by Patricia Murphy
When your arm is not raised, you’re out of breath from the match you just had, your heart is in your stomach, and you’re disappointed. The ref raises their hand while yours stays at your side. You hear their teammates cheering them on and wish the familiar voices you know were the ones screaming. You shake everyone’s hand as you walk back to your Professor looking down at the ground so as to not meet their eyes. Even with all these feelings brewing inside of you. You’ll be happy you competed.
It has happened to me a few times at local competitions, once at PANS, and once at a super fight. My arm stayed at my side and a lump built up in my throat. “Cry once you’re off the mat” is what I repeated after my loss at PANS. There’s always going to be a loser in competition and sometimes it’s going to be you. For whatever reason, a silly mistake, an arm left wide open, or perhaps, with the worst ones, you get absolutely smashed. But it’s when your hand is left at your side you learn the most.
It is in the losses your game will get better. You left your bottom leg lazy on the mats replacing guard? I can guarantee you that leg will never be lazy again. You sat down and gave your opponent the takedown points? Your butt will never hit that floor. Now, as for the smashing, I can promise you every time someone completely dominates you it will light a fire under your butt to make you work harder. Listen, most people who practice Jiu-Jitsu do it as a hobby and don’t compete at all, which is fine, but you just stepping on the mats to compete is already a win. Most won’t put themselves out there like that. If the fear of losing is the only thing holding you back from competing, you are doing yourself a huge disservice to the art you are practicing. Competing is one of the best ways to gauge where you are at in the sport. There are regular rolls at your gym then there are rolls in competition. You’re going to roll harder and move differently than you ever thought you could or would. Also, you will progress faster if you compete because of the training you put yourself through. It is in competition training you will learn how far you can push yourself. Once you think you’ve hit your limit you will be surprised at how much further you can go. The amount of discipline you’ll go through in competition training makes you mentally and physically stronger. Your Jiu-Jitsu will improve so much, and you will understand the rules and how the sport works better. In your training, you will learn a lot about yourself both on and off the mats. If you are afraid to compete, think of it this way you are not training to compete you are competing to train. Training in a way you never have before. Allowing yourself to grow in multiple ways.
Now, I am not telling you to go sign up for Worlds or PANS (I do highly suggest it but that’s a conversation for another time). There are plenty of local competitions that are held which are much more low-key. It’s just to get your feet wet a little bit. Even if your arm does not get raised. Even if it stays at your side and you hear unfamiliar voices screaming a name that’s not yours. I promise you’ll be happy you did it. I promise if you lose you will learn and gain so much. So, if the fear of losing is what is keeping you from competing swallow your pride and give yourself the opportunity. You got this! Oss!
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