BJJ POINT SYSTEM
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was created by the Gracie family as a self defense combat system, and as the art has evolved over the last one hundred years, it has become more of a combat sport. Two combatants stand toe to toe in a battle of grips, and footwork, as they try to secure takedown maneuvers. Once the fight has reached the mat both competitors will scramble to execute a series of fast transitions, and heavy pressure in control positions, to neutralise their opponent. The main objective in Jiu Jitsu is to submit an opponent, but with how the bjj weight divisions go for time, most athletes need to make sure they are winning on points. The BJJ points system is quite comprehensive, and students that know how to use it properly can rack up a big total of points in a short period of time. Of course submission is always the end goal, but a lot of competition matches are decided by points, or a referee decision.
What this article covers:
THE POINT SYSTEM FOR IBJJF
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become a game of transition, as all athletes look to out maneuver their opponents with speed, technique, and strategy. In a lot of cases at the highest levels, securing a submission is hard, and this is due to the increasing improvement in submission defense. This aspect will force athletes to play a more cautious game style, as they look too secure positions in a bid to gain a definitive advantage. The points rules of jiu jitsu in the IBJJF are only applied if the athlete can hold each position for three seconds. A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter always starts on the feet, as the competitors will battle looking to secure takedown maneuvers. A takedown is worth two points, but if an opponent that is taken down can reverse the position, and land on top, then the two points are awarded to the opponent. This becomes extremely strategic, as some athletes will use counter movements to gain the upper hand.
Once the fight is on the ground there is usually an athlete that plays guard, while the other competitor is attempting to pass the guard. A guard pass is worth three points, but an athlete must fully pass the guard, and secure side control for three seconds before the points are awarded. Executing a sweep is worth two points, and the athlete must use at least one of their legs, as a part of the movement, otherwise an advantage is awarded. If a student reverses the sweep instantaneously then the points will not count. After a guard pass the student can elect to secure the knee ride, which is when they use their knee on their opponent's belly while their other leg is stretched out, this position is worth two points. The most common position that athletes will advance to, from the knee ride is the mount position. This control position is worth four points, and is one of the most dominating positions in Jiu Jitsu. It is a position that students can apply an extensive amount of pressure, and is a great platform to attack many submissions from.
Some students may ask how do you win in jiu jitsu, and the most common answer being from back control. Taking an opponent's back is the most dominant position in grappling, and the number one submission in the Brazilian arts history is the rear naked choke. Students must make sure they have both hooks in, and a seatbelt grip, so they can be awarded the points. The back mount is just like the back control, except their opponent has their face down on the mats, and the student is sitting on their back with both knees on the mat. This position is also worth four points, and can be just as deadly as the back control position. Having control of an opponent's back is one of the fastest ways to choke them out, as the dominance of back control is one of the strongest positions in BJJ.
The IBJJF uses an advantage, and penalties point system. The advantage system is used when there is a tie at the end of the match. The competitor that has the most advantage points will win the match. An advantage point is given when a competitor attempts a submission on their opponent, and their opponent defends the submission with their hands. Another way to score an advantage point is when a competitor takes their opponent down, but they land out of bounds, as the two combatants are stood back up in the centre of the mat with the competitor that took their opponent down receiving an advantage point. Advantages can also be given out for students that pass the guard, that may not entirely hold their opponent down for the allotted time to receive points. Penalty points are handed out mainly for when competitors are stalling. Usually competitors will be timed for thirty seconds before receiving a penalty point. Continued stalling can amount to more penalty points, points given to their opponent, and even disqualification.
THE POINT SYSTEM FOR ADCC
The points system in the ADCC is different to that of the IBJJF. The bjj progression that the Abu Dhabi Combat Club has achieved in their No Gi tournaments has taken the competitive world by storm. ADCC athletes will train specifically to target the different ruleset, as there are clever ways to rack up points. In ADCC matches the first five minutes of the ten minute match there are no points, and after five minutes the points will begin. Passing the guard is worth three points, except the judges will look to make sure the athlete can pin at least 75% of their opponent’s back on the mat while they pass. The knee on belly position is worth two points, and either knee can score the points, but the knee must be in the middle of the stomach, instead of near the chest. An important tip to know is that an athlete can score points with a knee on belly, then remove their knee for three seconds, before replacing the knee ride to score again.
