Don’t Cry

Over the past several years I have seen a large number of children compete in Karate and Judo, and I can only remember seeing one of them cry when they lost. I have seen a smaller number of kids compete in Jiu-Jitsu, yet I’ve seen a great percentage of them cry after losing. I have seen several children cry at every Jiu-Jitsu tournament I’ve been to. At one of the competitions, my friend observed “Jiu-Jitsu kids always cry.”

Children usually aren’t allowed to train Jiu-Jitsu at our school, so I don’t have any personal experience with children who compete in it, nor am I making any judgements on whether they should or not. I just wonder why there’s such a disparity in how these children deal with losing. Why do the Karate and Judo students seem to handle it better?

I’m sure the answers to that are as varied as the children themselves, and the schools in which they train. I see a little more of a “win at all costs” attitude in some of the parents, which could be negatively affecting the children. It made me sick to my stomach one time when I heard the parents of two five year-olds who were competing say things like “Hurt him” “Just rip his arm out!” Seriously.

However, at the last State Games, I was standing next to a dad whose son was competing, and when the boy started to put an armbar on his opponent, his dad yelled “Go slow! Be careful, use control!” That was some of the best coaching I’ve ever heard. I wanted to hug that guy.

I don’t believe the answer is to give everyone gold medals so they don’t cry. I just think that children, and adults as well, should learn that losing is acceptable, and it’s nothing to cry about.

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12 comments on “Don’t Cry

  1. I'm not a crier… but Jiu-jitsu makes me cry. This is my opinion, but I will give it saying this… I've only ever trained Jiu-jitsu. I don't know what it is like to train karate. Though, I have been to more than one Judo class, so I do think I have the basic idea of how a Judo class runs.Anyhow, having said that, I will give my opinion. Jiu-jitsu makes me cry simply because of how much of myself I put into it. How hard I push myself. Emotionally and physically. I pour all of me into Jiu-jitsu. It is without question the hardest thing I have ever done. So, it makes me cry sometimes. I love it, but when it is hard, it is almost unbearably hard. If I didn't love it, I would have long since quit. You can not grapple someone and not FEEL something emotionally. At least not in my experience.I don't cry about losing in competition though, and honestly I don't mind when I lose. I am also an adult though, and I can see the bigger competition picture than a child.And like I said, this is the only martial art I have ever trained, so for all I know, karate and judo are just as demanding mentally and physically as Jiu-jitsu is.. I have no idea. So, I may sound like an idiot. But that is just my two cents. =)Very intersting topic though. I am curious to see what other people think… and to hear what you think, since you train both Karate and Jiu-jitsu.

  2. You make an excellent point, Stephanie! I guess I never really thought of it from that perspective, but having competed in all three, I would have to say that competing in Jiu-Jitsu is a much more visceral, emotional, and personal experience for sure. I imagine it's probably even more so for a child. I know what it's like to try so hard, but still come up short, and it has made me cry (but at least not until after I got home :) But I also cried at home after my last Karate loss, so maybe that's just me, lol. I just really hate seeing kids cry, I'm soft like that. If it wasn't for my husband, my daughter would be horribly spoiled!Anyway, thanks for your two cents, they're pretty darn valuable ;)

  3. My opinion is that tapping or submitting is a totally different thing than being beaten with points. The kids are being forced to give up or chose to not continue or obviously get hurt. To me this makes it more serious than Karate or (Taekwondo in my case) where I often felt like "Yeah he beat me on points but things would be different if we were in a real fight." To me those competitions are more of a game because of the limitations of the rules. I've never competed in Judo before but I think that it's probably different to get Ipponed or win by points. I don't think it's too submission heavy from what I've heard.Just my thoughts.

  4. I've coached kids at tournaments and I've seen them cry. They've cried because they were upset that they may not have done as well as they'd hoped. One little boy thought his Dad would be mad at him, the Dad wasn't at all.I've seen kids cry because they were overwhelmed by the intensity their opponent brought.They've cried because they were hurt.But, all those reasons are reasons an adult might cry too. They're just young enough to not have built barriers of polite society. The crying is honest. Competing is tough and they're incredibly brave to get out there and do it.

  5. You do see less submissions in Judo, and a lot of them are off-limits to children anyway.However, I have seen children in Jiu-Jitsu cry over losing by points, as well as by submission.

