You Lost and Your Opponent Won   1 comment

The sun was in my eyes, my opponent was tall, their blade was longer, my sleeve snagged on something, I slipped, they were a MOD. One of my biggest pet peeves in fencing is when someone loses and then attempts to blame something/someone that deflects all fault from themselves. I have made similar excuses in the past, and every time I do it, I inevitably kick myself for it later for multiple reasons.

One reason is that every time you try to shift the blame away from yourself, you lose a chance to learn, to better yourself and to improve. The sun may have been in your eyes, but why were you in critical measure and staring at a giant ball of flaming gas? You may have slipped, but you know it rained last night. Your opponent was 6’6”, how did you change your tactics, and what could you do better next time? Every deflection deters your progress as a fencer. It is important to remember that there is always something you could have done to change the outcome of the fight. When looking back on your losses – as well as your wins – you should explore what you could have done to improve your chances, it could be anything from better timing, blade positioning, or a different technique. Every pass can always be better.

Deflection of blame also takes away from the glory of your opponent. When you blame your loss on external forces, you are discrediting the skill and choices that led to their victory. Since you lost, their choice was objectively correct. It does not matter if you can beat them 99% of the time. In that bout, they proved themselves the better fencer of that moment, and you can learn from that and from them. Also, you just witnessed a winning choice from the closest seat. Use this information to discover new ways to win. Are your opponents all hitting you in the same area? Defensively, you can work to correct that behavior in yourself and shore up that weakness. Offensively, you can be on the lookout for others who make the same mistake then you can abuse it and this time you walk away with the win.

Losing sucks, but it is important to think about your loss in a productive way. Do not get discouraged, and certainly do not consider your defeat as predetermined. For example, the mindset, “Of course I lost, s/he was a MOD” is entirely unhelpful and sets you up to lose in the future. Think positively! If you lost you can analyze the fight and find things to improve. You can ask mentors and friends if they have good drills for a specific problem. You can ask the opponent who beat you for help or more fights later. You can even have a friend watch or film your fights (though this isn’t always possible) so you can focus on the fight, and know that you will have good information in the aftermath regardless.

From a social perspective you should not deflect blame when you lose a fight because it can really ruin someone’s day. If you credit their victory to your shoelaces being untied, and not to the prowess they have put hours into gaining they can be very easily discouraged. One of my worst tournament experiences was when I, a scholar at the time, beat someone I really looked up to, only to have them brush it away as a fluke. On the other hand, one of my tournament highlights was when I defeated a different mentor and they simply said, “you got me, this time you were better.” This advice is especially important if you are a MOD or White Scarf. I am almost certain that if you lose to a newer or less skilled fencer, your loss means less to you than their win means to them. Accept loss with grace, give credit to the fencer that bested you, and then go learn from it.



Posted November 30, 2016 by Torse in Uncategorized

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