Points or Nah? Sub Only Versus the Points System


Written by Jesse from White Belt Survival.

This week we’re going to take a look into the traditional points system and the increasingly popular “sub only” settings. This little sport of ours is growing; and more and more tournaments are popping up all over the place. Heck, I’m sure some of you WBS readers from small towns have even had something along the lines of a competition not too far from your own town. The only problem with all of these competitions cropping up is that they all have different rule sets and variations on how you can win. Now the rules are one thing, but today we’re going to focus more on the difference between winning on points or submission.

There are two kinds of competitions out there today–those that you can win by submission or points, and the others where you can win by submission only. Personally, I don’t think that one is better than the other, but the purpose of today’s post is to talk about the differences; because as someone new to the sport and/or competition world, you just might not know. Winning by submission is the goal of either one of these competitions. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, by design, is intended to enable you to defeat your opponent and force them to quit by applying a submission. But in competitions that award points, you could also win your match by points.

So most competitions that will utilize a points system will–most likely–mirror the IBJJF set. The IBJJF rules are widely accepted as the standard. Some local competitions can adapt the points system to how they see fit, but in most cases you’ll see:

2 Points
Knee on Belly
3 Points
Guard Pass
4 Points
Back Mount
Back Control
Getting awarded points for you efforts is a good thing–don’t let anyone tell you any differently. If you’re doing everything you can do to try to win, the points will come. However, be aware that there is a phenomenon known as “the point fighter” who will not engage in the traditional sense of BJJ combat, but rather take points here and there and move elusively so as not to give up any points and not get submitted. That sort of thing is legal, and not all that frowned upon, but if you’re the kind of competitor that wants to go out there and give it your all and win by any means necessary, the point fighter is now in your Rogues Gallery. Additionally, you might be giving your best against someone who’s not a point fighter, be down on points, and have a submission all but finished when time expires and you lose. It’s a heart-breaker that I’m all too familiar with; but it’s the reality of points in competition. You may have had the sub, but the fact of the matter is the other person did enough before that to prove they were better on the mat. But if you’re too busted up about that, enter the new world of “Sub Only.”
Photo Credit: EBI Instagram
Submission only is the new hot thing right now and I hope it stays around. Not because of hating point fighters, but it’s just a fun alternative. Winning by submission (in any competition) is the point. In most of the big “sub only competitions” like EBI and Polaris, the only way to win is to submit your opponent. Some smaller/regional organizations adopt the larger rule set (like how EBI’s Overtime rules if no submission within regulation time) while others give “points” for submission attempts.
e.g. if you throw up a triangle and your opponent gets out, you get a point andcould, in theory, win a sub only match by points. (I know).
Now that’s not to say that these sub only events will rely on points, but we’re still in the infancy of notion so the sport is still ironing out the kinks–though it’s hard to beat the EBI rule set . 
So if you’re new to grappling and competition there are options out there to suit your style (even if you’re a point fighter). Getting out on the mat and competing is fun and we’ve previously touched on the subject here on WBS a few times already but I hope this one clears up some questions on the differences between traditional competitions and sub only. As always, any questions please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @WBSurvival, and on our Facebook Page you can find here and my personal page Here. But for a better inside look at WBS please go Follow the Instagram https://www.instagram.com/wbsurvival/ (:

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