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Winning and Losing in Jiu Jitsu

First up- the Euro Kids yesterday. I actually have a hand in bringing this event to Ireland, so I don’t really get to coach at it. Of course, I run the training in advance, but my role is to sit and watch my coaches do their thing while I sit as an official trying not to express any emotion. Which, by the way, is tremendously difficult.

Not as difficult, however, as competing. The standard of the very best kids from around the world is, as you’d expect, extraordinary. To even be competitive is hard! So we’re very proud of the kids who went in, regardless of how they did in the event. We had a really good medal haul of 4 silver and 4 bronze, and moreover, the experience they all gained in the training towards the event will stand to them for a long time.

I’ll give you a laugh. I will relate, more or less verbatim, a chat I had with an 11 year old as he was in the bullpen waiting to go out to his first match.

“You nervous?”

“Yes. I’ve a pain in my belly.”

“That’s normal. That’s just nerves.”

“I know. But this isn’t normal.”

“This isn’t a normal tournament. You should feel extra nervous.”

“I feel really sick in my belly though”

“Remember, nerves are energy waiting to get out on the mat. You’ll do fine.”

“That’s the problem. I’m afraid my nerves might spill out on the mat, if you know what I mean…”

Thankfully, he kept it all inside and won the match.

Competing isn’t for every kid or everyone, and some aspects of competitive sport might even be negative for some kids who might need a little more time to grow into themselves. But to face into fear, to face into nerves, regardless of whether you come out as a winner or not, stands to you in the future.

I’ve got this analogy I use to describe committing to compete. That’s a longer chat- that term “Committing to compete” I mean. There’s a difference between saying you’ll compete, and really committing to it. I might chat about it next week, remind me will you?

Anyway, the analogy, which I can’t use with kids as they won’t have done this yet, is about telling someone you love them for the very first time. You build up the confidence to do it, knowing that even the slightest negative reaction would be crushing to you. You totally expose yourself. You’re on the cliff edge, toes over the side! A positive reaction will make your world brighter, but a negative will plunge you into darkness! Do it man!

You go for it!

And she says, “Thanks”.

That’s what it’s like to lose when you’ve trained so hard for a large goal like a Europeans and sacrificed everything. When you’ve no excuses except for your own limitations. It’s horrible!

But it makes you stronger and better. Our other saying around here- “You’ve beaten everyone who stayed on the couch”. There’s lessons in the effort you just can’t learn by not trying. It makes you tougher, and if you do it right afterwards, you’ll be stronger for it, and perhaps win next time out. There’s no greater motivator than knowing what it feels like to lose.

I will see you on the mat,


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