July 24

Sorry I lost…


Anybody that is involved with combat competition has either heard
this before or told this to somebody… and it is pure bullshit.
Nothing frustrates me more than when a fighter steps into the cage
and misinterprets his/her loss for complete failure. I don’t blame
them, I have been the victim of these misplaced feelings myself…
but I was fortunate to have a good coach that picked me up and
reframed my mindset so I was able to grow from the experience and
become a champion. So what did my coach tell me and what did I do?
Let me share with you my perspective on losing.

First of all, there is a difference between losing and being a
loser. There is a difference between temporary failure and
complete failure. Nobody ever achieves success in a linear
straight path of victories… NOBODY. For instance, most people
think the path to becoming black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu looks
like the diagram below:

White Belt ==> Blue Belt ==> Purple Belt ==> Brown Belt ==> Black Belt

But that is WRONG!!! The path looks more like the diagram below:

Being a success in martial arts is just like being a success in any
other field…

The path to success is full of obstacles that are going to pop up
along the way… it’s never going to be a straight predictable path!
The reason most people aren’t successful is because the first time
they take a step backwards – they quit! The ones who are
successful are the ones who stay on the path – no matter how
squiggly the path line is! They go backwards, forwards, sideways,
in circles, etc. until they get to their goal. Successful people stay
the course!

Everybody at some point is going to lose… it is part of the
journey to success. However, many of us take these loses wrong and
end up feeling like a loser.

Famous American inventor, Thomas Edison, when trying to invent the
light bulb, had encountered plenty of failures along the way… it
was reported that it took him about 10,000 attempts to invent the
light bulb! When he had approached the 9,000 mark, he was asked if
he felt like a failure with his endeavor to invent an electric
light source, and his response was, “”Young man, why would I feel
like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know
definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not
work. Success is almost in my grasp!”

This is a very powerful quote from a proven champion of life… and
understand that this isn’t a word game – this is his actual
perspective on life. For instance, if you have lost five fights in
a row… you didn’t fail five times – you learned five ways to not
win a fight! Sounds funny but the fact is that one most usually
learns much more from defeat than from victory. For instance,
let’s say you have poor takedown defense but have won all of your
fights versus kickboxers who have not tried to take you down… you
might not make any adjustments to your takedown defense; however,
if you fought a strong wrestler in your first fight and he took you
down ten times in the fight – I bet you would get to work
immediately on your takedown defense…

So if your first five fights were versus bums that had no training
and you managed to KO them within sixty seconds without getting hit
once… or you had a single match that you lost by being taken down
ten times… which taught you more? The five wins or the single
loss? For that reason, you should be GRATEFUL for your losses! If
your goal is to become world champion, you need to seek perfection,
and our losses bring up our weak spots that need reinforcing. Our
losses are literally tests. We want the test results – we don’t
want to be walking around with defects!

When I lost my first eleven matches in a row, my coach kept telling
me, “It’s OK Marcos, you got to pay your dues…” This is the
truth! The greater the barrier of entry – the sweeter the reward.
Why is this? Because the harder it is to become successful in a
field, the less people that are willing to go through it – which
means that when you bust through that threshold, there will be more
rewards with less people to share it with!

Most people are not willing to pay the price to become a champion –
which is why there can only be one. Most people fall off like
ticks on a dog along the way. If you want to be a champion, you
will have to “pay your dues” which is the pains of temporary

Now these losses that happen along the way aren’t just “paying your
dues” but also a motivational force that makes you better!
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Wallid Ismael, famous for being the
only man to have ever finished UFC legend Royce Gracie by
submission, said, “Losing weakens the weak and strengthens the
strong…” This single quote drastically affected my perspective
on losing!

Think about it… the weak lose and start questioning themselves…
“I suck… maybe I’m too old… I don’t have enough time to
dedicate to this… I’ve gotten worse over the years… I need a
break from training for a bit…” while the strong get more
determined to never lose again and head back to the gym the next
day more pumped up and eager to train and overcome that temporary
defeat. While they are hitting the bags or drilling their
takedowns, they remind themselves of the moment they let victory
slip, and it only energizes them to push harder and harder. You
need to decide if you are going to be weak or strong. It is that

I remember that when I was wrestling, there were times when a
wrestler would lose that he would get off the mat and throw a
temper tantrum… yelling, kicking the lockers, punching the walls,
etc. My coach, Tirso Valls, would storm in and always say the same
thing, “STOP wasting that precious energy! Save it for training!”

He was so darn right! If you start yelling, kicking things, etc.,
you are letting the energy out! It is best to sit down and bottle
it in. Rechannel the frustration into determination… and either
let it out that night in a run or save it for the next day’s
training session and take it out on the bags or in your drilling.
I have seen losses completely transform an athlete’s work ethic and
take them into new levels as a fighter… they were strong… but
I’ve also seen single losses destroy a fighter early in their
career… they were weak. Life favors the bold and strong – make
it happen!


bjj, brazilian jiu jitsu, mixed martial arts, mma

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