How NOT To Behave When You Lose In Competition

Ever see an interaction and think “Wow this is an amazingly teachable moment”? 

Recently, I was lurking on Reddit and found this video:

Readers’ digest version: black belt vs purple belt in the gi in an absolute division, purple looks a bit smaller and a bit younger, hard to tell size difference with the gis on but the video description reads “65kg Teenage Purple belt from the UK beats 85kg Black belt in a absolute class category”.  What happens after the ref raises the purple belt’s hand is a bit ugly, the black belt storms off the mat visibly irate. I don’t know if I’d define his behavior as “rage” but there are a couple of critical elements to consider here.

Nobody likes to lose, but if you’re a black belt you should to some extent to set an example for your students and/or other lower belts watching the match.  This is a sport that is marketed to children and as a result upper belts are treated with veneration.

If, as a black belt, you have the kind of reaction depicted in the video should you lose to a lower belt you may want to examine your ego.  The fact is that in the athletic endeavor of jiu-jitsu competition lower belts can prevail over upper belts especially if the lower belt is in better shape, trains more frequently and/or is an active competitor. 

Competition results don’t necessarily convey knowledge either.  There’s a good chance that the black belt in the video knows more than the purple belt,  There’s also a possibility that in this match there was some sort of mitigating factor at play, maybe the black belt was ill, maybe the purple belt’s style matches up well against the black belt’s…

None of this matters though because the way the black belt behaved after the match was over is the REAL story here.  If you lose in competition at the very least behave civilly. Consider that your opponent was trying to win as hard as you and was in this case successful in that moment.  Consider that good sportsmanship matters. 

Belts don’t separate human beings.  Being a good grappler doesn’t make you a good or bad person, it’s simply a skill that one can develop.  However the more experienced a grappler is the more they have theoretically won and lost in competition and the more they SHOULD be able to handle each with grace and poise.  I actually judge higher belts/more experienced practitioners more by how they handle if I’m able to tap them out than anything else.

What do YOU think of the black belts’ behavior in this video?


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