How Not To Be a Bad Training Partner | Martial Arts of West End
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Sam Kalinoski reviewed Martial Arts of West End
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This is such a great school! They honestly care about you as a person first, not just a member. They also honestly teach you the arts and how to apply it in real life situations. This school dosen’t “sell belts” like other schools in the area; trust me... I did my homework, and did the trials; this is the best school in the area, maybe even Richmond

Doug Beisch

I have been a student of martial arts for more than 20 years and am a certified instructor in more than one art. I took my 2 young children here 5 years ago, and was impressed by the teaching acumen and the firm but fair attitude of Master Hubley and his cadre of instructors. While it may not be the most “martial” of martial arts schools, the children learn discipline, manners, self-respect, leadership, physical fitness, teamwork and myriad values that aid them them in achieving higher plateaus in their journey of life. Master Hubley is a true master in his mannerisms with children and his martial arts acumen. I am proud to send my children here and will continue to do so because it has been such a positive influence on their lives (self confidence, fitness and overall well being). Not my primary concern, but it is also one of the most affordable and enriching after-school programs available.

Aleric Harris reviewed Martial Arts of West End
5
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Martial Arts of West End has been in my life for 7 years, and has become a passion of mine, I haven't only grown as a person physically, but in other aspects like mentally, morally, and financially. From utilizing strong self defense to beautiful traditional forms and breaking your limits even when you think you can't, Martial Arts of West End is the place to be, with amazing instructors and the one and only Master Erik Hubley, you can accomplish anything. MAWE becomes your family always backing you up and being there for you, I don't know what I'd do without it, I love it!!!

Charli Barber reviewed Martial Arts of West End
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Martial Arts of West End is fantastic! The instructors are top notch, the curriculum is fast paced & fun and everyone treats you like family. Such an amazing workout and great life lessons. My son and I love MAWE!

Todd Soren reviewed Martial Arts of West End
5
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I simply can't say enough about Martial Arts of West End! Each instructor is fantastic and unique and brings their own style and perspective to the common values of the teachings. The family culture is welcoming and inclusive and creates an atmosphere that is always positive, encouraging, and supportive. Going to class several times a week has become a special bonding opportunity for my daughter and me to which we truly look forward. Whatever your motives -- be it learning self-defense, physical fitness, or just a hobby to keep busy -- Martial Arts of West End will no doubt exceed your expectations and help you become the very best version of yourself in the process.

Shannon Carr reviewed Martial Arts of West End
5
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Martial Arts of West End is a fantastic place to train martial arts. Classes are fun, the people are friendly, and the instructors take the time to tailor instruction to the individual. They work with people with any sort of obstacle or challenge to best meet their needs. Training at this school is rigorous and challenging, but it is also accessible to anyone, young or not-so-young, fit or ready to become fit, new or experienced.

Jeneva Hockett reviewed Martial Arts of West End
5
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I can't say enough about this place. My kids have been there a few years now and I couldn't ask for a better place for them. Master Hubley not only teaches martial arts, but true deep down core values that so many children lack today. He also maintains great relationships and communication with parents. He truly cares whole heartedly for each individual child and their families. For our family martial arts of west end is not just an after school program- they're also a PART of our family

Courtenay Fisher reviewed Martial Arts of West End
5
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Exceptional, nurturing, empowering, confidence-building, mentally and physically challenging, and so much more. These are just a few of the words I could use to describe this wonderful school.

We were fortunate to become part of the Martial Arts of West End family a few years ago. I had studied martial arts many years earlier, but wanted to begin again and give my kids the benefit of martial arts training. Master Hubley and all the instructors immediately drew us in with their family-friendly program and their genuine interest in our success.

Bill Norris reviewed Martial Arts of West End
5
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Master Hubley and his team run a wonderful program. They teach kids discipline, respect, self-confidence, and the power of setting/achieving your goals. If you are up for it, they will teach parents the same thing. Join a great program that you can do with your children. Its well worth it.

Kelli Cannon Brown reviewed Martial Arts of West End
5
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Martial Arts of West End provides outstanding after school and summer camp care for kids!! We've been members of Master Hubley's school for almost 7 years for two kids and I can honestly say that we've never considered another option once we started! Outstanding in every aspect!

