You Never Lose, You Only Learn
I'm a huge fan of Ronda Rousey, and now a big fan of Holly Holm as well. I like a good skilled fight, and Holly showed real skill and expertise and was a truly worthy opponent to Ronda.
Ronda Rousey's fight this weekend caused a huge upset, but was a huge learning experience as well. I hope that Ronda will lose the ego for a moment and allow herself to learn from it. In Jiu Jitsu we are always reminded that you never lose, you only learn by Master Carlos Jr.
It brought to mind a pivotal past experience of mine. I used to do Aikido in San Diego, and I remember once my Sensei brought me up to his loft to have a conversation about the way my training had seemed distracted for a few weeks. He thought it was over a girl - it was actually over money. I had kept holding to "my way" of doing things. I was young, and didn't understand that I was not there to show the school what I knew; I was there to learn what the school could teach me. In fact all the martial arts and fighting styles I had already learnt went right out of the window. Aikido is different - an art of real peace, using smooth defense movements to redirect the momentum of an attack.
My Sensei had a zen-like loft which was totally minimalistic. We knelt on cushions at a low table, and I looked around thinking how pristine it was. He showed me a pitcher and a glass. He asked me to fill the glass, so I did. I set the pitcher down. He asked me to pick it back up and pour it in the glass. I started to protest, knowing the glass was already full. He cut me off each time. Finally, out of frustration I picked up the pitcher and poured. Water flowed over the glass and onto the tray. See? I said to him, in full cockiness of youth.
What happened? My Sensei asked. Well, it overflowed, I replied. Why? He asked. Because the glass was full, no more could get in, I said. My Sensei looked at me, then told me "your mind is like that glass. It is full. I'm not saying the water in there is no good. However I am saying to pour a little of it out to make room for some new water. Don't get me wrong, that is great water that you have. But if you don't make room for more water, that is all the water you will ever have - for the rest of your life. Open up your mind, just a little bit, to let in some more water."
It took me years to accept this advice and to allow in more water. It took me a long time before I could say yes - I will pour a little bit out so that you can pour in something new and allow me to learn from you.
This leads me to one of my favorite phrases today - What I learned after I knew it all are probably the most precious lessons of my life.
If I am speaking, I am probably repeating something I have learned from elsewhere. If I am quiet, I am listening and accepting new knowledge - I am always pouring a little water out to allow room for some new water to come in.
Georges St-Pierre was a great fighter - what I loved about him was that win or lose, after every fight he was not at the bar celebrating or sobbing, he was studying and watching the replays again and again, seeing where he could have done more, or less, and he was pouring a little water out and allowing new water in to meet that opponent better the next time.
I look forward to the rematch between Ronda and Holly. I hope that Ronda can adopt the appropriate attitude in the circumstances, and see that you never lose, you only learn - and come back stronger for it.