The mount position in the ADCC is worth two points, which is vastly different from the IBJJF. Both of the competitors' knees must touch the mat to score, and a reverse mount will also score two points. If an opponent gets one or both hands trapped under a competitor's legs then it will still count as a two point score. Scoring from the back position is worth three points, and can be with two hooks in, or a body triangle. If a competitor takes out one hook, or releases the body triangle for more than three seconds, and then replaces the hook or the body triangle, then the athlete will score again. This is a good way to rack up the points, which can be demoralising to an opponent. A Takedown is worth two points, as an opponent's back, or butt needs to be on the mat for three seconds, to register a score. If an athlete takes their opponent down but lands in a submission, the takedown points are not awarded until the athlete can escape from the submission. A takedown where an athlete lands completely past their opponent's guard is worth four points, but like the guard pass points, their opponent has to have at least 75% of their back on the mats.
A sweep is where an athlete goes from the guard, and moves their opponent onto their back, while maintaining a top position for three seconds. Sweeps are only awarded points if they are secured in one continuous motion. A sweep where the athlete ends up in half guard, or full guard is worth two points. A sweep where the athlete lands clean past the guard of their opponent is worth four points. A reversal is also considered a sweep, so an athlete that may be stuck under a side control can score two, or four points if they reverse the position, depending on where they land. Penalties are given out as a minus point, and this happens when a fighter jumps in the guard, or goes to sit straight away into a guard position, and is there for three seconds. If a competitor disengages from contact, and tries to avoid the grapple they are punished with a minus point. Penalties can also be given out for bad language, or bad behaviour from the athlete, or their coaches.
TRAINING SPECIFIC TAKEDOWNS
Athletes will train specifically for the points game so they can keep their advantage throughout all of their competition matches. This concept works extremely well from the stand up game, as athletes will purposely attempt takedowns that can land them into positions that will score them points. Discovering how to beat an opponent involves becoming a takedown specialist, because a dominant top game athlete has an advantage over a guard specialist. Takedowns like the ankle pick, the hip throw, and the uchi mata are great because it enables an athlete to go straight into side control, and this can take away an opponent's ability to retain guard, half way through the movement. Other takedowns like the body crush, the double leg, and the sumi gaeshi will help an athlete land straight into the mount position, which is even better in an IBJJF tournament, as it can guarantee a six point advantage. This is why training specific takedowns are great, because an athlete can develop bjj systems that will help them score fast, and give them a significant advantage in a competition fight.
TRAINING POSITIONAL CONTROL
Every athlete wants to win by submission, but this may not always be possible. Some students are incredibly hard to submit, or time constraints leave an athlete missing their opportunity, so it becomes even more important to develop a points game. Students can develop this game by training positional control with their training partners. Considering that control positions like the mount, knee ride, and back control will score consistently, it pays for an athlete to develop these positions. There are two major aspects involved, with the first being how to transition into a control position, and the second is how to maintain the position. There are multiple entries into a control position, and students need to realise the value of training them all. Guard passing is one of the most common ways for an athlete to secure a dominant control position. Athlete's that become highly proficient in guard passing, will easily be able to set up positions like the knee ride, the mount, and back control. A good tip for athletes is to pick a partner, and instead of rolling to the submission, they can emphasise a goal like guard passing, while their opponent practises guard retention. This is a great way to fast track repetition, and solidify their proficiency in controlling the position.
USING THE POINTS SYSTEM TO WIN MATCHES
Winning BJJ competitions can be extremely difficult at the best of times, and holding out to try and beat an opponent by submission doesn't always pan out the way a competitor hopes. This is why it is extremely important to use the point system to score points throughout a BJJ match. Some students have the mentality of not wanting to score points, because they would rather win by submission. This can be a detrimental mindset as they will often brush past control positions trying to land submission maneuvers. The problem with this is that a competitor may pass the guard with an opportunity to take a mount position, but instead they go for a submission like a head and arm choke. Their opponent could defend the submission, and escape the position winding up on top of them in the mount position. In this scenario their opponent will end up beating them on points, where the student could have scored three points for the pass, and four points for the mount, defeating their opponent 7 to 4. The points system is there for a reason, and should be used by all athletes, as this is the only way to guarantee victory on the way to a submission. Of course executing a submission will always be more rewarding, but nowadays too many practitioners are extremely diverse in how they defend submissions, escape positions, and use both to gain a significant advantage into an attacking position. There is no love lost with a competitor that wins by points, because at the highest levels two black belt competitors often cancel each other out, where one will win by advantage, or referee decision.
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