Jiu Jitsu Rules
Ever since Mixed Martial Arts became extremely popular in the United States of America, other Martial Art styles have risen in notoriety. The inaugural UFC event saw a multitude of fighters that included Boxing, Savate, Shoot fighting, Catch Wrestling, Sumo, Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and kickboxing. Royce Gracie dominated the event putting BJJ on the map, and ever since the art of grappling rose internationally, the popularity grew significantly across the globe. There are different versions of BJJ, that includes the traditional Gi, and a more modernised version called No Gi. Both styles have nearly become two separate sports, as the once subtle rulesets that govern them are now quite different in comparison.
What this article covers:
- BJJ Academy Rules
- The Rules of Engagement
- The Rules of Strategy
- Competition Ruleset for the Gi
- Competition Ruleset for No Gi
- Why an Academy Needs Rules
All practitioners are guided by rules, some are unspoken, while others are in black and white. There is simple bjj etiquette that students need to follow, and these aspects include respect, humility, and a general duty of care towards other members inside their academy. Some of the rules need to be spoken to new students, like their conduct on and off the mats, as this includes; not applying certain submissions whilst wearing the Gi, making sure they know why to tap before an injury happens, and a bunch of different bjj hygiene rules that need to be strictly adhered to. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a highly energetic combat sport that involves students to bring their best qualities to the forefront in order to continue to grow within the sport.
BJJ ACADEMY RULES
There are many rules that students must abide by inside of a BJJ academy. Without rules a school of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will struggle to run smoothly. There are simple rules like respecting all members of an academy, as these are basically unspoken rules of life. Most academies will have a different set of guidelines that each athlete needs to follow, but they are all generally the same. Athletes must come to training showered, and cleaned, this includes all of their training gear, as to help stop any spread of germs, or bacteria. All fingers, and toenails need to be clipped, and filed, this is also just to stop bacteria build up, and help stop athletes from scratching each other, or damaging the mats. All students must wear shoes while they are off the mats, and this is to stop the transportation of dirt, and other germs that may stick to the bottom of an athlete's foot.
Some academies are very stringent about students bowing to the mat, and to each other, but this is not enforced in all academies. There is a general duty of care rule that all students must abide by, and this is when they have a training partner in a submission; they must not attempt to break or injure their opponent. This is a rule that is covered under basic humility, as any egotistical athletes will be removed from the academy. Most academies also have rules that cover safety for white belts, as a novice student will not be allowed to attempt leg locks, or have leg locks attempted on them, this also includes other advanced submissions that are at the discretion of the instructor. There are also rules surrounding female athletes inside of an academy, as male athletes must give them space, respect, and not be derogatory in any way. This also means not to apply their highest amount of strength, and pressure while they are rolling with a female, especially one that is a beginner. As a female athlete gets higher in rank then the male athletes can apply higher amounts of pressure, but once again these rules are more common courtesy that many integral athletes will live by.
THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
Rules of engagement might seem like an old cleshay, but the act of honour, and integrity in a fight is very real. Athletes will always begin a competition match with a jiu jitsu bow towards the mat before they enter, and then bowing towards their opponent as a sign of respect. The honour is continued as both athletes will bow towards the referee, as most referees are black belts within the art. Once the referee signals a fight to begin, another unspoken rule of engagement is for both competitors to slap, and bump fists before they begin fighting. An athlete that does not engage in this respectful conduct, and just shoots in real quick to begin the fight can be seen as unsportsmanlike. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is about honour, and integrity, as all students will need to honour the code that embodies the spirit of the warrior.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is about skill, and strategy, as this Martial Art is often referred to as the game of human chess. There are instances that will happen during a competitive match like when an athlete may get their fingers, or toes caught in the Gi fabric. This is the perfect instance for when a student must show a higher calibre of honour by allowing their opponent to free their fingers, or toes before an unnecessary injury may occur. Some of these rules of engagement also include following the guidelines by not purposely trying to hurt, or injure their opponents. This can happen when students intentionally try to slam their opponents onto the mat instead of skillfully executing takedown maneuvers.
THE RULES OF STRATEGY
The rules of strategy are not set in stone, as being strategic is all about trickery, and plotting the right course of action. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an intellectual game, as students will need to dive deep into the book of math to properly execute different game plans. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is all about angles, and leverage, and students that enhance their ability to measure all of their surroundings will increase their chances of success. It is always a smart idea to develop a strategy in BJJ, and this might be to pull guard straight away, and secure wrist controls. This will ensure that their opponent has very little chance of executing a guard pass, instead they will be forced to start breaking grips, which will open up an opportunity to begin utilising sweep attempts, or submission set ups. Some students will utilise a strategy of going straight in for a takedown, so they can take their opponent down to the mat. This will create an opportunity to stifle a guard player from gaining any significant advantage, as the student begins the smothering process of positional control. Whichever strategy suits a student it is crucial to develop their own unique style, so they can become highly systematic within their bjj progression.
COMPETITION RULESET FOR THE GI
There are a multitude of different rules that athletes need to understand when they step onto the competition mats. Competing in the Gi is different to the No Gi version of Jiu Jitsu, as students will realise there are certain submissions that are illegal to do whilst wearing the Gi. Athletes are not permitted to execute heel hooks due to the danger it presents while wearing the Gi. An athlete has more grip on the leg of their opponent, which in turn gives them more torque on the knee. Along with the banned heel hook maneuver any twisting leg lock is also deemed illegal in BJJ competition. Athletes are also not allowed to execute any kind of spinal, or neck cranks, and this is largely due to the danger of serious injury involved. There are also other rules like no striking of any kind, no biting, hair pulling, or gauging of the eye. Even though an athlete can utilise dynamic Wrestling takedowns, and Judo throws, they are not allowed to directly slam their opponent into the mat.
