Health & Medical Self-Improvement

How to Win When You Lose

Things were going pretty well: I was up by 8 points (I think) in a no gi Ju Jitsu match.
I checked the clock a couple of times during the match, when I could steal a look.
The girl I was fighting was squirmy, but everything was going according to plan.
I transitioned from mount to side control and then back to mount again.
"This no gi thing takes energy," I can remember thinking.
"Let me just run down the clock.
" No luck there.
With less than a minute left, the squirmy girl swept me, got mount, and was fiddling around for my arm.
OK - she just scored 4 points, I thought.
No problem: only 20 seconds left.
Easy stuff to resist for such a short time in a bad position.
I can remember thinking: "Good thing I scored early.
She can only win by submission now.
And that won't happen.
I can just sit here.
" And sit there I did, under her, as she worked to free my arm, as I felt her leg go over my face, and then as my grip on my own hand start to slip.
Thirteen seconds is too long to resist an arm-bar when you've lost your grip on your other hand.
Just in case you didn't know.
I know that now.
I tapped as I felt my elbow pop.
I was tempted to be angry afterwards: no one likes to lose, and especially not when you snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
But in my mind, I was reminded of a lesson I learned a few years ago in kickboxing.
Sam Sheridan (writer of the book Fighter's Mind) describes two kinds of fighters: entity and incremental.
I'll tell you now, you want to be on the incremental side.
Entity fighters have a very hard time with defeat.
They believe their talent stems from innate ability.
They see themselves as superior fighters by nature.
For entity fighters, a loss is a threat to the ego.
Instead of bouncing back from a defeat, this type of fighter sees losing as sign that they have been beaten once and for all; that they're not good enough.
Losing discourages them.
Incremental fighters see skill as a question of hard work.
When faced with a defeat, this type of person simply goes back to the gym and continues training.
Sheridan describes boxer Manny Pacquiao as the quintessential incremental fighter.
He quotes Pacquiao: "[Every] fight has a winner and a loser, and sometimes it's just not [your] night".
Ultimately, you don't want a particular success or failure to determine how you feel about yourself, or about whether or not you continue to enjoy your sport.
Entity thinking is bad for your training.
It can lead you to pass up learning experiences because you don't want to feel inferior.
Instead of worrying about winning and losing, worry instead on incremental bench-marks: were you able to execute a specific move you've been trying, or did you manage to last longer than last time.
Winning or losing, and success or failure aren't the measures of warriorship, they are polar ways of categorizing results.
Warriors train to learn.
Winning - sometimes - is just the occasional product of this learning.

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