In the wake of the recent fan reaction surrounding the Ronda Rousey vs. Amanda Nunes UFC fight, social media posts revealed a predominant theme in the reaction of many fans, most of it negative towards Rousey.
Much of the negative reaction stems from Rousey’s perceived lack of sportsmanship in both her wins and her losses. Refusing to shake the hand of Miesha Tate did not win many fans, and Rousey’s questionable behaviour after losing also created fan backlash.
What can BJJ practitioners take away from a fallen fighter media superstar like Rousey?
Good sportsmanship is important in getting along with other training partners and competitors in a sport that requires such close physical contact and intensity of emotions when rolling hard. Mutual respect for others that you are training with is paramount.
A Poor Loser
When you get submitted, storming off and throwing your belt into the corner of the mat while muttering angrily under your breath is not going to win you many friends in the academy. The other students perceive your ego as getting in the way of what most of us are there to do: have fun and get better.
I once rolled in a judo club with another student of similar experience and size. I managed to pin him in front of his classmates and instructor. When the match was called to a halt, he tore his gi top off, threw it away, and stormed off the mat. Needless to say, I was not interested in training with him again.
The truth is that there will always be someone better than you. Sure, we have competitive natures. If we didn’t, we would not stick with jiu-jitsu for long. But we must accept that some guys are going to have more experience than us or just be plain better. There is no shame in tapping out, and if you aren’t tapping out semi-regularly, you need to find a training environment that is going to push you more!
Despite the animosity before the Dominick Cruz vs Cody Garbrandt fight, Cruz was humble and honest afterwards, earning him numerous accolades by MMA fans for the manner in which he conducted himself after losing his title.
Within the academy, avoid making excuses for tapping. It is better to say simply “Okay, you got me. Nice technique! Now let’s try again.”
A Gracious Winner
Trash talking on social media is part of fighters hyping professional events. Be careful with going too far with it, though, as it can go over the line if it becomes too personal or disrespectful. Once you say something in public or on social media, it is there forever and can negatively affect the way you are perceived by others in your area’s small BJJ community.
The best athletes show respect for their opponents after the match, even if it was an intensely fought and fiercely contested affair. Keep what happens on the mats separate from acting like an educated human being. Gloating and over celebration is not the best way to demonstrate that you are a class act. Also, being respectful to referees and judges go a long way in establishing your reputation as a true professional.
Within the academy, too much talk about “who tapped who” is also frowned upon. Some students delight in this high-schoolish gossip with sometimes harmful effects in the academy.
Training is just training. Tapping is part of it and guys who are really trying to learn to expand their jiu-jitsu will try techniques outside of their comfort zone and sometimes be forced to tap. Others watching have no idea what the purple belt was working on when he was caught by the blue belt. It is bad form to talk too much about who tapped who in training.
Ultimately, we need each other as training partners to improve ourselves, and it is important to display good sportsmanship to keep those relationships healthy.
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