Home > Judo > On the sidelines.

On the sidelines.

Today, I went to watch my friends compete at a judo tournament. It’s a tournament that I’ve competed in before, but I decided to sit out this year. Those reasons are not important now; what I do want to talk about is what I saw today.

Overall, it was not a triumphant day for my buddies. My one teammate learned this morning that she was the only person in her division; therefore, she had no one to fight. That kind of disappointment is hard to temper. Yes, we all put our bodies through a lot when we train for judo, but it’s such a mental game. Getting in the right mindset to compete takes a lot of work. You have to talk yourself out of doubts, visualize what you want to do, keep your confidence strong, and stay relaxed. So if you show up and you find out you don’t even get a chance to test yourself, it’s devastating. And beyond aggravating.

For my other buddies, there were no gold medals, which is typically what we aim for when we compete. Even if we don’t think we have a realistic chance in our division, there’s a voice in the back of our minds that still imagines something big, something surprising coming from us. My buddies won some matches, but they also lost some, too. No matter the conditions under which you lose, it’s sucks. There’s a balance you have to strike in your self-analysis–to be critically reflective without punishing yourself. It’s a matter of practicing patience with oneself and partializing what you can learn from your mistakes.

I’m proud to say that I think my buddies succeeded in this balance today. No one punched a wall (which I’ve seen), or cursed on the mat (which I’ve also seen), or stormed off to be alone to sulk (which I’ve done). I saw my buddies take hard looks at themselves and accept where they are. I have the utmost confidence that when they return to practice this week, they will be more motivated to improve than they were last week. And I have to say, even though I was on the side lines today, I feel inspired by friends’ ability to challenge themselves and face the outcome.

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