• Tapping Out

    This really simple act of tapping your partner in training to let you go seems to create a lot of confusion and frustration in students of BJJ. I watch many of new guys getting really frustrated at having to tap often during free training. I wonder why its such a big deal to them, firstly, and secondly what did they expect to happen when training with a vastly more experienced and technical opponent? I imagine its a case of perspective. Perhaps they actually don’t know how little they know about grappling or that submitting is somehow a direct attack on their manhood or ego. One of the uncomfortable realities of training in BJJ is that for first year you are going to spend many hours being squashed, twisted and controlled. And as a result of this control you will tap out often. This will bruise your ego. Aside from the physical demands of the sport this alone stops many students continuing with training.

    I think its important to understand the difference between training and competing. When you see guys submitting in a UFC fight their careers are being defined, big money lost, millions are watching, months of diet, conditioning, sparring has gone into a single moment of saying I’ve have had enough, please let go now. But on a training mat with a bunch of guys just trying to get better at BJJ then tapping out is just learning and growing. It’s realising that someone just beat you at human chess or checkers, depending on your skill level. Its best just to put the pieces back on the metaphorical board and start again. No big deal, its not the UFC or the World Championships.

    Also as time goes by and you want to work on more than just your A game.To round out your skills as a blue or purple belt on the mat you will need to go back to the drawing board and start all over again. For example, if you have a crazy top game that lets you dominate most of the guys on the mat, then at some point, if you want to keep getting better and more technical you will need to play guard more often. This means getting submitted often, all over again, until you improve. Deal with it. There will even come a time when you tap everyone at the club, then you train with someone better elsewhere and guess what, more tapping. If you want to improve it never ends. Sure as you climb the ranks over the years, you tap more guys more often, but if want to keep improving make sure you’re on the receiving end to better, more technical training partners.

    That’s one of the best things about training in BJJ or Judo or Boxing, there is no argument or gray area. A tap out, throw or knock out settles the argument. Its final and its real. There is no excuses, its the ultimate pressure test. Check mate. Learn to say “Reset” and just go again. Learn from the process, become more technical, move your hips more, improve your base, protect your neck, keep your elbows in…..whatever it is the answer is rarely I need to be stronger or more aggressive. Technique, Timing and Sensitivity. And the ONLY way you really learn and improve is by tapping out while your pressure testing you techniques. Maybe it’s worth trying to keep some perspective on this simple act of saying please let go and focus your energy instead on getting better at Jiu Jitsu.