What is Tapping Out in Martial Arts?

What is Tapping Out in Martial Arts? (Explained)

Tapping out is a commonly used term in different martial arts, but what does it actually mean?

Tapping out is referred to gently tapping a few times to the floor or on anything, as a sign of submission. After you tap out, your opponent will let go of you and they win the fight.

Let’s dive deeper into how to tap out and why it’s important in martial arts

What does tap out mean in martial arts?

The meaning of tapping out is telling your opponent that you submitted and they won the fight. By tapping out, your opponent will let go and they will be declared a winner if it was in a competition.

When practicing different martial arts such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), wrestling, or MMA, you should tap out sooner than in competitions.

If you do not tap out while practicing, you will risk getting choked unconscious or your opponent breaking your arm.

Tapping out is nothing to be shameful for. It means you admit you lost before any more significant damage is done to your body.

What does it mean to tap out in Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Tapping out is similar in every sport. In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, tapping out means submitting to your opponent and declaring them as winners.

While sparring in BJJ, you should tap out whenever you have been beaten, even if you could brute force yourself out of the situation. Sparring is supposed to be more casual, and tapping out is a part of it.

On the other hand, in competitions, you could hold on tapping out until the last second. Being choked out in competitions in BJJ is nothing extraordinary.

Being on an armbar or a kneebar for example you should tap out before your opponent breaks your arm or leg.

What does it mean to tap out in MMA?

In MMA, just like in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, tapping out means declaring your opponent the winner. This can be due to a chokehold or joint lock.

You can also tap out while being punched if you feel like you can not take punches anymore. This is more uncommon, but there have been examples of this as well.

MMA fights typically end with one of the contestants tapping out or being knocked out.

Here is a more comprehensive post about tapping out in MMA.

When should you tap out

While sparring in martial arts, you should tap out when you realize your opponent got you in a good choke or joint lock. There is no point in trying to use pure strength to get yourself out of the situation while sparring.

Sparring is meant for learning and is not done with full speed and strength. Don’t be that guy who refuses to tap out while sparring.

In competitions, you could try to fight a bit longer before tapping out, if you are being choked for example.

On the other hand, if your opponent has you on an armbar or kneebar, tapping out sooner is recommended. That can do some serious damage if you refuse to tap and your opponent keeps on leveraging your joints.

How do you tap out

Tapping out is simply just tapping a few times gently on the floor, on your opponent, or anything.

If your hands are tied, you can just yell at your opponent to stop, if tapping out is not an option. That will be counted as tapping out as well.

Alternatively, you can tap out with your foot as well. An example of tapping out in a video form is below. (I am not the creator of this video)

Final thoughts

Tapping out is a regular part of martial arts. That is the way to tell your opponent that you submit, without them having to choke you unconscious or break your arm.

While training and sparring, tapping out sooner is recommended, due to the environment where you are supposed to learn, not win every match.

When competing, you could hold on a bit longer before tapping out, unless you are at risk of breaking an arm or knee.

Hopefully this clarifies what tapping out means in martial arts. I have also 19 tips for beginners to start martial arts.

Have a wonderful day!

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