There is a confusing cliche that gets dropped at martial arts schools on a daily basis: “get rid of your ego”. Aren’t you supposed to win? Aren’t there points and submissions and trophies out there that require an ego?
The trouble, I think, comes in acknowledging the value of competition while also acknowledging the value of community (your training partners). How do you compete and still be kind, respectful and friendly with your fellow martial artists? Rather than checking your ego at the door, think of your training as a way not just to make you better but also to make everyone you train with better.
To this end, talk to your partners about how they beat you and how you beat them. Suggest ways in which they might shut down your game. All these efforts will result in both your evolution and theirs. Acknowledge the pursuit of improvement in both yourself and others. It is a group endeavor.
On Tuesday, we followed this basic idea by picking apart one student’s sparring game and trying to come up with ways to shut it down. It made him adapt. It made us adapt. Good for individual egos and the group.