• sarahdraht

Humble in Victory, Gracious in Defeat

I have had some exciting wins this last year, however - the success of the wins is nothing compared to the cost of the losses for me.

Having battled multiple times to the final round of the hardest matches on the world stage, and watching the timer go and my opponent celebrate their victory. They hit the mats with both hands, yell with excitement and look at their team and pump their fist in the air. I battled to the end, but the world title is hers. So close but so far.

I used to be a terrible loser. Pouting, leaving the mats, leaving the team and sitting by myself. Figuring out what happened, what went wrong, what could have gone better, why did I lose. This shouldn’t have happened with all the work I put in. Months and months for this specific tournament. I would take my losses so badly that Jorden and Superdave used to set a timer for me, a one hour timer that I was allowed to be upset, but after that it was time to enjoy the rest of the vacation.

It took quite a few talks with Superdave to realize that to compete at such a high level and to take such risks the losses are inevitable.

The losses are part of the journey to the successes.

They have to be, because it is impossible to have a perfect journey.

The losses will come. It is what I do with them.

Everyone knows we learn from losses.

Everyone knows we should turn them into opportunities.

But what does this really mean?

What does being gracious in defeat mean?

If I lose it means to respect the fact that my opponent simply had better jiu-jitsu than me that day. And I have to respect that. I stand up, tie my belt. Congratulate my opponents, shake the refs hands, and leave those mats.

The above video is my loss to the Adult Brown Belt Medium Heavy World Championship Title. Loss by an advantage.

Two things are important to note:

1) How damn hard I was trying to get a sweep, you can see it in my face.

2) When the bell goes how upset I am for a good 3 seconds before I compose myself and pull it together.

3) Last thing in the world I wanted to do was shake her hand. But I did, because she played a better game than me on that day.

Gracious in defeat. But don't mistake that my day is coming.

The only way this loss is acceptable:

That I was as prepared as I possibly know how.

It is fully my responsibility to be as prepared as possible for every single tournament, every single match, every single minute of that day. Whether it is physical preparation or mental preparation. With the loss comes the secrets revealed of what I need to work on in order to create the puzzle piece that I am missing.

Did I leave it all on the mats.

After I have done absolutely everything possible in preparation to win. The last question is, did I do my absolute best and leave everything I had on those mats?

Doesn’t mean the loss doesn’t hurt.

It always hurts.

The reality of the situation is, the defeat has to hurt us deeply enough to make us change what we are doing.

The hard part is, the more we put into the matches and preparation for them, the harder the and deeper the defeat is taken.

But the loss has to hurt.

It’s normal for it to hurt.

The loss has to be so deep, and hurt so badly that it is the reason strong enough to make the required change.

To do better than my best.

To raise the standards.

It is only the pain of the deep loss that will either break an athlete.

‘Oh well, I tried my best’ As they stuff down the gut feeling that they are capable of more, but just not ready to make the commitment to do what it takes.

Or. It will make the athlete.

I say it again, It has to hurt deeply. Because this is the only thing that will fuel the change and the deep challenges that come with it.

This change is not for the faint of heart.

Because it is demanding that I become an even better version of myself than I was today. My last change was good enough to get me through my division and the final in the open, this change has to be enough to get me to double gold.

I need this change. Because it is not about my opponent. It is about me creating an even better version of myself to beat my opponent. That I can evolve enough to solve this challenge, prove to myself I can do it.

We can all do it.

The question is, who is willing to put in the work?

What does humble in victory mean?

It means when I do win, and shake my opponents hand I am looking at a reflection of what was once me. The girl I beat in the first minute, the girl I beat in the first round, the girl I beat in the final. Always humble in victory because that was me once.

This is her journey now and her time to create the missing puzzle piece to her game.

What people don’t see is I’ve been competing at these tournaments for almost a decade.

It doesn’t get easier entering these tournaments, competing in them, the energy of them, the preparation, the watching eyes... I just get used to stress, I get used to the intensity, I get used to the complexity. Doesn’t ever get easy, I just get to know it.

Losses have taught me to never underestimate the power of the technicalities of the small girls and the strength of the big opponents.

They taught me how to pace myself through matches because although we focus on one match at a time, we have to take into consideration the entire day of competing. Have to pace ourselves at the same time. Each match commands everything of me but I can’t give it all I have. Because the final is coming.

And only the best make it to the final.

They taught me that no puzzle is unsolvable, you just have to keep coming back at it.


A beautiful aspect of Jiu-Jitsu is anything can happen in a match. But we all know this is a double edged sword. It can work for me, or against me.

The smaller opponent can beat the larger opponent, the lower belt can tap the higher belt, the female can tap the male.

Anything can happen.

Humble in victory and gracious in defeat.

Because you have to display the character of a champion in both.