I think this is something we all know, but not really something we talk about in jiu jitsu. I’ve had conversations with other jiu jitsu women where this is sometimes the elephant in the room that’s danced around, and I think that it’s time we explicitly state it.
You can compete against someone and still not only have the upmost respect for that person, but you can in fact be friends with them.
There are plenty of other women in the jiu jitsu community that I have competed against, and regardless of winning or losing I am always thrilled to see them at the next tournament. And they seem pretty happy to see me as well! We chat, talk about how things are going, so on and so forth.
While the sport is growing in popularity, it is still relatively a small sport. Particularly as you gain more rank, you’ll see more and more of the same faces at tournaments, the same people standing across from you to shake your hand to start a match, the same smiles on the podium as you sit there and wait for that one guy to get out of the photographer’s way so you can just take the damn picture… It seems kind of silly to see someone a bajillion times (granted, at one specific function, but still), and not at the very least exchange a few pleasantries.
Anyway, my point being that there are times where it seems to be a bit awkward: you’re not sure if someone is willing to extend their hand in friendship after a match. And some won’t, if we’re being totally honest. But more often than not they will, and to me that’s also part of what competing is all about: of course the main purpose is to step on the mat and do your best with the intent of winning, but win or lose it’s also about meeting new people and having a chance to connect with other people in the sport.
Just some thoughts for today: have a great day everyone!