UFC commentator Joe Rogan says that jiu-jitsu is simulating a mortal struggle between two opponents and that a “tap” is a symbolic death.
Seems a bit dramatic as I have yet to see a death in the bjj academy!
Rogan explains that when you agree to roll with your opponent you are placing them in a position of trust not to break your arm or choke you into unconsciousness.
Simply tapping the mat 3 times saves our limbs from damage and we can roll again.
The tap is a HUGE part of rolling and is worth us discussing a few specific points about tapping in training.
1) Tap early
This is the BIGGEST mistake most experienced bjj belts say they made in their early training.
Most of us can relate at least one story when we were in an intensely contested roll and our opponent caught a submission.
We thought in the heat of the moment “It isn’t 100%…if I just bridge a little higher or roll my arm I can …” POP!!
With a bag of ice on our elbow later that night we admit to ourselves “Ya,…I probably should have tapped earlier.”
The worst case scenario you end up with a permanent injury that you could have prevented by just tapping.
2) Talking about who tapped who
Many students of bjj have such a competitive mind set that they gauge their entire progress by if they got the tap or not.
This is the wrong mentality – the purpose of training is to IMPROVE, NOT to try to prove to oneself or others watching how good you are.
Training is just training and a time where you should be experimenting with new positions. Trying the techniques that you learned in class that day.
If someone is using a technique that is new to them and it fails, they get tapped,…so what?!
It is bad form for those sitting on the edge of the mat watching the rolls to whisper to each other “Did you just see that white belt tap that blue belt?!?”
You don’t know what the blue belt was trying to do in the roll. It is just training and tapping is ok.
3) The correct attitude
I have seen white belts set goals NOT to tap during a roll against a training partner and exert Herculean efforts holding onto a grip to run out the clock just to say that they didn’t get tapped during a roll.
Instead of trying to use a technical solution to escape (and actually learn jiu-jitsu!) they just hold on like a man dangling on a cliff edge!
I’ve also seen guys get tapped, standup and throw their belts into the corner while cursing that they got tapped.
This is the wrong attitude.
It is far better to take the attitude regarding a tap in training: “Ok, you got me. Now let’s try again!”
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