I both love and hate competing. I love the art of the fight. Testing yourself against a complete stranger with tenancies that are unfamiliar with yours. You’re tasked with cultivating a game that’s all your own, filled with moves sets and combinations that you’ve chosen to take with you into battle. It’s like the old days when warriors took pride in making their own weapons before war. Win or loose the weapons you and or your family crafted were deeply personal as an extension of yourself.
Similarly speaking your Jiu-Jitsu game is your personally crafted spear, sword, and shield. Winning or losing is based on your game and how much time you’ve dedicated to. So when you put it all on the line for everyone to see and lose, there’s a big let down. It almost feels as if part of you has die.
After this last loss I grabbed my gear and walked off the competition area and made my way under the bleachers. I didn’t even bother changing right away, I wasn’t in a hurry to see anyone who had come to see me fight. The spot I found wasn’t completely out of the way but it gave me a chance to just sit back and think. I made some obvious mistakes that I was already aware of, and this time away from everyone allowed me to accept what happen and move forward.
When you get right off the mat all you’re thinking about is the fight, most importantly the things you did wrong. Maybe you feel like a screw up because it was an obvious blunder or an aspect of your game that you neglected while striving for some of your other goals. There’s a kind of mourning process that a competitor goes through once the fight is through.
There’s a large part of you that has been sacrificed in the build up for this fight. You’ve neglected your friends or significant other, you’ve pushed away your bad habits or vices, in a singular focus of representing your school in live competition. Not trying to be too dramatic, but that version of me died. There’s nothing I can do for him now but keep his memory close and move forward.
From my spot under the bleacher I decided to just people watch. The environment was both tense and hopeful as everyone warmed up and went through their game plans. Some happy, some worried, some more sure footed than others, but all brave. It was a great mix of seasoned veterans and rookies with a shared interest in mind. I kind of got lost in the flow of people so I decided to eat the snacks I brought, and by the time I was ready to meet with my team the emotional sting of the loss was dulled.
We all deal with loosing differently, but I’ve found that taking the time to just decompress actually speeds the process along. Whatever helpful or constructive criticism that a teammate or Jeff gives me is taken just as that. It doesn’t strike a nervous the way it might immediately after the fight. No harping on what can’t be changed while fostering a renewed focus on the improvements I want to make.