If my experience working with young kiddos has taught me anything, it is this – we were all born brats. Try playing Candyland with a given four-year old, if you don’t believe me. Winning is everything and the excited “I win” quickly spirals into the gloating, finger-pointing “HAHA,YOU LOSE!” And then other times, the four-year-old is the one who gloats.
I’ve come to realize that the skill of winning gracefully is a skill of maturity and it is often a skill that must be cultivated. In jiu jitsu, losing seems a bit more personal than in other sports. I’ve lost plenty of swimming races in my past, but those races were against many competitors, none of whom were trying to choke me unconscious. In jiu jitsu, with its 1-on-1 matchups and violent techniques, for every match winner there is one, potentially devastated, match loser. I have been that devastated loser and it sucks. So I now stop and think – when a match or tournament goes in my favor, how can I be a more graceful winner? I’ll break my thoughts into 2 main stages:
First, at the venue:
- Don’t celebrate the BS. A win is a win, but victories due to injury or inadvertent DQ should not be publicly celebrated. These wins have little bearings on the outcomes of future matchups and to gloat about them is just douchey.
- Act like you have been there before. It’s ok to get excited. But if you win, say, your first white belt match at a local tournament, this is not the time to be fist pumping and whooping about like you have won black belt words. Restraint is classy.
- Shake hands with the ref, competitor, and her coach. Compliment your opponent on what she did well, if you are so inclined
- Hug it up on the podium. If you are lucky enough to be in the top position, invite the other gals to share the spotlight with you for a photo. Say cheese!
- Show them you are a decent human. You may be a monster on the mats, but you are a nice person in real life, right? Your opponent just experienced several minutes of your face crush, knee on soul pressure, or other weapon of choice. Now it’s a nice time to talk to her like a regular human, even if just for a minute.
- Learn from the match. They say you either win or learn from every match. But who says they have to be mutually exclusive? Learn from the mistakes you made, even if you went on to win. You can also learn by noting what you did well and acknowledging hard earned progress.
Then, the aftermath:
- Thank your coaches and training partners for getting you ready. Your win would not have been possible without them.
- Choose your social media posts wisely. You have the right to promote yourself online, but think twice about doing so at the expense of yours friends. Videos or pictures from a match against someone you never met? Post away. But of a friend or someone you are likely to train with in the future? Think before posting.
- Continue learning. If your competitors are local, train with them. Visit their schools or meet them at open mats. After all, our goals should not be to be the best locally, but to be the best we can be period. Iron sharpens iron.
For those of you thinking Winning gracefully? First world problem! I’m still just trying to win a match over here! First of all, stick with it. Perseverance is everything in this sport. But here’s some good news – losing gracefully is an art too! You can check out the blog I wrote on How to be a Better Loser on my own blog site: http://grapplinggirl.blogspot.com/2016/11/how-to-be-better-loser.html