Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dealing with Defeat

It is always nerve wracking for me to watch my teammates fight in tournaments. My palms get sweaty. My heart pounds. By the end of a tournament, my voice is usually gone and, even if I didn't fight, I am exhausted. But being there to support the girls from the women's class took my anxiety to a whole new level.

Four of our new girls competed, three for the first time. Every time one of them stepped on the mat, I felt proud and scared at the same time. The fact that they were brave enough to try at all made me proud. What made the experience even better was seeing them use what they have been practicing in a high stress situation. They fought well and with a lot of heart. I couldn't be happier.

But, strangely, the thing I am most proud of happened in the week after the tournament. One of my girls went and lost. It happens to all of us. You work so hard, but it just doesn't come together. When that happens to one of my teammates, I always feel like I'm holding my breathe to see how they will take the loss. Will it shatter their confidence or push them to train harder for the next tournament?

Understandably, this student was upset right after the loss. She had given it everything she had. I've been there before. I hugged her, told her how proud I was of her and about all the positive things I saw in her grapple, then she and her friends watched the rest of the tournament and enjoyed themselves.

I wondered what she was thinking. Would she lose confidence in herself? Would she want to try again? Would she even want to keep training? This girl has a lot of potential and the thought of her quitting made me feel very anxious.

But I knew this was one of those defining moments that grapplers face. Jiu-jitsu is hard. You get bruised up physically and emotionally. But eventually, if you do not quit, you can learn from all your bumps and  bruises and hopefully avoid them in the future. Or deal them out yourself. ;)

When this student showed up for class the next week, I was paying close attention to her attitude. I found out everything I needed to know as soon as we slapped hands to grapple. She was hungry. She fought better and with more aggression than I had ever seen from her before. It wasn't just her trying to use strength, she was thinking. She was using her technique and she was coming after me. 

I couldn't stop smiling. I was even more proud of her then than I had been with her good attitude at the tournament. She wasn't going to quit. She was going to work harder. She was was going to make sure she learned her lessons from that tournament. Already, in the few weeks that have passed, I have seen improvement. 

So...keep struggling. Wear your bruises with pride. They're evidence that you're committed to growth, both as a grappler and as a person. Osss!!!