The development of trust within your training community is key.
I came to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) without any kind of martial arts background, zero experience wrestling and a lot of trepidation about being very, very close to people I’d never met. Jiu jitsu is a lot of things: it’s technique and it’s strategy and it’s strength and flexibility. It’s a game, but it’s also a fight and if you’re going to grapple, you’re going to have to spend at least some time being very, very close to other people.
How was I going to react when an aggressive opponent grabbed my sleeve or knocked me on the floor or sat on me? I had no idea.
I shouldn’t have been so worried – the first thing I learned in my intro class was “Tap”.
“You can tap for ANY reason. Tap if something hurts. Tap if something’s uncomfortable, physically or mentally, Tap if you don’t want to do this anymore. Tap. Tap whenever you need to. Tap means STOP. When you tap, everything stops, no questions asked. Say the word Tap, tap me or tap the floor. Everything stops.”
I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no idea what was going to happen next, but I felt safe.
A timer starts.
You slap palms and bump fists: “I’m ready to spar”.
The match begins.
You tap: “I don’t want to do this anymore”.
And everything stops, no questions asked. Tap for any reason.
The longer I practice, the less often I tap because of emotional discomfort, though it does happen. More often, I tap when something hurts or it’s physically uncomfortable or I can’t think my way out of a jam and want to try again.
Tap and everything stops.
Tap for any reason.
No questions asked.
The older I get, the larger the consequences of my mistakes. Except on the mats: I make a mistake, I get caught, something hurts and I can’t solve the puzzle, So I tap and I get to try again. No questions asked.