Marcelo Garcia recently made a poignant speech in front of his class:
In this video Marcelo talks about why, precisely, his post-match celebrations have always been toned down in comparison to many of his peers in the sport. And the message therein is one that I think that many people should hear.
When a competitor begins to enjoy success, there are two major elements that show the person’s character, one is how they handle winning, and the other is how they handle losing. The best advice I’ve ever heard was “Act like you’ve been there before.”
Both winning and losing evoke strong emotional reactions, even on tiny local stages. I’ve seen many white and blue belts celebrate winning or slap the mat out of frustration when losing. There is great power in reserving your emotions, though.
When I lose, I try to give my opponent the credit they are due, I thank them for the opportunity to compete against them. When I win, the very first thing I do is check on my opponent and help them to their feet. The fact is that the opponent is there for the same reason as me, to win. If given a chance they will beat me. However, on a larger scale, the opponent is there to make me better.
Competition is a vehicle for growth and is a way to demonstrate one’s prowess in the sport. Without a worthy opponent, I cannot demonstrate my prowess, without a challenger I cannot grow.
In Marcelo’s speech he talks about how once the match is over, the victor has already done his or her job. A celebration is superfluous. You’ve already shown your skills, you’ve already learned what there was to learn at that moment, celebrating a victory or mourning defeat won’t improve or change the outcome. If anything, it can taint the experience.
It’s natural to enjoy winning, when Marcelo won his first ADCC gold medal the first thing he did was jump into his coach, Fabio Gurgel’s arms. Remember, however, that you owe your victory, in part, to your opponent for stepping up and going against you. Even if they are your sworn enemy at that moment they are in a way doing you a favor.
When you win, how do you celebrate? When is celebration appropriate and how much is appropriate?