Learning From Tapping? Yes!

Most of us have heard the phrase “There is no losing in jiu-jitsu. Only winning and learning!”

It is a way to reframe what most people feel is a negative experience : getting submitted in training when you were doing your best to avoid the tap.

But what does the phrase mean? It is fine to be positive and all..but what did you really learn?

There IS a more specific way for you to learn from tapping. It is a significant attitude to use in building your jiu-jitsu.

The previous class I watched a roll between a new student with only a few months experience roll with a technical blue belt. The white belt have a good effort but was overmatched and had to tap in submission several times to a specific choke.

Frustrated after tapping the 3rd time to the very same choke, he slapped the mat and said “Not again!”

I understand the frustration of the desire to win and trying your best and it not working. That drive is what keeps us putting in.the hard effort.

As the new student retied his belt I asked him if he had ever heard the quote about “…no losing only learning”. He answered yes but I could see that was not making him feel any better about tapping to the same choke 3 consecutive times.

“Ok, now you are going to learn from getting tapped.” I explained that part of the helpful culture in jiu-jitsu was that if you have been caught in a submission or sweep that one should ask the training partner after the roll a few questions. The vast majority of BJJ students are more than willing to help you out.

1) What was the technique that you caught me with?

2) What mistake did I make that allowed the opening for the submission or sweep?

3) What can I do to defend the technique the next time?

The blue belt listening to the conversation came over and demonstrated the choke that he was using to get the submission. Now we have identified the problem.

2nd question “What mistake did you make?” The blue belt patiently explained the proper defensive position for the arms when trapped on the bottom. Finally, we talked about the specific counter to that choke technique.

I explained to the new white belt that he could apply this method of “learning from tapping” after each rolling session. This was a highly effective method for getting feedback from his rolls and step by step fill different holes in his knowledge.

Instead of going home after class feeling dejected because he tapped several times to the same technique, he was returning home having learned a small but valuable piece of information to build his jiu-jitsu and apply the very next time on the mat.

See also on Gracie Barra : Single Best Piece Of Training Advice

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam
Instagram: @bjjmarkmullen