Safeword (sports)

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A safeword, as used in sports, is a code word used by a player to avoid impending injury.

In certain contact sports such as rugby and professional wrestling, when a player feels an opposing player's actions will lead to him- or herself being seriously injured, he may utter a safeword which tells the opponent to stop the actions.

Professional rugby union footballers recognize the safeword "neck". This is said, during a scrum, when a player fears that his neck risks being broken. Players on both teams will recognize this and immediately release any downward pressure.

A more common example is "Matte" (pronounced "mah-teh", meaning "Wait!") in most Japanese martial arts including judo, which indicates surrender, usually due to an arm lock or a choke. In professional competition, saying "stop" or "help" does not indicate surrender and the opponent may continue combat.

During lifeguard training, the American Red Cross uses a "tap off" as a form of the safeword. If at any time one of the lifeguard trainees feels that they do not have enough oxygen to complete an underwater simulation of a rescue, that trainee should tap the other person twice to signal that the rescue has been aborted.

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