I'm A Loser

Discussion in 'Grappling Technique' started by Gerbiljiujitsu, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Gerbiljiujitsu

    Gerbiljiujitsu Purple Belt

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    Today’s post begins with a statement you definitely don’t want to hear: your success in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is going to be directly connected to your ability to deal with loss. Sorry, it’s true. But for some individuals, the desire to win is so strong that anything besides victory puts a bad taste in their mouth, forces them into a depression, or — even worse — angers them.

    Regardless of the teams and affiliations that we have in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, grappling is an individual sport. What this means is that although we have teammates that help us learn, condition and prepare, when it comes time to compete only the individual competitor goes out onto the mat. At the end of the match there will be one winner, and one loser.

    Your odds of winning are going to vary greatly based on a wide variety of factors like who your opponents are, how your game matches up against theirs, your experience in competition, who is officiating your match, and of course, pure luck. Sometimes the odds are stacked against you, and even though you perform to the top of your ability, you lose. Maybe you slip on the mat and they call it a takedown, or maybe your opponent got a first-round bye while you had a knock-down-drag-out match with a killer. Whatever the scenario, you now face a painful but undeniable truth:

    You are a loser.

    There are a number of ways that you can deal with this. You can stomp your feet, make a scene, yell at the referee, post on Facebook, or even (ridiculously) blame your opponent. I’ve seen all of these things and they simply don’t change the fact that you lost, and that you are a loser.

    Losing, for all the emotions it brings, is part of our sport. And the sooner that you bring yourself to understand this — and accept it — the happier you will be. After you stop focusing on the emotions associated with loss, you can turn your thoughts to something more productive, like training. And training is one of the only factors you have control over that will influence your ability to win or lose a match.

    The concept thus far has been fairly easy to follow, but it is time to take it one step further.
    I have a pretty good guard game. A lot of people that visit my school come here specifically to ask me about half-guard and closed guard. I’ve heard all sorts of questions concerning these two positions and more importantly how or why I’m so good at them. Part of the reason I’m good at these positions is because I’ve spent a lot of time training and repping the moves, but the main reason I have a great guard is because I’m not remotely worried about having my guard passed.

    As white belts we learned to have small victories. Each sweep became a mini-victory, every submission we escaped a tiny emotional win, and of course every time we kept someone from passing our guard we quietly felt good about ourselves. This “good” feeling that we have is our body rewarding us for learning by releasing dopamine into our blood stream. It’s a learning mechanism that reinforces motor movements and behaviors so that we can progress as grapplers (and humans).

    When you are first learning how to grapple these types of “rewards” are very important for our development. It’s part of what drives us to keep training and continue getting better. As we build more complex games and focus on the bigger picture it’s important to reevaluate our understanding of winning and losing. We need to separate our desire to win and lose from our performance on the mat. What we need to do is realize that there is no winning or losing, only how we perform. Once you stop grading or labeling your performances as wins or losses, your whole outlook on grappling will change.

    A test to see if you are physically programmed for “micro-wins” is to choose one of your hardest training partners in your next class and pull guard. Fight for position as you normally would and when that moment comes when they pass your guard, what is your thought process? What is your thought process after the match? Are you relieved they didn’t pass your guard? Are you happy that you recomposed and swept them? Maybe you’re annoyed that they passed your guard because you’re tired and now they are going to lie on you for the next two minutes and sap your energy.

    All of these are emotional responses. NONE of them will help you become a better grappler.
    The sooner that we come to understand these feelings and recognize them, the sooner we can reshape our thinking process. Force your thoughts back onto something that matters and try to separate yourself from the emotional aspects of our sport so that you can become more successful. Those moments of emotional thought can cost you a tenth of a second that can be the difference in you having your underhook after they pass or the ability to move your hips before your opponent settles. These are the fractions of seconds that matter and there is no time for emotion.

    Now, please don’t think that I’m suggesting that winning isn’t important. Feel free to look back through this article to make sure I never said that. But what I am saying is that your focus needs to be placed on the things that actually impact your performance. At the end of the day the only thing you have direct control over is your training. Take your wins and your losses as tools for your training.

    Film as many of your competition matches as possible. Review them, look at where you went wrong and correct the problems by drilling the correct responses. Use the videos to form strategies and understand pathways. Make lists of both good and bad things that you did in the match and utilize drill time accordingly. Make every victory and defeat a lesson that helps build you as a grappler.

