John Danaher recently shared his insights on the Smother Tap – a technique often used by his New Wave Jiu-Jitsu team members in competition.
This technique involves mounting an opponent and using the chest to obstruct their breath, forcing them to tap out.
Top competitors, including Gordon Ryan and Dan Manasoiu, have effectively used it in 2022 and 2023; Nicholas Meregali utilized it as well, during the IBJJF Absolute Grand Prix 2023.
FloGrappling asked Danaher for his opinion on the effectiveness of this technique.
He emphasized that, while tapping someone out with a smother can be successful, it’s not universal:
Let’s get a few things straight. First, smothering someone is asphyxiating someone.
It’s not for everybody.
There’s certain moves which are universal; anyone entering the sport, with any degree of physicality, any kind of size or frame, could use.
There are others which are more tailored to people who are physically a little more powerful – and I could not, for example, imagine a 130lb man mounting and asphyxiating a 230lb man. His own size and strength, I think that would be highly unlikely.
So, is it a universal move that would apply across absolute divisions or open weight? No, I don’t think so.
Danaher emphasized that the Smother Tap has a distinct advantage – especially for larger athletes – as it can create an opportunity for another submission technique.
Interrupting opponent’s breathing could cause panic, forcing them to make mistakes:
At the highest levels of the sport it’s very, very difficult to get the basic moves to work. Everyone knows what the basic moves are, everyone knows how to defend them.
So almost always there has to be some sense of distraction prior to the attack, and one of the best ways to cause distraction is to interrupt your opponent’s breathing.
Breathing is probably one of the top five most fundamental operations of the human body.
You get your breathing interrupted; I don’t care who you are, within a matter of seconds you’re gonna start making mistakes.
You’re gonna get frantic, you’re gonna panic, and someone who might otherwise be very calm and composed and defensively sound will suddenly become quite easy to attack.
So the real value of asphyxiation is more of a kind of setup.