Skip to main content

Did You Lose or Are You a Loser?

This weekend my BJJ school had an in-house tournament, just for our students. It has been well over 10 years since I have competed in any martial art so there were a lot of things I had forgotten. Like how absolutely, positively exhausting your first round on your first time out there is. Between the nerves and the adrenaline, I was out of breath about a minute and a half into a 6 minute round, a fact which took me by complete surprise, even though I should know better. Thankfully, I managed to recover as the round went on and we settled down a bit, but wow!

Competing in anything as a newbie, even a low-key tournament like this one, has all kinds of experiences that go along with it. The butterflies in your stomach as you wait for your turn. The frantic beginning. The sore muscles afterwards. The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. The exhausted and slightly depressed feeling you get right after the last bit of adrenaline slips out of your body.  It has been a long time and I had forgotten about all of these things. 

I lost both of my matches on points, which I suppose is better than losing by submission. But I did learn a lot. Here are just a few of the things that I took away from the day:

  1. I thought I understood the scoring system but I really didn't. Or at least I didn't know enough to base my game on it. BJJ scoring is tricky. There were plenty of times, especially during the first match, where I should have pushed a little harder, or defended a little better, but I just wasn't thinking about preventing points. In class I really only worry about getting tapped, that and the obvious things like keeping her from getting the mount and off my back. The competition round requires a different focus, one which I clearly don't get yet. 
  2. I need to work on guard passing. A lot.
  3. All those moves that I can perform so well in my head, when it comes to rolling at full speed...not so much. But I now have a mental list about a hundred pages long of things I want to get better at. Thankfully I have a long-term approach to training. And a lot of free time.
When it comes to competing I have always been of two minds. On the one hand, putting yourself out there is a great way to see how your game measures up. There is a lot to be gained from overcoming nerves. And there's no denying the thrill of facing off against a real opponent. But it is hard to train to win and still be a good partner in class, one who cares about helping others get better. There is a tendancy to specialize in order to perfect one or two foolproof moves, which means you may shy away from learning anything new. And too much focus on winning and losing can make your martial arts life have the roller coaster feel of a long night at the blackjack tables. It is easy to forget that there is so much more to training . This tournament, although exciting,  did not make me want to compete more. But, all things considered, it was a very good experience. And it served as another reminder of just how big the study of jiu-jitsu is and how far I still have to go. Which is good because I don't plan on quitting any time soon.

I really hate losing in front of Matthew, even though he had no expectations of me. So that part sucked. But it did give me the opportunity for a really great parenting lesson on doing your best. Maya watched my first match with great interest, even adding helpful coaching from the sidelines. ("Push mommy, push!") By the time I got to my second, however, she was watching Return of the Jedi on Matthew's tablet and asking him if they could go home yet. (I understand, it was not a very exciting round for me either.)  Afterwards she had this to say: "You did good mommy but I wish you had won." 

I wish I had won too. But I really could not expect much more from a first tournament. I did the best I could and I have a whole lot of things to work on.

Losing is just a part of the game. After one of the men's divisions, Matthew overheard my teacher say this to a disappointed white belt: "Did you lose or are you a loser?"

I may have lost this one but I am no loser.
I'll see you on the mats soon, working hard and keeping it playful. :-)


  1. Vey nice piece. Congrats on competing — most never get to even do that.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

November 20, 2018

This morning, while out walking my dog, I watched a mother put her young boy onto the school bus. "Have a good day," she said. "Listen to your teacher."

The boy, who was about five years old, replied that of course he would, although it was unclear which of his mom's wishes he was agreeing to.

Listening. So and so is a "good listener." We talk so much about it, but many of us have no idea how to actually do it., so caught up in the words inside our own head that it is almost impossible to hear anything else. Yeah I am listening to you, but not really, I am really thinking about the next thing I am going to say. I am listening to you, but not really, because even though you know an awful lot about this, deep down my egotistical brain still thinks I know better. I am listening, but not really because even though you just showed the technique in perfect detail three times, and I swore I was really paying attention, somehow when it was my turn to drill it…


For the past two days I have been feeling sick; an obvious side effect of spending so much time getting breathed on by small, germy children. This morning I was feeling much better, but not well enough for BJJ, so I decided to go to a yoga class instead. Turns out I was not quite well enough because about halfway through class my body was like, "Hey you, sick girl, you are kind of tired, this feels kind of yucky actually. How about you spend some time in child's pose instead."
As a lifelong athlete I am really, really good at getting messages from my body. I am less skilled, however, at actually following them.
This was not a difficult yoga class. But for me, today, it was impossible. My brain really did not like that. As I sat there with my eyes closed, breathing, the ever helpful voice in my head was saying things like "Everyone must think I am so weak. The teacher must think there is really something wrong with me. I should push through anyway. This is pathetic.&qu…

Roller Coaster

Its the roller coaster that gets me. The fact that you are just going along, doing your work, slowly climbing up, everything is going exactly according to plan, then Zoom!, down you go, fast, maybe not all the way to the bottom again, maybe somewhere halfway, but man you got there FAST! And now here we go again, back on the slow climb.
Some days it feels like you are doing everything right, you are busting your ass to accomplish all of your goals in every way that you know how, yet things just aren't going the way you want them to. On those days it is easy to get angry at the world. Don't you see I am doing my best here? Don't you see how hard I am working? OMG just get the f&*k out of my way! Stop asking for more of me! Can't you see I don't have any more??
But the thing is, that down part, it is on the track. It is part of the ride. it has always been a part of the ride. We knew if was coming, we could see it at the top of the long climb up. We didn't know…