Grappling competitions are all governed by a bjj point system that is awarded for various moves, and positions within the art. All grappling matches start with two combatants standing on their feet. Athletes are awarded two points for a takedown, and if their opponent is taken down but then reverses the position and winds up on top, then they are awarded the two points. Pulling guard does not warrant any points being awarded, instead an athlete must be careful pulling guard, because if their opponent grabs hold of them it can be considered a takedown to their opponent. Sweeps are valued at two points each, which is when a student utilises grips with their hands, and feet, to then go from the guard position maneuvering their opponent, and landing on top. Athletes that can pass the guard, and transition into side control are awarded three points. After controlling the side control position students may opt to utilise the knee on belly position, which is awarded another two points. The two most dominant positions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are the mount, and the back control position, where both control positions are awarded four points each. All of these positions must be held for at least three seconds before the referee will award the points.
There are also advantages given out in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition, and these are utilised to help determine a winner if the scores are tied. An advantage can be given out when a student attempts a submission on their opponent, and their opponent is forced to defend the submission by using their hands. Advantages are also given to a student that takes down their opponent, but lands out of bounds. There are also penalty points which can be applied if a student is stalling. A referee will usually time a student at roundabout thirty seconds, and if they are not intending to make a significant advantage within their position, or submission then a penalty point may be added. Another way to receive a penalty point is when a student is backing away from their opponent in an attempt to avoid the clinch position. After two penalty points are given the next step is two points can be given to their opponent, before an eventual disqualification looms.
There are other rules in place during IBJJF competitions, as many of them will force students to consider what to eat before jiu jitsu. All competitions have stringent rules regarding each weight category, as all students must weigh in at their correct weight class. Each student is given a three kilogram Gi allowance, meaning if they enter the 79 kilogram division they can weigh in wearing their Gi, and weigh in at 82 kilograms. This is good for athletes that have extremely lightweight Gi's so they don't have to cut weight at all. The IBJJF also only allows three different coloured Gi's into their competitions, and they are white, black, and royal blue. Athletes are not allowed to wear rash guards underneath their Gi's, as they may be considered an unfair advantage. Any form of bulky guards are also illegal, and any injuries that competitors may have can only be strapped with a light amount of strapping tape. All competitors Gi's must also adhere to the IBJJF regulations, as they cannot be too short in the sleeve, as well as too thick within the Gi material. In the case of both competitors wearing the same coloured Gi, one of the competitors will be forced to wear a green and yellow striped belt tied around their waist, and this is so the referee can distinguish each competitor for when the points are scored. In the No Gi division instead of a belt tied around a competitors waist, a coloured ankle band is worn, and this is to help the referee score the fight.
COMPETITION RULESET FOR NO GI
The art of No Gi is considerably different to the Gi division in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Unlike the Gi where a student is allowed to take hold of an opponent's clothing, the No Gi division is very stringent in their rules not allowing students to grab hold of the No Gi uniform. This makes No Gi diversely different from the Gi, as students will rely upon a different set of controls like wrist grips, neckties, body locks, over hooks, and under hooks to control their opponents. The No Gi points system is the same as the Gi points system in the IBJJF, but can be vastly different in various other organisations around the world. The ADCC for example has a different rule structure in place that consists of three points for passing the guard, and two points for a knee on belly position. The mount is different in No Gi, as an athlete will only be awarded two points, back control is similar except it is worth three points. Takedowns are worth two points if the opponent lands in guard, or half guard, and are worth four points if the takedown is landed with the athlete completely passed the guard. Sweeps are scored the same way as takedowns with an athlete scoring two points for a sweep that lands them in half, or full guard, and four points are scored if the athlete sweeps their opponent finishing fully passed the guard.
The art of No Gi offers athletes a larger range of submission maneuvers they can execute. There are several different competitions that allow submissions like neck cranks, spinal cranks, heel hooks, toe holds, wrist locks, calf slicers, and bicep slicers. This is a huge attraction to many athletes, as seen from the popularity of increasing No Gi tournaments throughout the United States of America. Some of the other international events will even utilise EBI overtimes, which is used in the case of a draw, as both competitors will participate in the overtime. This is where both competitors will take turns, and have two minutes each to submit their opponent. Each competitor can choose to start from back control, or from the spider web arm bar position. If both athletes are submitted the athlete that secures a submission quicker will win the fight, and in the case of neither athlete submitting each other, it comes down to whoever escapes the position quicker. This form of overtime has been proven successful in many different competition tournaments.
WHY AN ACADEMY NEEDS RULES
Joining a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy is an exhilarating experience for all students. But like most organisations there needs to be rules in place for it to properly function at a safe level for all students. BJJ schools can sometimes grow beyond the expectations of what an instructor initially planned, as the number of students can grow comprehensively. This becomes even more important for an academy to have rules in place so all members feel comfortable, and can train in an extremely safe environment. Every student pays a membership, meaning they are all entitled to the same amount of fairness, and equality within their Martial Arts academy. Following the rules will only contribute to the overall integrity of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy. A BJJ school without rules is a breeding ground for egos, and unsafe training practises.
There will always be students that bend the rules, or push the limits, but most people will know not to cross the line. There is a difference between having fun, and a bit of banter within their club, compared with bullying, harassing, or putting down other athletes' lack of skills, flexibility, or coordination. This is why respect is huge within the art of BJJ, and most students have an extremely high level of integrity, and will not be derogatory toward any other member no matter the size, shape, or skill. All students have to begin at ground zero, and the only way to build up a student's skill set, and knowledge is through consistency, and hard work. This is why students must follow the guidelines, so their integrity will never come into question.
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