The reason why your friends don’t like BJJ

You’ve been telling your friends how much you love BJJ and how awesome it is. There’s a competition coming up so you invite them to come watch. Afterwards, you ask them what they think and they give you that look. The one that says this is the stupidest thing they’ve ever seen and that you must be a crazy person to enjoy it.

Let’s see it through your friend’s eyes. (If you’re short on time, watch the first two minutes then skip to 5:30).

Both opponents pull guard and end up sitting on their butts. Then both stay sitting down, daring the other to take the top position. They stay here for over five minutes. With 25 seconds remaining, one opponent takes the top position to gain an advantage point then tries to stall till the time runs out. The other opponent manages to stand and attempts a takedown as the time ends.

After this horrible and embarrassing performance, both opponents jump up and wave their hands in the air as if they’ve achieved some great feat.

This type of match isn’t that uncommon, especially in the larger competitions. It’s boring to watch and shows no admirable skill on the part of the opponents. The origin of this type of match is simple to see. Submitting your opponent is hard. It’s easier to win by having more points than your opponent. Getting lots of points is hard. It’s easier to get a single point and stall till the time runs out. The IBJJF rules allow such a strategy to flourish.

A good rule system should make a stalling strategy difficult, so winning by submission becomes an easier strategy. There are at least two rule systems that encourage this; FILA and NAGA no-gi. They do this by several means:

  • Shorter matches: so boring matches are over quickly
  • No advantage points: advantage points encourage stalling as they are easy to obtain with little effort
  • Points are easier to obtain: difficult to maintain a point advantage by stalling as escapes are awarded points
  • More types of submissions allowed: fewer safe stalling positions
  • Actively penalising stalling

The solution to the stalling problem is to stop using IBJJF rules. There are better systems available; submission only, FILA, NAGA no-gi. If you want to introduce a friend to BJJ by bringing them to a competition, make sure it isn’t run under IBJJF rules.

2 replies
  1. Hel
    Hel says:

    Having been to both Auscup and Pan Pacs this year run by the AFBJJ under IBJJF rules (to the best of my knowledge) I can confirm that stalling was not tolerated by refs at either comp this year, which is a huge positive and certainly made it more interesting to compete and watch.


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