Processing Failure: Why Losing 22-0 Today Wasn’t So Bad

I competed in a BJJ competition today. It was my first time competing as a blue belt, and I didn’t just lose.

I got demolished; 22 points to 0 (which in BJJ, is a lot).

Courtesy my Smoothcomp profile.

There’s plenty of excuses I could make to lighten the blow; after all, the guy I fought has been training for more than twice as long; I was feeling a bit off today; and I prefer submission only formats to points based competitions.

But none of that changes the outcome, nor does it prepare me for my next competition.

Those excuses are all null and void because I signed up for this. I invited the possibility of this failure when I registered to compete.

Now that I have the failure, I have three choices:

I could quit. Decide that it’s all too much and I’d rather not expose myself to this failure again.

I could suppress it, forget it and move on. This way I get to continue training and competing without thinking or talking about the failure.

Or, I could embrace it; analyse the loss, accept that today I wasn’t good enough, and figure out how to close the gap.

Losing stings. It’s supposed to sting, and we should embrace it.

Accepting failure isn’t enough. Our actions after failure often define us more than the actions we took which led to the failing.

I could have won today despite all my excuses. I could have been better prepared, and I could have fought smarter and harder.

It’s okay that I failed, but it’s not okay to move on until I’ve turned that failure into progress.

With a loss that rough, I might be processing a while. But I didn’t get injured, I didn’t get submitted, and I know where I need to work.

When you love what you do, doing the work is the fun part.

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