BJJ Poll: Should You Tap Your Instructor If the Opportunity Presents Itself or Out of Respect Let It Go?

by Caleb on November 24, 2012

We received a great question this week by email from one of the Mighty 600,000:

I am a purple belt and I was rolling with one of my instructors at my school last night, a black belt. As we were rolling I got in a great position and felt as tho I could have tapped my instructor. Out of respect I slowly loosened the choke and let him out, as tho I lost the position. I guess a topic conversation or poll idea could be:

Should you tap your instructor if the opportunity presents itself or out of respect let it go?

My instructor is Brazilian and does have a bit of an ego so I’m sure it would have been bad news had I finished the choke. Personally I feel as though he doesn’t hold back when he has a submission so why should I, but out of future ramifications I decided to let it go.

Whoa! Heavy question! What do you think? Should you tap your instructor if the opportunity is there or should you resist out of respect for him or her?

Let us know what you think by voting and adding a comment here on the site (and let us know if you are an instructor!).

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

schneewittchen November 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm

i only want to understand the connection between being brazilian and having “a bit of an ego”. HE can have a bit of an ego, it doesn’t have anything to do with a whole country. and brazil is as big as a continet, which means that there are all sorts of people there.

and yes, i would tap him. it’s not lack of respect. if we all are there in order to learn (living is constant learing), being tapped isn’t anything to feel ashamed of. if i were an instructor, i would feel worse if i felt somebody had let it go.

Ed November 25, 2012 at 8:35 am

When I roll with my instructor, I will try to go after submissions. My reasoning is this. If my teacher is working on new techniques, or new positions, he needs to know where they work, and where they fail. If I don’t expose the openings, then he isn’t gaining anything from the roll, and neither am I. This is also knowing the temper and philosophy of my teacher.I also teach a few classes at my academy, and in open roll, I totally don’t mind being tapped by my students. Alot of the time, I’m the one experimenting, so I take note of what I did wrong, and do things to correct it. Now if I get tapped by the same things twice, I”m more mad at myself then my training partner. Only through hardship can we learn to overcome.

sean November 25, 2012 at 10:48 am

I think honesty is fundamental to the integrity of bjj so we owe it to each other not to shortsell one another. plus, muscle memory, why develop bad habits

Ross Finlayson November 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Nice poll question! As is often the case, the answer is “it depends”. Often, your instructor will deliberately put himself in a bad position to invite you to go for a submission, to give you the chance to show that you know the submission (and its setups). In that case you should definitely go for the tap, to show him that you know it. The trouble is, though, that it’s not always obvious (especially as you become a higher belt) when your instructor is doing this deliberately. There are some situations (e.g., if I were training with my instructor in front of *his* instructor, or in front of the whole class) when – out of respect – I would choose not to risk embarrassing him.

jestin November 25, 2012 at 3:48 pm

From the words of my past instructor fabio vinelli, “if you tap me out, that means i taught you well!”

Like the of course ill try to tap my instructor! I wanna give my teachers the best i can give! Without spazzing and muscling of course!

rowdy November 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm

the only person i don’t tap out of respect is no one. i might pass up an easy ‘tap’ on someone, but i will still eventually tap them.

bjj is go hard and go home. and in that vein tapping equals learning. not tapping someone cheats them and yourself.

your instructor or not.

Gordon November 25, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I had an instructor who would always complain, during the roll, about guys going too rough when he felt threatened (in my opinion). This let me know he didn’t want us to tap him. However, he spared no effort in locking on a tap or applying pressure. He would also (only) jump in for short sessions during drill (1 minute exercises), so tapping him would be difficult to do in such a short period of time.

I think a lot of it has to do with the vibe your instructor gives off.

Steve November 26, 2012 at 5:37 am

As an instructor, I’d be upset if a person didn’t try to finish a submission on me.

Jimmy November 26, 2012 at 8:19 am

Always finish the submission. No matter who it’s on. If you let up during practice and training, you’ll let up in competition. Not a good habit to gain.

Jiu Jiu November 28, 2012 at 2:50 am

Of course I would tap him – since when is tapping someone disrespectful. If that’s the case, I have several white belts and blue belts that I need to have words with.

It means he taught me well. Does it mean he went at only 10% his normal ability? Probably. Would I write about it online? Nope – bad behavior. Would I feel proud of it? No – it was a learning experience. I’d be excited because I was improving, but not specifically because I was tapping someone better than me.

If my instructor had so much of an ego that I felt it was disrespectful to tap him, should that present itself, I would likely find another gym.

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