As of recently I was perfectly happy with the rule set in BJJ. Alright, I lied a little bit, I’m really unclear as to the system of advantages that the IBJJF use. It’s not for a lack of trying to figure them out either. So, maybe I’m not completely happy with that, but otherwise, I’m ok with it. I think there’s always going to be a place for the point system. It system was put into place to make a game out of self defense so we could compete against each other so see who the best martial artist was. This can lead into the whole self defense vs. sport bjj argument which I’m not going to get into today, that a different topic. The point system represents moving into a more advantageous position. The idea is if this were the streets or a fight of whatever, we would theoretically be able to inflict more damage without sustaining as much, thus we’d be “winning the fight.” By no means is it a perfect system, but it was the best we had.
Lately there’s been a string of great “submission only” tournaments. The rules in these tourments are simple. The person who wins by submission wins, and continues in the tournament. If there is no submission, both competitors lose. It may seem harsh, but there’s some definite advantages to this style of competition. Here’s a few things that I like.
1. Submission only cuts down on “grey area” wins. There’s a ton of arguable calls in jiu jitsu. Many times refs aren’t 100% sure what the rules are because they’re not very specific at times. What I call a pass, sometimes isn’t a pass to another referee. There’s too many subjective calls. This can leave fans, and competitors alike with a bad taste in their mouths. I can’t tell you how many people who may have otherwise gone to more competitions, either to watch or participate, were turned off by the whole thing, because of grey area calls.
2. Sub only discourages stalling. If you came to pass the guard, get 2 points and stall out the rest of the match, this kind of contest is not for you. We have a joke at 10th Planet Van Nuys about losing 2-0 to a wrestler. The wrestler who have little to no submission ability will enter a Jiu Jitsu tournament, take his opponent down, and then shut down for the rest of the match. I don’t feel doing the bare minimum, and laying on top of somebody represents winning. The term wet blanket was coined for these type of fighters.
3. Sub only promotes action! The idea is that in submission only tournaments, if you’ve trained for a month, paid an entry fee, dieted, cut weight, waited around for hours for your name to be called, you’re not going there just to lose. That mean’s you’re there to win, and the only way to win, is to go for submissions. If 2 combatants are in there trying to win, you’re going to see Jiu Jitsu at it’s most exciting.
4. It’s more fan friendly. Having fans will make the whole sport grow. If the sport grows, maybe we’ll see it in the olympics. Even if submission only was the gateway drug that led you to get into the point system eventually, wouldn’t that be good? If a casual fan goes to a tournament, they soon learn, even though they might have paid 10-20 dollars to get in, this tournament is not for them. Most of the time, you can’t see the clock, so you don’t know how much time is in the match. You can’t see the score cards. They’re usually set up so that only the competitors can see them. As a coach, I usually can’t even see them. In many cases, especially with advantages, fans don’t know the rules. Forget the fans, like I said earlier, coaches and competitors are unclear with the rules because of subjective grey areas. If there’s 6 matches going on at a time, and you are trying to watch 2 at the same time, if you look away and you miss points, you’re lost because you can’t see the score cards. Submission only takes all that away, either the match ends in submission and you see somebody tapout, or you see two people walk off the mat, not to return that day. It’s simple and easy to follow.
Now, I admit, sub only isn’t perfect either, it’s going to have shortcomings too. However, it does have some really great points. I’d love to start seeing more of the really big names in the sport come out for the sub only format, just like in Metamoris. The Gracie Worlds is coming up January 20th, in Los Angeles. Hopefully we’ll see a big turn out.
Coach Alder Hampel
10th Planet Van Nuys