The Benefits of Tapping More
One of the distinguishing features that makes BJJ one of the best martial arts to study is the relative safety with which you can train at high intensity with a low level risk of injury. In BJJ, two training partners can spar at 100% intensity and when one gets caught in a submission, he or she will quickly tap out, thus preventing any type of injury. This is not the case with many martial arts, such as karate and Tae Kwon Do because in the sense that one cannot practice full speed and power kicks and punches without potentially hurting their training partners or students.
Tapping out might save us from joint injuries and potentially having ourselves put to sleep, but it is not something we all actively embrace. Human beings for the most part are a competitive species and it's hard for that blood thirsty competitive spirit to not be encouraged in even the most laid back open mat and sparring session. It's one thing to get caught by the more experienced student or instructor, but what does it mean when I get tapped by someone at my level or even, heaven forbid, by someone of a lower belt? Should I turn in my belt and put my gi on Ebay?
Jiu jitsu is often paradoxical in how the most important lessons are presented to us. What if you get better at BJJ, you are actually supposed to tap more? I would like to propose that there's a better way to approach the notion of tapping and make yourself happier and your journey to black belt and beyond much more fruitful.
Tapping more exercises your ego
Garry Tonon is no stranger to the the highest levels of grappling competition. He was recently quoted on social media as saying, "In an average 5 round training session I will get submitted 15 times. Take that information and ask yourself if you really have no ego." Garry Tonon is a high level competitor who earned his black belt from Tom DeBlass and who continues to study under the BJJ guru John Danaher as part of the aptly named "Danaher Death Squad". He is also Owner and Head Instructor at Brunswick BJJ. And he advocates tapping more.
Your goal in training should not be to win. Your goal in training should be to get better. To use challenge yourself by purposely putting yourself into the worst spots imaginable and working to find counters or escapes that will save you when the situation truly arises where you need to put that information to use. By freeing yourself of the "I must win" mentality, you will open up your game plan and take risks knowing that if it doesn't work, you can re-evaluate and either continue to work for a solution or abandon that course of action.
Tapping more means you are challenging yourself
If you find yourself in an environment where you never get tapped and perhaps you dominate every sparring match, you may need to look around and see what is going on. It's important to constantly seek out training partners who can challenge you and present you with things you've not seen yet. This pushes both your fitness and your technique which are both crucial in your development.
Tapping more means more reps
We've all been there. Someone snatches your arm and you bury your hand under your armpit or grab at your lapel to fight the armbar. Unless you're Garry doing one of his patented extreme escapes ala his fight at the ADCC championship against Kron Gracie, you've got to ask yourself, what am I really gaining fighting this arm lock using brute strength and your innate will to survive? Why not tap and examine how you got caught in the first place and make sure you don't get there again? Does it make you a better jiu jitsu player to risk injury and waste precious mat time resisting the inevitable? By tapping and moving on to more productive things like developing escapes that prevent the armbar in the first place, you will grow more as a practitioner.
At the end of the day, you set a lot of your course in jiu jitsu by the manner with which you approach training. If you are a do or die competitive spirit who must win at all costs at all times, you are going to find yourself focusing only on the positions you are good at right away and may not fully develop a well rounded game, which will prove quite embarrassing when you meet the competitor or sparring partner who has your number.
And if you're not 100% sold on this idea of "tapping more" rather than less, you don't have to do it all the time. But I guarantee once you adjust your mentality and stop thinking of tapping in training as losing, your knowledge and ability to be open to new positions will grow and you will start to enjoy BJJ even more.
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