Apparently I have some kind of reputation at Lincoln BJJ Center for being stubborn about tapping to chokes, and I’ve decided I’m going to blame it on my teacher Amy! When she started her Jiu-Jitsu training at the dojo, she used to have a bad habit of submitting whenever someone simply put their arm around her neck, and her first instructor Darin (who was a tough MMA fighter) would always yell at her “Why are you tapping?! Nothing is happening to you!”
Then when I was a white belt and Amy started teaching women’s Jiu-Jitsu class, I was terrified of chokes, and I would also tap too soon. I went into panic mode whenever someone tried to choke me, and over time Amy drilled it into me that I was not allowed to tap unless I was actually choking. It took awhile to get over the urge to tap before I should, and to this day I’ve never been choked out on the mat, so obviously I do tap when necessary!
The only time it’s really an issue is on chokes that attack the trachea, because by the time they sink in, I’m already gagging. My husband observed that I do a good job defending, but when my defenses fail, it often happens suddenly, and at that point it’s already a little too late. I’m really not trying to be stubborn, I just don’t want to give up too soon, and I’ve never suffered any kind of injury from it. I know it’s better to not allow myself to be put into a choke than to try to escape, but not all chokes succeed, so I feel like I still have a chance.
In Ethridge class yesterday, Joe spent most of our final roll trying to ezekiel choke me, but it took awhile before he actually got it, and I didn’t tap until he did! After that in no-gi class at Lincoln BJJ, Sweeney Todd didn’t have to work too hard to guillotine me, but that might partially be because I became distracted when my pants started to slide down, and I took my attention away from defending the choke in order to pull them back up! ;)
The main reason I volunteered to be choked unconscious during a self-defense class at the dojo a few years ago was because I wanted to take a bold approach to conquering my fear of being choked, and it helped, but it was still a long process to get to where I am today. Amy recently complimented me on my current ability to remain calm during chokes, which has actually helped me to escape numerous choke attempts.
My fear of choking has now completely disappeared, to the point where I might not be tapping soon enough! I still have it in my head that I can’t tap until I’m actually choking, even when I know there’s no hope of escape, and my partner isn’t going to give up, so I may have over-corrected a little too much, at least when I’m in class. A couple of competitions ago I did tap to a choke that wasn’t actually choking me, and I still haven’t forgiven myself for it!