Both of these phrases speak to the urgency, and importance of winning and making sure that you do what is necessary to come away with the victory. Playing to your strengths, using your tools that are the sharpest and most trustworthy are necessities when we are playing to win. There is nothing wrong with playing to win, or playing for keeps, for putting your strengths to the test. In fact it is one of the most important qualities a person who is striving to become a champion must posses.
However when we are training for that fight, that competition, that battle playing to win in each training session will certainly ensure your failure when it is time to compete. It will guarantee that you enter the competition one dimensional, overtrained, hurt, and most likely missing most of your training partners.
When we are training we must learn to “play to learn”. To take the focus of winning each round in the dojo, the student with the best record in the gym rarely has the best record outside it! Be confident enough in your strengths, to work on your weaknesses, to try new skills, to fail in the attempt, and to lose (learn) with grace.
You will find that you will not only improve at a much faster rate, but you will enjoy the process, and the people you share it with much, much more!
See you in class!
-Joshua Page, http://www.hickorymartialarts.com