Competing makes us better. We can test our games against equal (or reasonably close) competition at true full resistance. This isn’t a veteran practicing his back escapes on you, or a new guy who isn’t sure what Jiu Jitsu is. Everyone planned to be there, and has enough confidence to at least put up a fight.
So, aside from understanding where we are, how can we maximize the benefits? There are two possibilities. Winning, and losing. Each can help us to prioritize and plan our future training.
Let’s look at the tough one first, winning. When we win, it’s easy to shut down all progress and relax. That won’t help. Ask yourself questions about the match. “How did I win?” We all operate in predictable patterns. If the path to the win is too complex, it will be hard to duplicate in the future. “Did I win using what I train?” Using your best game at home allows your friends to break it down. This will reduce surprise struggles in competition. “What did they do to slow my progress?” “Does my attack series flow seamlessly?” “How can I go about this more efficiently?” Finding small failures in our wins tightens our games for future challenges.
On a side note, keep in mind what kind of winners we want to be. Even a world champion still has an instructor and a lot to learn after the tournament. We want to be the type of winners that make the sport look good, the type that a good instructor is happy to continue improving. It’s important to remember that 50% of competitors lose their first match. Without them, there is no winner. If we intentionally hurt them, they may not compete again. Of those left another 50% lose the next match. Only a select few leave without losing. Ideally, this group should be exemplary.
Benefiting from losing is much easier, as long as we’re willing to face it. Effectively facing a loss begins with understanding the difference between making excuses and identifying a point of failure. The moment control is lost is the piece to analyze and refine. Having video is a great way to identify and solve problems. The first problem moment is the most important, and continues sequentially. Pick something to fix, and purposely fix it in training. Again, we all operate in predictable patterns. Making a solved problem into a habit is crucial. Steering a problem into a positive result will bring the best result. Don’t just stop the guard pass, establish a guard with a submission and a sweep.
Finally, everyone loses. We’re not expected to be thrilled, but showing consideration for others in the moment is always appreciated.