The pain seared through the tendons in my wrist. All I could do was cry out the verbal white flag of "Tap! Tap! Tap!" I was beaten. And I was glad. I smiled and wiped the sweat from my forehead, opening and closing my left hand, palpating my narrow wrist to make sure all was in order. It was. "What was that?" I asked.
It was a failure of the most glorious and epic proportions. Off the controlled environment of the jiu jitsu mats, minimally I would be looking at a broken wrist. I would have been defending myself with one arm from a bigger, stronger and more skilled opponent.
Later on, I found myself mounted by a black belt, arms pinned overhead. On the street, they would have been able to tee off on my head, and I would have been able to do little about it but cover my face and try to buck them off. In the jiu jitsu laboratory, it became an exploration of angles and leverage, on using one escape to set up another.
The only actual destruction on the mats is of the ego, and that is therapeutic. Two lessons, both of which could potentially save my life, both of which were born out of failure. On the mat and off the mat, failure is a cause for celebration. It is failure that brings us closer to where we want to be.