Smita Lal reviewed Martial Arts of West End
5
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Me and my 5 years old son joined the martial arts seven months back with apprehension because this was our first time but I am happy to say that Master Hubley, Master Davis and all other instructors and members are very cooperating, helpful and patient with us as well as with all other students. I highly recommend this martial art class. This is a great place to learn taekwando.
Front desk staff is also cheerful and helpful. Lots of respect to Master Hubley! Thank you Sir.

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How Not To Be a Bad Training Partner

Almost every form of martial arts training requires a training partner of some sort. In group classes, selection of a good partner can make or break the lesson. Whether sparring, practicing self defense, working two man forms, or just working out, the partner is key to the lesson, and BEING the partner is often a lesson in and of itself. Many high level practitioners of the martial arts were often uke (the receiving partner) to their instructors, and many instructors will only work with partners who have an intimate knowledge of what is being taught. This allows the instructor to demonstrate motions for instructional purposes without injuring their partner.

Not all training partners are created equal, however. In fact, while being a good partner is a lesson in the Middle Way, it seems that many people prefer to take things to one extreme or the other. This guide is designed to help these people figure out which extreme they can most easily develop in order to become the worst possible training partner as quickly as possible. OK, actually, this guide is a checklist of things for you to use as you examine your own actions within class so that you might better serve your classmates and yourself, but if those other types of people are reading, I suppose they might learn something, too, by simply doing the opposite of what is mentioned herein.

Hygiene

Many of us work a full time job (or two) to help fund our martial arts training. Often, we come right from work, grab a quick bite, change into our
uniforms, and rush out to class. When you get to class, you work hard, sweat a lot, and may even end up a bit…. aromatic… by the end of class. This is expected, and most people have the grace to deal with it.  If you walk into class and are already leaving a wake of dead flies, perhaps a quick detour to the restroom for a John Wayne shower is in order. Most forms of hand to hand combat require proximity to the opponent, and nobody wants to work with a partner who makes their eyes burn. In addition to personal cleanliness, make sure your uniform is clean, and your fingernails (and toenails) are cut. The other extreme of the hygiene spectrum is the partner who cowers at the mere thought of coming into contact with another person’s sweat.   We are there to work, and the sweat we may encounter while training is a fact of life. We must learn to deal with it. In a real life encounter, the bad guy may not have had access to Gold Bond Powder and a hankie, and during the ensuing conflict, we may come into contact with blood, sweat, and other unsavory body by-products.   The time to worry about this is AFTER the conflict has been resolved. Similarly, in the training environment, we must learn to deal with that which is presented to us. After we complete the exercise, or at another appropriate time (especially when switching partners), feel free to towel off or to apply some hand gel.

Focus

When studying martial arts, it is not enough to simply be in class, we must be present mentally as much as we are physically.  When learning new techniques, it is normal to stumble at first. But, if a training partner has no clue what is happening because of a lack of focus, time has to then be taken away from drilling the technique in order to explain the meaning of life, the Universe, and everything.  A training partner with a lack of focus, but ample confidence will jump into the lesson with both feet not knowing what is actually supposed to happen, and could end up injured or injuring someone.

Hyper focus, on the other hand, can also be a bad thing.  If a person is so focused on what is being done that they lose awareness of what is actually happening, they are likely to be involved in an accidental injury.  As mentioned, the learning curve involved necessitates that there will be mistakes made as a new technique is drilled. It is important to remain aware of what our partner is actually doing.  Sometimes they will punch with the wrong hand, or forget to block, or simply freeze. If we continue with what we are “supposed” to be doing instead of responding to the actual situation, someone will get hit fairly unexpectedly.  Regardless of whether we are working on direct contact or just a pad drill, both partners must remain engaged and alert.

Intensity

The learning environment requires a finely balanced level of intensity.   Go too hard and people get hurt unnecessarily, go too lightly and a false sense of confidence is fostered which leads to people getting hurt unnecessarily.  In the article “Put a Little Oomph Into Your Training” we discussed finding a perfect balance between the classroom and the real world. We must train in such a manner that injury is not the foremost thought that crosses our minds, and that a certain amount of effort is required to elicit the responses necessary.

