WIN/LOSE, WIN/WIN, OR LOSE/WIN

3 02 2010

I believe there are three general mindsets when training jiu jitsu, win/win, win/lose, and lose/win. Which mindset is the best? Ultimately that depends on you because everybody’s path in jiu jitsu unique. The following is my explanations of different mindsets and my opinions on what I see to be the best way to progress your game in jiu jitsu.

Rolling with a win/lose mindset is what I see the most of in jiu jitsu enthusiasts that I have come across. Win/lose is apart of our society.  It is a paradigm that has been ingrained in all of us since we were little. The win/lose concept is simply put; I win you lose. This type of mindset is one that is great for competition because that’s what happens; someone wins and someone loses. This is a natural part of life, just like living and dying. In terms of jiu jitsu though I think this mindset is the one that is used too often. For example jiu jitsu enthusiasts roll and train together and try to beat each other to gain recognition from their professor or instructor. (A very basic and primitive example I know but still you can’t deny it exists) No one wants to let their professor down so they try their best to beat their training partner. In this case winning or progressing is done at the expense of your training partner. If you are a guy that keeps a tally of who you have tapped or have tapped to then you my friend are definitely rolling with a win/lose mindset. (When training does it matter really who taps who?) I don’t have a problem with this type of training I just believe that there is a time and place. (Meaning when preparing for a competition) Everyone’s Jiu Jitsu path is an interdependent reality. Meaning the results you want (black belt, world champion) depend on the cooperation between you and your training partners. How much knowledge can truly be gained by trying to defeat your training partners all the time?  Also training with a win/lose mindset often times are where most of your injuries occur. Now before I move on I want to make it clear that I believe that this type of training is a must. Not just in order to be prepared to compete but also to learn. I know for fact that it is important to lose. You have to know what it felt like to be submitted or dominated. Hence also teaching you how to not let that happen again. It is much harder though to remember to learn while losing. It takes maturation within oneself in order for to gain the most out of your training with a  win/lose mentality.

Rolling with win/win is a frame of mind that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all rolling scenarios. Win/win means that tapping or submitting, dominating or being submissive are mutually beneficial and satisfying. Now I’m not saying let someone dominate you or let someone tap you, no. I am saying flow with your partner. Begin to develop sensitivity that otherwise would not develop. Don’t fight things to the death. For example if you catch your partner in an armbar and he defends; instead of trying with all your might to finish him transition to the next option. Rolling like this requires a certain amount of fluidity. Try to be like water. In a win/win roll there should be an ebb and flow to your roll having many different positions and transitions. If a submission occurs it should be one in which you fall into or pull off with ease. With a win/win roll both training partners feel good about their training/ progression and look forward to future rolls. This type of training I would call cooperative training.  It is leaving behind the concepts of strong or weak, greater than or lesser than, win or lose. Cooperative rolling is based on a principle that there is plenty for everybody. Success or progression in jiu jitsu is not achieved at someone else’s expense. Cooperative training like this is a very difficult thing to achieve because of the win/lose paradigm that is in all of us. Maybe you could call it pride or whatever but it is there. For everyone’s ultimate progression in jiu jitsu I believe the win/win mindset to be the most efficient way for developing your game as a jiu jitsu player. This statement is supported by the belief that everyone’s jiu jitsu path is an interdependent reality depending on the ability of you and your training partners to have cooperative rolls. If yours and my development in jiu jitsu depend on each other; than to me two winning partners is better than one winner and one loser.

Rolling with a lose/win frame of mind is usually how I try to roll 50% of the time with most of my students. (STUDENTS) I try to lose a little so that my students can win in: positions, transitions or even submissions. This way they can experience some sort of success in their technique. Hence hopefully begin to progress and gain confidence in their jiu jitsu game. I think that good instructors all do this to a certain extent. Now the amount that I do this is different with each student because they are individuals with individual strength and weakness.  Sometimes the student really needs me to put it on them. Other times I need not to be so overbearing and let some techniques such as sweeps or passes just happen instead of controlling every aspect of the roll. There are two major benefits to rolling with a lose/win frame of mind. One, that my students feel confidence and begin to become efficient in their jiu jitsu movements. Second, is that I begin to slowly understand better the intricacies of jiu jitsu because I am being dominated. It helps me look at things from a totally different angle. This way when I compete, I am ready because I have been in positions like this before. Lose/win is not just for instructors though. I feel that rolling like this is also the responsibility of every upper level belt when rolling with a lower belt or a newbie. Try to explore!! Don’t just dominate because you can, lose a little. In the midst of being dominated or the many different positions that occur begin to become aware of how it feels. Probe for weakness that maybe you wouldn’t have seen or felt before. Start to prepare yourself for those types of situations in the future.

So now that I have kind of laid out what I think are the three main mindsets in a dojo or training center let me share my hypothesis for how to create a win/win environment between you and your training partners. We have already established that creating a win/win mindset is very very difficult. I believe that if you are rolling with someone that has your same level of experience or is someone who is very competitive when rolling with you, then start to implement the lose/win mindset. Don’t just give him a submission. Heck No!  By all means defend the submission but maybe you shouldn’t try to fight the pass with all your might, or let a sweep happen; see where their techniques take you. If you lose a little you and your partner can both win and progress. Ultimately in the end the competitiveness in your rolls will decrease. Then a learning environment that was not previously there between the two of you would be present, because you both will gradually have migrated to a win/win frame of mind. Now this is a very hard thing to do because the win/lose paradigm is very deeply ingrained in our society. So letting it go sometimes can be a very difficult thing.

In conclusion I want to make sure that I state that the win/lose mindset or competition training has to be there. This is a reality that if you want to train in jiu jitsu or mma you cannot get away from. But I think that you must also find a way to implement a win/win mindset in your dojo or training because competing isn’t everything. Growing, learning, and progressing in your jiu jitsu game should be your ultimate goal. Winning competitions will just be a product from having a good balance between win/win and win/lose.