Tapping Out in BJJ: A Sign of Weakness or a Smart Strategy

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Tapping out is very common in the combat sports world. We are firm believers that you should be tapping out early and often when the stakes are low but maybe consider differently if you put yourself in high-stakes situations like competitions. Tapping out is a way to voluntarily end a match because your opponent got you into a position where they were threatening real injury or you experienced massive discomfort. 

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Am I Weak For Tapping Out?

The quick answer to this question is no.

In all honesty, the people that end up lasting in the sport long term are those that tap out early and often when they are training. Most injuries will occur in training. You risk serious injury when you do not expect a choke or submission to come in and try to push through. 

This is just not worth it in the long run especially when there is nothing on the line.

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Competing in Jiu-Jitsu Tournaments

We are big believers that people should compete when they train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It is the best way to put your skills to the test and push yourself to new heights against people in your age range and with similar skill levels.

The only time you should be hesitant to top out is when you are competing; even this can be a gray area conversation. In your training sessions if you are trying to hold out on a choke because you are simulating a tournament round, go for it but do not hold out on joint locks like arm bars or heel hooks. That is literally asking for a hospital visit.

Tapping Out Early and Often 

Our coach’s philosophy for having longevity in the sport of jiu-jitsu is to tap early and to tap often. It is the easiest way to prevent injury or set yourself back on training. Other grappling-based Martial Arts like MMA are in a league of their own when talking about tapping out.

Tapping out is not a sign of weakness but should be used when you are training or run the real risk of getting hurt. Tapping out in a competitive match when something is actually on the line is an in-the-moment decision that gets made and can leave you with a painful feeling of inadequacy or embarrassment. Everyone that trains in combat sports has or will be submitted the quicker you can come to terms with this the longer you will be able to train!

What are the stakes?

Understanding what is at stake when you tap out is important. When you tap out you are saying that your opponent has got you in an uncomfortable spot and you want to give up the match.

If there are big things at stake, the tap-out may need to be a last resort. Some people train with the idea that they will not tap out no matter what. While this is a noble trait, you do run a serious risk of injury when you do not submit to anything that could put your body in harm’s way.

When competing it is probably smarter to push the limits of your body and try to get out of bad spots in possible. If it is not possible, humble yourself and take the loss.

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Let the Ego Go

In our opinion, there is no shame in getting tapped out. Those that are against someone tapping out may be putting their athletes or themselves at risk of serious long-term injury. Although we believe that you should push through adversity in matches and do your best to get out of the chokes of threatening positions, we also believe that long-term health is the most important part of combat sports.

Let the ego go in these situations. The ego is a good thing to have for fighters but also can cloud your vision of what is important in the moment. Protecting yourself and your body along the way is one of the most important aspects of training jiu-jitsu or any other combat-based martial art like MMA.

Tapping out is the best way to prevent long-term injuries from creeping into your life. The last thing you want is to run the risk of a tear or fracture just because we were hard-headed in the moment. Move on to the next round, learn the lessons that were presented in that match, and grow. 

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