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 Loosing for Winning



The goal of training is to get better. The goal of tournaments is to win. The goal of real fights is ... perhaps another time. These are clearly simplifications. Nevertheless, it follows that during tournaments one does everything (of course not everything) in order to win or at least not to loose. That includes avoiding experiments, doing what one can do best, what is most secure and promising success.


This approach becomes questionable when being transfered to regular training. Doing all exercises with a competition attitude obstructs opportunities for making progress and exploring new territory. There is an alternative: modifying proven techniques, trying new ones, different combinations, different tactics, taking risks and accepting failure.


During the learning process one will inevitably perform worse than before, e.g., being slower, weaker, and loosing sparring fights. It also means loosing against people over which one could prevail if just sticking to one's field-tested tools.


This does not mean to neglect one's favourite techniques. As often happens, it is the exclusiveness which turns out to be detrimental.


Such considerations do not only hold for free sparring but for any kind of kumite training. Things can be made comfortable, e.g., by attacking at unrealistic short distances or by defending at unrealistic long ones, by always moving back if having problems stepping to the side, by using arm techniques if the leg techniques are less elaborate.


Making things easy guarantees short moments of success. Taking challenges entails failure, loosing, getting hit, being slow, and much more. But in the long run, the training effect will be greater regarding dynamics, speed, acceleration, timing, reaction time, and, last but not least, diversity.    


The above said is also relevant to exercises without direct feedback from another person, as in kihon. There are many possibilities to avoid useful efforts, e.g., especially comfortable stances, short-cutting moves, omitting combination parts, and feigning speed. 


Often it boils down to the choice between two options: Either getting short term feelings of success and ego satisfaction but hindering substantial progress. Or getting better in the long run and, up to then, enduring physical and mental setbacks. It means becoming a beginner again, with all consequences.  


Of course, it is unpleasant to loose, worse to loose in spite of being able to win, worse still to loose against somebody with a lower rank, and much more worse being watched at that moment.  


But sometimes one has to loose in order to win.


2006 TDI