The beautiful thing about Jui-Jitsu is that you can train hard without getting injured or injuring others. Here are some simple guidelines to keep in mind.
This is the failsafe which makes our amazing sport possible. Tapping is how you ‘say stop’ when your training partner puts you into a submission hold. Tap on your partner 3 times rather than on the mat when caught in a submission. If your hands are pinned under your body or you can’t tap quickly enough, just say, ‘Tap,’ or ‘Stop’. If you can’t tap and your mouth is covered just make a high-pitched noise in the back of your throat and your sparring partner will get the idea.
When to tap
The entire point of tapping is to avoid damage or injury so you can enjoy yourself and continue training regularly and vigorously. This means you will need to tap well before an applied submission causes harm or injury. When starting out, it can be difficult to know when to tap as you familiarise yourself with submissions and the limits of your body. As a guideline, be cautious and tap early and tap often.
Two sides to every tap
Both individuals in the training pair have a role and responsibility when applying submissions. When you’re performing a submission you must do so with control and consideration as you anticipate your partner’s tap. Stop immediately when he taps. Don’t just crank on the submission to get the win. If your teammate gets injured you’re just going to have one less person to spar against for a while. If students are found to disregard the safety of others there will be strict repercussions.
When caught in a submission or attempting to escape one, it’s equally the responsibility of the person to tap to avoid injury. Simply put, I’d recommend that you don’t try to be a cowboy when caught in a submission. Rather accept defeat, tap and start again. You’ll learn more by tapping than gritting your teeth through the pain of having your arm hyperextended.
In light of the above, it’s still important that a culture of resilience and grit is cultivated at the academy, especially with regards to defending or escaping submissions. So don’t tap before you’ve exhausted all attempts at an escape (within reason and while remaining safe).
Most injuries actually occur for reasons other than that of submission and can be easily avoided. The key is to develop and implement a habit of anticipation and foresight during sparring. Common sense and keeping your head about you play the primary role here.
For instance, don’t throw all your body weight onto your opponent’s arm which is posted on the mat at an awkward angle. Likewise, you’ll want to consider the positioning of your own body and joints as you grapple. Try to be proactive and think one step ahead while sparring, and avoid directing the force of a scramble towards unnatural angles and movements for your bodies. You can also preempt and respond to explosive moments by turning or aligning appendages (arms, legs, hands, feet) in the right direction.
No slamming from guard
It is perfectly acceptable to stand up whilst in someone’s guard to initiate and perform a pass. However, it is not allowed to slam your opponent onto the mat after having stood up. If you think like this you’ve been watching too much UFC.
No neck cranks
There is a difference between a strangle or choke, both of which are allowed, and a neck crank. A neck crank is where the force of submission is directed to the structure of the neck joint itself and not the arteries or airway (i.e. vertebrae, cartilage and ligaments). Unless you’re training for a specific competition and have been given permission by the instructor and your training partner, these are strictly off-limit.
No small joint manipulation
In order to make grappling competitive and increase safety, it’s not allowed to manipulate individual fingers or toes for a submission. Note, this also means that when grappling you can’t grab and pull a thumb or isolated fingers to better your position. You must grab all four fingers or the hand as a whole when trying to break an opponent’s grip.
No heel hooks for beginners
Heel hooks are submissions with very little tolerance before damage occurs. These submissions Are only permitted in sparring when both partners have at least 2 and a half years of grappling experience and are well versed in these submissions. The only time where these submissions will be allowed is during the instruction and technique thereof, or during a specific competition which will be clearly stipulated by the instructor beforehand.