BJJ Tournament formats


BJJ Tournament formats



If you look at all the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and grappling organizations running tournaments, there are a lot of variations with how tournaments are being run. There are a lot of different tournament formats being used today: Single elimination,double elimination,round robin and submission only tournaments. With all of these different ways to run a tournament which is best for BJJ? Let’s look at each format individually.


Single elimination:

BJJ Tournament formats

Simply put “you lose you are out”. There is very little room for error with one mistake potentially costing you your entire day.  As some people have told me, half of the people that enter these tournament lose. This is the traditional format of a lot of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments and is widely used by many organizations such as the IBJJF,Grapplers Quest and NAGA. Although these organizations do modify the rules in some cases, the format is mostly the same with the only small difference being in the IBJJF there is usually no fight for 3rd place and two 3rd place medals are awarded while at Grapplers Quest and NAGA respectfully, there is a bronze medal match.

Double Elimination:

BJJ Tournament formats

Not as popular in BJJ this format is mostly used in many wrestling tournaments. As the name states, you have to lose two matches instead of one and depending on the design of the tournament, you can lose a match and still be the winner of the tournament (or in a lot of cases at least walk away with a bronze medal). This is not a popular or common format in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu but it is something that can be looked at further with the sport growing in popularity.

Round Robin:

 This format is interesting in BJJ formats and might be a little complicated to run in a tournament setting because of the time it takes to run a bracket. Doing a round robin and just having five guys fight each other but it takes a lot of time. Now with that said, this tournament format can potentially add a lot of fights for people competing. This format is especially good for beginners who want to get their feet wet competing and people can get a lot of fights and experience for  not a lot of money.

BJJ Tournament formats

Submission only


This format is a fan favorite of a lot of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu purists. No points, no advantages, submission only. Some formats allow for a time limit such as the Gracie worlds where you have ten minutes. If there is no submission you are both eliminated. This format is interesting because it changes the entire strategy that you will potentially use to win matches. You can no longer use stalling tactics or get up on points and coast to an easy win because there are no points. Submit your opponent to win. The problem with this format is this can promote very boring fights because people can play a very defensive stalling game.

BJJ Tournament formats


 Which one do you Prefer?


Written by: Mike Bryers


Mike Bryers is an active BJJ competitor and Blue belt under Dan Moroney at Bravado Jiu Jitsu/Gracie Woodbridge. He is also a graduate BS.c Honours in kinesiology from York University.

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