What’s the worst that can happen? Nap time.

The worst part about waking up from a submission- induced nap is the confusion, “What happened? Did I tap? What day is it?”. Consciousness lurches back like a car being pushed out of a bog and we bashfully wonder why we didn’t just tap.

There are two eventualities when we decide that tapping isn’t the desirable option: the nap or the snap. For the uninitiated; joint locks will eventually lead to snaps and choke holds will eventually lead to a nap.

I’ve only been totally unconscious from chokes twice (so far): once in training and once in competition. Of course, there have been countless other times where I found myself embracing the tunnel vision/ Looney Toons close out before tapping & feeling the static and numbness of a late tap. I’d like to reflect upon these “learning moments” and the benefits of an unexpected nap.

Nap time at Tiger.

So whilst training at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, I had the privilege of sharing a mat stacked full of high level MMA fighters, Grappling world champions and top submission artists from around the world.

Long story short, I found myself in a very deep arm triangle. In my mind, I saw exactly what I needed to do to escape, I turned to give myself some room and started the technique. Please note, I said in my mind. In reality, I had turned deeper into the choke and my Black Belt training partner, Luc, applied his vice- like squeeze. Because of the configuration of my hands in my failed escape I wasn’t able to tap, so it was time for a nice nap.

To be honest, it wasn’t a half bad sleep. It’s the wake up that sucks. As I came to about 5 or 10 seconds later, the heat of the blood rushing back to my head was almost unbearable. The static crackled in my ears and my peripheral vision started to come back as Luc knelt next to me rubbing his knuckles across my sternum.

It sucked, I felt embarrassed at the time and was glad it hadn’t been worse. In my opinion, the Nap or the Snap are still miles better than the lesser known third option… the Crap (I’ve seen it happen, it was… an experience.).

We had a good laugh about it, we were both glad I wasn’t hurt and then just got back to it once I had properly recovered.

I learnt two things from this nap:

  1. Try escape before being in a deep choke.
  2. Luc had a motherfucker of a squeeze.


Nap time in Hamilton.

I took a trip down to one of the Submission Only events at Core MMA. In reflection, I had bitten off more than I could chew by entering the Advanced division. I was far too relaxed, hadn’t warmed up well and was not focused leading into my first match.

It went something like this: Slap and bump, get snapped down right into a guillotine, nap time. In my failed escape attempts, both my hands were trapped under my opponent. Both the ref and my opponent were unable to identify the point I had decided to ahem… visit Morpheus in the realm of sleep & dreams.

I woke up to both of them kneeling next to me. I could see their mouths moving in the shapes of “Are you okay?” but couldn’t hear the sounds. I didn’t come away with just the nap unfortunately, I had also pulled a heap of muscles in my neck which took a long time to recover.

I learnt a lot from this nap:

  1. Being choked unconscious in a competition is probably the worst possible outcome next to a broken limb. It’s important to remember that we participate in a combat sport and that these things can happen. These are the worst case scenarios. When someone says to you, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” these are the answers. The positive to take out of that though, is that as long as you are prepared to accept these outcomes and you prepare appropriately knowing they could happen, you can go in and perform at your best because there is no fear of unknowns. 

Sometimes it can be hard to find the learning opportunity in having your consciousness shut off for an extended period of time. The time following a nap is not exactly one in which your brain is functioning at optimal levels either. In reflection though, I feel like I’ve been able to look back on these experiences and learn.

We can learn from every submission that we inflict on others and that are inflicted upon us. I think it’s important to have a sense of humor about it.

Thanks for reading.



3 thoughts on “What’s the worst that can happen? Nap time.

  1. I am a no stripe white belt, I’ve been at it for about a year, and have never passed out. My blue belt husband has cautioned me against it, but I pointed out to him, if I don’t know when I am going to pass out, how do I know went to tap? So far, I guess I have known went to tap. 🙂


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