Over the weekend I participated at the IBJJF Chicago Open. My results were not what I wanted them to be but I did learn a lot about my game. Without sharing too much (so as to not tip off future opponents haha), my game is currently heavily geared towards submission only grappling. I don’t care if my training partner passes my guard, sweeps me, takes my back, etc, I am always trying to be creative and find ways to set up submissions. At the Chicago Open I only had one match which I wound up losing on advantages. During that match I was the bigger threat, but I didn’t do enough to earn advantages. This experience poses a question that many competitors ponder: why both playing the points game? Is submission only superior?
Points are based on actions/positions that hold relevance in Jiu Jitsu that fact is undeniable. Advantages on the other hand are a way to make overtimes less likely. Ultimately the points game puts competitors under a greater deal of competitive pressure, but in some cases can cheapen a victory, after all who wants to win on one advantage in a sport where a “good” victory comes from making another person tap.
Submission only on the other hand can be a war of attrition. Unlike a points match, which is based on maintaining a frenetic pace and scoring as many points as you can (or subbing the other person if the opportunity comes up), submission only very often can be a long arduous process. If you’re doing sub only, clear your schedule for the day and grab a snickers because it’s going to be a while. In my experience sub only is often an exercise in the art of patience.
Points on the other hand can be an extremely frustrating experience as being better at Jiu Jitsu doesn’t mean you’re going to win matches. Jiu Jitsu is an art of patience, timing and momentary application of leverage and strength. Points/Sport Jiu Jitsu is an art of application of Jiu Jitsu within an extremely finite period of time under the duress of rules, and in some cases intelligent defense can still mean you lose the match as your opponent can get advantages. I’ve won matches on advantages and I’ve lost as well, neither feels very good.
Competition is important as it allows us a way to see how good we actually are. Competition gives us an end to our means, as many of us don’t ever really get to test our skills in a “real fight.” Competition with points puts us under a degree of pressure that submission only never can or will, whereas submission only is a more drawn out experience. I like to compare it to a 100 meter dash versus a 5k marathon. Both running competitions but the technique, skills and training for each is very different. Points competition is, however, the more popular and successful mode of competition because the matches are easier to watch.
At the end of the day, all that really matters is that you test yourself. Even if you are partial to one style of competition, understand the merits of and try both. It will only make you a stronger person and a better grappler.