Learning From Losing

Regarded as one of the greatest American Football Coaches of all time, Vince Lombardi once said “If you can’t accept losing, you can’t win.” Losing is inevitable, it is how we react to the loss that lays the groundwork for how we will eventually win. Though this quote comes from one of the most successful NFL coaches of all time, it rings true in all walks of life, none more than those of us who chose to train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an incredibly humbling sport by design. It was designed for the smaller man to defeat the larger man through technique rather than brute strength. The first time you set foot on the mat is when you first realize that not much can prepare you for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

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People who are new to BJJ have the special opportunity to essentially lose constantly. Not only will you lose to those who have been training for years, you will most likely also lose to the people who have been training for merely a few weeks. Rather than becoming down on yourself for losing you must learn from your losses to develop your BJJ game. Asking yourself or your partner “Why did I get submitted” or “How did you get me into that position” are the best ways to learn. Many beginners chose to jump straight back into rolling and end up making the same mistake rather than taking the time to digest what just happened to them. BJJ is a thinking man’s game. The most important lesson for any beginner is to learn from your losses and through a process of trial and error develop strategies to do better next round.

Losing is not solely for beginners either. In BJJ there is always somebody better than you. Whether it is someone who has been training longer, equal, or even sometimes less than you, you will lose. The problem arises when you stop losing. Chances are you are not the best BJJ practitioner in the world; so if you find yourself never losing, it means you are either not taking chances or not attempting to further improve your game. Practice and training are the best times to take a chance and fail. The only thing keeping many of us from attempting new moves or submissions is our own pride. When we stagnate for fear of injuring our pride we stop learning and progressing. We all have our moves that we feel comfortable with, but to develop a full game we must add as many weapons to our arsenal as possible. To develop these weapons we must fail but learn from the failures.