The 4 T’s of your Favorite Training Partner


It’s a long hard road to black belt.  One fraught with perils of all sort: bumps and bruises, aches and breaks.  Cauliflower and rush hour.

Add into the mix a new job, newborn baby, and a codependent Fantasy Football League commissioner, and suddenly your attendance nosedives like a Kamikaze fighter pilot.

But the most dangerous evil, the one most likely to lure you off the yellow brick road, is the one that lurks deepest and darkest.  Your own laziness.

And it’s in those weakest moments- when a Billions binge seems far more alluring than mount escapes- that a hero swoops in and saves you: your favorite training partner.

And if it’s no-gi night, he’s even in tights.

They bring us back from the brink, as we’ve undoubtedly done for them in the past.  They remind us how goddamn fun this Jiu Jitsu is.

Or, if need be, they break our stones so unmercifully that we have no choice but to get to class.

Here are the 4 T’s of your FTP, your Favorite Training Partner:


Your FTP is tough- more than willing to go to battle with you.  In fact, he relishes it.  He doesn’t protest when you choke his face, but giggles instead.  Sounds sadistic, I know.  But the best training partners are the ones who can go deep into the trenches with us, not take 3 minutes to tie their belt.


Yes, we love to train hard with our FTP.  But what makes it so much fun is that they’re technical, too.  Movement is fun, and the smoother the better.  Of course, we’ll eat the occassional accidental elbow.  But if you flop around like a Walrus being attacked by a Great White, you’re no daisy. No daisy at all.


If your FTP has only a snowball’s chance in hell of submitting you, they’re just your FPB: Favorite Punching Bag. There’s got to be a mutual threat.  It keeps you both honest, and it keeps the training intesity high.


This is easily the most important, and a direct consequence of the previous 3 T’s.

Without trust, your FTP is an opponent.  Trust is what allows you to open up your game, put yourself out there, and push your limits without fear: fear of getting hurt, fear of looking dumb, fear of going too hard.

You know they aren’t trying to “win” the round, so you can just slap hands and go. You know they want to see you succeed.

It’s what allows a crazy training session to have an element of playfulness.

Discipline, perserverance, drive, passion… these get all the glory.  But the truth is, we make it to black belt on the backs of our favorite training partners.

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author: Peter McHugh

Professor Pete McHugh is the owner and Lead Instructor of McHugh BJJ in Mt. laurel NJ. He is a black belt under BJJ & MMA legend Ricardo Almeida.


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