One-on-one Judo training:
its place and limitations

When individual one-on-one self-defense and Judo training sessions may appeal to occasional students in distress (young women that suddenly found herself followed by stranger, high school straight-A student that found himself in trouble with local bullies, and alike), it’s always beneficial to understand what you can and what you can’t expect to get from it, and what is the place of individual training in overall training infrastructure.

For people in distress such sessions can provide immediate benefits in form of basic self-defense tips such common sense safety precautions, conflict de-escalation methods, use of accidental weapon, and general psychological motivation. However one-on-one sessions can’t be used as initial Judo, self-defense, or martial-arts training (dispute common Hollywood attempts to show it this way).

For effective Judo training correct schedule and class size is as important as good instructor. In Judo and other martial arts learning process only in small part happens as a direct information transfer from teacher to student, but at most it’s result of supervised try-and-error process when student working largely by himself/herself in a pair with equally qualified partner.

The notion that training partners are about to be equally qualified is of high importance. As in this case they both making about the same types of errors and able to correct each-other. Role of the teacher is to guide their learning process and to help identify mistakes and validate corrections.

If partners are on entirely different phases of learning, the higher qualified judoka may help his partner by sacrificing efficiency of his own training. If he won’t do this – both loosing: better qualified partner has no equal resistance and his errors not exposed and therefore not corrected, and weaker partner can’t do thing at all and not getting anything, but frustration.

In the real life the ideal situation of even pairing rarely happened. It is instructors duty to work with his advanced students to make sure they will work on correct resistance level with weaker partners and to ensure that they will get adequate advance training by initiating cross-club training for top students, etc.

For midlevel students training with strong partners may create excellent learning opportunities with long term benefits. I got lucky myself as I had a few opportunities in my SAMBO career to work in the training sessions with world top masters of different generations.   

Individual one-on-one training may be beneficial in advanced phases of training and often used as special error correction and technique rectification tool in final steps of training cycle in preparation to a specific milestone event such tournament or examination.



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