How the will to win can improve the way you train
I’ve heard before that creating a competitive atmosphere inside a school is counter-productive. The reason is that you can’t learn new moves if you are constantly trying to outperform your training partner. Even though I respect this point of view, I will propose a different one: competing with your training partner is not the same thing as when you fight against a rival in a tournament. And here is why.
Athletes have a plethora of motivations to go into a tournament, but they all share the same goal, which is the gold medal. You should not really care much if your opponent is learning something from his experience or not. Actually, for the most part, a competitor is so focused on his goal that his adversary is a mere obstacle. You have prepared yourself beforehand, and the arena is the testing ground to show you where you stand. Out there, there is no room for experimentation or minor tweaks in your technique. Bring your A-game and expect nothing but the best.
Now let me present you how I see competition inside our school, and how it differs from a tournament. Of course we all want to improve and eventually be better than our training partners. This is what pushes us forward and it is completely healthy. But inside the school there are no gold medals, trophies or money prizes. We roll everyday in the pursuit of perfection, improving your technique after every session. And for that, your adversary now becomes your ally, because he will be the one offering the resistance that will challenge your game and make you a better fighter.
Train to win every round indeed, but teach your partner why he got caught, show him the defense and even the counter. This is going to make the next round a lot more challenging. Tomorrow the table might turn and you will be pleased that the fighter that just beat you is at the same time helping you not to make the same mistake again. The idea is to keep things real, but fun enough so we can enjoy our everyday practice without any added stress. The idea behind this new paradigm of competition is to work for the common good in order to achieve your own personal goals.