Even Big Girls Cry...

I was recently informed that the new IBJJF rules now include that if you cry during your match it is an automatic disqualification.   I think they are talking about the kids, but I could be wrong because I know even big girls need to cry sometimes. Healthy crying is an important way for us as human beings to relieve stress and show our vulnerability.  My latest mantra is "to embrace myself as I am and own it!".  That means to be myself and be proud of who I am.  Our happiness and self value needs to come from within. It should be deeper than material possessions, socio-economic class, race, age, sex, religion and especially not from what others think of us.  Each of us are special and unique in our own ways,but sometimes it is not easy to remember that.  Loving ourselves unconditionally and allowing ourselves to be freely who we are, is a crucial ingredient to happiness, success and fulfillment.

 My heart always goes out to the little ones when I see them sobbing and crying after they lose a match.  Sometimes I'll start tearing up with them.  I just want to hug them and tell them  I know exactly how they feel and it will be alright.  I have never had shame in admitting that I've also cried on the mats.  I've always been a sensitive and sympathetic person, even as a child.  Crying has been my immediate emotional release.  Even though I have grown  a thicker skin over the years, that doesn't mean I still don't need a good cry every now and again.  I always feel better afterward and it helps to clear my head.

As a blue belt Jiu-Jitsu competitor and when I was first a purple belt, I'd have to say I've cried after I lost matches more often than not.  My blue belt is made up of more tears than sweat or blood.  Thankfully, I've always been fortunate in having loving coaches and teammates that made me feel better when I needed it most.  Losing sucks, but in the end I've always learned more from my losses than my wins.  My losses have played a much larger role in my development.

Of course we all want to win and crying after a loss may look silly  to some people,  but sometimes it is out of our control.  When I've lost, I didn't cry necessarily because I lost the match.  It was not because my feelings were hurt or my ego  got bruised.  I sometimes cried because I was disappointed with my performance or frustrated for not pushing hard enough all the way to the end. Crying for me is a release of extra energy after the adrenaline dump when pent up emotions come boiling up and because I tend to be a head case (over thinker).

Sometimes when I lose, there is a huge sense of disappointment and frustration that goes along with it that can be haunting.  Especially if I know in my heart I gave up or didn't live up to my potential.  It can be rough to accept  a loss after all the sacrifices I've had to make to compete at that level after spending months preparing and pouring everything I had into doing my best in reaching for the gold.  It's physically, emotionally and spiritually draining at times.  I've even cried in preparation for a tourney from exhaustion, frustration or relief. Most of the time it was the release that allowed me to feel whole again and to keep on going.  I've also cried when I've won out of happiness, gratitude, excitement and perhaps an element of disbelief that I achieved my goal. Crying may not solve anything or change the outcome, but I don't think it's something to be ashamed of.   Even if you cry, the point is to never give up and keep moving forward and learn from our upsets. They are just as important elements that make us who we are and help shape us into the strong, confident and independent people.

A study by Dr William H. Frey II, a biochemist at the St Paul-Ramsey Medical Centre in Minnesota, found that there is an important chemical difference between emotional or stress-related tears and those simply caused by physical irritants – such as when cutting onions.

The study also found that:
  • 88.8 per cent of people feel better after crying, with 8.4 per cent feeling worse.
  • On average women cry 47 times a year and men a mere seven.
  • Until puberty, crying levels are much the same for each gender – testosterone may reduce crying in boys while estrogen and prolactin increases the tendency in girls.
  • Men may excrete more of the toxins related to emotional stress in their sweat because they have higher sweat levels than women.
  • The mantra to children 'Be brave, don't cry' might not be the most helpful because some believe crying can actually help reduce pain.

I don't see crying as a sign of weakness but as a healthy function of human nature. Crying is a normal emotional release to for women, men, boys and girls alike.  Who cares what others think about your tears.  It takes courage to allow your emotions to show.  Be true to yourself and let your tears flow!


  1. When I was a teen, I was embarrassed to cry...not until my 20s did I REALLY accept that crying wasn't a sign of anything wrong and was simply an emotional expression. It's definitely cathartic at times.

    Great piece...and I'm WAY below average on crying frequency. I swear it's less than 7.

  2. Seven times a year? I can only remember crying about three times in the last decade, but then I am rather emotionally stunted when it comes to things like that.


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