One thing I’ve realized in BJJ is that even the higher belts tap. It sounds obvious, but for some reason it wasn’t obvious to me. I remember watching Matt Hughes take on Royce Gracie in the UFC and Matt worked an armbar on Royce for a while. Royce never tapped to that. He ended up losing, but due to strikes.
So I assumed that as BJJ players got better, they’d find ways to not tap out, that the submission just wouldn’t be as effective as it is against whitebelts. There’s something wrong with that line of thinking, though. Basically, each of the submissions involes something like hyper-extending an elbow (armbar) or cutting off blood flow to the brain (rear naked choke.) The human body cannot function without blood to the brain. It’s also not designed for your elbow to bend the other way. Both will involve damage to the body if you don’t tap.
As I learn though, one line of thought has popped up over and over again. It goes like this: You don’t teach a boxer to get un-punched in the face. So too in BJJ, you can’t get un-rear naked choked. You can learn to avoid positions, for example posturing up to keep away from triangle chokes. But once a submission is sunk in, you can only do one of 3 things, regardless of skill level: Tap, Nap or Snap.
I guess I watched too much Karate Kid growing up, where it’s okay if Daniel-san gets beaten up, because Mr. Myagi will take on 5 guys at the same time and not get touched. It’s not like that in the real world.
Higher belts have more experience, they know how to escape positions, how to avoid positions, etc. But they’re not super-heroes.