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Sub Only vs Points, Is One Better Than The other?

Sub Only vs Points, Is One Better Than The other?


Today in Jiu Jitsu, the sport has exploded with popularity, with the rise in popularity; there has also been a substantial increase in Jiu Jitsu tournaments.  Traditionally, many bjj tournaments used a point based system to decide a winner.  In the last few years, there has been in an explosion in submission only tournaments.  There are many platforms that offer elite grapplers a professional experience and utilize submission only rules.

Although there are an abundance of submission only tournaments, there are still several point based platforms as well.  This has sparked a debate in which people want to know which tournaments are better than the other, and what are the benefits of each.  Other people criticize one against the other.  So is one better than the other? For instance is submission only better than point based tournaments? Or are point based tournaments better than submission only?

We like to think that they both have a lot of benefits and can both be a healthy way of growing your Jiu Jitsu.  We don’t compare one to the other and we don’t give one any more credit than the other.  They both have entertainment value and can both be a blast to watch.  So let us delve a little bit deeper into this topic and see what both have to offer.

Submission Only

Submission only is a relatively new revolution in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition scene.  It became extremely popular in recent years and we have seen an abundance of professional Jiu Jitsu events spring up out of nowhere with submission only rules.  Some of these big events are Metamoris, Eddie Bravo Invitational, Polaris Professional, Fight To Win Pro, Five Grappling Super League, and others.  All of these tournaments listed above have held several successful events with elite level grapplers.

That is not what we are here to discuss, what are the benefits of the submission only tournaments?  Well, there are several.  They obviously will help you improve on your submissions, they will help you improve on your defense as well, and they will help you to train things you otherwise may not have.  These are the big benefits. 

They help you improve your submissions because when you are in a submission only event, the only way to guarantee the victory of a match is to get the submission, although some of these events may end up with judges decisions, the judges decisions are typically based off of who attacked more submissions.  If you would not have normally trained heel hooks, or neck cranks, these tournaments put you in a position where it is necessary to learn these techniques in order to progress and perform well.  Many would attribute the rise in submission only tournaments to the rise in popularity of leg locks.  We have so many people who have become obsessive with leg locks and the knowledge level of people with lower body attacks has increased exponentially.

Not only does it help you learn new submissions but it will help you improve your defense.  Not only your submission defense but you will improve every aspect of your defense.  Although many people raise the criticism that sub only tournaments don’t encourage people to have good guard, they do show people how to stay properly defensive in bottom side control, bottom mount, and other bad positions.  For example, Eddie Bravo Invitational overtime rules make people that are training for those events much more resilient when they have someone on their back.  This is great for your growth as a practitioner.

So there are plenty of benefits to learning submission only rules and training for submission only tournaments.  Some of the greatest bjj players in the world have risen to fame on events such as EBI.  We all know about the Danaher Death Squad and their infamous Gordon Ryan.  Gordon could attribute much of his fame to the EBI tournaments and he continued to win ADCC this year with a near flawless performance.

Point Tournaments

Point tournaments are also an excellent thing to expand your bjj and train for.  It is wise for most people that train bjj to compete at some type of tournament.  It will help them grow as a practitioner and expose them to a whole new level and pace of bjj.  It can be worth almost 6 months of training when you do your first tournament.   Point based tournaments have an extraordinary amount of benefits, and many would argue that there are more benefits to training for point tournaments than Sub only.  This is all perspective, if you think that the submission is the most important thing than this would not be the case, but if you think having a good guard, good passing, good stand up, and good control, than maybe you think that they are better.

So, what do point Jiu Jitsu tournaments help people with?  Well, they help with a lot.  They put a lot more emphasis on having a good guard, on guard passing, and on being able to escape bad positions, sweep, and control your opponent.  Why is this?  Well, think about the rules, you are awarded points for a sweep, a pass, for getting various positions such as knee on belly, side, mount, and back, and you get points for takedowns.   They lack emphasis on submissions. 

The common argument for people that prefer point tournaments over submission only is that they put more emphasis on the principles necessary for a self-defense confrontation.  For example, if you work for points, you will learn how to control your opponent because once you pass, you don’t want your opponent to retain guard so you may not take as many risks and attack submissions, instead you may just hold your opponent, and this can be a good attribute for self-defense.  Along with this they put more emphasis on sweeps, in this case, if you were taken down in a self-defense altercation you would be able to defend yourself and sweep.  We are not saying sub only guys can’t accomplish the same things; we are just discussing what each rule set puts emphasis on.

One could make an excellent argument on whether or not one is better than the other, submission only is definitely better for submissions, but point bjj tournaments are better for a variety of other things.   Which tournaments are more prestigious though?  That is a tough one to tell.  Some events such as Polaris, F2W pro are very prestigious but they only have one match per competitor while others like EBI are sub only tournaments.   People tend to still attribute prestige to the ADCC and IBJJF Worlds over tournaments such as EBI.  These tournaments tend to attract the elite level grapplers more often; therefore, people still assume that they are “More Prestigious.”

Anyways, they both have their benefits and they are both excellent tournaments to attend.  If you guys want to work on some aspects of your training such as submissions check out our new DVD release with 5x Black Belt World Champion, Bernardo Faria.  Bernardo has one of the best omoplata’s in the entire world and he used this submission to secure an open class Pan Am championship in the finals of the black belt division.  The omoplata may be one of the most neglected submissions and it may be one of the submissions that present itself most!

If you want to work on your passing, Guard, and Submissions, checks out our other new DVD Set with Chris Haueter.  If you are not familiar with Chris, than you may have been living under a rock.  Chris received his black belt in 1996 and is one of the first American black belts; Chris has an extremely well-rounded game and has been in the Jiu Jitsu game for over 2 decades.  He has seen all of the techniques from old school to new school and not only that but he is an excellent instructor.  Chris is extremely articulate and has a one of a kind way of breaking things down and making them easy to learn.  Definitely check this out.

And there you have it guys.  Both submission only and Point based bjj tournaments have awesome benefits and will help you progress.  If you have the opportunity to do either or, you should definitely jump on it.  It is excellent to immerse yourself in bjj competition and you will never lose, only learn.  This sounds cheesy but after you compete, you can put meaning to this statement.  


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