How To Use Tapping Out To Your Advantage

The first thing we learn in Jiu Jitsu is to tap out.

We voluntarily acknowledge the fact that at that present moment we have been submitted.

It wasn’t an accident and no one else is to blame.

You may be judged for it, others may see it, it may be in training or at a large event.

Do you get upset? Do you give up? Do you get inspired? Do you do nothing at all?

Having done Jiu Jitsu for many years I think it’s a determinative and instructive factor not only in Jiu Jitsu but in life.

One person I used to train with used to tap out all the time. They never stopped training. Their goal was to learn so they would seemingly forever be getting submitted for at least a year or two.

I specifically remember he was training with a guy who had their hands in their belt and were continually triangling the person just to get a decent warm up. And they were going live. This is how seemingly bad this person was who was getting tapped out.

But he wasn’t fazed by it. he was happy to be training with the person period who was beating him.

Watching and watching over time this person had gotten better and better. Eventually they earned their black belt and had a successful competitive and teaching career.

I noticed when the person got tapped out they would always then ask their training partner if they felt there was something they could do better.

And then I noticed even when they did good an didn’t tap out they would still ask the same question.

“Did you see anything wrong? Is there anything you felt I could do better?”

Over time this questioning process helped open up a lot of their training partners deepest secrets. They would go beyond just the answer to the specific question but they would go deeper into anything they could to help this person. It is flattering and a compliment to be asked by another person for help.

Yet in life when we fail at something we sometimes feel ashamed, embarrassed, angry or even negative about our progress.

In just about anything we do or any relationship we have where we fail at something we can use it as an opportunity to learn something. Even when we succeed at something we can learn how to get even better.

Even a white belt can teach a black belt something. No one knows everything.

It doesn’t mean you have to seek to get tapped out. It also doesn’t mean you have to be the world champion everyday either and never get tapped out.

It’s just acknowledging that Jiu Jitsu can not only help you on the mat but using it as a parallel off the mat can enlighten you as well as put things in their proper perspective no matter how difficult we thing that sounds – it’s true.

Do you think the person I mentioned enjoyed getting submitted?

No, I’m not suggesting that. But growing and getting better was his goal so getting submitted and being a “failure” never determined who he was in his mind.

The way in which he got backup and sought help actually showed more about who he was than anything.

A great white belt who never taps out because they cant handle it doesn’t necessarily mean they will be better than person who taps out often but seeks help often.

At some point you will need advice, you will need help. It’s life – it’s jiu jitsu.

It’s okay to tap out. But it’s not okay make that tapout final.

I think it was Roger Gracie who said his defense is so great because he tapped out more than anyone at his gym.

I used to watch Garry Tonon compete all the time and he was average for a while, but he kept at it and at it and now look at him, he kept going toward greatness.

In fact there was a recent quote of Garry Tonon even in his greatness in the present day where he says

“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.”

If you’re tapping out a lot, be thankful, you are likely learning and growing a lot.


Ken Primola
author BJJ Intelligence