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  • Writer's pictureBJJ Report | Matthew Tropp

Should I break my training partners arm?

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

Here is the question: If your training partner doesn't tap while you have him in an armbar should you break the arm? Lets say your playing guard and your training partner makes a mistake and the arm is there for the taking! You look at him and he seems to be coming along just fine. You even say “you gonna tap”? To him/her and they shake their head as if they are in total control.


A: Extend your hips and pop the arm’?

B: Hold on to it but it's likely he will eventually get out if he can stack you?

C: Let go and work into another position hoping this doesn't happen again?

D: Let go and let them know

I guess the answer is different for everyone, right?

I heard once that you will fight in the street the same way you fight on the mat. Does that mean if you start letting armbars and submissions go that you will do the same thing on the street? I imagine most fight instructors would say yes. In my opinion you should always look out for the safety of your training partners and even those you confront on the street.

A handful of people would say “I can turn up the volume when I need to, especially in the street" However when you're being attacked on the street you don't have the luxury of the soft buttery mats, you don't have a professor walking around coaching you and chances are there are others accompanying you and or the person you're fighting with. We do not want our coconut cracked by a steel toe boot do we?

This is something we all should discuss with our professors (unless you're reading this and thinking “my professor goes over this all the time, In fact the first day I started training he sat me down and said “Matthew, you must always fight to finish and don't ever let go” )

Oh I forgot, what if the guy you're fighting in a Starbucks parking lot taps while being “S mounted” while you were about to reunite him with his orthopedic surgeon? What do you do? Do you let go and share with him what a great match it was or do you pop that bitch and go home? Keep in mind if he were on top would he let go or send you a flurry of punches sending you into the oblivion until you wake up in th eback of an ambulance, if you wake up.

Let's take this to another level, and calm it down a bit...

Oftentimes when two Jiu Jitsu practitioners are locked in a competition-style roll, there will come a situation where one of them catches a DEEP submission, but the other one won’t tap. This brings up a question, who’s the one responsible for safety? Should the guy that got caught in the armbar tap out, or should the guy with the submission let it go and keep the round going?... or better yet, should the submission be pushed to the limit until the tap is forced? What are the rules and how far should we take it? Are there rules about this in your BJJ academy?

Do they talk about it or maybe they don't have to talk about it because you signed the waiver.

At its core, Jiu Jitsu is a brutal combat sport practiced by consenting adults (remember, you did sign the waiver saying it may cause death or injury). As adults we should be taking full responsibility for our own health and safety by tapping at our own discretion, especially in the training facility. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t also be taking our own training partners’ well-being into consideration. We shouldn’t be haphazardly throwing on submissions and cranking them to their limits. In my opinion we want to give our training partners room to tap. However, some of our training partners can be stubborn as hell even in deep waters.

What happens when we have a training partner that will refuse to tap or doesn't think they are in danger? Shouldn’t it be our duty as training partners to humble them, and potentially demonstrate the error of their ways? Sometimes certain training partners can get too comfortable with often letting submissions go because they subconsciously know that the people they normally train with will do the same. If this training partner gets into a competition with this mentality, won’t they be setting themselves up for failure?

Did your professor go over this with you? What are the rules in the street? What are the rules in competition?


Let's say in a competition and you and another person are in the finals. He has you in an arm bar and looks at the referee and it's very clear he could break it, you think the time in the gym you spend working biceps gives you license to hold on...the referee looks at you and it's clear you're not going to tap (similar to Paolo Miyao when the people he fights are toe holding him). Should the referee let it continue or stop the fight and your opponent wins due to safety measures? Or should the referee look you dead in the eye and say “what are you waiting for”?

I'm confused , isn't BJJ a martial art that teaches us to break limbs and choke people unconscious? Can we learn this safely or simply expect a lot more injury during our road to black belt? What is the real answer

Ill say this again, the way we train is usually the way we fight or compete. We need to know ahead of time what we should do in each situation, keep the safety of our partners in our minds at all times, learn the law and get more guidance from our professors.

Train Safe and Train Often,

Matthew Tropp | BJJ Report

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Bill Hood
Bill Hood

In Shotokan, there is a saying by founder, Funakoshi Ginshin, "The Spirit of Karate-do is lost without respect." With that being said, if someone is giving you no choice and is attacking you on the street, you HAVE to assume they mean maim or kill you! Any other assumption would be folly. Therefore, I teach my students that if your well-being, (life and limb) is in danger, you have to try to completely immobilize your attacker, whatever it takes, and as quickly as possible. When I was training in BJJ (Machado JJ) there were occasionally some students who were normally "better" than you that wouldn't tap if you got them in deep submission. I would always let go and let…



These are your training partners, without them you cannot train. If you are rolling with somebody who is stubborn and you know you could finish the technique just let them go and continue the roll, you don’t have to let ego and pride take over. I always communicate with my partner to let them know I am confident I have them and check they are ok. The win is being able to return to the mats fit and healthy, ready to go again.


Chris Pitts
Chris Pitts

The point of training is to learn not to win. You don't learn anything by hurting your partners

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