Did This Competitor Fall Victim To Politics? Or Was The Referee’s Decision Good?

The IBJJF World Championship is arguably the most prestigious tournament at any belt level in the world.  If you have a medal from this tournament, you are the real deal and have a sort of golden ticket in the jiu-jitsu world.  For this reason, people value the opportunity to make their way to that pyramid and fight for their chance for glory.  But do politics sometimes muddy the waters?

There have been many accusations tossed around about the IBJJF, namely that Brazilian referees will make things happen for Brazilian competitors.  I haven’t seen too many bad referee’s calls (though I’ve personally been victim to a couple) but there was one instance that I saw on the Facebooks Webs today posted by a facebook friend of a facebook friend.

Jorden Reichenbach:
“I just watched a ref stop a match in the Blue belt division due to a knee bar dq. In the refs mind he called it a DQ and got the competitor’s to line up to award the win to the other competitor. Before he made the call he left the mats to talk to Galvao who was the coach of the student that got DQ. An agreement took place in their native language. Then the ref called the head ref over. The head ref, the ref, and Galvao talked for a few minutes then the ref went on the mats and gave the win to Galvao s student.
This is everything that is wrong with this place. If that was my student the ref would have made the call and walked off the mats. But because it’s Galvao…..
The whole crowd started booing”

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

This individual asserted that he had watched a blue belt match in which one competitor went for a knee bar on the other (which is illegal) prompting the referee to stop the match to DQ the culprit.  After stopping the match the referee had a long conversation with the offending competitor’s coach, Andre Galvao, at which point he declared the offending competitor the victor of the match.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Without sound it may be difficult to make certain determinations, but something seems off.  It is unclear whether or not the competitor being knee barred tapped, and if they did tap, did they tap to the knee bar or something else?

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

If Galvao in fact convinced the ref to give his student the win, did HE do anything wrong as the student’s coach?  The truth is, your coach should be there to help you win.  Learn lessons on the mat at the gym, in competition the coach’s objective is to ensure victory.  If there is foul play at work here, it might actually be on the referee’s part…

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY


The Atos Competitor has won the bracket

See Full Bracket At IBJJF.COM Watch Live At FloGrappling

Previous articleGeorges St-Pierre Reacts To Infamous Fat Belly Shot
Next articleHow Often Should You Train? Ask Your Body
Emil Fischer is an active black belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training at Strong Style Mixed Martial Arts and Training Center near Cleveland Ohio (www.strongstyle.com) and teaching at Ararat Martial Arts and FItness Center. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at www.facebook.com/emilfischerbjj www.twitter.com/Emil_Fischer and https://instagram.com/emilfischerbjj/. Emil is sponsored by Meerkatsu (www.Meerkatsu.com, discount code EmilKatsu), Eddy's On Coventry, North Coast Cryo (www.Northcoast-Cryo.com) NottaRookie, YM (www.cbdyoume.com discount code COOKIES), Defense Soap (www.defensesoap.com discount code COOKIES) Impact Mouthguards (www.impactmouthguards.com discount code EMILIMPACT), and North South Jiu Jitsu Underwear


  1. If the competitor didn’t finish the kneebar, there is no dq. ex. You can use a kneebar to sweep as long as you don’t hyperextend the knee.

    • It is my understanding that hyperextension is a relative term. What if one competitor’s knee is really tight and even the slightest straightening is sufficient?

      The truth is if a competitor gets in kneebar position even if they aren’t applying the move and the opponent calls foul that is the end of the match.

  2. Looks very much like a kneebar, pulling on the heel to straighten the knee. If an opponent taps due to your application of an illegal submission, you lose. This appears to be either poor judgement or hero worship by the referee, and its unfortunate for the competitor who lost his opportunity to win a world championship due to it (added slap in the face that the guy who should have been DQ’d went on to win it).

  3. This honestly makes me sick, the fact that the kid who was being knee bar’s lost is a huge blow to the sport and this ref should never be aloud to ref again. The referee should never just talk to a coach and base his decision of that especially when he only spoke with one party.

  4. I have reffed for the IBJJF and done MANY rules meetings. I’ve always been told to DQ a competitor as soon as they go for an illegal submission. It doesn’t matter if the other person taps or not. Illegal is illegal.

  5. Can someone link the actual match here instead of these GIFs? Ultimately the center ref makes all decisions, unless over-ruled by the two side refs or by the video playback guys. I don’t think any ref should be walking over and talking to any coach before a match is called. That’s simply unprofessional. He can confirm with his side refs and score table, but no coaches should be involved in the process. The GIFs make it hard to tell if he was doing a kneebar are trying to pass the leg over to secure 50/50, let the guy come up, and use up the clock (not the grip I would have used on the foot, but there’s a lot of ways to skin a cat). The score and time at the point the incident occurs would be helpful also to help us understand what was tactically occurring in the match at that point, which we could all see with a full video of what happened. The GIF looks like a kneebar attempt to me, but I’d want to see the whole video before guessing the intentions of the guy.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here