Be Responsible for Yourself on the Mats

Flickr/Creative Commons: Sylvain

It is important to take responsibility for yourself and be accountable in all areas of your life. Jiu-jitsu is one area where responsibility is required to be able to enjoy it and keep your body healthy. We all learn about tapping to submissions and may hear the “tap early, tap often” quote. It’s excellent advice for the ego and your physical health. When you physically tap, be very clear that you are tapping. There are a lot of body parts in contact, so be very clear that your tap is obvious. I like to verbally tap, so there is no discrepancy. If your tap is verbal, make certain it is loud enough for your partner to hear.

If you’re new, you can gradually determine how long you can wait to tap. It only applies to certain submissions such as an ankle lock. When it was early in my jiu-jitsu, I immediately tapped when I felt pain. It’s better to be safe than sorry and have longevity on the mats. I did want to see if I could withstand more pain without injury or discomfort afterward. I gradually held out longer and longer before I tapped. This process was very gradual, so I didn’t get injured. When I got to the point where I tapped and my ankle was slightly sore that day and the next, then I knew that would be my limit for competitions and slightly sooner for class.

If you have an injury, let them know you have one. At the same time, tap even earlier, and don’t leave it up to your partner to remember which arm or leg in the middle of rolling. It’s good to let them know to bring awareness and so they know why you are tapping super early. With this said, also choose partners you can trust to roll accordingly. 

You want to choose partners that let go as soon as you tap. There is already the possibility of injuries when everyone is operating smoothly, so you don’t want any additional ones. You also want to listen or feel for their tap. Sometimes when you are concentrating on what you are doing, then you may get distracted from what your partner is saying or doing. At the same time, you are not responsible for them. Some people are training for tournaments and maybe rolling at a different pace than someone who is not. Everyone can still be responsible for themselves. If someone’s pace doesn’t give you enough time to tap even if you feel you tap quickly, then choose different partners. 

When there are partners that may be not so technical with their movements, let them know. You both can still choose to continue to partner with each other. Keep in mind the belt level and what is typical. Some can use more strength and “spazzy” movements at the white belt because we didn’t have much skill. At that level, it is somewhat understandable because they are in the process of learning. If someone much larger than you is using a lot of strength, then neither of you is learning. Rely on technique as much as possible and communicate with your partner. If they are unreceptive after telling them more than once, then move on to other partners that will respond and reciprocate. It is important that we are both learning and improving our techniques. We all want to be happy on the mats and get better at jiu-jitsu.


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