Have you ever trained BJJ with anyone who’s so desperate not to tap out that all they do is stall?
Someone who’s whole ego is wrapped up in the idea that such-and-such brown belt hasn’t managed to submit them out recently?
It’s one of the biggest traps the ego can lead someone into on the mats…
Back in the day I trained with one of these guys who’s entire sense of jiu-jitsu self-worth was rooted in not getting submitted. Let’s call him ‘Jeff.
Jeff truly was difficult to tap out. He had strong, short arms that were hard to armbar. Anytime he ended up on bottom – typically in sidemount – he’d lock his arms across his chest, grip his lapels, and bury his chin. Then he’d stall for dear life until the end of the round, after which he usually had to sit out for a bit until the lactic acid cleared from his limbs.
(Incidentally he was also one of those guys who would start every match with, “Hey, let’s just take it easy today…” Everything would be cool until he got into a dominant position and then suddenly he’d go into full berserker mode, using every iota of his strength to slam on his one submission. Which, predictably, was a neck crank.)
Anyway, back to the not wanting to get tapped out stuff…
If someone grabs their lapels, shrink-wraps their arms to their torso, and refuses to move, escape or engage then as far as I’m concerned they’ve stopped doing jiu-jitsu. They’re just stalling. They might not be tapping out, but they’re losing at a much deeper level because now they’re not learning.
Actually now you’re both losing because in this stalemated situation you’re not learning much either.
Jeff was always complaining about not getting promoted from white belt to blue belt. His technical knowledge was pretty limited, but that didn’t stop him from bitching…
“Why did I get passed over? That guy who just got his blue belt can’t tap me!”
Stuff like that…
Finally a friend of mine called him on this. “Why should you be a blue belt?” he asked. “You have no sweeps, escapes and no technique. Why should you be a blue belt?!?”
“Well,” replied Jeff, “I’m hard to tap out. I’m a blue belt in defense!”
A blue belt in defense??!?? I’m here to tell you that there’s no such thing.
If all you do is run away from a fight then of course it’s hard to lose. But you’re also never gonna win. And you’re also not going to learn how to fight better.
The more you tap the more you learn. If your entire goal is to avoid tapping at all costs then you’re going to stay a white belt forever!
Let’s say you’re trapped on the bottom of sidemount. Now say you try to escape but your form isn’t perfect: you leave an arm exposed and your opponent armbars you. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
It’s a good thing! You’ve just learned what NOT to do. Don’t leave your arm exposed!!
And it’s a good thing for your opponent too. He’s just managed to improve his technique and timing as well.
So you both win.
Jiu-jitsu is about movement and position. If you’re stalling just because you don’t want to tap out then you’re not getting better.
It should be pretty obvious that I’m not recommending playing it safe on the bottom. Take chances, tap out frequently, and learn lots.
But what do you do if you’re facing someone who is refusing to engage you in this way. You’re on top, he’s on bottom, and he takes his ball and goes home. He’s totally stalling, and refusing to help you get better at BJJ.
Well, he’s trying to cheat you out of becoming a better grappler so one way to open the game back up again is to be a bit of a d*** yourself.
Force him to move and open his game back up.
How do you do that?
Well, here’s a picture from my Instagram feed that might give you a hint about one way to do this…
Kneemount can be used for many different purposes
For example, you can use kneemount to stabilise your opponent on his back after the guard pass…
Or you can use it as a transitional position to get to the mount…
Or you can use the kneemount to float over top of your opponent, spin around him, and achieve stability through mobility…
But that’s not what we’re talking about here.
Right now we’re talking about the kneemount as the bringer of pressure, discomfort and pain!
If your opponent is refusing to play then get a couple of good grips, plant your knee on his solar plex, put all your weight on your knee, and PULL with your grips.
That’s painful and makes it hard for him to breath. Like I said, a bit of a d*** move, but most of time it’s justified (except if you’re much bigger and stronger than your opponent – in that case you should be able to find some other way to submit him).
Unless the guy is made of solid granite I guarantee that after you plant the kneemount he’ll squirm around and start moving to get you off of him. And in that movement you may just get what you need – an opening to attack his neck or arms.
Open the game up. Get tapped out. Move. Learn!
Did you know that Stephan Kesting has many different BJJ mobile instructional apps available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Kindle devices? Click here to see them all.