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The Importance of "Maitta" and "Nintai"

One of the first Japanese words I learned when I trained in Japan was the word, “Maitta! (I give up!)” However, if you train long enough in judo you also learn the importance of “nintai (to not give up)” It’s the idea that whatever hardship you face, you must persevere and keep on fighting. Why then should the word “maitta” be such an important word in your Japanese judo vocabulary?

When I trained for two years at Tokai University, one of the best judo schools in the world, it was of utmost importance that I tapped out early and often. Tokai University was known for their newaza (matwork). They were experts at osaekomi waza (pins), shime waza (chokes), and kansetsu waza (arm locks). I never said “maitta” to the pins, but when I was put in a dangerous technique such as a choke or an arm lock, I had to tap out and signal “maitta” or I would have passed out or have my arms snapped by their potent submission techniques.

In the early months, every partner I went with submitted me multiple times in the six-minute rounds. Going with me was their opportunity to take a breather and hone their newaza skills.

The idea of “nintai” is that no matter how many times you get beaten or say “maitta,” you get up again and fight on. You can say “maitta” 100 times at practice, but you must reset, stand up again, and continue. That kind of perseverance is "nintai."

The Apostle Paul said it best when at the end of his life he declared, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Of course Paul failed many times and had to say “maitta” but in each occasion he rose up again.

This is a lesson that I want to pass on to my students–yes, “maitta” when you must but always have the “nintai” to keep on fighting.


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