The Honesty of Competition

Perhaps the most important aspect of competition is its honesty. By this I mean competition will always highlight your strengths and weaknesses for you. I’ve heard it said that you should never be angry at an opponent for beating you, regardless of what tactics they used or whether or not they display sportsmanship. Yes, you can feel that their conduct may not be fitting for a competitive athlete, but at the end of the day if they win and you lose you did something wrong or didn’t do something right, and if you can take a step back to analyze that you can actually benefit from your losses.

A common excuse I hear is that the opponent used strength. I’ve said this before: I’ve never lost a match because the other guy was stronger. He may have won because he was stronger, but I lost because I was unable to apply my technique precisely enough to negate his physical strength.

Another common excuse I hear is accusing the other person of sandbagging. Sandbagging is awful, and anyone who legitimately down-ranks themselves for competition is a scumbag. However, you didn’t lose because they sandbagged, you lost because they applied superior technique or you were unable to apply superior technique. Similarly, if your opponent cheated and wound up winning, they didn’t win because they cheated or because the ref didn’t see them cheating, they won because you weren’t able to think outside of the box well enough to counteract their cheating, maybe you need to encourage your training partners to roll a bit “dirtier” sometimes to account for that.  Analyze what actually transpired in the match rather than your opponent’s morals.


Anytime we make excuses, we lose sight of the actual possible benefits of the experience. Winning is nice, but losing is what really makes us better. However, losing can only make you better if you are able to look past your emotions and analyze the loss on a factual basis. I see far too many people get upset at the opponent, the ref, or the loss itself rather than viewing it as a teachable moment.

For every excuse about why you lost you can find a valuable truth about your own game. If you lost because you were too tired, maybe your timing isn’t good enough for you to be able to roll slowly at competition and still win. If you lost because of an adrenaline dump, chances are you don’t compete and cross train enough and have that “stranger danger” that people who are too isolated in their jiu jitsu get when rolling against someone new. There are a variety of excuses people make, and each excuse can be derived into a valuable lesson, you just need to take the time to analyze your own excuses.

When you lose at competition, how do you handle it? Do you try to analyze your loss in order to bring something back to the gym with you to improve upon? Do you realize that your opponents are not enemies, but rather valuable training tools from which you can benefit?



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