Do You Learn From Victory?

There comes a point in the career of any competitive grappler worth his or her salt that victory becomes the norm.  Assuming you put in the hours on the mat and truly immerse yourself in your training (assuming you are drilling correctly, and rolling in such a way that you improve upon your existing skill set and build new skills) you will likely see the podium with increasing regularity.  How does one handle winning?  More importantly how does one learn from victory?

The age old adage goes, “You either win or you learn.”  I would posit that your goal should be to learn regardless of the outcome.  Winning just means that the lessons learned from prior experiences are starting to take hold and should not mean that you didn’t learn from the matches that you won.

Learning from victory can be harder than learning from defeat.  When you’ve been defeated, your flaws and weaknesses have essentially been brought to light, and your mistakes become learning tools.  All you really have to do is play that match over in your head and you have the material that you need to be able to learn and grow from your mistakes.

On the other hand, victory does something interesting to the psyche: it awakens the ego.  When you’ve won, you focus on the fact that you’ve won.  It can be a distraction, and it can detract from possible lessons.  Most of the time, win lose or draw, we make mistakes.  Victory does a great job of masking mistakes made during the match, but it shouldn’t.

Even a quick victory can be a learning experience.  For example: if you hit a flying arm bar or triangle, finishing the match in under 30 seconds, was that submission perfect?  Could you have finished the match in less than 20 seconds instead?  Even though you won, was the entry reckless?  If your opponent had been expecting the flying submission attempt, could they have stopped it?  If yes, how?

Any victory can be turned into a learning experience.  Victory just means that you did certain things right, not that you did nothing wrong.  And even if you made no mistakes, there is always room for improvement in the steps you took to win.

Focus more on learning from your victories and they will wind up being worth more than the medals you get for them.  Winning is nice, winning consistently is nicer, but getting better at jiu-jitsu should be your ultimate goal.  Your goal should always be to go out there and win, but it should also be to go out there and learn.  The latter can be accomplished every time, regardless of match outcome.

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Emil Fischer is an active black belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training at Strong Style Mixed Martial Arts and Training Center near Cleveland Ohio ( and teaching at Ararat Martial Arts and FItness Center. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at and Emil is sponsored by Meerkatsu (, discount code EmilKatsu), Eddy's On Coventry, North Coast Cryo ( NottaRookie, YM ( discount code COOKIES), Defense Soap ( discount code COOKIES) Impact Mouthguards ( discount code EMILIMPACT), and North South Jiu Jitsu Underwear


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