When Losing Is Actually Winning
Losing, but winning. A few questions come to mind when I think of this statement. Such as, “How does that make any sense?” “How do I feel any sense of accomplishment if I just lost?” Or “Did I make that many mistakes?”
People will often tell you that you fought great, but that, of course, won’t change the result of what happened in your competition - and possibly won’t even make you feel better. But sometimes it is possible to feel like we won when we lost.
A Tale of Three Tournaments
This is exactly what I have been going through with the past few tournaments that I have competed in. I competed in Chicago and lost in the last fifteen seconds, which was devastating considering that I had been winning up to that point. I know the reason I lost, and when I got home I worked on improving that weakness for the next tournament. The thing that I worked on was my grip strength, particularly when I have a lot of adrenaline built up.
In the next tournament, I fought up a couple weight divisions, and although I did not win, I fought extremely well. I won a couple matches that day and even turned around to beat the girl in the open who beat me in our weight class.
Lastly, I competed on May, 3rd in Toronto, Ontario and did not win a single match. But I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. It was on the way home that I started to think about why I felt so good about the way I fought, even though I didn’t win.
Why I Felt Like I Won
It was because of my last match. I was getting smashed - the score was 7-0 for my opponent and I was stuck on the bottom. She was about to arm bar me and I managed to escape and pass her guard. Unfortunately, we went out of bounds and the referee stood us back up, but I took her down twice within the minute. To my surprise the score was then tied. The match ended with a score of 7-7 with us each having an advantage.
Declaring the winner came down to the referee’s decision and that decision went to my opponent for being more aggressive. But by the time I got home, I felt like I had won, even though I did not. I made a major comeback in a match I was extremely behind on.
Losing, But Winning
So how do you feel like you won when you didn’t? A lot of it comes down to replaying the match in your head - over and over again - weighing out the pros and cons and figuring out your next steps for future tournaments. A common phrase that goes around in the Brazilian jiu jitsu community is: “You lose or you win, which is similar to losing, but winning.”
I didn’t feel like I learned anything new, but I definitely feel like I accomplished something. I have been training hard to get past the part of the learning curve I have been in lately. Everyone experiences the learning curve in his or her jiu jitsu career, but that’s what makes you better.
What Will Be Different in My Next Competition
I am headed to the IBJJF World Championship at the end of May and I am hoping to do well there. I have learned a lot about my BJJ game and what I need to work on. I definitely changed a lot in my game over the past few months. I went from pulling guard every time to taking my opponent down or letting her pull guard.
One thing I realized is that girls constantly pull guard because that is where they are comfortable, so I changed where I am comfortable to being on top and passing aggressively. I believe by changing my game to be different from the majority of my competitors, it will give me an advantage when competing in California.
Surprisingly, I am not nervous at all for this competition. Whether I win or lose, I know that I will have my teammates back home waiting for me. My plan is to go in there and fight my heart out. I know that I have prepared my self to the best of my ability and it will pay off once I am out on the mats fighting.
Even if I do lose, it still comes back to “losing, but winning.” If I lose, I learn what I did wrong and what needs to be worked on. If I win, I find something I could have done better and work on that. The thing with Brazilian jiu jitsu is that you could always learn something new, whether you are a blue belt or black belt. I have learned that no matter what happens you can keep moving forward in the sport and in life.
Photos by Dan of Earth.