Losing, Humility and Good Sportsmanship

In a way, this follows from our last article, on respect and obedience. Part of showing respect to fellow martial artists, to your instructor, to your school and to your style, is to be a good loser.

I have discovered in teaching Little Dragons, that losing gracefully is not something we are born to do. Fights over who gets to be on the number 1 spot during lineup were common until I instituted some rules. Knowing how to lose is an essential part of competing. It is the essential good sportsmanship.

During Summer Camp, we discussed “Humility.” I asked for examples of humility. A Little Dragon responded that it was saying “Good Job” when someone else wins. (Well, this is one of the Little Dragons who throws temper tantrums when she loses in Flag Sparring, but at least she KNOWS what she’s supposed to do. And she’s five. LOL)
But yes, that is what I expect of all of my students at tournaments no matter what. No matter if the judges are biased. No matter if your opponent wins by a fluke. No matter if you really  know you should have won. No matter any of that, you shake your opponent’s hand and say “Good job.”
Competitors do not complain to the judges. They do not complain to the tournament officials. They may complain to me or any other black belt from our studio as long as it is out of hearing range of others. If there is anything that could/should be dealt with with tournament officials, leave us to deal with it.

But as long as you represent ETTSD at a tournament I expect you to show good sportsmanship. And I’ll tell you “Good job!”
I am slowly learning do deal with a child when (inevitably) they throw a tantrum after losing a flag sparring match, or a relay race, or…  Remove from the environment and continue the class.

Eventually, they realize they do not get to participate unless they behave, but the pain of losing is real, and they have to deal with it.

Because this is an important lesson, and many people thought children should not receive participation medals, it is rarely done these days. My opinion on those is another matter, but it happens so seldom these days it’s almost not worth discussing.

But it does seem that more and more adults have not learned to lose. I see a lot of bad behavior at tournaments when judging does not go the way the competitors think it should.