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Tips for Avoiding the Tap

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“There is no losing, only learning” a popular piece of jiu-jitsu wisdom goes. And that positive attitude will carry you through periods where you are getting dominated by training partners with more experience. After surrendering a submission it is cool to ask your training partner “What mistake did I make that led to the submission?”

Now that is a constructive way to deal with what might otherwise feel like a discouraging lack of success in rolling.

Moral victories aside, most jiu-jitsu students consider their earliest successes on the mat in terms of escaping positions and avoiding getting submitted by other students who regularly submit them.

We are here to help you this week on Gracie Barra Blog with some tips to help you avoid getting tapped.

Tip #1 Understand the 3 stages of defending submissions. Using the Jiu Jitsu triangle as an example:

Early Prevention - Avoid putting yourself in situations where you are vulnerable to being attacked. Don’t leave an arm inside while passing the guard. Don’t lower your head and sacrifice your posture. Remember is is far easier to avoid a submission attack in the first place than fighting out once your opponent has secured their grips.

Early stage - Your opponent may have initiated an attack but not yet managed to lock the figure 4 on the legs, pulled your head down and / or crossed your arm across to tighten the triangle. Understand the correct counter technique to use at this intermediate stage of the submission.

Late Stage - This is the time for a “Hail Mary” escape. A last ditch effort to stop from getting tapped. You may still end up having to tap even if you counter if you are too late and your opponent has secured all of the elements required to lock up the triangle. Your instructor can give you a specific technique for this specific situation.

Tip #2 Priority one is to set your defensive arm position in any position where you may be attacked. Overwhelmingly, 1st year bjj students say getting stuck under side control is their biggest rolling problem. Fair enough! Side control is tough to escape from.

When your guard gets passed and you find yourself defending side control, your most important priority is the place your arms in the proper defensive position. There are a multitude of different submission attacks from side control and it is important to place frames and keep your elbows in tight to avoid exposing an easy submission attack for your opponent. Be safe first…then look to escape.

Tip #3 Learning the submissions. This seems like a counter intuitive piece of advice at first. But pause to think about it. When you understand the steps and pieces that are required for a successful triangle choke, you will be able to identify when your opponent is thinking of an attack and anticipate and react early.

Secondly, you can deny the grips, hip movement and other elements if the triangle that they need to successfully complete the lock. By deconstructing the steps of the triangle you can intelligently not cooperate with what your opponent is trying to do.

Yes, we do need to learn and drill the specific submission counters and escapes for each particular attack, but these tips should help decrease the number of times you are getting caught in a submission.

Credits: Mark Mullen

Gracie Barra Black belt based in Asia

Jiu-Jitsu for Everyone

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