  6. I've seen a few kids cry at Judo tournaments. One kid used to cry after losing for several years until she got a bit older.Kids are not allowed any submissions in Judo until they're 13 and then only chokes. At 16 they can do arm-bars. Jiu-jitsu is more intense. It's easier to get hurt, and a lot of kids don't have the experience yet to know the difference between mild pain and serious pain. They cry if they skin knees.

  7. After thinking about it some more, I believe that intensity is what really makes the difference. I think the Jiu-Jitsu kids, on average, might be putting more into it (and putting more on the line) so it makes sense that they would also feel more at the end.Thanks everyone for weighing in on this!

  8. sounds like there may be a bit of "Jiu Jitsu" bias by saying Jiu Jitsu kids put more into it.I think different factors play into it. Certainly being invested in what you are doing and dealing with the emotions is trickyThe level of formality can make a difference, the more formal the training, the easier it can be to deal with defeat ( because you still need to be formal )How similar normal training is to competition. How often they compete etc.of course, because you have a biased audience, no ones suggesting Jiu Jitsu kids / people are just big wussys compared to other martial arts ;-)

  9. I have also considered that the formality of training may factor into it. Our Karate kids are taught to control their emotions, good or bad, when they compete. However, I do believe that might be harder to do with a more "touchy-feely" art like grappling-based Jiu-Jitsu, especially for children. When I said JJ kids "put more into it", I meant more physically when they compete. Competing in the other arts is usually less demanding that way, partially because the matches are shorter. I have seen Karate kids put their heart and soul into their sparring, and their kata, so I didn't mean to imply they don't try as hard, or give as much. But I think the Jiu-Jitsu-biased audience might think that Karate kids are the wusses, because they are just "playing a game of tag" ;)I commend everyone, adult or child, who has the guts to get out there and put themselves on the line by competing. Whether it be in Karate, Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Soccer, Hockey, or a Spelling Bee, it's hard work. Sometimes I just wish that the winners weren't the only ones smiling, because every one of them should be proud.

  10. I think this turned into a pretty good discussion. I like what Keith said.Considering the popularity of MMA, it seems like fathers may be putting more pressure on their kids to be good at Jiu-Jitsu. Maybe they feel like they understand it better than the parents that I usually saw at Taekwondo tournaments. When they understand it better they can help "coach" and then the fear of disappointing your father may be more prevalent.At the state games it seemed like there were a lot of teams that were trying to intimidate other competitors. This could carry down to the kid students.The composure thing makes sense too. Before we went to tournaments when I was a kid we would go over things like how to stand up run out address the judges when it was time to do your form. We went over how to act if your opponent was hurt during your match, and other similar stuff. Maybe this is missing from kid's Jiu-Jitsu classes. I'm not sure.

  11. Well I have an awful lot of experience in this one. I have been teaching our kid's program for over two years now, and we compete in almost every tournament that comes our way.You are correct there is a lot of crying at kids BJJ tournaments. Around here the tournaments themselves are pretty big, and I think that may have something to do with it. Yet there is a definite difference in watching an adult tournament versus a kids tournament.There is a lot more emotion in general in kids BJJ tournaments. In every single match the kids will go out and dump it all on the mats. The crowds are usually bigger, most kids bring their entire family, grandma and grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Now multiply that by a couple hundred competitors. The crowds can be pretty loud, and the places are normally packed. Then there is the competitors themselves. I have been to so many of kids tourneys over the years that I can categorize them in two types. There are the kids that are scared, and the kids that scare other kids. At that level it is easy to see who is passive and who is aggressive, kids generally do not hids their feelings to well.Sure you have your parents who live vicariously through their kids, but I think that is true in any sport. For the most part, I think the kids cry because they are kids. Fortunately for our team we have spent a tremendous amount of time coaching that out of them. We want them to do good, but we want them to have fun at the same time. When our team goes to compete we rarely have a cryer anymore, they are pretty professional at competitions.Up here the refs never let a submission go that long before they tap a kid out. They say that child safety is the number one priority at every tournament. To a kid being tapped out or losing on points means that they lost, and they know it. As I mentioned earlier, they don't hide their emotions lime adults do. I think it simply comes down to a kid being a kid, and doing a very physical activity in front of a large crowd that is loud. I don't have any experience in the karate or judo tournament scene, but in BJJ that is my observations. Excellent post.

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