Losing sucks

I guess I should have put “spoiler alert” in front of the title. Oh well. Now you know how the NY Open went for me. I am not really going to focus on the details of the tournament but for those of you who like such things here is a brief synopsis:  I pulled half guard (despite my coach and I agreeing right before I stepped on the mat that I was not going to pull guard no matter what) and then got smashed from the top and finished with a Kimura.

I feel obligated to warn you that my typical cycle after a loss is a day or two of self-loathing and doubt followed by a few days of figuring out what went wrong followed by resolve to keep training. So what you are about to read is written while I am in the throes of my “I am the worst jiu-jitsuer who ever jiu-jitsued” phase. Probably I should apologize for that but I am too bogged down in self-pity to care.

I try not to get upset just because I lost. I don’t so much care about the win or the loss but every time I compete I go out there hoping to be able to do all that I am capable of. Lately I know I have fallen short (really short) of this and that is what tears me up afterwards.

I know that technically I did things wrong or else she wouldn’t have been able to submit me but I also know that my biggest problem right now is between my ears. I try to focus on the tournament leading up to it. I train aggressively, I visualize what I want to do, I tell myself that I am good enough to roll with whoever might show up and give them a hard time. It all works for me as I am preparing to train. And then I step on the mat.

As I am standing there, staring at the mat, looking at my opponent, I feel the nerves take hold of me. They take control of my mind and make me do things like pull guard despite the fact that my coach and I both agreed I didn’t want to.  They take hold of my body and weigh me down so I can’t move like I normally can and I lay there like a rock panicking.

It seems that lately my pattern has been to not draw things out and lose with points but to be submitted quickly and early, without having any kind of offense to speak of. Like I said I don’t mind losing (much) but I feel like I do it so spectacularly that I can’t help but feel shame as I step off the mat. I feel shame that my coach drove all the way to NYC and I was on the mat for 90 seconds. I feel shame that my friends and teammates in attendance watched me get dominated. I feel shame every time I have to answer a text from a friend asking how I did.

In my brain I know I shouldn’t feel ashamed. I went out there. I tried. I did more than a lot of other people do. My coach doesn’t care if we win or lose, he just wants us to go try. Many people got submitted at the open, probably even some of them earlier than me, it is highly unlikely that my match was the talk of the tournament. My friends are probably not going to stop hanging out with me and seek the winner of my match because they don’t want to be associated with a loser anymore. But in my heart I can’t help but feel like a failure.

I went to the tournament with a teammate and friend of mine. I have always admired her presence when she competes. She is the nicest person off the mat but you can see a change come over her as she is about to compete. She becomes extremely focused and intense. Saturday was no different. I watched her fight like a beast for 3 tough matches and take silver in her division, only losing on points in the final.

As happy as I was for her, I couldn’t help but wonder why it was so easy for her and so hard for me. Being a former fat kid, I don’t have a history of competing in athletics. Am I just the proverbial old dog trying to learn a new trick? Do I just not have the mentality to compete? Am I too old? As a 33 year old woman I am lucky if the tournament I am fighting even has a masters divisions, let alone anyone registered in said division.

I was thinking all this as I walked off the mat and ran into my teammate and friend who was also there to compete. I told him that I wasn’t sure I could keep competing because I didn’t know if I’d ever have the mentality for it. He told me to remember it is a journey and I am not there yet.

I am somewhat of a stubborn person (sorry for those of you who know me and may have choked while laughing, I should have warned you not to take in any liquids before reading that) and I am also a fighter. Sometimes I doubt that but you don’t keep coming back to jiu-jitsu night after night if there isn’t something inside of you that wants to fight and win. These characteristics make it really hard for me to give up. Ultimately I’d rather be a loser than a quitter. I also truly believe that if I keep making myself compete I will figure out how to do it better.

So although I am bummed out to have lost and feeling pretty awful still, I know that I will keep going. I don’t really have any more time to dwell on this loss as I am competing in Grappler’s Quest this weekend. Hopefully I can channel this upset and anger into my fights there and have a better show. As I am fond of saying, the only answer to jiu-jitsu problems is more jiu-jitsu.

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14 responses to “Losing sucks”

  1. Meghan says :

    I still applaud you for getting out there and fighting! And you probably learned more in those 90 seconds than you will in a month of training both in what technique you need to work on as well as the mindset.

    • Your Doom says :

      Thank you and I know you are right…I’d still rather win though 🙂

      • Meghan says :

        Oh I agree 100%! But….. what I’ve learned (and posted in my latest blog post) is that it’s not an individual sport. So win or lose, you’ve got your team behind you all the time, and even when you can’t be proud they are proud of you!

  2. Leaahh says :

    I’m not a fantastic competitor yet, but I’ve gotten infinitely better over the past year. If you have some competition footage you’d like to shoot my way, I can take a look at it and give you some advice from the “competitive BJJ player” mindset, since I’m completely immersed in it every day. Or if you have any specific questions I can help answer, let me know.

    • Your Doom says :

      Thanks, I appreciate that! I don’t think anyone taped the NY Open but I will try to get someone to tape my matches this weekend. Out of curiosity when you compete do you cut a lot of weight? I’ve never really cut weight for an IBJJF tournament (or really any tournament) because you have to weigh in right before you fight and I figure I want to be hydrated but I always feel so out-muscled that I am wondering if I should consider it. I definitely want to drop a weight class next time.

      • Leaahh says :

        It depends on how my training is going, but I have cut up to 10 lbs for tournaments in the past. If you get some footage, send it my way, I’ll take a look at it.

        If you’re comfortable, you can also send me some pictures of yourself and I can let you know how easy I think it would be to cut down a weight class, and work with you on putting together a diet plan 🙂

  3. nkkny1 says :

    Sorry to hear that. I was at NY Open and lost my match as well. Will be back for the next one. What division do you fight in?

    • Your Doom says :

      I fought at middle weight in the NY Open but am going to continue to keep to a good diet so I can go down a class for the next one (I think it’s light). Which division were you in? I will probably be back in NY for no-gi pan ams. I do like the IBJJF tournaments because I know I can get matches with people my size, I am thinking of trying to do a Master’s division next time as well.

      • nkkny1 says :

        Nice! I do Middle Heavy and I’m trying to get to Middle as well since not that many girls do middle heavy. I’ll be there for no gi pan too. There’s a few girls that do Light Masters. You’ll have good competition 🙂

      • Your Doom says :

        Nice! Now I just have to stop eating junk so I can get there. After preparing for two tournaments in a row, I’ve been on quite the tear since Saturday 🙂

  4. Joy says :

    If you’d like the video, I have it. I will also attach the lovely picture Gracie Mag has of me getting armbarred at the previous NY Open (aka, this happens to everyone).

    You should drop by Marcelo’s in NYC! Wednesdays we’ll have six to eight women. And we all play very differently.

  5. Marie says :

    Also, not quite sure how I got to be “Joy”, but fixed now.

    • Your Doom says :

      I figured it was you based on the content but I did have a moment of confusion because I have a friend Joy who also trains and I was trying to think if she was at the NY Open. I would like to see the video, I might need a few drinks first though 🙂

      Also I would LOVE to come train at Marcelo’s sometime so you better have been serious because I will totally come crash!

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