The Rules Rundown Part 1 – The IBJJF
by Josh Sequeira
Over the next few weeks, in our three part series entitled ‘The Rules Rundown’, we will discuss the competition rules in use at BJJ and grappling tournaments today, and how the evolution of BJJ is leading to different perspectives on what rules enable good, positive jiu jitsu. This week’s edition of the Rules Rundown is all about the IBJJF.
Today the modern age of Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) reigns supreme. Practitioners of the gentle art and competitors alike are constantly breaking barriers and opening eyes. When it comes to sport BJJ, more and more competitors are taking up BJJ full time. The game is constantly evolving. Matches are fast paced. Victories determined by razor thin margins are common, even at the lower belt levels.
At the recent International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) Pan American Championships which took place in California this past March, spectators caught glimpses of white belts executing berimbolos and blue belts in tight back-and-forth contests that went to referee decisions. Many black belt finals in recent time have been decided by single advantages at major IBJJF tournaments. Today the talent pools are deeper, and practitioners are evolving rapidly with new techniques and unique styles on display at tournaments everywhere. It is truly an exciting time for those of us that love BJJ!
The question has been posed over and over again, what rules make most sense? The most commonly used and internationally recognized rule set is that of the IBJJF (see http://www.ibjjf.org/rules.htm for more info). Critics of the IBJJF rules claim that their points system encourages stalling. We have all witnessed matches at tournaments following IBJJF rules where competitors get ahead on points and then drag their opponents into positions such as fifty-fifty guard to slow down the match and hopefully slide away with a victory based on their advantageous score.
With this said, do the points truly encourage stalling? When the rules were put together and the points system was devised, the obvious objective of points and advantages was to reward progression of jiu jitsu, not to create stalling sessions or have competitors run out the clock as they do in other sports such as football or basketball.
Unlike other sports, sport jiu jitsu has the submission factor. At any moment in the fight, a competitor can finish the match with a submission. In an episode of Rolled Up with Budovideos, multiple time IBJJF World Champion and former ADCC Absolute Champion Robert Drysdale explained his belief that positions such as the fifty-fifty are not stalling positions, and based on that logic, practically any position can be used to ‘stall’, despite the wide array of attacking or progressive options, if a competitor so chooses.
Some believe the points system is outdated and must be replaced.
The IBJJF name arguably holds the most weight in the BJJ world today in regards to both recognition and prestige. As BJJ evolves however, many have begun to wonder whether the rules the IBJJF enforces are in the best interest of the gentle art moving forward.
What do you think of the IBJJF rules? Do you believe they are useful moving forward or do they promote stalling? Can any set of rules be considered foolproof? Please leave a comment below with your feedback In the next week’s edition of The Rules Rundown, we will discuss the rules other points based organizations utilize in relation to the IBJJF, to better understand how they are trying to improve the quality and excitement of the BJJ competition scene today.