A non-competitive mind: part 1

What happens to a mind trained in a non-competitive endeavour over a period of time?

Recently i tried a class of Jiujitsu, for experiential learning. I left the class with a very profound insight as to why Aikido is so different from the rest of the marital arts.

Why is Aikido so difficult to learn as compared to other martial arts? I’m not assuming that other arts are ‘easier’, is just that the ideals of an Aikido doctrine is very difficult for an individual to aspire to and the art really varies from people to people.

The young Jiujitsu assistant instructor introduces their style of Jiujitsu as ‘sports’ and ‘self-defense’. I shalln’t go into the details of the training proper, rather share what i personally felt and experienced, in an abstract manner.

We ended the class with a ‘sparring’ session,where the instructor was pitted against the students, it was my first lesson and the assistant instructor picked me to be his first sparring partner. It was a grappling oriented sparring session and thanks to my little MMA training i could effectively held him off.

He tried a couple of times to execute an armbar so as to ‘win’ the match. Somehow I was able to resist him and we struggled for a protracted period of time on the floor. He tried his best to position himself for a pin or armbar, but everytime i managed to evade his trap. In the melee, he somehow exposed the back of his head to me and i almost wanted to wrap my left arm over it and execute a reverse head choke lock. It was my best chance to end it, but i let it pass, and allowed him to ‘win’ with a pin, of 10 counts.

What left me thinking a lot was a couple of things. It was somewhat a competition, there is an aim to win, well at least for my combatant. I entered the fray with zero expectations. he grappled, pulled , hustled, and all i did was proposed a resisted response. for me i did not go on the offensive, partly because i was not skilled in offensive ground work. but mainly because i possess no offensive mindset.  Guilty as charged, i do not have the killer instinct.

There was a definitive outcome from the sparring, win/lose. i was training at another level of outcome, beyond the win/lose. i let myself ‘lose’ so that he can live with his ‘win’. can you imagine the embarrassment it would have caused if i had pinned him? It was my first lesson and i am considered a novice. if he is defeated, he will have to deal with the level of respect or the lack of it form his students. he has a lot more social baggage to lose, when he lose. if i lose, well i’m just a novice, and i am expected to lose.

If i win, he will have a lot to learn from that too. on the other hand he might take the defeat too hard and personal that he becomes negative because of it. will i want to make a friend or an enemy? Afterall, what will a win prove for me? nothing, I train above and beyond winning and losing.


About Who is Randy Lim

This blog is about the journey and experiences in my life as an Aikidoka. With close to 20 years in the arts, I'll make comments and judgements based on 2 principles, E&E. Experimentation and Experiential reflection. please enjoy, and comment freely.
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2 Responses to A non-competitive mind: part 1

  1. Andrew says:

    Question is are you going to go back?
    I remember going into a Jeet Kune Do class back in January and although I got some hits in the face, some of the guys stated that I had held my own pretty well. It got to the point that the instructor (a ex-police officer who has worked in shady towns) had me try to pin him by the legs. I simply did the standard Kokyuho and he wasn’t able to move at all!
    For some strange reason, I realized that I should let him have a free pot shot, kinda like what you did. To this day I feel like I let myself down. Seeing that I’m not alone does make me feel a little better…


  2. Well, Andrew, there is no singular experience that is exactly the same. I guess the letting ourselves down part is where we need to understand the gap between reality and our expectations, no one can heal that part of our angst, except us.
    I think i might have also let ‘myself’ down, by allowing the assistant instructor to pin me, but i am really just letting my ego, and pride down, so technically he pinned my ego, not me, i am thankful for him to allow me to lose. if i had been more prideful, its a good chance i’d win by submission and embarrassed him, to what end? he’s likely end up with a bruised ego, and a dented martial arts instructor career. Me? If i win, i’d be most likely to be met with more challenges, and a high risk of injury. I let the match lost, so that i still have a chance of going back to train with him, if i wanted to.
    i can still make him ‘lose’ the next time i ‘spar’ with him, to ‘win’ back my earlier loss to him. the pressure is off the both of us in a good way. I am a newbie, not expected to win, and he is an instructor, not expected to lose, if i upset that equilibrium, he as the instructor will be under pressure to beat me and i will be under pressure to defend my ‘win’, for what? Why do we build this pressure for? we are defending nothing more than an inflated and bruised ego.
    more importantly, we must not lose ourselves in that intense moment, which i almost did, but i think i owe it to the sensible training of Aikido to allow myself to lost the match and not lose myself in the match. so it is ok, to lose the match, as long as you know you did what you did to your best ability and at the end of the day, everyone goes home from training safe, and unhurt, physically. that makes us all winners.


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