A Few Words on Tapping in Training

One of the best pieces of advice for new students to bjj is to tap early and tap often.

Most of us who have been training for more than a few months can recall an occasion where we were fighting a submission hold and thought that if we just bridged a little stronger or held out a little longer, that we wouldn’t have to tap.

POP! And something painfully cracked in the elbow or shoulder joint and we have to reflect on it while we hold an ice pack to the painful joint afterwards.

Read also: Safety on the mats: How to be safe and minimize training injuries!

So often we hear the words “leave your ego at the door” when entering the academy.
As much as this makes perfect common sense to all of us, it is not as easy to do as it is to say.


Because many students who show up for training several times a week have a very strong competitive desire.

That same competitive fire that makes you not want to be an “easy tapper” is the same passion that makes us endure tough warmups and grueling sparring matches.

We don’t easily accept losing and that is part of what makes us work so hard to persevere through the grind of training and seek to improve our bjj skills.

No one WANTS to tap, but it is a part of training, especially when you are just starting out.


The danger of not wanting to tap is twofold:

1) The obvious risk of physical injury if you refuse to tap to an extended arm bar.
2) The fear of tapping can make students restrict their games and avoid trying new positions and techniques.

It is safer to stay with your A Game and avoid situations during a roll where you might have your guard passed and get submitted.
But this leads to stagnation, ultimately limiting and slowing your skill development.

Bear in mind that many of the best competitors will leave their small town academies to go to a larger academy with a multitude of tough training partners for the very reason that they WANT TO GET TAPPED in training.
They know that unless they are being tested in training, they are not growing as athletes.
They are seeking out what many of us are instinctively avoiding!

These serious athletes hate tapping, but they also realize that there is some truth to the wisdom “there is no losing in training, only learning”.

The single best philosophy on tapping that I heard is one I remind myself and my students of often.
Instead of chastising yourself in training for getting tapped, a better mindset is to say to oneself, “Ok, you got me! Now let’s reset and have another try!”


Read also: Developing Your “A” Game – Tips on Finding Your Strongest Positions

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Taipei, Taiwan
Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJