Stepping Behind the Tape

The most useful part of Shiai may be that moment when you step back behind the tape...
Before I get to the topic at hand, let me first give some props:  shortly after I moved to Richmond, I met Sensei Bernie Gill, a Godan who would visit class from time to time.  His official line was that he was "retired" from Judo, but that he liked to come hang out with us every once in a while.  If you've never met Bernie, here's a short version:  He's a very humble guy, he's a badass, he's fun to be around, he's 73, he has awesome stories, he can still blast people with Harai Tsurikomi Ashi, he was a student of Takahiko Ishikawa, and I think he's a ninja.  Anyhoo, Sensei Bernie has recently started coming back around (coming out of retirement, perhaps?) and has been sharing some of his ninja magic with us.  I am going to make an effort to start writing some of it down, perhaps turning some of that in to blog posts.  So when you see the "Bernie Gill" label on a post, then it came from something he mentioned in class.
Step Behind the Tape
Onward...  If you aren't familiar with the structure of a Shiai (tournament contest), once the match is over, the contestants will stand across from each other in front of a white or blue piece of tape (similar to the designated corners in a boxing match), the ref will award the victory to someone, both competitors will step back behind their tape, bow, then walk off the mat.  Bernie mentioned today that one of the most important moments of Shiai is that moment that you step behind the tape... 

4 Types of Losing/Winning
Whether you won or lost, it is helpful to reflect on what just happened.  Bernie used to tell his son that there were ways to lose (which you could reverse and think of as four ways to win):

  1. The other guy was better:  That's going to happen.  But!  If you can learn from him or her - if you can figure out what they did to beat you and recognize a new way to do a technique or a new hole in your defenses, then you win (although you will still have to tell the score table that you lost). 
  2. You made a mistake:  That happens, too.  No excuses - it shouldn't have happened.  But if you recognize the mistake, identify where you need to drill, you can claw something good back from your loss.
  3. Bad decision:  It happens.  Sometimes there are bad referees, some situations are really tricky...  Either way, it doesn't really matter...  It doesn't really count as a loss - call this one a no-contest.  (Of course, check and make sure there isn't something you can chalk up to #s 1 or 2, first... don't be too eager to blame the ref).
  4. You step behind the tape without considering what happened:  If you lose, and you don't give any thought to why you lost - that is, you don't try to put your loss into categories 1, 2, or 3, and take any corresponding actions - then this is an unmitigated failure.  You didn't get a win and you didn't learn anything.  The good news is that this is avoidable...
So there it is.  I think that is a nice framework...  What do you think?



Rick D said...

Powerful stuff.

And like most lessons in judo, it applies equally well to life.

The good news is if you didn't do it right away, you can still come back and do it later (as long as you remember the match). I fought in a BJJ competition 2 years ago and can still remember just about every second of it. The bad news (until now) is that I never reflected on it and tried to categorize it into #1, #2, or #3.

Chad Morrison said...

That's a good point, Rick... There's still the chance, even well after you step behind the tape and walk off the mat, that you can reflect on your match and get more from it. Of course, the danger is that you may not remember enough (or accurate) detail, but then again, you may - and if you can classify things and figure out what, if anything, to do about the loss (or win), then you definitely should.

Rick D said...

Yes, it definitely requires being able to remember the match (or perhaps having video).

Another thing to consider is that at a certain level (namely mine) one may not know enough to know what caused the loss. So you could extend the concept to talking to your coach about what happened. To me, the key is reflecting on it and categorizing the loss to learn from it. The idea of behind the tape is to, I think, put you in that mindset ASAP.

kodokanjudo said...

This also has to do with judo being a method of education and it's concept of shiai.
Shiai on the surface means contest, but the competition is not a measure between you and your "opponent", but the struggle within yourself. You should be measuring your progress and how far you have traveled along your own path (do).
You see, in judo, winning is learning sothing and loosing is not learning anything.