Monday, October 20th, 2014 at
In the book “The Mental Edge,” author Kenneth Baum lists what he calls perception stretchers, short phrases intended to help an individual maintain perspective before and during a competition. One of them is: “Getting better is more important than winning.”
This concept can be very beneficial for a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) competitor who tends to put too much pressure on him or herself before a match. It can also help an individual who takes losses very hard. It’s critical that the athlete enjoys the process- the process of learning and competing, not just winning.
On the other hand, there is no substitute for winning, and nothing boosts confidence like getting your hand raised after a grueling battle on the mats. So is winning ever more important than getting better? If so, when?
While winning at an early age is important, enjoying the process is too.
Here is one suggestion: Decide which tournaments are most important to you- those are the ones where the only thing that matters is winning. For example, the Pan American or World Championships. Smaller tournaments leading up to those are more like scrimmages- of course you’re still trying to win, but you’re working on specific techniques or strategies that may not be your specialty.
As we all know, losing has it’s benefits as well. In fact, some of the greatest fighters of all time lost early on. Legendary boxer Bernard Hopkins lost his very first pro bout, while MMA superstar Anderson Silva lost his third pro fight. Both went on to become multiple time world champions.
If you’re not a competitor, pick days on which your training will be geared towards using your best techniques to win each round, and days where you are working only on your weaknesses. Recreational BJJ practitioners need to accurately evaluate both their strengths and weaknesses on a regular basis just as much as anyone else.
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