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The White Belt Who Didn’t TAP

December 10, 2009

I was sitting on my couch at home, trying to think of something jiu-jitsuy to write when this white belt suddenly popped into my brain. I don’t know why him in particular. Probably just one of those things that come to mind for no reason at all like the need for pink strawberry frosted pop tarts during an all-nighter.

Maybe it’s because we share common bonds; we both like jiu-jitsu and got injured in a tournament. Or maybe it’s because I vividly remember seeing his left arm for only a moment and THAT’S what popped into my mind’s eye and I need to get it out of my system before I go to sleep and have horrible nightmares of seeing the same thing happen below my right knee.

I believe, I was sitting next to Matt the very first time I see him. We were commenting about how white belts go into dumb mode from time to time. Like the white belt in question, we watched as he gained points for a takedown and stayed in his opponent’s guard. As the time ran out he didn’t do anything special, he just stalled. With less than a minute left, his opponent began working on a Kimura. It basically was a “do or die” moment. Somehow the submission was applied and a tap should have happened.

Matt called it. “That guy had better tap or else.”

He didn’t. The sound of his shoulder POPPING echoed in the Judo Hall. Everyone gasped and fell silent. There wasn’t a cry of pain – which means he didn’t verbally tapout. The guy that applied the Kimura looked completely horrified. Time ran out. There was a discussion of whether or not to call an ambulance. The white belt who didn’t tap was moved to the side, he was bandaged up and he stayed for the rest of the tournament receiving a medal for his efforts.

The second time I see him was during the 2009 Newaza World Tournament where he fought against Sam. Grappling Dummies Sam. Taller-than-me Sam. Sam-who-gives-blue-belt-me-a-hard-time-and-he’s-a-white-belt-Sam. Sam would easily win the watch and it took a while to connect the dots that day before I realized who was Sam’s opponent.

A big clue that clued me in – which wasn’t that much of a clue – was that he fought with one arm, the other arm, his left, safely tucked in his gi top.

The next time I see him was during the 2nd OJJ Komlock Seminar. There he was sparring, the telltale left sleeve tucked in. And finally, the most recent run-in was in the 2009 Fall Kyushu Open held this past November.

I was scanning the crowd for familiar faces and caught him changing out of his gi. Do you want to know what I saw? Do you?

You know that scene in Thriller where the zombies are closing in on Michael Jackson and his date creeping closer and closer, and one of the zombies has an arm that falls off?

That white belt, he still has his left arm. It doesn’t look like it’s about to fall off.

It looks like someone took that fallen-off zombie arm and gave it to the white belt as a reward for NOT TAPPING!!! GAAAAAH!!!


Moral: tap, unless you want zombie arm. Or worse.

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