As you grow as a martial artist, you might decide you want to test your skills in a competitive setting. It is a good way to test your technique against people who you have never sparred with and it often exposes holes in your game that you never knew were there.
Tournaments are equally beneficial to those who plan to compete at the highest levels and those who are simply trying to grow as martial artists.
Since only one competitor emerges victorious, there is a rather good chance that you will eventually lose a match during one of these tournaments. It can lead to feelings of disappointment, and it can even lead to you questioning your competency.
Here are 5 ways to deal with a loss during a martial arts competition.
1) Keep things in perspective
It’s all about perspective when dealing with a loss. The truth is: winning and losing is out of our control. That is one of the reasons why professional martial artists can be so calm while competing. They are not focused on the outcome as much as you think, they know that is out of their control. Instead, they focus on performing to the best of their abilities.
Just imagine you entered a martial arts tournament and your entire division was filled with weak competitors. You could easily defeat them all and win first place. Now, imagine you were in a division that was stacked with great martial artists, you could perform way better than you did during the previous tournament and still get eliminated in the first round. To add to the irony, losing to highly skilled competition would be more beneficial to you as a martial artist. The highly-skilled opponent would likely exploit some weaknesses you were not even aware of. The person might use techniques that you don’t know how to defend against. The things you need to work on are often obvious after facing a talented opponent.
Worry less about the outcome of each match and focus more on performing to the best of your abilities. You will learn a lot about yourself during each match.
2) Work on the things that cost you the match
Self-awareness is one of those things that separate great martial artists from average ones. One of the things you should do after losing a match is to write down the things you felt you did poorly as well as what you are happy about.
Did you have a hard time passing guard? Or did you fail to use feints to disguise your strikes like your instructor probably told you to do?
There’s no point wallowing in disappointment after a loss, instead work on the things you struggled with and make sure you have all those holes closed up by the time you enter another tournament.
3) Get back to training
Getting back to the martial arts gym as soon as you can helps to get over the negative feelings associated with losing. It allows you to immediately begin to work on the things that you struggled with during your matches.
Simply knowing that you have put in the work and worked on these weaknesses will give you a confidence boost during your next competition. You never know when you might run into the person who defeated you in another tournament so you might get to test your improved game against him/her in the future.
If you have worked on things that you struggled with during the earlier match, there is a good chance you will be the one who emerges victorious the next time you two meet on the mat.
4) Remember you still have your friends and instructors
Your instructors and training partners will still be there for you even if you lose a fight. Any friends who stop associating with you simply because you lost during a martial arts competition was never really a friend, to begin with.
Take advantage of the huge family that you have around you and talk to your training partners and coaches about your feelings. Most of them have already had to deal with losses and they will give you the proper perspective.
5) Keep competing
One thing you never want to do after losing at a tournament is to give up on your goals and dreams. While the feelings of disappointment can eat away at your passion, you should never let it discourage you from competing.
Make it a point to sign up for another tournament once you feel you have closed up the holes that led to your loss. Competing once again will remind you that it is simply an opportunity to grow as a martial artist.
When it comes to martial art, losing is virtually unavoidable. It is something that happens to even the best martial artists that have ever lived. Undefeated fighters like Floyd Mayweather are extremely rare at the highest levels of martial arts competition. Yet, even Mayweather is not really undefeated. He had to lose countless sparring sessions to become as good as he is.
It’s like trying to become a BJJ black belt without ever getting tapped out. Martial arts simply do not work like that. It’s often the losses that teach you the most valuable lessons. It’s the losses that make you reevaluate your techniques and overall fitness.
Never let a loss put you in a funk. Think of a competition as a glorified sparring session. Handle a loss just like you would in the gym, let it roll right over your back. It isn’t a big deal.
Instead, work on your known weaknesses and try to become a better version of yourself. A version the person that defeated you would likely struggle against if you got a second opportunity to face them.