I saw a really sad thing at yesterday’s tournament shortly before I competed. This particular NAGA was run fairly well and I ended up competing around the projected time for my division (3pm). That still left a lot of time to sit around. First the kids go, then the women, then the Masters (AKA Old Guys). Then they start with the novice men’s division and work their way up the skill levels.
Dad and Junior
A short time after the kids’ divisions wrapped up, I walked out to the car and encountered an angry middle-aged guy and his son, a heavy kid who looked to be about 10 years old. Apparently Junior had choked and lost his first match. Dad was furious. He was cussing Junior out.
“You were doing fine until you got pushed a little bit, and then you gave up. You fucking gave up! It’s just like I always tell you.” Dad’s inflection was going up and down in rapid crescendos typical of men unable to control themselves when excited.
He repeated this invective for the whole parking lot. What broke my heart was the way Junior plodded along stoically behind Dad with a perfectly neutral expression on his face. I guessed that Junior had seen this kind of thing from Dad before.
I felt bad for not saying anything to Dad. At the time it didn’t seem wise to confront a hothead in front of his kid. Also, maybe Junior has always been lethargic and Dad’s histrionics are carefully designed to get him moving.
More likely, Dad is a supercharged cunt and he needs to figure out why he’s being so silly in front of his kid, in public.
I wanted to pull Dad aside and tell him that we all want to please our parents and that losing feels pretty bad, and that Junior probably felt plenty bad without the cussing. I also wanted to tell him about how, if I was Junior, I would never want to do Jiu Jitsu ever again.
We’re seeing a lot more kids at these tournaments, and with it we’re gonna see the inevitable monster parents doing their little league routine. It’s a lot easier to get on Junior’s case than it was to motivate yourself when you were that age, huh Dad? I didn’t even see his match, but I think Junior is pretty rad just for competing. If you’re reading this, Junior, get in touch and I’ll buy you an ice cream or an xbox game or something. You’re the shit, if you ask me.
I went on to lose the second match in my no-gi division and the first fight in my gi division. I had two problems, as far as I can tell. One is that I was mentally off – I didn’t feel very juiced up before my fights. Second, there are some elements of my grappling I need to sharpen up. My only consolation is that I did the toughest weight cut that I’ve ever done (10 lbs in less than 24 hours) and felt like garbage all day. But still – my mental focus was not on point, and I certainly didn’t go in there with the awesome killer spirit that I like to think I’ve developed at these tournaments. This has been a problem the last few times I’ve competed. I don’t feel all that nervous before my fights anymore. I need to figure out why I’m fighting flat.
I just realized this is the second post I’ve written about parents screaming at their children in parking lots. The lesson is that families are terrible.