Losing sucks. There’s no getting around it. Whether it’s a tournament match or a fight, when you train hard for something and come up short, it can be hard to deal with. In jiu jitsu, it’s kind of a strange thing. We tap all the time in training, but it’s no big deal. We don’t treat it as a “loss” when we tap in training. Instead, we use it as a learning experience. We ask our training partners what we could have done differently, and we grow from it. Yet for some reason, we are often very hard on ourselves if we tap out during a tournament.
Personally, I think we should treat tournament losses the same way as we treat tapping in class. Sure, more is on the line – personal ego, academy pride, money, etc. But regardless of whether or not we fall short of our expectations, we should always grow from our losses. Rather than being upset at ourselves, the refs, or our coaches, we should ask ourselves what we could have done differently – the exact same as we do during training. This way, while we might not walk away from a tournament with some new hardware hanging around our neck, at least we don’t come away empty-handed. Knowledge itself is the reward.
Also, hilariously enough, a few days ago I found a professional photo of me getting tapped out during a gi tournament about a year and a half ago. I went on to take third in that division and first in my no-gi division, but from all the matches I had that day, I learned the most from that loss.