Making an opponent tap out is the main goal of many martial arts.
Successfully making your opponent submit is often a fight-ending move and something that all students of submission or grappling-focused martial arts want to be able to master.
There is a contractual obligation of the individual who is dominating to not take any single fight-ending move anywhere close to completion.
On the other side, the grappler caught in the submission is obligated to tap out, after they have exhausted all logical defensive options.
Therefore, tapping out plays as significant a role as causing a submission in such martial arts.
Tapping Out In Jiu-Jitsu
Tapping has significant importance in jiu-jitsu.
The act of tapping out signifies death through the acknowledgment that your opponent could have reasonably killed you with the move that you tapped on.
This means that tapping should not be seen as an assault on your ego.
In fact, tapping is the ultimate goal of a grapple, therefore, someone has to do it.
One of the first things you need to do when grappling or rolling in jiu-jitsu is to detach your ego from the process of tapping or submitting.
In fact, leave your ego at the door altogether.
A quality instructor or sensei will never judge your progress or ability by your tap-outs.
Similarly, a quality instructor will never allow anyone else in the dojo to judge you by tap-outs.
Jiu-jitsu is ultimately a martial art that is about learning and improving, rather than being perceived as winning.
Above all else, thinking of tapping as a measure of your skill or ability is a dangerous, incorrect mindset to have.
The consequences of putting ego over safety in regard to tapping out can be deadly, no one is too good to tap out.
Why Tapping Is Important
Tapping is more than just a way to safely and appropriately end a fight.
Tapping is one of the most effective ways to learn new skills in jiu-jitsu.
If you spend any amount of time in a dojo, you will probably have heard the phrase “There is no losing in jiu-jitsu, you either win or you learn”.
Having to tap out is not a loss, it is an opportunity to learn, to solve a problem.
This is true to the extent that even advanced jiu-jitsu students will intentionally put themselves in a position where they have to tap in order to begin to learn how to get out of such a situation.
Everyone who participates in jiu-jitsu taps out during practice, sometimes you will have to tap out on the same move more than once.
This can be frustrating, but learning to reframe it as a problem that needs to be solved is the best way to ensure that you keep progressing fast.
When this happens, communication is key.
Talk to your opponent, talk to your instructor, ask for the move to be explained to you however many times you need, and try different approaches each time.
With each tap, you will understand the problem more and get closer and closer to a solution.
That is what makes taps so important to jiu-jitsu as a sport.
How To Tap
Now that we know what tapping is for and the potential consequences of not tapping, we need to learn how to tap effectively.
This is important because the last thing you want is to be in a position where you cannot breathe and your opponent is not aware that you are trying to tap.
The key to successful tapping is to always be aware of what is happening and anticipate what is about to happen.
You need to ensure that you have at least one limb available to tap when you recognize that you have exhausted all options available to you.
The ideal way to tap is to tap on your opponent’s body, not just once or twice, make sure to tap repeatedly and loudly to make sure that they understand that you are tapping.
If you are unable to tap your opponent’s body for whatever reason, the next best option is to tap the floor.
Again, ensure that you are tapping loudly and repeatedly to convey that you are tapping.
Remember that you can tap with your arms or your legs, whatever is available to you.
It is also possible to tap verbally by saying “tap” loudly, this is great if you have no limbs available, or if you want an added layer of communication.
When To Tap
In addition to knowing how to tap, it is important to know when it is appropriate to tap.
Obviously, a tap is used in a submission, when there are no more moves available to you and the fight is ended.
This is the main use of a tap. However, there are other instances where it is appropriate to tap.
You should always tap in instances where you are unable to breathe, or you are experiencing serious discomfort during a grapple.
In these situations, it is imperative that you tap as hard and as fast as you can.
This lets your opponent and instructor know that immediate release is required and allows them to check on your wellbeing and health appropriately afterward.
The “Brazillian” Tap
There are also instances where tapping is inappropriate and shouldn’t really be used.
Known as the “Brazillian” tap, this is essentially a fake tap.
It occurs when someone is caught tightly in a submission hold and lightly touches their opponent, making it look like they are going to tap.
This makes the opponent loosen their grip and the Brazillian tapper can take advantage.
This move is highly disrespectful in jiu-jitsu and is generally considered to be cheating. Steer clear of this tactic.
Tapping is an important part of learning jiu-jitsu, more than just a symbol of ability, it is the most effective way to progress within the sport.
The more advanced a move or the tighter a submission is held, the faster the tap will occur. Above all else, learn to tap properly, and avoid the “Brazillian” tap.