    Because when you separate your desire (emotion) to win or lose from your ability (logic) to grapple, you will find that your technique application increases greatly. Your capacity to win is directly connected to your ability to successfully apply techniques.
     
  2. Discipulus

    Discipulus Black Belt

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    I really enjoyed your post, Gerbil. I'm hoping to compete soon and get the "I'm a loser" process out of the way early. :)

    And despite having operated over twenty (20) white belt Sherdog accounts, envee doesn't know shit about BJJ, so ignore him.
     
  3. Gotti McCarran

    Gotti McCarran Banned Banned

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    Well, try getting woken up in front of 30000 and a million on TV that just saw you KTFO.
     
  4. Amave

    Amave Green Belt

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    Great post Jeremy, it seems as though people are more focused on the winning rather than the earning aspect of BJJ.

    If you don't mind can i repost this on my website? I think it is very, very important to know loss as much as knowing winning, it maintains balance and is part of the game.

    No matter what the situation every person who steps on the mat has lost somewhere , some way.
     
  5. Nomad Nemesis**

    Nomad Nemesis** Brown Belt

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    so, you are basically saying (maybe paraphrasing a bit) that if i cannot open someone's guard i shouldn't get all slap happy? I wish i could live in your world of unicorns and butterbeer, but this isn't Hogwarts and i am not waving some fruity little wand around.
    You want to keep doing this grip, bra? do you? Guess what 5 fingers say to the face? SLAP!!!

    but seriously, defeats are only temporary.
     
  6. Mat

    Mat Orange Belt

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    Thanks gerbil, terrific post. Thank you. :) x
     
  7. BJJArsenal

    BJJArsenal Brown Belt

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    I go into every tournament thinking I'll lose, but hoping to win.

    The only 'mini-victories' I ever get are with our two best purples. They smash every one in the gym over and over and train 6 days a week. Really good guys. I count any sweep/takedown (only points I've ever gotten on them) as a mini-victory.
     
  8. ozyabbas

    ozyabbas Purple Belt

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    I think the thing that makes people nervous and even scared of competitions is the fear of losing (for me that includes the money spent on getting their, tournament fees etc). But I think in the end losing and having learnt something from it is much better than having beat everyone easily and not learning that will force you to re evaluate your technique/game.
     
  9. ozyabbas

    ozyabbas Purple Belt

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    The problem is that I always lose ......................money. No matter whether I win or lose the competition/matches.

    Competitions are so bloody expensive these days. Even the smaller shittier ones.
     
  10. cms9690

    cms9690 Green Belt

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    Great post gerbil, seems like sticky quality.. imo.
     
  11. ijustwannasurf

    ijustwannasurf Brown Belt

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    Gerbil- Do you ever film and review your sparring sessions in the academy?
     
  12. Daniel Tapia

    Daniel Tapia Green Belt

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    Really thoughtful article... Where did you come across the concept of "micro-wins?"
     
  13. Gerbiljiujitsu

    Gerbiljiujitsu Purple Belt

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    it's so funny that you say that because I did it with one of my brown belt training partners today. We had a 22 minute sparring session on wednesday and today we went over the whole thing. That type of review can really help.

    We have a GoPro camera that has various wall mounts throughout the grappling room. We can move it around as we need it and then watch it later.
     
  14. Gerbiljiujitsu

    Gerbiljiujitsu Purple Belt

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    Of course you can! Please just give me some credit before or after the post.

    Jeremy Arel
    Black Belt Under Roberto "Gordo" Correa
    Great Grappling Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
    www.greatgrappling.com
     
  15. Amave

    Amave Green Belt

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    You got it !


    And thanks for the insight on the other side of BJJ, you are a very well respected representative of the sport .
     
  16. iama

    iama Orange Belt

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    pussy attitude.
     
  17. BJJArsenal

    BJJArsenal Brown Belt

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    Don't be an arse.

    Personally I feel that no matter what happens at a competition, whether I win or lose it's not worth it unless I learn something. Thankfully, I've only ever NOT learnt something at a competition once, but I happened to win gold at that competition.
     
  18. shades001

    shades001 Yellow Belt

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    A great read sir. Very insightful. My confidence ebbs and flows at times, but I like the idea of breaking down these broad ideals into smaller components. I can track progress in smaller steps, rather than in one giant leap. What I admire most about high-level practitioners is that they understand the intricacies and little details in certain techniques. It's like a scientific process in some ways.
     

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