• Jackie Bradbury

When You Both Train

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

This week Mr. Chick and I celebrate another wedding anniversary (we were married on Halloween). I am so very grateful and I feel so lucky, because both myself and my husband train in the martial arts.


I'm the short one in all-black, in case you couldn't tell. Big Red is Mr. Chick.

We train and teach together in Presas Arnis (as Kindred Protective Arts and as hosts of the Kansas City Presas Arnis Meetup). At one point I went down the traditional weapons path with Kobudo with A-KATO and I've joined the World Modern Arnis Alliance as my own thing, and he went down the path of Pacific Archipelago Combatives (PAC) and Knife with Force Necessary.


Training together is awesome, because he's just so darn good and smart as what we do and he helps me get better. We often end up riffing off each other when teaching together, as he sees things and thinks about them a little differently than I do.


One of my favorite pictures of Mr. Chick, because it captures him teaching, and he ROCKS at teaching.

Training separately is awesome, as we both get to pursue our own unique interests but each of us can actively 100% support the other in doing that. When I took my black belt test in Kobudo, he truly understood the work and the skills I'd developed to pass that test. Ditto when he took his tests in PAC and Knife - I understand a lot of what they do, so I know how good he has to be to reach that level of understanding (and he's very good!).


When you both train, you always have someone to geek out with, you always have something to talk about, you always have a training partner, and you rarely have to justify spending on the martial arts because each of us understands why it's important. If you're serious about training, justifying the money and time spent in our hobby is not a non-trivial problem.

He understands that no, this is not even close to "enough" weapons.

Training together as a married couple is not always easy, though. Here’s some ways we keep it together.


We are each others’ biggest fan. I make a point of complimenting him when he does something awesome (which he does frequently, because he is awesome).


I make sure to talk up what a good martial artist he is, and where his (considerable) talents lie - in front of him and when he’s not around. I make sure to support him in his ideas and what he does in the martial arts. I share his successes, and support him through his failures.


And he does the same thing for me.


We are careful to keep our personal relationship off the mats. Everybody we train with generally knows we're a couple, but if you attend a seminar with us, you might not guess. We keep it professional, like a workplace.


This does not mean there aren’t times where he does something and I think he’s awesome because of it (for reasons more than just admiring his technique). I just keep that feedback for when we’re not with other students.


We know how to coach each other. This is something we had to learn, though.


When we first started in our first martial arts style (which we no longer practice today), my husband was a couple of ranks ahead of me. This was a big problem because he often was in a position to coach me as a lower ranked belt, and that just plain rubbed me the wrong way.


He was talking down to me. Or so it seemed to me.


Since day one, our marriage has been one of equals and partnership. Having one of us “above” the other just doesn’t fly, and having him talk to me like I was a lower ranked stranger was irritating and made me resentful.


However, he did outrank me and his coaching me was totally appropriate. So we had to learn how to coach each other without being condescending about it. We're pretty good at it now.


I think this actually helps us be better partners and coaches to other people, too.


Mr. Chick and I stick sparring.

Scheduling is a bitch. Especially since we study together AND separately, trying to manage our family schedule is really difficult at times.


As our youngest is old enough now to be trusted to sit on the sidelines for an hour or two reading, coloring, or playing on her tablet, it's easier than it used to be. However, we really can't leave her unsupervised for much longer than that, so sometimes it means one of us gets to go to that neat martial arts event, and the other stays home with the kidlet.


It sucks when one of us is wrong on something. Such as mis-remembering a technique, or misunderstanding something our teacher said. We can get into debates over this, and one of us ends up “right” and the other “wrong”. I don’t like it when either of us has to be wrong!


My married martial arts life is awesome, ya'll.


Do you train with a spouse or partner? What pros and cons have you discovered? Let us know in the comments!


And a special shout-out to Mr. Chick: Happy Anniversary!!

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