Help me deal with a bully in an otherwise positive competitive sports environment.
February 28, 2012 12:24 PM Subscribe
I train in a martial art at a place with an active competitive team, which I am trying to join. The other person there who is my size/skill level and on the competitive team goes very hard with me in sparring and always leaves me injured/bruised to a greater degree than any other student. How can I work around this situation or have a mature and productive confrontation about it, given that I still want to compete so I cannot avoid working with this person 100%?
posted by zdravo to human relations (33 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
(Gender neutral for anonymity.)
I've been doing a martial art pretty intensively for about two years at the same place. I train 10-12 hours a week, more when my job isn't really busy. I also want to compete so I lost some weight and asked my coach to help me find an appropriate opponent a few weeks ago. He said okay. I also help teach classes a couple of times a week, on a volunteer basis.
There is one student I work with who always goes very, very hard in full contact sparring. This person has a reputation among all the competitors and instructors for being out of control, and when I asked them what I should be doing, they told me to escalate, give it back, not back down. This person is a veteran and competed before and has been a member for several years.
However when I try to escalate, my technique gets worse and I get hurt (examples from the past encounters include sprained/broken extremities, large & deep bruises, a mild concussion, and a muscle tear). I can't risk getting hurt like this every week because it prevents me from coming in the next day. And also because I have a day job and getting concussions and broken toes impairs my job performance.
I truly love this hobby and want to compete. But the only person who I'd work with to prepare for a fight is this bully person because we are the same size, and there is no one else my size who is as good for me to train with.
This person has said to my face that I'm not ready and has told me I need to "beat the shit out of" other people I spar with in order to show the coaches I'm ready for the pressure of competition. Since no one else in our gym behaves like that, including many other competitors who are titled and more highly ranked, I don't believe that...and I don't want to practice with the intent of hurting other training partners.
I want to compete and I know that involves hard work and potential injury and pain for the 6 weeks of intensive preparation, but I cannot work with this person every week during regular time, because I get hurt EVERY TIME.
What should I say to my coach to help move this situation forward?
If this person won't calm down so I can train productively with them, should I find another gym to compete out of?
Should I attempt to talk to the person again?
(I wrote a message about it to them after our last time sparring together and was basically brushed off, albeit very politely. This person is never nasty or rude to me verbally, but when we train together it is out of control. I am afraid of speaking up to the person again because I don't want to look weak, scared, or whiny, and because I don't want them to go to the coach and say, she's not ready for this, don't get her an opponent. I work hard and I don't complain. But my instincts are telling me that letting this stay at the status quo is unwise.)