Part 2- I got tapped by a white belt (or any lower ranking belt)

The BJJ life is going great.  You have gotten rid of that old worn out white belt and been handed a new blue belt.  There are definitely a few tough white belts you roll with, but most do not give you much of a battle.  Then it happens, a white belt taps you out.  Believe it or not, if you train long enough, a lower ranking belt will tap you out.  Your belt provides no protection from other belts.  If anything, lower belts will likely be giving you their “A game”. Here is a little advice to remember when you get caught by a lower ranking belt; this advice can be for any level.

The disappointment- The first time I was tapped out by a lower belt I was disappointed in myself.  This is probably the most common thing to feel.  You might wonder if you deserve your belt, or maybe you are just getting worse.  Show your instructor respect and don’t question your belt.  If you are questioning your belt, you are questioning you instructor’s judgment.  Most likely the main cause of getting tapped out by a lower belt is that the lower belt is advancing.

Don’t avoid this lower belt- Getting tapped by a lower belt can be a freak occurrence, but most likely this lower belt has been slowly catching up to you.  Do not avoid the lower belt that is putting you in danger and giving you a run for your money.  You have a color belt, you are not just some person to roll with you are also a coach to lower belts.  You need to be helping to develop the members of your team, not avoiding them because they are getting better.  Avoiding the students that are improving is a mistake.

No excuses- When you get tapped by a lower ranking belt don’t give an excuse.  You are not going to lose respect from this person because you got tapped.  You lose respect if you complain and give excuses.  When you are in a submission, fight to get out of it. Do not stop rolling and give advice on how to finish the submission.  Coaching while in a close submission is a cheap way to avoid getting tapped.  It is better to fight out of the submission and then tell them how to tighten it up.

Be happy- So you got caught by a lower ranking student, who cares?  If you get mad when you get tapped out you are forgetting to leave your ego at the door.  Students that get upset after getting tapped have a higher likelihood of quitting.  When I was a lower belt I remember not finishing submissions because my partner would get mad.  Someone who gets mad is not a good training partner or member of the team.  After you get tapped by someone for the first time give them a quick handshake and tell them “nice work”, then get back to rolling.

To sum it up- Worrying about getting tapped out is a negative thought process that will eventually slow your progress.  You will roll one less time because you are tired, you will not branch out of your comfort zone and try new techniques.  I have seen students come to class less due to frustration and then ultimately quit.  That’s a stupid reason to quit BJJ.  No one loves getting caught by lower belts, but it is going to happen sometime.  Just keep rolling; it’s only a big deal if you make it a big deal.

Read Part 1 -Tapped my first Blue blet (or any higher ranking belt)

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Part 1- I Tapped my first Blue belt (or any higher ranking belt)

Sooner or later you are going to tap out someone who has a higher rank than you. This can be very exciting and a sign that you are making real progress. Here is a little advice for you to consider when you get to this experience in your BJJ journey. To keep it simple, let’s focus on white belts tapping blues, but the advice can be for any level.

Good job- Your hard work and training is starting to show progress. For most new white belts, a blue will seem almost invincible for a long time. You should feel a happy and a little excited. The person you were when you first started BJJ could not have accomplished this task. The technique you used might be something to really focus on. You should do more drilling with the technique and get even better at it.

Be humble- First of all you can’t accomplish anything at the expense of your teammates. You accomplish WITH your teammates. This blue belt has probably helped you get to this point. Do not be rude and celebrate in front of everyone what you just did. Just finish the round like you would if the blue tapped you out.

Think about what happened- Doing this may take away some of the excitement of your accomplishment. Keep in mind that this is not a tournament, this is training. There are many things other than you being awesome that could have helped contribute to you tapping out a blue belt. There is a good chance that your partner was not rolling as hard as they could. In BJJ position is so important. If your partner rolls light with you, eventually you will get a good position and catch them. This blue belt could be very tired, or you might have a size advantage over him. In the long run tapping out a higher ranking belt is a small step.

Don’t tell your coach you are ready for the next belt- This is rude and very short sighted. Your coach will know when you are ready for your next belt. One submission over someone does not deem you worthy of a new belt. Your coach is more likely to be watching how you move in general, and not watching for a few seconds of greatness. For example, you may have a great triangle choke but if you stick your arms up to escape the mount, you are not ready for a belt promotion.

To sum it up- Good job in moving forward with your BJJ progress. But keep in mind that tapping out a teammate that was not giving a 100% is not the best thing you will accomplish on the mat. Keep working hard and look to make submitting higher ranking belts more common. Keep in mind that someday you will be wearing a blue belt and get tapped by a white belt.

Part 2 –  I got tapped by a white belt (or any lower ranking belt)

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Slow down while you are rolling to improve your Jiu-Jitsu

Just slow down and relax

One of the things I enjoy about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is being able to fight as hard as I can, with a competitive opponent and have no injuries or ill will after the roll.  With most martial arts if people are going full speed the participants will be much more likely to get injured.  That being said, slowing down is one great way to become better at BJJ.

It is common for new BJJ students to rely on speed and strength to make up for their poor technique.  The student will have an idea of how the technique works and they will force it on their rolling partner.  This is a recipe for learning Jiu-Jitsu the hard way.  You will have many hard fought battles without learning much.

Rolling slower is less tiring and you get to roll longer.  Many people get tired after just 5 to 15 minutes, this makes it hard to get a lot of “mat time”.  Just by slowing down and controlling your breathing you will be able to roll much longer.  The longer you roll the more your body can learn the subtle movements of BJJ.

It is common for new students to say “if I slow down I will get my butt kicked”.  That is a good concern, you will likely be playing more defense that you typically do with people of similar skill.  That’s great, defense is very important.  The more advanced students are likely to notice you slowing down.  Because you are not going so hard the more advanced students will probably slow down.

If you can do a technique slowly and without much power you can do it with speed and power.  Being able to do submissions slow on a resistive opponent is a good sign that you are doing the move correctly.  Your speed and power will be there for you should you really need it.

Another way people roll slowly is to suggest to the other person that you both roll at an easy pace.  When you are rolling at an agreed slow speed don’t get competitive and speed up over the course of the round.  Sometimes people will take turns doing submissions and escapes.  For example the first student does one or two moves and the other student escapes and then does a couple of moves.  This is also great if you are nursing an injury and not ready for a full speed opponent.

It may be hard at first to slow down but in the long run it will help you get better at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.