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Let’s say you get a tap from someone way more senior than you in a training session.

What should you do?

How should you behave?

Just act normal.

I can understand you feel victorious and that you want to congratulate yourself. That’s OK. I’ve been there, too.

I felt proud of myself when I caught my coach with triangle choke for the first time when I was a blue belt. (It didn’t happen again soon after that.)

Acting normal means getting back to work right away without thinking too much about the tap you got.

If you get tapped, you go back to sparring without being too discouraged about it.

If you get a tap, it’s the same thing… you go back to sparring without being too happy about it.

Think about what went well or didn’t go well later on, though.

What you shouldn’t do is to talk about taps you get from others. And never post and brag about your “victory” on social media.

But instead of just scolding this behavior, I’ll tell you a bit more about what might be going on when someone taps out another person who is supposedly more senior IN TRAINING. Let’s call the lower-ranked person W and the higher-ranked person P.

1) W might be legitimately more skilled than P, at least in some areas. Perhaps W has been working on his d’arce choke for the last six months, and P doesn’t have a solid defense against d’arce. P can crush W in almost every other area, but W happens to find/create an opportunity to apply his d’arce choke to P… and P taps. Great work by W. Now, he should start working on other areas of his game in addition to d’arce.

2) W might be physically way superior to & much heavier than P. So, even though P does have much better skills than W, if P makes a small mistake that allows W to move on to the side control and get a Kimura grip, for example… W may be able to finish P with his brute strength alone. But the thing is… the point of jiu jitsu is not really about beating someone much smaller than you with your power alone. W should be working on improving his technique so he can beat people as big as him or bigger than him. And you spar for that purpose… improving your technique and not for “winning” over your training partners.

3) P is just having a bad day. Perhaps something really discouraging happens at work. Maybe he hasn’t been sleeping well because he has a newborn baby to take care of. So, P makes a mistake he wouldn’t have made otherwise, and W does a good job capitalizing on that mistake. It can happen.

4) P wants to improve his escapes and overall defensive skills. So, he kinda puts himself into bad positions so he can get much better and comfortable in these positions. W manages to go beyond P’s defenses and gets a tap from P. But in reality, it was P who gave W some easier access to that particular bad spot.

5) P wants to help W get better. So, P tries to guide W by giving W some obvious signs, which may not be so obvious to a beginner like W. As a consequence of P’s unspoken guidance, W manages to get a tap from P. But again, that’s exactly what P planned.

6) P is a fake purple belt (intentionally or unintentionally). For example, he actually has a purple belt in his Karate school’s system and thought it would be OK to wear it while checking out W’s BJJ school. Everyone crushes him and wonders what’s going on.

7) W is a fake white belt as far as his actual skill level is concerned. He is a Luta Livre black belt, but he wears a white belt during BJJ classes since he doesn’t know anything about BJJ and gi stuff.

There can be more possible scenarios, but none of them gives you a good reason to brag about the taps you get in training on social media. Just keep them to yourself and work on improving your skills.

What happens on the mat stays on the mat.

I, too, have been tapped out by all sorts of people, ranging from white belts to black belts. And the reasons may vary, as I outlined above. But that’s OK because these situations give me more info about where/how I can improve.

You gotta explore your weaknesses, sometimes by putting yourself in bad positions or by NOT playing your best positions.

p.s. I remember getting submitted by a big Brazilian white belt. I was already a black belt when it happened. While the size difference was huge, I can usually handle bigger guys. So, of course, I felt discouraged a bit. But later on, people told me that he’s a black belt in Luta Livre. (Luta Livre is a no-gi grappling system from Brazil.)

I will repeat this again but focus on improving your skills. That’s what matters after all.

p.p.s. This article is a pretty good read on a related topic.