Is Jiu Jitsu All About The Tapout?

Is Jiu Jitsu All About The Tapout?

There's a common belief about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. A belief that I'd like to label as a misconception. In my 11 years in the martial art, I've consistently heard that "the purpose of jiu jitsu is to submit your opponent." Sure, the quickest and most effective way to win a jiu jitsu match is to make your opponent tap out, but life isn't a jiu jitsu match. And jiu jitsu extends well outside the scope of tournament matches. Jiu Jitsu can be used in an MMA fight, a real life self defense scenario, and applied to many different facets of your life. Jiu Jitsu has a far greater purpose than just winning NAGA tournaments, and focusing on only the tap out can be a very limiting mindset. Even in a jiu jitsu match, if you're focusing on the tap out and only the tap out, you're going out there throwing Hail Mary passes, and more than likely not scoring many touchdowns.

Allow me to explain. There are many tools we develop when training jiu jitsu. The most important thing I've personally learned from bjj is confidence. Knowing I can handle myself in any scenario is worth it's weight in gold. And not just a physical scenario. Learning and competing in jiu jitsu has taught me to think under fire. I react quicker, keep my calm better, and stay sharp in high pressure situations; all thanks to BJJ.

But let's talk about the physical. In jiu jitsu, we learn how to submit an opponent, yes. But how many opponents do you submit in your every day life? I hope none. Still, jiu jitsu is something we can put in our back pocket and take with us everywhere we go. Why? Because it's the art of using your body. An outsider looking in won't know this, but I've learned how to move my hips in dynamic ways that activate my core and cause my entire body to function better. I've gained flexibility, I've lost weight, and I've even learned how to fall in certain ways that protect my body from injury.

So, I think you're getting my point. Jiu jitsu isn't just about submissions. But what about in a fight? In a fight, BJJ is all about the submission, right? Wrong. Even in a fight, Jiu Jitsu is about so much more than just submissions.

Here's why:

If you're in a situation where you're being attacked by a bigger, stronger person; our first aim isn't to help you shrimp on concrete and find the arm bar. Any teacher who's worth his salt will first teach you how to break the person's posture and position yourself in a way that you're not getting hit. In a situation like this, ideally you're controlling the person's body in a way that you can either:

A: stop them from causing you harm until help arrives or

B: help you get to your feet and escape the situation

Conversely, if you're in the offensive position, you can hold the person in place, taking away their ability to move. There have been lots of YouTube videos exemplifying when a practitioner uses jiu jitsu to hold a violent individual down until the police arrive.

Even more so, the concept of control holds true in MMA. A universal philosophy of jiu jitsu is "position before submission." Your goal in a fight against an opponent, trained or undertrained, is to put that person in a bad spot. Establishing the mount position in an MMA fight is awesome! If you can control that position, you're in great shape, and you most likely have the fight in the bag. Which is why it absolutely puzzles me to see a skilled practitioner relinquish this position to go for some fancy submission, lose it, and end up on their backs with the opponent on top of them. This person drank all of the kool aid, but drank the wrong flavor. Why would you risk ending up on your back when you're in the perfect position to end the fight with a punch? This is a textbook rookie mistake that I've seen people at the highest level make. Heck, I've even seen of my coaches make it in the octagon. But this is not just bad strategy, this is bad jiu jitsu.

Ok, now I know what you're thinking. In a BJJ tournament, jiu jitsu is all about submissions. I at least have to give you that, right? My answer is no. I still won't give you that. The most prestigious tournaments in the world like ADCC and IBJJF events can all be won by points as well as submissions. There are many high level practitioners out there that argue against points tournaments, and claim that a win by points isn't really a win. More often than not, the ones making this bold claim are the ones who entered these tournaments and lost. I'm not even going to get into that here. But I will say that the point system, which awards controlling positions that typically lead to submissions, is an accurate way of determining who dominated the match. For example, isn't it safe to bet that the person who scored a take down, guard pass, and mount before getting hit with a surprise submission is a more complete BJJ practitioner? In most cases, I would say yes. At the highest level, when two expert practitioners butt heads, we see that both atheletes boast incredible defense. This defense makes it so that we see much more matches decided by points, and much less by tap outs. Some would say this is boring, but what they're actually watching is high level jiu jitsu. Its not designed to be entertaining, its designed to be effective.

Ultimately, the submission is a large part of the art. Getting that tap out looks cool, and everybody cheers! But you have to ask yourself; are you training jiu jitsu because you want it to look cool, or because you want to learn a martial art that works? BJJ is an art that specializes in positional dominance and control, all of which leads to a submission. But if your entire skill set is based on skipping all that "boring" stuff and going right for the submission, you probably learned jiu jitsu from YouTube anyway

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