“Death Practice”

Tapping out is a natural part of rolling, as dying is of life; painless and unavoidable.

In life, once we’ve shed the fear of death, we experience a more fulfilling and successful journey within it. In rolling, shedding the fear of each mini-death of tapping provides us a more fertile and nourishing training environment to get the most out of each roll.

Easier said than done, the countless mini-deaths of tapping should assist in our acceptance of actual death, as our acceptance of death releases our anxiety over tapping. It goes both ways, with each reinforcing the other. To practice the art of living through the consistent practice of mini-death acceptance. With death and tapping as the baseline, everything short of it is met with better acceptance as well. Every failed project proposal, failing grade, broken foot or broken heart, we can accept with grace and more clearly see the opportunities it presents us.

This applies to getting your guard smashed, mount reversed, and submission defended.

It takes courage to practice this acceptance, on and off the mats, at small opportunities as well as big. Courage doesn’t just appear when the stakes are high, there are infinite opportunities in the tiniest settings that will test your direction so that when something of great magnitude presents itself, you’ll have what it takes because the direction is already burned within us.

A way to get over that primitive fear of tapping? The same as shedding our fear of dying. Zoom out and understand that at any moment we tap, there are several in the same academy tappin at the same time, and throughout the world. At all belt levels, speaking many languages, all ages. Our reminder of our connectedness to all, tapping is universal if you are rolling, like dying is universal if you are living. And whatever you’re going through in life, divorce, death or sickness in the family, traffic, job change. Every time you tap, imagine someone far away, geographically or millennia ago or millenia into the future, doing the exact same thing.

Everyone seems to fear dying like fearing the tap. But in both, it’s seldom the finale that gets the attention, or at least it shouldn’t be. There’s a reason some call it a celebration of life, and before the tapout is where all the analysis should lie and where all the “living” occurred. Don’t fear the tap or the dying, fear the having not rolled well before the finale, or lived well before the death.

Practicing acceptance of the tap with open arms helps us with our own mini-deaths off the mats, as well as the final deaths of our loved ones and of ourselves.

As in life, there is so much more than the birth and death, handslap fistbump and tapout. The real sauce is in the between. Acceptance of the end gives us courage to explore before it, in each roll, and in each life.