I sometimes use the words “win” and “lose” when I’m talking about BJJ class, but it’s just for convenience, because I don’t think winning or losing is something we actually do during training. No one is ever going to raise your hand in victory, or give you a medal or trophy for tapping someone out during class, and you won’t be standing on top of a podium at the end. If you and your training partners were in an actual competition, it might not turn out the same way, and that’s assuming you would even being competing against each other at all, because there’s a good chance you wouldn’t be in the same division.
Recently a blogger at The Worthwhile Struggle wrote that his instructor is fond of saying “Learning is more important than winning.”, and I think it’s something everyone should remember when we’re training, because always focusing on winning can actually impede the learning process. For example, when we’re doing positional sparring at the end of class, we’re supposed to attempt the techniques we practiced that day, but instead of doing that, people will sometimes just play their “A game”, and I’m guessing it’s because they want to win more than they want to learn. Since I’m smaller, weaker, and older than most of my training partners, I’m a good person to take chances on, so when people just try to beat me with their best techniques, instead of attempting something new, I think they’re missing out on an ideal learning opportunity.
Even though I know everyone is expecting it, during positional grappling I do try to get the techniques we practiced that day (because that’s what The Professor wants!), but I typically fail, and while I am aware that many of my partners are going to attempt the same things on me, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be able to stop them. I might not always be successful, but when I’m in class, I don’t win or lose, because I’m not competing or fighting, I’m training, and the whole point of it is to learn.
“Yeah, you can’t front on that.” -Beastie Boys