The Rules of Sport Jiu-Jitsu

13 05 2011

It has become apparent through my experiences at tournaments,  ranging in size and location, that the number of those involved in jiu-jitsu who do not have a complete grasp on the rules of the sport is quite larger than what would be thought. People ranging from students, competitors, parents, and even coaches do not always have a full understanding of all of the intricacies of the rules. I am certain there are several reasons for this, but probably the most prevalent is that most do not take the time to actually read and understand the rules that make up our sport.

All of the major tournaments that are held in the world are ran under a single set of rules and regulations set forth by the largest governing body of jiu-jitsu, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation, or IBJJF for short. The IBJJF runs numerous tournaments a year around the globe and generally, before each tournament, they offer a rules course. I recently partook in the rules course before this past weekends Dallas International Open and can vouch that even after having been in the sport for four years and having competed numerous times, there were still some areas of the rules that I was not fully clear on. This just goes to show that even those of us who feel that they know the rules, may not fully understand them. Understanding the rules provides great benefits to those who are involved, train, or teach jiu-jitsu. The benefits of having a complete understanding of the rules as a competitor are monumental. Having that full understanding of the rules allows you to be more aware and completely in sync with what is going on during your match as well as what you need to do in order to gain the upper hand against your adversary. Also, it gives you a sense of what the referee is thinking and watching for while he judges the match. It is quite an advantage if one competitor knows and fully grasps the rules while the other does not. World champions have been crowned because one competitor had a better understanding of the rules than the other.

I am now going to discuss a few key points that most people do not full understand. Let me start with an explanation of the score board. The score board is very simple yet some people, especially those who simply watch jiu-jitsu or are new to jiu-jitsu do not fully understand it. First off in any of the larger tournaments, the score boards are going to be large monitors. The first thing that is displayed (moving from right to left) is the time. The time always counts up to the length of the given level’s match. Next are two sets of three numbers. The numbers are colored from right to left as followed: green or white, red, and yellow. The first number represents points. These are given by the referee when points are earned by the competitor. The next are penalties. These are given when a competitor does something illegal and is warned or for stalling. The final number is for advantage points. The set of three numbers on top begins with the points number being green and the bottom set of three numbers has the points number white. These represent the two different competitors. The competitor who starts out on the referee’s right is always green and the one on the left, white.

In order to determine the winner of the match, should it not end by submission or direct disqualification, the referee will then consult the score board. First, the referee looks to points, or the first number of the score board. The competitor with the most points wins the match. Should points be equal, then the referee moves to the advantage points, or the third number on the score board. The competitor at this point with the most advantage points is declared the winner. Should both points and advantage points be equal, then the referee refers to the penalties, or the second number on the score board. Then the competitor with the least penalties wins the match. If the penalties, advantage points, and points are all equal, then the referee is forced to decide on the winner based on aggression and overall control of the match.

The next point of interest that I would like to mention is the regulations on the gi that competitors are able to use in competition. The gi must be either blue, white, or black (however black is going to be phased out over the next few years). Any other color is not allowed for competition. The gi has specific regulations in measurements that it must meet. It is usually checked by the gi checker before you are allowed to enter the competition area. The gi checker is equipped with a tool that measures the length of things such as the lapel, the amount of slack in the sleeves and pants, the length of the sleeves and pants, as well as the patch placements. A picture of the tool and its dimensions can be found below. Also, there are specific parts of the gi that patches are allowed. The placement of patches is very important and if there are any that are not in the designated spots, they will be ripped off before you are allowed into the competition area. A patch placement diagram is shown below as well. However, one place that is not shown on the diagram is the butt of the pants. The butt of the pants is legal for patches as long as they are stitched on properly.

There are so many rules that most people in jiu-jitsu do not fully understand. I have only covered a few of the areas that are commonly unknown. I highly encourage anyone involved in jiu-jitsu to read and learn the rules of our sport. The more informed you are the better parent, student, competitor, and coach you will be. All of the rules can be found by simply going to the IBJJF’s website or by simply clicking here. Read the rules! If you are a school owner, a good idea is to place the rules in a binder in the lobby or on the wall of your gym so that others may view them. If you are a student, print out or go the website and read them. The best way for our sport to grow is to have everyone educated on the rules.

In conclusion I will leave you with a short video that was put together by the IBJJF in order to help explain some of the things that I have discussed as well as all of the hand signals, points, and advantage points that a referee can give in a match. Enjoy!




2 responses

14 05 2011
Bill Jones

Nice article. Good topics. Personally, I’d like to see more. Thanks for posting this.

14 05 2011

Thank you for the feedback. I always try to bring up topics that I know people are interested in and rules is always a huge one. What would you like to see more of if I may ask?

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