Martial arts is a competitive sport, so winning and losing can become important – especially if you have a big ego.
Winning is nice. It is an affirmation that you are doing things well.
Losing is okay. It lets you know that you need to make adjustments in your game.
They both have their place, but when your ego gets involved, it puts the blinders on and focuses purely on winning. It can make you fearful of losing, and start playing conservatively. Or, your ego just sees you at a certain position on the totem pole that requires you to beat x, y, and z to maintain your “status” at your academy. Sometimes you just get hooked on “winning” and don’t care about anything else.
What’s the problem with this?
When you are focused on only winning, you will naturally play your “A-Game” – your best techniques and strategies. This is great for competition and self defense scenarios, but not for growth.
Why? When you play your A-Game, you will not learn as much when sparring – especially if you have a lot of experience playing it. It is a game of diminishing returns. So the more time you spend using your A-Game, the less you will learn from it.
As a martial artist, our goal is to be prepared for any situation in combat. But when we play only one type of strategy, we are not working on rounding out our game. As a result, opponents will start to figure out the holes in your game and exploit them over time. You can see it in the fight world, where people who are once unbeatable get a hole exposed and then suddenly take a big fall.
The greats of our sport are always working on new skills, and evolving. That is why being a champion is hard. Everyone is studying you and trying to figure out how to beat you. The longer you are champ, the more they have to study. This is why evolving is very important. It keeps your opponents chasing the “new you” as you evolve. So they are always a step behind, as they can’t know whats changed until after the fight (unless they have a spy in your gym, which happens lol).
TLDR; The goal of training martial arts is to improve your ability to defend yourself from as many scenarios as possible. The bigger the improvement, the better the training. So if you have been using the same strategy for awhile and making it work well, switch to a new strategy. You will probably lose a lot initially, but eventually you will develop proficiency and fill that hole in your game and in the process you will learn a lot more.
So do not be afraid of losing, especially in training. In competition or self defense, use your A-game. But in training, allow yourself to use different strategies, techniques, and positions. It will make you a more well rounded martial artist.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?
Comment with your take on this.