As young children, we compete for the most useful resource available—our parents’ attention, so children compete with their siblings for this attention. If they fail to get noticed, they release another powerful and effective weapon: the temper tantrum. This invariably gets their parent's attention. If you watch a martial arts tournament, you will see this instinct of whining when we do not get what we want is alive and well.
Our bodies also drive us to win by making losing feel terrible. Moreover, we are more likely to remember our losses—to help us try and avoid doing the same thing again. However, losing is not just about feeling bad. In a hierarchical world, reputations are very important—even more important than not losing, is not being seen to be a loser. Our instructors tell us that the most important thing in competing is having fun, but we know the truth. Winning is fun, losing sucks.
The most unusual thing about the way humans compete is that we are not just out for ourselves. We team up with others. In addition, we experience the joy of winning and the agony of defeat just as vividly when watching our family, friends, or favorite team as if we were actually competing ourselves. Therefore, all our instincts for survival may be transferred to our feelings about a group of people. A teammate may beat us in a match, but then we feel bad if the teammate get beat by another.
When an object fast approaches the eyes, they instinctively blink to protect themselves. This is good when hammering and a clip flies toward the eyes. It is not good when a fist is flying toward the face. When sparring, we must train ourselves to keep our eyes open so we may defend against the fist.