6 Traits You Don't Want in a Sparring Partner

What kind are you?

In every martial art, sparring is a major component for a martial artist to develop skills and practical knowledge of concepts. By definition, sparring is a type of “free-form” fighting, sparring as a component has enough rules, customs or unofficial agreements to minimize injuries and maximize learning. While drills, exercises and form practice may be performed without a partner, sparring essentially requires a partner for a martial artist to reap the maximum benefit. Choosing the right sparring partner is also very important, as sparring does not have the same intensity as a competitive or combat setting, the agency to which a martial artist spars varies from place to place and may differ from culture to culture. As such, we here at Monarchy MMA believe in “fighting smart” and we would like to point out 6 traits you don’t want in a sparring partner.


Nicholas SMESH!


1) The 100% Smesh Partner

It’s been a long day of drilling and the coach says “time for sparring, 70% intensity with only 30% power”, as you scan the room, you pick your partner. As soon as you touch gloves, the 100% smesh guy will look to take your head clean off your body with 100% of intensity and power. There has been debate as to the necessity of hard sparring which may have some on the fence. But the general consensus is to go at a lighter pace and not injure your partner, the 100% Smesh Partner can be counter productive to newer and less experienced martial artists who look to develop new techniques or work on specific conditions.

2) The Talker
Sparring is a very action orientated endeavour, but there comes a time where you get a partner who talks more than spars. Banter between partners is always welcome to keep things fun and entertaining. However, some partners throw more banter than strikes which could affect a partner’s ability to learn. While sparring can be fun, a degree of seriousness is required to make the learning process more efficient. 

Highlevel in Youtubing BJJ techniques and then trying them out in class


3) The YouTube BlackBelt

With the abundance of instructional videos online, there are many ways to expand your technical knowledge of an art. However, a major thing missed out on this is nuance and technical concepts. The YouTube BlackBelt can be dangerous as some techniques should not be performed without fully understanding the mechanics and concepts of one such technique. From unorthodox spinning strikes and joint strikes to dangerous takedowns such as the flying scissor leg takedown to submission locks like the knee bar or heel hook that may cause permanent damage to joints, The YouTube BlackBelt will attempt these moves during sparring and may end up doing more harm than good because of their ignorance towards these concepts.

4) The Exploding Palm Guy/Girl

Coach would often say, stick to what you know and stick to the art at hand, if you’re sparring Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you spar Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Don’t bother trying stuff you learned from your one time trip to China learning Shaolin Kung-Fu. Sparring, a particular art is exactly what it is, showing your coach what you have learned from the particular art and not something you learned from somewhere else. It is disrespectful to your partner and your coach UNLESS it is “free sparring” and coach allows a degree of creative application into your expanding arsenal.

Dont Hulk out on your partner! Your partner is people too!


5) The Rage Partner

Not to be confused with the 100% Smesh Partner, The Rage Partner or Rager tends to get emotionally invested in sparring to a point where you landing strikes consistently may suddenly see a burst of explosiveness, while explosiveness is a good trait to have for any athlete, uncontrolled explosiveness may very well injure you and himself/herself! As such, the rage partner is identified as the partner who progressively gets angrier the more success you have on him/her and may result to the latter using more power. There are some parallels with the 100% Smesh Partner but they are not entirely mutually exclusive, the rage partner often comes from a place of emotion and may sometimes be more unpredictable than the 100% Smesh Partner.

6) The Over Coacher

Mistakes happen in sparring and sometimes people get caught, however, the over coacher tends to zero in on a deficiency and makes it a focus. Often times, the over coacher will focus on ONLY your weaknesses and what you should be doing in sparring even though they are mediocre themselves. It’s all right to give tips peppered here and there but to spend an entire round explaining the ins and outs of checking leg kicks or escaping a submission just cause you caught them once is a trait you never want in a sparring partner.

When training or sparring with other people, always try to be a good partner! At the end of the day, they are your teammates who help you get better for fights. Even if you're not training for a fight, its no excuse! We help each other be better on the mats and evidently off the mats as well! 

Lastly, we would like to add that all images used for this post are for illustration purposes only!