You tapped out; you’re alive because of mercy. What the tap out really means.
June 11th, 2017 by Mike Coughlin
There’s a variation of the same tired saying, though the first time I head it was probably Tank Abbott: “I went to the bar and he went to the hospital.” This is inevitably said after a guy taps out but his opponent takes a beating. And it is, without a doubt, the single stupidest fucking thing said in all of fighting.
Here’s what tapping out means: I Quit. It is a way of telling your opponent, “I acknowledge that right now, should we continue in this situation, I will suffer such grave injury that I could be permanently maimed and therefore I ask for mercy.”
Here’s what a submission means in the real world: you are dead.
If I (probably not me, due to my sucking) catch you in a choke hold: you die. That’s what it does “on the streets.” If you punch me a lot, and my nose is broken, and I’m bleeding, and one eye was poked so I can hardly see, and I can barely stand, but due to my knowledge of submissions I grab a guillotine, or arm-triangle, or rear naked choke – pick your favorite, they all work – I win. Because no matter how badly damaged I am, I’m still 1. conscious; 2. alive.
When someone grabs that submission, it is over. You think you’re a badass? Fight without one arm. Watch how much damage you suffer when your elbow literally won’t bend; or you can’t move your shoulder; or your knee actually goes in the opposite direction. I don’t care how big you are, how strong you are, how tough you are: you’re fucked. As “The Karate Kid” taught us, “If a man can’t stand, a man can’t fight.”
And what’s beautiful about the submission is it requires intelligence. It is the ultimate in brains over brawn. Anyone can land a random punch. We see this in MMA all the time. Matt Serra landed a one in a million punch and beat GSP (note: Matt Serra is also a baddass in all facets of life). But a submission? No one accidentally gets a submission. You can’t “oops” your way into choking someone unconscious. And so when you – be it Tank Abbott or whatever dipshit moron of the day – get caught and are forced to tap, you’re more fucked than anyone ever. You’re actually dead.
You can take the hardest, toughest, most badass street fighter in the world – and if they can’t defend a basic guillotine choke, they will actually die in a fight. Not lose, then get up, shake hands, and have a beer – they could be killed. The submission is king, all other techniques are for commoners. I have personally witnessed men my size – hell, even I myself (THAT’S RIGHT!) – take some giant “tough guy” and have him gasping and dying. The man would be dead if it were not for the mercy of his opponent.
Which makes it all the more hilarious when you see someone get tapped out and they then take a swing at someone – or make the aforementioned dumbass “I’m at the bar, har har” comment. Fuck you. You didn’t lose. It wasn’t a referee making a judgment call to stop a fight, it wasn’t 3 judges writing numbers on a piece of paper – it was you, in front of the world, publicly saying, “I. Quit.” Because that’s the other beauty of the submission: you have time to think about it. With rare, rare exception, every submission allows the opponent to think for a second if they will tap or let something break/they go unconscious. And when that person taps, they have quit.
The submission is the ultimate victory in all of fighting. You can enjoy the bar; I’ll enjoy living.