Thursday, December 7, 2006

Win-Loss Records

Lately I've run into a lot of people that seem to be keeping track of these numbers and I think it's really putting way too much importance on the the wrong thing and in fact, it's holding back their progress in jiu-jitsu. Win-Loss records may be okay for team sports or something like boxing or MMA where you have consistent weight classes and specific categories (like a professional record versus an amateur record, heavyweight, welterweight, lightweight, etc.). In jiu-jitsu (and I mean both BJJ and Submission Grappling), there are different levels...belt colors or experience levels. There are different weight classes in BJJ and Sub Grappling and even different weight classes from tournament to tournament. There are also somewhat random "professional" weight divisions like (for women) over and under 132 or 140 and (for men) over and under 160 or 180 but it's always different. So in these cases you're actually comparing apples and oranges.
Let's say you win a match at your weight and experience level. How does that compare to losing in an over 160 Professional division where you were 175 and the guy you lost to was 220? How can those be equally compared?
If it's about winning, then why not stay a white belt forever and be the best white belt on earth? (I know, some of you will say that you wish you could be a white belt forever...)
When you get promoted, it generally puts you at (or closer) to the bottom of the next higher level. So you just went from the top of one level to the bottom of the next. So, let's say you've been a blue belt for 6 months and you lose to someone who's been a blue belt for 2 or 3 years and is about to get his purple. Is that loss worse than winning against a brand new white belt? Would you rather just keep beating up all the white belts because you don't want to lose to a blue belt?
If you really want to improve your game, the biggest improvements come from competing and losing. Of course I'm not saying to go out and try to lose. For God's sakes, no one WANTS to lose, but it happens. The good news is that this is where you have the opportunity to learn the most. If you have ever wondered what part of your game you should be working on or what the weakest part of your game is (these would generally be the same thing) I suggest you enter a tournament. A loss will tell you EXACTLY what you need to improve. A win will tell you that what you are doing, for now, is working and you're on the right track.
Competitions are a testing ground. It is not about your win/loss numbers.
Everybody has lost. All of the greatest competitors have lost. And all losses are not equal...except in that they are all valuable and so much can be learned from each one.

As I always say and will say again and again...just work on getting better at jiu-jitsu. Just try to keep improving. The rest will come.


Kei said...

...And the same principle applies to succeeding in life.

Keep trying and trying...

Fall 7 times, get back up at the 8th time and move on!

You've proven so. :)

Jimmy said...

I think you want me to lose.

Also, I would love to be a white belt for life.

M said...

Thanks, I needed that...

Didn't compete yesterday, but will get ready for the next one.

2Old said...

Thanks for offering a different perspective.

As a newbie, I've started to think about tournaments. The concept seems really scary, though I haven't read anyone talking about this aspect - it's a pretty macho "domain of discourse."

Rolling in class is ALREADY pretty hard and aggressive, but as fellow student, we have to see each other at the next class and the instructor is there to watch out for us. No one really WANTS to hurt a classmate.

So I can only imagine what it must be like to roll against an amped up opponent you've never seen before who doesn't care if they hurt you where the only safety is provided by a referee you don't know, whose qualifications might be uncertain.

It made me think I really don't want to go to a tournament alone after all, anonymously to just try one out - I'd rather have some people in my corner (gets pretty territorial fast, huh).*

Forget about learning from the tournament sparring. How the heck do you deal with pre-fight stress?


It would be very hard for me to go to my instructor to tell him I just want to roll in the next tournament just for the heck of it to see what I'm doing wrong in class (could I even use the "l" word - "lose" - in front of him?).

But these are the reasons I will probably go. To learn how to walk onto the mat without having first puked in the bathrooms, and how to sleep the night before, at least some. To keep from getting so wired from adrenaline even before my match, that even my warmup burns me out. To keep my wits around me those first moments. To endure through the whole match. To capitalize on opportunities.

And, finally, to win the next tournatment. ;-)

[*Desmond Morris, "The Naked Ape"]