Competing In Different Rule Sets
Though everyone has a different opinion when it comes to competing in BJJ, I truly believe that you understand the whole art, you have to compete at least a few times in your life. While BJJ will work against almost anyone in a self defense situation, it is truly intriguing how the art works against itself with two people skilled in it. But it can go farther than that. Competing in different Jiu Jitsu rule sets, and even outside of rule sets can be a perfect test for an individual wanting to test their BJJ out in other grappling style rule sets.
A good place to start is with IBJJF or modified IBJJF rule formats. While I am not the biggest fan of these rule sets due to the strict regulation of technique, it is a nice jumping off point. Competing against others with live resistance will show you how far your Jiu Jitsu skills have come. The structure can also help develop your game a little more towards positional dominance which is important in Jiu Jitsu. I firmly believe that competing in both gi and no gi in this format is needed as well.
After you get your feet wet in the realm of IBJJF style tournaments, you can then jump into submission only or modified submission only tournaments. In these tournaments, the whole aspect is the finish. While points tournaments can make you more aware of position, submission only will give you the chance of taking chances, regardless of position and to really seek out a finish rather than work for position. These rules can give you more creativity in your game as you can look for submissions from anywhere without worrying about losing points. Within the sub only scene, the two big rule formats are EBI rules and Sub Only/No Time Limit. The EBI format makes you look for a submission so you don’t have to go into the overtime rounds. The No Time Limit rules will test your physical conditioning and cardio. Gi and no gi are once again, options here. Take advantage of both.
Depending on your standing grappling and takedown skills, you could choose to compete in Judo or Sambo tournaments. While you can still win by submission in these tournaments, the real goal of these rules is to get a big throw or takedown. You only get a limited time to actually work for a ground sub. So you will have to have your quick, go to techniques once the match hits the mat. You also have to adapt to the specifics such as no leg locks in Judo and no chokes allowed in Sambo. The Gracies and Machados both did this back in the 80’s and 90’s here in the US.
The ultimate test for any Jiu Jitsu competitor, even if it is just once is to go and compete in MMA. In MMA, your Jiu Jitsu will have to change. The focus here is controlling your opponent, getting a great position and using striking on the ground to make a submission more realistic. The cage and the gloves can be a nightmare for BJJ fighters. Getting put in the cage can negate techniques. Also the gloves make some submissions, specifically chokes a little harder to execute. But with these rules, you will get to see how your Jiu Jitsu holds up against those who can strike, wrestle and do Jiu Jitsu as well.
Being able to adapt is important for any Jiu Jitsu competitor. Jiu Jitsu is all about a flowing nature, or as Rickson said, “to flow with the go”. Being able to switch up game plans, techniques and concepts can help you go out into a tournament and make winning achievable. So trying competition in different rule sets will help you grow. It will also help you understand your Jiu Jitsu even more than you can imagine.
The clip above shows a team event, where BJJ competitors faced off against Sambo competitors in a mixed rule set match.