Published on by Samantha Faulhaber


The night after a tournament is rough no matter what the outcome. 

If you won, you did stuff wrong. 

If you lost, you did stuff wrong. 

To me this is why none of it matters all that much win or lose. The result is the same, an introspective sleep-deprived night coming down from an adrenaline high. 

Great people lose all the time. Unknown people win pretty often. Everybody started somewhere. Everyone needs to work harder. Even those unicorns that win consistently have to work really hard to get there, often eking out wins by advantage or a few points or in come from behind inspirational epic matches. 

The reality is almost everyone will remember nothing but the blanket end result. Win/lose. It's what you'll see on all social media, and the results pages don't have space to say what happened. The competitors remember. I know how hard some fights were that I won. I know how well I fought in some that I lost. I know it's never good enough no matter what happened. All of the opportunities I gave someone that I was lucky they didn't take. As a competitor you're left with pride and obsession over every little thing that did happened. If you're lucky or planned well, you have video to fuel the fire. 

The morning after 

I have a love hate relationship with competition. There are weeks I don't even know if I want to compete any more. Black belt has been hard. Everybody is so good. My head has turned back to wanting to reinforce nothing but basic, basic stuff. I'm glad I won a lot of stuff through the ranks but often feel like the slate is totally new at black. Even if I previously fought someone it's easy to make a new narrative for them about how much they've improved. And they probably have. Which means I probably have too. 

Social media is a highlight reel that can't possibly tell the real story. I don't want anyone thinking I'm amazing - wait that's a lie. Of course my ego wants that. But really overall if I'm known as respectful and someone to be respected that's what matters most when people talk and what will allow me to sleep best at night in the end. I want everyone to be happy. I also want to beat their butts and still like each other enough to go out to dinner afterwards. Even if they beat my butt I want this too. It's not always going to happen. When it does, it's magic. 

The first training after

Everything is normal. I might have a few conversations about what happened or what I should have done differently, but all in all class is normal. I still get beat up. I win a few rounds. Any self congratulation starts to fade already. There's a piece of it that almost immediately makes me think I'm living in the past glories, like some movie boxer that "coulda been somebody if only". I still replay stuff, learn from my mistakes, and share a few things here or there about the fight, but it's over and now it's time to deal with now. Wins and losses are both in the past. Past wins don't mitigate future nerves like I might like. Everything changes every day, and one can take that positively, negatively, or as simply what is and deal with it.