While some aspects of martial arts are practiced on an individual level, most martial arts concepts need interactivity for students to fully understand them. Learning how to punch or kick with perfect form is great, for example, but it’s difficult to master these techniques without knowing how an opponent will react to them. Training partners may help students develop this understanding, as students can relate their learnings to their partners’ anatomy and reactions.
Partners may also hold the other student personally accountable, which can lead to increased motivation. Through months of training with a partner, social bonds can increase significantly, positively influencing student retention and the general experience of your students. Here are some of our thoughts on why your martial arts students need a training partner.
Accountability and Support
Training in martial arts can be tough but having someone who holds you accountable can help bring the best out in you. A long day at work can reduce a student’s motivation to attend their martial arts class that same evening, but knowing they might be letting down their training partner can make that positive difference. Unlike many classes for children and teens, the vast majority of adults who practice martial arts attend out of their own volition. That being said, there are times during your martial arts journey that can be extremely difficult and having support from your training partner can make it more enjoyable and less frustrating.
Motivation is an important factor in a martial arts student getting through the struggles that come hand-in-hand with reaching a black belt and beyond. Good martial arts training partners will do what they can to push and motivate each other. While instructors can motivate students to tap into those extra reserves of strength and energy, they might not be able to give individualized attention at all times, especially outside of class hours.
Additionally, if one or both of the partners are competing in a martial arts tournament, they can help each other set goals and engage in training sessions, so they can be in top shape for their respective fights. Upcoming belt tests are also great opportunities for martial arts training partners to help each other prepare.
One of the strategies for increasing student retention is creating a culture where students develop close relationships. Spending time regularly with other students and going through tough training sessions together are ingredients for developing strong personal bonds, which can become even greater with a martial arts training partner. Reduced frustration and increased motivation may also help students stay engaged with their martial arts training, while also noticeably increasing your school’s long-term retention rates.
How to Choose Partners
While it may depend on the type of martial arts you practice, it is not recommended to formally pair-off students until they have reached an intermediate level. This way, you’re able to get to know students better, allowing you to choose partners that will stay together for a while, in a strategic manner. Students who naturally gravitate towards one another can be an excellent choice, unless instructors think they distract each other from lessons and training.
Finding partners who have opposing weaknesses and strengths can be a great to help boost both students’ abilities. Do an assessment, once in a while, to ensure that your partnered students are still working well together, as dynamics may change over time. Temporarily mixing up partners may also help keep things fresh, while also showing you other partnership groups where skill levels, height and weight, and other factors create new scenarios during sparring.