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Training with Students of Different Levels

Sometimes in training you may find yourself partnered with a lesser-skilled person, and other times you may have a partner whose skill level is higher than yours. What can you when you are training with or sparring against partners whose level of capability is different than yours? How can you create optimal learning experiences in these types of situations?

The thing to understand is that the beginning student defines a challenge differently than an intermediate or advanced level practitioner. However, the overall objective is the same for both -- improvement.

Sometimes the apparent ease of out-performing a lesser-skilled partner or opponent can cause us to let our focus slip or become sloppy in our actions. One of the things we can do at times like this that can help us to avoid complacency and create challenges for us is to change our focus. We can do this by handicapping ourselves by restricting what we can do; limiting ourselves to what movements or actions we can use. For example, if you are sparring using hands only, you might restrict yourself to only using your lead hand to strike with, whilst your sparring partner is able to use both hands.

On the flipside, if our training partner or sparring opponent is much better than us we can find ourselves becoming overly nervous or anxious. When it comes to sparring, if you are less-skilled than your opponent, your focus should not be about winning but rather accomplishing some personal goal such as landing a good stop-kick, or using an evasion skill such as slipping to avoid the more-skilled opponent’s straight punches aimed at your head.

The bottom line is that if you know how to train well, you can train with anybody with any level of ability and still garner some form of self-improvement.

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