Further Evidence Of A Major Split In BJJ

Recently Jiu-Jitsu Times posted an article about the potential financial value of a high level competitor winning one of jiu-jitsu’s biggest titles.

Which Holds More Short And Long Term Value: An IBJJF Gi World’s Gold OR an EBI Title?

The debate got me thinking about the 2 different and arguably most popular competition formats.

Which of the two different expressions of the “Arte suave” is closer to the ideal of a jiu-jitsu fight? Take down an opponent, control them, advance to a dominant position ultimately leading to a submission. At first glance, the submission only format is the obvious answer. No points or judges right?

Not so fast. Multiple time World Champion Bernardo Faria has the opinion that that the points system encourages submissions in that competitors will move and expose themselves to submissions when they try to avoid points. Perhaps there is no better example than many competitors getting choked from the rear mount after going to turtle to avoid surrendering the points for a guard pass.

I don’t have the statistics in front of me, but I believe there is a higher rate of submissions in EBI than the black belt divisions of the IBJJF Worlds. There is also, however, stalling and tactics to get to overtime and gain victory by riding time.

The most interesting aspect of comparing the two different competition formats are which submissions are winning the big events.

I have been studying the most excellent leg lock instructional by John Danaher on his system for heel hooking opponents in EBI, which has created a mini revolution in the way jiu-jitsu competitors think about leg locks and winning submission only events.

The most important point here is that the most effective submission in the EBI rule set is the inside heel hook, which is illegal in IBJJF. The second most successful strategy is likely the rear naked choke. When was the last time you saw a rear naked choke in the black belt division of the IBJJF Worlds?

Now, let’s compare this submission highlight video of the most recent 2018 Worlds, and we’ll see that the most successful route to winning is by some variation of collar strangle…a submission that is not even possible in EBI matches.

We have two different competitive rule sets where the primary strategy of victory is not legal in one competition (heel hooks) and not possible (gi collar chokes) in the other.

It sounds like we don’t have two different types of jiu-jitsu competition. We have two different sports.

Yes, there are common elements. A boxing and muay thai comparison might be valid here. Both are striking arts. Muay Thai includes techniques that are illegal in boxing. Both allow punches but are undeniably different sports.

Years ago Brazilian jiu-jitsu started to split into different expressions: MMA, sport BJJ, no-gi, and self defense.

Are these two competitions further evidence that it is evolving into two different sports entirely? Or is it all just one jiu-jitsu?


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