Someone once asked me how many sparring matches I’ve won. By most methods of reckoning, this number would be zero. By my own reckoning, every time I’m willing to spar at all, I’ve won. Sparring is extremely emotionally difficult to me, so the very act of being willing to step into the ring is a victory.
There are a few different aspects of the yoga philosophy that overlap with Yoshukai, including meditation and focus. In my view, most of these aspects can be summarized in the concept of jai, which roughly translates to victory, and I’ve often heard it used to represent victory over ego. One cannot strive for excellence or continue to improve without victory over ego. If one allows oneself to be defeated by one’s ego, one would never continue with anything difficult. By definition, continuing to train represents a victory over ego.
There are various other ways in which our ego can defeat us: our ego might cause us to push ourselves beyond our limit, resulting in injury. We might unfairly compare ourselves to others rather than focusing on our own improvements, resulting in poor spirit. Overall, I believe victory over ego reminds us to compete only or primarily against ourselves, focusing on our own improvement. With this focus on our own improvement, rather than external rewards or validation, we can more completely strive for excellence.