Grappling and Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu are submission based arts.  A willingness to submit is an important attribute for any aspiring jiu-jitsu artist.  Submission is typically conveyed through tapping your opponent, tapping the mat or verbally saying, “tap.”  Any time one feels uncomfortable they can submit and restart.  Refusing to submit is not a defense.

This is a lesson I go through with many new opponents the first time we roll.  Some people get it without a problem.  For other people it is a hard pill to swallow.  Having said that, it is absolutely necessary.

A newish white belt tough guy in Chicago exhibited a reluctance to submit once.  Although I do not recall what the first submission was, I got my submission despite his reluctance.  When we restarted it rained guillotine chokes one after another.  When the five minute match was over the guy looked a little shell-shocked.  My bet is that he thought of me every time he swallowed for the next week or so.  As he walked off the matts J-Man, the coach on duty said to him, “He was trying to tell you to stop sticking your neck out.”  True, I was trying to tell him a thing, but not quite that.  I wanted the guy to become comfortable submitting.  I wanted him to be comfortable submitting so he would be absolutely willing to tap.  Through this process I hope that the white belt will become more pliable.  Once that happens rolls get more playful, everyone taps, and there is well founded confidence in your technique.

I do this because it is important for my team mates to receive honestly in our rolls.  If I let them go because they don’t want to tap to something it lies to them.  It tells them their defense worked and it encourages them to refuse to tap in the future.  That’s all well and good if no one at the gym is going to finish their armbars, but when you compete or defend yourself there will be no such consideration.  I’d hate for someone to be injured because they have false confidence in their ability to defend themselves.

This doesn’t mean every opportunity for a submission has to end in a finish.  It is good to be playful in your rolls just as it is good to feel your opponent’s fight.  Martial arts should be fun.