Swallowing a loss is no easy task. Going into a situation knowing that you did your absolute best and prepared in any way that you possibly could have and still came up short, well that’s another story altogether. Sometimes there are situations where you know that you could have tried harder or done more, but when a situation is out-of-control it brings with it a whole different element of thought.
After months of training hard and focusing all my energy on the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Championships, I came up short last weekend. In the quarterfinals of the tournament I ended up losing a very close match. This match was in a way controversial because I felt that the referee was not awarding me the points that I had earned. In fact, our offense was just about the same if not me scoring more than my opponent. The referee however, had seen it in a different way and probably cost me the match.
The frustration that I feel is definitely real and definitely intense. Losing a match to a much better opponent is sometimes easier to cope with than losing a very close match to somebody that I very well may have been better than. This all just tells me that while I did everything that I could, there are some variables that are just out of my hands. The only thing I can do is take this loss and go back to the drawing board with it. I enjoyed my time in California and Las Vegas, ate some of my favorite foods that I have missed, and had an opportunity to train with some old teammates. While I have been enjoying myself and giving my mind a break from competition, I have still been working my body hard. All I can do is push myself and all I can do is strive to get better. In this competitive field where everybody is literally out to get each other; drive, dedication, and desire Needs to be in the right place not for just a season but for the long-haul. Success in the game of life after all is not a sprint but a marathon.
I get used to the soreness. I get used to being tired. I get used to showing
up at classes way more often than the average guy. The goal becomes all I can
see, the stakes too high. I’m comfortable with that.
There’s other things I’m used to that come along with the lifestyle. Byproducts
of the competition scene is really what they are. The training ends, and then
the trial becomes the traveling. Scouring websites like Priceline.com fighting
for the best prices for flights, rental cars, and hotel rooms is first. Then
comes trying to find a ride to the airport. Surprisingly, this is tedious after
a time. Anybody who thinks “no problem, my buddy will give me a ride”, hasn’t
flown to Las Vegas 10 times in one year. It gets tougher.
Turbulence, jet lag, poor eating habits, lack of sleep, rental cars, and getting lost due to faulty GPS directions are all just part of the grind. Sometimes the hardest part of the trip is getting to the hotel, getting settled in, and getting adequate sleep. The battle with the nerves we face is one that can go on for days, even weeks. Sometimes the last thing we can think about is our actual fight. Life on the road can get crazy at the times, but at the end of the day its all about the experience!
Any sport or physical activity brings with it it’s physical consequences.
Especially in combat sports, where the objective is to inflict bodily harm (to a
certain degree), accidents happen. In a sport where the objective is to grab a
hold of your opponent and force him to submit by choking him unconscious or
applying a series of joint locks attacking primarily the elbows, wrists, or
shoulders, there will surely be injuries. And let’s not even get into leg locks!
Jiu Jitsu is known as the gentle art or “arte suave” in Brazil. A smooth,
flowing series of transitional movements that land a practitioner in dominant
position or submission, this grappling art can be beautiful to the eye and
surprisingly harmless to the body. For the most part, a skilled practitioner
can see (like in a game of chess) when they are in danger moves ahead. This
allows for the individual to prepare and defend, or promptly tap out. There are
always instances though, when this doesn’t happen. Especially in competition
when athletes are pushing themselves to the limit and trying to power out of
holds that they know they are caught in.
There will always be injuries in sports. The key is to find a way to push
through them. Sometimes pushing through means tape it up and keep on going.
Sometimes pushing through means having the strength to admit when you need a
break. In preparation for a major fight, there will always be at least a minor
injury to work through. It is said that nobody goes into a fight at 100%. Even
so, it’s important to be smart, and sometimes have a back up plan to go to when
injured. If all an injured athlete does when injured is sit around waiting to
get back to training, days will feel like years, and the time off will be ill
spent. In a fight, just like in life, versatility is an important key to
Getting ready for the biggest tournament of the year, can be hard on you. The
usual volume and intensity of training is turned up a few notches, and the
mindset changes completely. In hot pursuit of a world championship, you
sometimes forgo normal human feelings. Basic needs like food, water, rest,
relaxation, and socializing go by the wayside as the only thought becomes
It can sometimes be an amazing thing how much the mind shuts out when there is a
goal at hand. At times like this, the tunnel vision takes over and the fight
becomes all I can think about. When this happens, it becomes a major task to
focus on other priorities, school included. The mental and physical draining
process becomes so taxing that even when I’m applying myself to a task, I don’t
notice the decline in my abilities to accomplish what needs to be accomplished.
Exhaustion takes over, and takes over completely.
So now the question arises, “what’s to be done about this”? I’m beginning to
think that the problem with the mental chaos that comes along with preparing for
a major event is fixable with meditation. Clearing the mind and establishing a
pattern of relaxation can only help me regain mental focus. Just like anything
else, if this is a goal I set out to achieve, there will be a way to accomplish
it. If all goes well, I will be starting a yoga program upon my return from the
west coast, and I should hope to see my mental clarity return in no time at all.