It has long been conventional wisdom that good training requires one to explore bad positions, and almost tempt fate during rolls. Chances are that when you do this youll get tapped out. Theres a dirty little secret in jiu jitsu: higher ranks sometimes hate tapping to lower ranks, and view it as an affront. I think this is terrible as it exemplifies how the ego overtakes our good judgment, and there is good reason to find opportunities to tap to people of lower rank or skill.
I cant speak for everyone, but I personally find that once Ive tapped someone out a couple of times without making any real effort, continuing to steamroll them is of no value to me. What am I accomplishing? All I am doing is in some weird, twisted way padding my own arrogance. I gain nothing from beating someone mercilessly.
For this reason, when I feel like I can trust someone, I try to give them position. I enter the deepest waters of their own personal pool of skill. I try to find where that person is most dangerous and submerge myself. At that point, when I begin to drown, is where I find the most growth.
My goal isnt to get tapped, but it often is inevitable. The other night I rolled with a white belt who is much bigger and stronger than I am. I put myself in a bad position and eventually he tapped me out. In this situation, I learned some of my own limitations. I exposed a specific weakness in a specific position against a specific opponent using a specific submission. He took nothing from me, but gave me knowledge about my own weaknesses.
If I were competing against this white belt, I could probably beat him using my A-Game. If I wanted to hurt this white belt, I easily could. I gain nothing from steamrolling those with less mat prowess than me, and gain everything from giving them opportunities to steamroll me.
Tap to those with less rank and/or less athletic ability. Dont give them the submission, but give them everything they need to get the submission. Then fight that with the best techniques you have to offer. If you fail, you learn, if you succeed, make it just a little bit harder for yourself. Doing this will allow you to improve your game no matter who you are rolling with. This is not easy. This will not be an ego stroking experience. However, it is at its very core the best way to truly improve yourself.
Emil Fischer is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training with Strong Style Brasa and is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear and Cruz Combat. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at www.facebook.com/emilfischerbjj and www.twitter.com/Emil_Fischer