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"You win or you learn."
Competitive athletes love to use this phrase, especially BJJ ones. And I know it sounds like a way to make the soul crushing pain of defeat a little less awful, or maybe a way to rationalize losing to your insecure brain so you don't have to actually admit that you lost. But most cliches are true, and this one is no exception.

Whether it is on the competition mat, or simply in a regular class rolling session, I have done an awful lot of losing, and learning. I got better at defending arm bars by tapping multiple times and then going back to the dojo to drill arm bar defense. I got better at guard retention after getting tired of being smashed and learning to use my feet and hands defensively. And so on. Sometimes the lessons are crystal clear. Escaped everything but failed at getting to a dominant position? Need to work on that. Got to a good position but took too long to attack? Need to work on that. They kept getting out before you could lock anything down? Time to drill finishes. These are the times where a loss is not really a loss, where you come out of a round with a whole list of things to work on for next time. These are the times where that old cliche becomes truth.

But sometimes, it is just a bad day. You are tired. Your focus is off. You make mistakes that you haven't made in months. You get caught with stuff you know perfectly well how to defend. You attempt submissions that you get all the time and they completely fall apart. These are the most frustrating kind of days, when there is no obvious takeaway, no simple drill to work on. On these days the lesson is a harder pill to swallow; just move forward. Yup, that's it. Maybe you can also come up with something small to work on, like eat a bigger breakfast, be more offensive, wear a tighter rashguard, whatever, but really the main point is to just let it go and get back on the mat.

It is even harder when that crappy day is public, when it is a competition match or your promotion day, or you are the teacher and you feel like s*it but there are still these four year olds here who want to learn how to punch and kick. Oh wait, that's just me. But you get the point, sometimes you just suck at things. And the lesson there is to remind yourself that it is just TODAY, I just suck today. Overall I am amazing at this. I am really really good at heel hooks. I have fantastic cardio. I am an amazing mom.  But today, OMG, today I am terrible at this. And then you laugh because really there is nothing funnier than how bad you can be at training when you are having an off day. Or mom-ing. Or whatever it is you do in that cubicle all day. Own it. Love it. WIN at it. Be the absolute best terrible jiu jitsu student in the room. Be the best worst employee ever. Parenting? Screen time and cookies all day! Cause I am positively killing this bad parent s*it!

And then, move on.

Here is is a photo from a tournament match that did not go well, from a day where I definitely did not live up to my expectations of myself.

And I could say that I was on vacation all week (I was) or that I had my period (I did) or even that I was not aggressive enough (very true), but I could also just say that it was an off day, one of those days where I really, really suck at jiu-jitsu, where the lesson is to simply grab your bag and go back to class.  So I drank two beers, took a nap and then made a list of things I want to work on this week. Because the best thing about competition is how little it actually matters, how it is just one day in the long, bumpy, beautiful road of this martial arts life.

I'll see you on the mats.
I might be very tired.
I'm still submitting you.


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