If my training partner is always going 100%,  I cannot focus on taking the time to learn the nuances of a technique because I am too busy defending myself from my partner’s advances.  Conversely, if my partner never puts up any kind of realistic resistance, I will never be able to learn what it takes to make a technique actually work.  A perfect example is the learning of a new take down. If my partner engages me full force, before I have had a chance to learn how to manipulate his entry force, then I am left with no option but to absorb the attack.  On the other hand, if my partner falls over as soon as I lay hands on him, then I may believe that I know how to put a man on the ground when all I have really learned was a lie about my ability.

Teaching the Better Way

There are many, many ways to execute a given technique.  It is said that each posture in our forms has a thousand applications.  Take that one step further, and each application has a thousand variations.  While a textbook application may work for a student, once we begin modifying the conditions under which the application is applied, we must also adapt the application to match.  I may be stronger, taller, faster than my opponent, but these are only contributing factors, not deciding conditions. I may grab at the wrong angle when performing at full speed, I may misjudge my foot placement, I may underestimate my opponent.  Any of these factors may make the textbook application that we learn less effective without completely invalidating the technique itself. However, just as we learned basics and stances before we put on sparring gear, we must fully understand what is being taught before we modify it.

When working with a partner in a group class, it must be understood that, while experimentation with respect is ok, it is NEVER ok to disrespect a teacher by discrediting what he is teaching.  It is better to simply ask for clarification, or to discuss the matter at a more appropriate time. Similarly, when working with a partner, stay focused on the lesson. Do not go off on a tangent trying to show your partner a better, more effective technique.  Very often, a new technique is taught a specific way that will allow for later modification. If something isn’t working, ask the instructor; do not assume that you know better (if you do, it is time to open your own school). For safety reasons, there can be only one teacher at a time.  For respect reasons, that teacher should be the one leading class.

Realism

Every so often, we come across a student who violates the previous three categories at the same time.  This person decides it is his mission as a training partner to PROVE that something doesn’t work, or that their partner is inferior.  When executing throws, locks, and strikes, he does so with full force and no regard for his partner. When serving as the recipient of a technique, he refuses to “go with” the technique, thereby not allowing his partner to learn.  When working with an instructor, this type of partner will often resist. What we must realize is that, when learning, it is necessary to go through the motions at first. Using the previous example of the throw, we must be able to experience blending with the attacker’s motion, we must learn to find balance as we uproot our opponent, we must learn which muscles to engage in order to move the opponent without causing injury to ourselves, we must learn to control where we place the uke in order to maintain control.  And we must do all of this with control and precision. Only when everything is done correctly do we start adding force to our motion and resistance to the actions of the attacker.

When a partner offers undo resistance from the very first demonstration, he is allowing ego to enter the training hall.  Most schools I have visited do not allow ego in the learning environment, and often have a free ego-checking service.  When serving as a partner to someone trying to demonstrate, you must realize that you can either assist the learning process by following where the instructor leads (thereby gaining deeper insight into the workings of the technique by being the recipient), or you can assist the learning process by allowing the instructor to demonstrate the force and ferocity required to MAKE the technique work.  When I teach, I demonstrate the technique. You can go with it, or you can resist. My follow through will not change, though your level of enjoyment might. Similarly, when working with another student, it is important to allow your partner to experience the full range of motion, without ego, so that you both might improve your skills.

Like any relationship, we must work on our relations with other students and other martial artists.  It is important to lay down ego in favor of respect. There will be times when our experiences are almost magical, but there will also be times during which we are miserable.  Even when we find ourselves paired with a less favorable training partner, we can still learn a lesson: that of healthy boundaries. If someone is trying to hurt you, you have a right and a responsibility to yourself to defend yourself.  In the kwoon or dojo, this can be as simple as respectfully asking someone to ease up, or even respectfully declining to work with someone who is not clean. If you have trained long enough, you may even find that you have been the over-enthusiastic partner.  If someone asks you to go slower, simply acknowledge and comply. By developing a healthy relationship with a training partner, we all stand to gain a deeper understanding of the martial arts; and is not that the goal?