This is something I believe in adamantly...
I hate to say I’ve seen this, but it happens all the time. Sometimes during training you will catch people waiting to tap – on occasion it isn’t “almost too late,” it’s already too far.
I am the first person to appreciate drive, and the desire to compete (particularly with oneself – many of us who devote ourselves to Martial Arts are goal setters, and personal achievements are important.) That said, there is absolutely ZERO room for bravado. I see it plenty, and we all have a right to behave the way we want to – but it is an attitude and approach I simply can’t get behind.
When we are training, we MUST be mindful. If we are a higher belt, mindful awareness should go without saying. And if we are a lower belt, someone who has rank should be making the point that it is not only OKAY to tap, but that students are encouraged to. There is no shame, you are not admitting some horrifying defeat by doing it, nor is it a sign of weakness. You are training intelligently. Period.
Tapping is intended to keep you – and your body parts – safe! You want to train as long as possible, right!? When you feel pressure, you should tap. If it hurts, you waited to long!
Fortunately at my Taekwondo and Hapkido dojang, as well as at the Ninjutsu dojo, and Jiu-Jitsu school, tapping is highly encouraged so that we are in the game as long as possible.
And it isn’t totally about avoiding injury either. Tapping is important feedback for your training partner – when you tap you indicate that they have “gotten” the technique. If you wait to long, they will apply more pressure or torque in order to execute the technique…all the while NOT knowing they’ve already done it properly, injuring you in the process.
I know that movies out there like to push the “tough guy” image, but class is not the place to be acting like you are impervious. You aren’t. Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali weren’t either. We are flesh and blood – bones break, tendons snap, accidents happen.
So if you feel discomfort because of a technique, that pressure is telling you that you are about to go into dangerous territory – as in, beyond normal mobility and range of motion. So do yourself – AND your partner – a favor.
Tap, tap, and tap often.
The safer you train, the longer you can keep at it!