How to Train your Better Half
When the World entered in complete lockdown due to COVID-19, I bet I had the same reaction as every grappler:
"Fuck! How am I gonna train?!"
If I could still do my calisthenics and kettlebells workout at home, training Jiu-Jitsu was more complicated, as my wife wasn't into it. As I figured the lockdown would last much longer than initially announced, my only option was to train with my wife.
The problem was: She doesn't like Jiu-Jitsu! To her, it's a weird practice where you cuddle with sweaty strangers. I have to admit that I never came up with a good counter-argument!
Somehow, she agreed to be my drilling partner 30min a day. I suppose she figured I would be unbearable if she refuses! After a couple of days, I started to show her basic moves, and she quickly began to enjoy it. I mean... If someone doesn't love to strangle someone, it's because that person never tried!
After a month of quarantine training, where we train 20-30min a day, I can honestly say that I'm very impressed! Here is a 5min live training session (I'm, obviously, going light and letting her work).
Full disclosure: If she had no prior grappling experience before the quarantine, she's been practicing sports her entire life.
In the next part of the article, we'll talk about the psychological and technical approach I used during this first month. Hopefully, it will give you some ideas to replicate the process yourself.
So without further ado, let's do it!
PHASE 1: PSYCHOLOGICAL HACK
Two keys here: Patience and Encouragement.
The last thing you want to do is to convince your partner to roll right away and to smash her/him! (in the rest of the article I'll use "her" to refer to your partner)
Start by asking her to drill something light, and after 10-15min, offer to show her a little move, like a sweep, or a choke. Something fun!
Now, be cheerful! Tell her she's doing great! If you have kids, you know what I'm talking about, hopefully!
Again, Patience and Encouragement!
After a few days, if you're doing it right (and let's be honest, if you're lucky!), she'll want to see a bit more, and you can enter Phase 2! Again, take it slow!
PHASE 2: TECHNICAL TRAINING
The idea here is not to teach her the entire Blue Print, but rather the essential concepts and techniques, in ten lessons. That way, she can roll and have fun, and you can have a sparring partner as soon as possible!
First thing first, explain the general concept of grappling. In a nutshell: You want to be on top, pass the guard, and submit. If you're on bottom, you want to retain your guard, submit or sweep.
Then, the ten lessons: (Feel free to come up with your own ten)
- Guard Retention & Inside Position: So she can defend herself
- Side Control/Mount Escape: So she can escape from bad spots
- Triangle: So she can submit from bottom
- Tripod Sweep: So she can get on top
- Passes from the Hq Position - Knee Cut and Knee Through: So she can pass
- Americana and Near Side Armbar from Side Control: So she can submit from top
- Go to Mount & Americana: More option to control and to submit from top
- Back Take from Mount & Read Naked Strangle: The primary weapon
- SLX Sweep Sequence: First step to #leglockynow
- Armdrags & 2on1: Because every battle starts with the grips
Her game plan is straightforward: take the back. There is no need to complicate it further. Just chase the back, again, and again!
Regarding the structure of the training, we do the following: 10min of drilling techniques, followed by live training: Four rounds of 5min.
Remember to go light and to give her opportunities to practices the techniques she knows!
In those quarantine times, training your better half to become your sparring partner is your best option to keep practicing/improving. It's also an excellent opportunity to teach her/him the basics, which everyone should know anyway!
We've seen the psychological approach to use, and the ten essential concepts and techniques you should cover. If you want to discuss it further, don't hesitate to contact me!
If you have any questions, requests, suggestions, or if you just wanna chat, send me an email or a message on Instagram @maxigarami, and I'll be more than happy to talk with you and to hear your feedback.