The Fine Line a Referee Walks On!


If you have been competing long enough in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or any sport for that matter you know that having a good, qualified referee can sometimes make or break the outcome of a match. In a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition, there are a lot of situations where calls can be very subjective where different referees would score something entirely different. If you ever watch the three refereeing system at IBJJF events this becomes apparent that even world class officials disagree on calls. From a competitor perspective it is important to have qualified referees to make sure the right person wins their fights.


Referees have a very important task and responsibility to maintain that rules and regulations are being held. This is especially important to kids you need to be able to protect them from injury. This includes when kids get picked up in guard protecting them is more important than whether someone wins or loses. Protecting youth and teens from armlocks is also important to protect their developing joints from unnecessary damage. Once and arm starts extending that is it, fights over. Kid’s competitions to me is about overcoming fear and being able to go out and have fun.

Adult competitions at white belt it is important that safety is established. White belt fights are wild and crazy you need to make sure they don’t get run out of bounds into spectators or into the ground. I have seen incidents where bystanders were hurt or competitors were hurt because the action was run out of bounds and things got too rough. You need to watch the boundaries of where the action occurs and give space to competitors especially in nogi where if you have two wrestlers fighting then you have action everywhere.


Refereeing higher belts comes with experience and the higher the rank you referee the less room for error that you have for mistakes. The reason being is a lot of higher belt matches the action may be a little slower but when something happens you need to know how to score it because that one mistake that you make could easily cost someone a match and at a high level. This is what needs to be prevented it very easy to make a mistake in a high level match but what can be done to remedy that is simply have more referees. This allows for mistakes to be corrected and for better refereeing all around when it matters most.

Written by: Mike Bryers

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