Thoughts On Training Partners

In the time I’ve been involved in martial arts, I’ve observed students who stop coming to class without an obvious reason. Others move, get or change jobs, or have health issues that interfere with their ability to attend class. I’ve seen a lot, especially kids, gradually lose the excitement they first had about training and end up quitting. All these things have taken away fine students and great people.

Our adult class is made up of a small, core group of students. Most of us have worked together for at least three years and have spent countless hours drilling and sweating together, beating on each other in sparring, working out issues in forms together, talking about successes and frustrations, working through problems. . . etc, etc. I don’t know what it is about our class, but I literally think of my classmates and instructors as family. It’s difficult to lose a family member to those reasons I mentioned above.

It’s even harder when that person is a training partner who you work with frequently. . .

Rachel and I became friends through class. We started seeking each other to partner up with more often as green belts. Color belts tend to find common ground with others their rank as you’re working together on the same things, and we followed suit. When Rachel and I started looking at testing for our blue belts, we began training together outside of class. By nature, I am a more introverted, quiet person. I think and analyze to the nth degree, but I don’t ask many questions and express myself in class as I should. She was my opposite. Extroverted, talkative, and always asking questions. I admired the ease at which she did this. When I would share pent up frustrations, she would always encourage me to go talk to the black belts about them.

We ended up testing for our blue belts a few weeks apart. Training for brown was much more grueling, as brown belt is an Assistant Instructor in our class and standards are very, very high. In December of 2009, we tested for brown together.

Things came up in her life that kept her out of class right after our brown belt test. The first several months were hard. She was no longer there for me to talk to or work with, but I plodded on, hopeful that she would be back when she could.

She hasn’t been able to come back yet. I understand her situation, but I miss her very much. 

I miss her directness. If she had a question, she would ask it at the first opportunity.

I miss being able to vent and talk about class with her.

I miss meeting up to work on a technique or form and helping each other make corrections.

I miss having someone to meet up with period. 

I miss having someone my rank who was right there with me, experiencing the same things at the same  time. Who was working toward the same goal I was. Learning the same thing I was at the same time. It didn’t matter if we learned at different speeds, we helped each other.

I miss sparring her.

I miss having someone to talk martial arts with on a regular basis.

I miss having another adult woman in class.

I miss having someone in class with similar frustrations in sparring.

I miss having someone who would speak first, dig deeper with questions, and encourage me to do the same.

I miss not being able to train together for our red belts and test together.

I miss not being able to train for our first tournament together.

I glance at the doors of the dojang every so often, hoping that I will see her walk in one class. I’m still waiting for that day.

If you have someone who you train with regularly, in and out of class, you are blessed. Treasure the time that you spend working and collaborating with each other and don't take it for granted.

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