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Points vs Sub Only: Pros & Cons

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These days, Jiu Jitsu competitors have so many options when it comes to competing. In the last few years, there has been a huge growth for organizations putting together Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments. Different organizations use different rule sets. While some use IBJJF rules, others use modified rules, while still others now use submission only rules, specifically EBI rules. With so many options available, competitors tend to ask what rules are “better” to compete under. There are pros and cons to both the standard points style of competition and submission only. Here are comparison points for both.

 

Points Style Competition (IBJJF/Modified IBJJF):

Pros:

– More competition opportunities. There are so many organizations on the national, regional and local scene with points based rule sets that if you are an active competitor, you have a variety of tournaments to choose from.

– Big Stage opportunities. If you want to be a professional Jiu Jitsu competitor, the biggest events are still points based. ACDC, the Worlds Championships, and the Pan American Championships are just a few of the big stage events with point based rule sets.

– Control based attributes. Competing in points based tournaments will usually give you a great understanding of control in matches. In tournaments where getting a dominant position will award you points and from that, can win you a match, will help you learn how to control your opponent greatly. Some of the best Jiu Jitsu fighters in the world are experts at putting people in a bad position and making sure that they are unable to escape. This is a great attribute regardless of rules.

Cons:

– Stalling tactics. This is something most people have seen occur at least once in a match. A Jiu Jitsu fighter manages to get a dominant position, yet does nothing with it. No advancing, no intent to finish or to move any further. This is because a fighter knows that they are up points and can win from just holding their opponent. This is a real issue with points based rule sets.

– Advantages. An advantage in a Jiu Jitsu bout can taint an otherwise fun, back and forth match. In points based tournaments, there is what is known as an advantage. What that means is if a competitor almost sweeps their opponent, or almost passes guard that they can be awarded an “advantage” and win a match. Even though nothing major happened, a fighter can still win by technically not doing anything.

– Lack of excitement. Professional Jiu Jitsu is a rapidly growing sport. With points based matches, there tends to be a lot less excitement. Two fighters end up battling for points, and positions without really getting a definitive ending such as a submission or choke. For those looking to compete professionally, boring matches mean less people watching, which could mean less money for those involved. Attracting viewers can be a tough situation if what they are seeing is slow or uninspired.

Submission Only Competition (EBI Rules):

Pros:

– Rapid growth. Due to the immense success from EBI, Polaris and Onnit, the submission only scene is growing at a large rate. With a handful of guys that are making their name in the scene, there is a lot of room for new stars in Jiu Jitsu. Breaking through can be a realistic ambition for anyone will to compete in this rule set.

– Money talks. For professionals, the submission only events are generally paying quite a bit more than their points based counterparts. For the last EBI event, Eddie Bravo was handing out a sizeable $12,500 for any submission that came in the regulation time period. By competing in three or four matches a night, any competitor has the chance to make some serious cash.

– The finish. At the end of day, every competitor wants to submit their opponent and every fan wants to see the fight ended with a true finish, ala a submission or a choke. Submission only rules tournaments tend to have a higher finish rate than points based tourneys. The rules also allow for some creativity since a fighter won’t lose just because he or she went for an attack where they possibly ended up in a bad position.

Cons:

– Overtime rules. While EBI has a great set of overtime rules, not every organization does. Tournaments that do not install overtime rules that lead to submission, can have matches end in some lackluster draws which can be incredibly frustrating.

– Too specific. There are people that believe that fighters who compete exclusively in submission only rules tend to only be able to compete under those rules. It is thought that sub only fighters cannot do well in any other style of Jiu Jitsu rules, but not vise versa for fighters that come from competing in points based tournaments.

– Not seeing the bigger picture. While technical submissions and chokes are always exciting, it is thought that by focusing on sub only rule sets, that fighters will lose out on other major aspects in Jiu Jitsu. Complaints range from not being to hold a dominant position, not being able to pass guard and being able to not be put in bad positions to begin with.

 

While proponents on each side of the argument have valid claims, at the end of the day, both rule sets have their places in Jiu Jitsu. Paces and aspects are different, but it is important to be able to compete and have success in both arenas. By being able to compete in both, fighters will be more complete in their knowledge of Jiu Jitsu. With being more complete comes the bonuses of not being only a better fighter, but a better teacher as well. It is important that the Jiu Jitsu community as a whole, supports and promotes events regardless of the rules.

 

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Example of a points based BJJ match, in gi.

 

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Example of a submission only BJJ match, in no gi.


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