choke and arm lock) you out of your comfort zone further than you could go by yourself.

In reality, to be our best, we don’t want easy rolls and soft training partners. We need to be pushed by others.

The rolling never did get any easier with that training partner, but I did change my attitude about it and learned to appreciate how he was helping me get better.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here