Lesson #3: Ego Isn’t Your Bro.
Tapping is a fact of life in Jiu Jitsu. You will tap. You have to tap to learn. You will tap to someone better or quicker or more clever than you right up until the day you hang up your coral belt. You’ll tap to folks that you consider less talented than you. Eventually you’ll even give up a tap to the noobs here and there to help them learn. There’s no shame in tapping. Never. I can’t say this enough and any more firmly; There is no shame in tapping!
Now that I got that out of the way, let’s talk about why we don’t tap. There are two primary reasons why someone doesn’t tap: Ego and inexperience. There’s different levels of ego on the mats, so for the purpose of this discussion, I’m not talking about being a jerk on the mats, just being overly stubborn or proud. Usually ego and inexperience go together, so before you think you’re a complete idiot because your elbows, shoulders and knees are jacked up from not tapping… Most beginners go through this somewhat painful and often embarrassing stage. You don’t know when to tap, but you’ll be dammed if you’re not going to give your all when you roll (we’re going to talk about the well known ‘White Belt Spaz’ another day). So you go hard and stay way too long in a kimura you thought for sure you’d be able to get out of. Not your finest moment, but ideally during your next rolls you survive longer before you tap to that kimura, and at some point along the way you’re going to say to yourself “Ah ha!!! I keep getting getting caught in this kimura because I keep letting my partner isolate my arm in his/her guard!”. This is learning. They may still have other ways of getting that arm, but now you’ve learned a defense to one.
A personal experience that I can share, I was at an open mat in Toronto as a relatively new white belt. While rolling with a purple belt, she caught me with my very first knee bar. I’d never felt one, never even seen one before that moment. I didn’t tap when I should have because I didn’t understand the mechanics of a knee bar; and I was too proud to tap to this tiny lady, even though she was ranked way higher than me. Meanwhile the poor purple belt assumed I knew what it was and what to do because I only train no gi. Needless to say I was very sore for a few weeks and even had the audacity to blame my partner, which isn’t fair. When in doubt, tap. I didn’t tap because I was ignorant of the submission and too proud to tap and ask what it was and how to counter it. Tapping is your responsibility.
There is no shame in tapping, there’s only lessons and experience. So when you have those days where everyone on the mat is a hammer and you’re feeling a lot like a nail, just think of all the experience you’re gaining and all the money you’re saving on painkillers and joint supplements! You may have tapped three times to the same darce, but I bet you won’t get caught a fourth time! And if you do, so be it, now you know you need to work on your darce defense.