I hate competing, in whatever facet the competition is. Whether it is a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu event, a USPSA pistol match, a local two or three gun event, or anything where I can publicly lose, I hate them all.
I have no issue with anything about it technically or philosophically mind you. I don’t think it leads to bad habits, or gives you training scars, or makes you a thuggish meathead. To the contrary, on all those points – I think those are all low percentage things that will only happen when we are lazy. So why do I personally hate competing?
Because it scares me to death, every single time I do it!
I know that may sound odd, considering that I compete fairly regularly. In fact, as I write this, I am five days past participating in the BJJ Pan-American Championships. And not only did I compete; I took home a silver medal where I was particularly proud of my performance in my first match (where I controlled and dictated everything that happened in the match).
And in all truth, I was a nervous wreck right up to the moment I walked towards the mat for the first match. The previous hour or so spent in the warm up area, waiting for the call up was hell on me emotionally and mentally. As was the day or two prior as I started to realize my time was coming. And even after doing this for years (my first BJJ competition was 1996), it was about as tough as the first time I ever competed. I truly believe that it may very well always be like this, no matter how much I participate in these tournaments.
I spend the vast majority of that time in the run up to a match at mental war with myself. “Hey, just leave. No one will miss you.” “You are hurt. That knee/wrist/elbow/shoulder/back thingy is bad and you should not push yourself this way.” “What do you have to prove?” “What if you get hurt?” “You are in L.A.! There are so many more fun things to do. Let’s go to Curry House or Pinks and pig out!” And on, and on, and on. Those kind of thoughts are a constant train running through my brain. Torture. Just plain torture.
So, having said all that – how it pains me so much, and how flat out scared I am – why then do I continue to do it? As a matter of fact, just last night I was looking into how soon I could repeat the process and was thinking about going to the Las Vegas Open in May.
Why put myself through all that? The answer is simple. I do it BECAUSE I am scared!
Here is my thought process. If I am so disturbed –physically, mentally, and emotionally, no matter what, but I am still able to go out and perform to some degree, then how can I consider that anything but an overwhelming win? Does not that indicate some form of fighting mindset? Or a triumph of will? George Patton said “Courage is fear holding on a minute longer”. And shouldn’t that sort of thing be practiced, the same way we practice a throw, or a draw stroke, or a weight-lifting movement?
If the ability to fight through all the negatives is a skill we need to work, then we should not shirk as many opportunities as we can to do so. That is how I base my choice to compete.
Now, I am not suggesting that competing is the only way to do this. Nor am I saying it is mandatory. For me, though, it is. Even if I am close to peeing myself waiting to have my name called………..