When Losing Is Actually Winning

In my last tournament, I didn’t win a single match – but I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. How could that be? How can we make losing feel like 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.

darian primeau, bjj competition, women's bjj, bjj and learning, beginner bjj

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.

darian primeau, bjj competition, women's bjj, bjj and learning, beginner bjj

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.

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