Points Vs. Submission: Which Is The More Dominant Way To Win?

Best Pressure Passers BJJ

Over the weekend, I competed in a round robin style tournament that rewards submission victories by weighting them three times more heavily than point’s victories.  That is to say: in a bracket one can theoretically lose by submission but still win the division as long as they submit everyone else and the person who submitted them fails to submit two opponents.  This made me think about the philosophy of competing to win by submission vs. competing to win by points. Is one superior to the other?

On the one hand, winning by submission is the most decisive way to win.  When a practitioner gets subbed, there is no question of who should have won the match.  I’ve lost and won matches in which the winner wasn’t in control of position the majority of the match but was able to score points.  I’ve also won and lost matches in which the victor had been scored on but was able to pull a rabbit out of his hat and get the submission.  Submission takes all the guesswork out of the game; it leaves the outcome in the hands of the competitors rather than the referee or judges.

Related: Robert Drysdale: The Problems With “Sub-Only Tournament”

On the other hand, winning by points means that you controlled your opponent.  Controlling another person, particularly one of similar size, weight and skill, should not be an easy feat.  If I am able to legitimately control another person but am unable to isolate a limb or neck, did I somehow inherently fail?  Or was that control dominance enough to signify that I am the superior competitor?

Advantages and referee’s decisions are different.  These are without a question subjective and cannot really be used to determine the success of a competitor.

My policy is that when I feel like an opponent is potentially dangerous; I try to finish them as quickly and violently as possible.  I don’t want them to be able to force their way out of a submission, score points, and possibly submit me from a dominant position. Rather I try to blitz them.  Some of the best opponents I’ve faced off against lasted under two minutes against me because I was frantically seeking a way out.  That said, I would argue that I “caught” these opponents rather than controlled them.  I sought not to use the most refined technique to cleverly outwork the other man, but rather tried to quickly create an opening and capitalize on it.  Does my success in that make me the better competitor?  I am well aware that my chances of repeating those results are low.

On the other hand, if I were able to score points on these dangerous foes and continuously control them through the end of the match, I think that the statement of my dominance would be loud and clear.  Based on that, points should be the ultimate signifier of dominance, with submission simply being an opportunistic endeavor.

Obviously, submission is the conclusion of choice for most, if not all jiu-jitsu practitioners.  If you’re not trying to find a way to make the other guy tap, I personally think you deserve to lose.  However I think that true dominance is somewhere between the ability to end the match and the ability to perpetually control it.  What do you think?


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