Stop Giving Your Training Partners “Advice” After They Tap You Out

Image Source: Issys Calderon Photography/ Instagram

While having some pride in jiu-jitsu isn’t necessarily a bad thing (and can even be healthy if you want a successful competitive career in the sport), having too much of it can interfere with your goals in the sport… and alienate your training partners in the process.

One of the most common situations in which egos tend to make themselves known is right after tapping out. We all prefer to be the hammer instead of the nail, but of course, all of us end up getting beat up and choked out on a regular basis as we move up the ranks. It’s part of the learning process, and the more you train, the less you start to think of it as a big deal or a “loss,” even when the person who submitted you is of a lower rank.

At some point, though, we’ll all roll with — or be — That Person who tries to shrug off the “shame” of being submitted by providing unsolicited advice to the person who just tapped them out. It’s an emotional defense strategy that attempts to tell both your rolling partner and yourself, “I may have tapped, but I still know more than you.” And even if you think it makes you come off as the “winner” in the situation, it only gives bystanders second-hand embarrassment on your behalf and frustrates your training partner.

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Lots of practitioners who give post-tap advice may not realize they’re doing it to feed their own ego. They might have genuinely good intentions, hoping to help their training partner improve their technique the next time around. In practice, though, this type of “help” comes across as a bit condescending, like you’re telling your rolling partner that even though their submission worked, it still wasn’t enough. If you’re an upper belt who got tapped by a lower belt, it makes you look emotionally fragile. If you’re a lower belt who got tapped by an upper belt, it’s even more cringe-worthy.

Like any situation in jiu-jitsu, there are exceptions to this often unspoken rule. For example, if your teammate applies a submission in a way that endangers your safety, you should absolutely speak up and let them know. And of course, if your training partner asks for your advice on how to improve a technique, you should feel free to help them out. If you really do know of a way to help your teammate improve their submission and want to show them how, approach the matter after class or open mat (so you don’t cut into their practice time) and acknowledge the fact that, yeah, they really did catch you. There’s a big difference between “That was more of a crank than a choke. Let me show you how to do it better,” and “Great job on that choke, dude. Can I show you a little detail that can help you lock it on even quicker next time?”

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If your situation doesn’t match up with the exceptions listed above, ask yourself if you really need to offer unsolicited advice to a teammate who just submitted you. And more importantly, ask yourself why. You can tell yourself that you’re just trying to help out a friend, but if your “tips” are backed by a bit of your own wounded pride, you owe it to yourself and your training partners to admit it to yourself, give props to your teammate, and move on.

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