The Only Thing Worse Than Tapping.

When I was growing up, I remember my grandfather telling me, “I’d rather you make a mistake and get submitted, than roll so hard that you can’t continue.”

What I took from this was that I was to never defeat myself. No matter how badly I want to submit someone, sometimes I must slow down because if I continue at the pace I am at, I run the greatest risk of all: complete exhaustion.

The reason complete exhaustion is worse than being submitted is because submission is generally due to a simple technical error. However, when you reach complete exhaustion, it is a psychological/mindset error.

We should never reach the level of vulnerability that exists when you are so tired that you are begging your training partner to get off you, unable to continue rolling, or the worst, when you can’t stand up because you’re so exhausted.

It’s okay to train hard, but be very careful not to defeat yourself. The desire to avoid inferior positions and the desire to submit your training partner may lead you to defeat. Learn how to pace yourself because the ability to outlast your opponent is a great technique in itself. If you ever had the chance to  ask Helio Gracie how he defeated all those giants, he would have said, “I never defeated my opponents, they defeated themselves.”

Win the race

Pace yourself.


Keep It Playful

Ryron Gracie


About KeepItPlayful

I keep it playful for a living.
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39 Responses to The Only Thing Worse Than Tapping.

  1. Your Grandfather had so many great lessons to teach, and I thank you for sharing your personal experiences with him.

  2. I love this simple, and great post Ryron. I have on multiple occasions been on the bottom of side control with bigger guys in survival mode being bombarded with relentless attacks and uncomfortable pressure. Sometimes they verbally quit on top because they are so tired they can’t seem to finish on top, and mentally they give up. Even though I didn’t get a chance to escape, or reverse the position. It feels good mentally that I outlasted him on bottom, and I’m ok. I take that as a victory for me.

    You are a wise man Ryron. Thank you for taking the time to share this post. I appreciate it

  3. jjudd88 says:

    Thank you Ryron. I get so much from your talks and philosophy. It doesn’t just improve my jiu-jitsu, but all of my relationships.

  4. Gerard Gonzalez says:

    Just like Galvao at metamoris 3. If time didn’t run out I believe he would have been submitted.

  5. I have been completely exhausted a few times in my Jiujitsu journey. Once in a tournament. I gassed out and lost by armlock to a guy I had a substantial lead on. Another couple of times were in training. I basically tapped from the exhaustion/pressure of the training partners. I have always been embarrassed about these few occasions but could never really articulate why. Thanks Ryron for expressing so clearly what I have always felt about these situations. Amazing blog.

  6. Adam James Emelianenko says:

    I am out almost everyday hitting the roads, up a steep hill or two, at a moderate pace for about 45 minutes. I have been doing this for over a year now. This gives me the confidence to allow my training partners to put me into the least favourable positions, while I look to escape, reverse and manage the distance. Knowing I have the wind to survive and then letting someone side mount, mount or take my back and attack me with submissions has improved my defence somewhat, to say the least. Of course I keepitplayful and tap too. My sword sharpens everyday.

  7. John Wilkinson says:

    It is very interesting to me to see how many training partners will call an end to a sparring round from exhaustion and not consider it a loss. I think that if you are exhausted that is the best time to keep going, because then you can only use efficient techniques to solve problems. The same goes for cramps, find a way to stretch while keeping your opponent from submitting you. But usually people call “timeout”..

  8. flyjohno says:

    Great post. Survive and thrive!

  9. This post reached me at the perfect time. There is one particular partner I roll with that gets in a dominant position on top of me and I feel like I want to tap from exhaustion. I get a panicky feeling just from being on the bottom of his mount or side mount. He is bigger and stronger and is pressure is relentless.
    After reading your blog I realize I am expecting to beat this opponent because I have been training longer and it used to be easy. So when I end up on the bottom anxiety hits me and I feel like I want out. Even though I know I can breathe and not get submitted, I still feel like quitting. I am defeating myself…

    Thank you

  10. Jacob says:

    Great post Ryron! I was wondering if you could post a diagram of your family tree.


  11. Jacob says:

    I also purchased a GJJ shirt off of your website… I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a free towel with it! I’m definitely going to buy more off your website. Keep on posting those Gracie Breakdowns for us!😊 thanks Ryron


  12. Enry says:

    Eu me identifico muito com este ensinamento. Em quase todos os treinos ficava exausto. Nunca ninguém me corrigiu… até agora. Levarei essa lição pro tatame e pra vida. Thank you for these simple but huge lessons!

  13. Jiu Jitsu says:

    How superbly written, thanks a lot great lessson.

  14. Chrisjan says:

    I read this and thought of this post and KeepItPlayful.

    Thanks for the initiative!

  15. Kath says:

    Hi. I train at a Roger Gracie affiliated school. There are a couple of student who will not roll with me or shake my hand because they are Muslim and I’m a girl. Some of them are respectful and talk to me, one even took time to explain it to me, which I appreciate. Others don’t even look at me. I feel a little baffled and out of place because most of the time I’m the only girl. It seems like our instructor doesnt really know what to do with it either. I know its a tricky question, but how do you handle situations like this? Maybe you and Rener could do a blog post about religion and training? I really enjoy youre blog and YouTube-videos.

    • When we step on the mat we are all the same. But I can understand how some people are so identified / stuck in their ways that they can’t see past something like religion. I would tell those who choose not to roll with you that they are no longer permitted to roll, maybe no longer train. I will speak to Rener about the video. hope to roll with you one day! 🙂

  16. New Newbie says:

    I recently rolled for the first time with a man the same height and weight as me (I’m female) He is much stronger than me. It lasted a good seven minutes or so, and there were several near submissions on both sides.
    At the end, I had him in an Americana, and easily could have submitted him if I had pushed it fast and hard, but went went very slow because,
    #1. I didn’t want to injure him.
    #2. He is more flexible than anyone I have done it on before, and I thought he was holding out through pain and endangering himself when he was actually fine.
    Eventually he got hold of his arm with his other hand and stopped the submission, but I was pretty tired and he was utterly gassed, to the point where he said he felt like vomiting. I was in mount, but I got off of him and said we should call it a tie once he said he felt barfy, even though he said he wanted to continue and I could’ve kept going.
    Did I do the right thing by calling it for him, or was that not my place? What do you think?

    • Both would have been ok. whats important is that you don’t think about yesterdays roll today. Whether you win or lose its a new day now. And remember , don’t win too much because thats how they learn your game:)

  17. There are few things that change a life in a very healthy way. Gracie Jiujitsu is one of them. It is an empowering and amazing type of force in itself. It is a model for greatness in people and correct living. Thank you for you and your families’ contribution. This is true magic.

  18. Andrew says:

    Professor Ryron. I’ve always look up to you that’s why I always read all your blogs here almost everyday just to keep me reminded of the right mindset. But this is my first time to leave a reply though. I’m a very small and frail guy so I have so much faith in this “survival” strategy. If I may ask, if there’s a perfect time to escape, is there also a perfect time to attack…and when? Thank you so much.

    • you will learn the perfect time to attack and the perfect time to escape after having failed many times. If you find a training partner that can flow with you at a lower intensity you will move more and therefore experience more, expediting the process. Do more observing until one day you can act.

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