The Pros And Cons Of Having So Many BJJ Tournaments In Southern California

Southern California has long been considered the biggest BJJ hotbed outside of Brazil. The sunshine, beaches, surfing, and large population has attracted many of the top BJJ coaches and competitors to South California including The Gracies, Machados, Cobrinha, Romulo Barral, Andre Galvao, Leo Viera, and The Mendes Brothers. As the number of schools and rivalries continues to grow, so has the number of BJJ competitions in the marketplace.

In 2018, there have been and will be bi-weekly tournaments in the Southern California region stretching from Los Angeles to San Diego. In addition, the region will host Pans in Irvine and Worlds in Long Beach.

While the growth of BJJ and tournaments show that BJJ is doing quite well in Southern California, can there be too many BJJ tournaments for the market to bear? On April 28th, there are four tournaments scheduled on the same day: Copa Pacifica in Westminster, NABJJF Inland Empire Open in the Riverside/San Bernandino area, Grappling Industries in San Diego, and WSOJJ Purple Belts in Laguna Beach. Can this be too much of a good thing? I doubt BJJ practitioners in regions of the world that travel hours to compete will feel any pity for the So Cal scene. Ultimately, time will tell which tournaments become annual events like Pans and Worlds and which new events will need to scale back or adjust their schedule in order to avoid direct competition for competitors.

Just take a look at the March 2018 to May 2018 BJJ tournament schedule in Southern California

Mar 7-11 – IBJJF Pans

Mar 10 – WSOJJ Blue Belt No Gi

Mar 10 – NAGA (bro) San Diego

Mar 18 – Subfighter No Gi

Mar 31 – JJWL SD

Mar 31 – Subcon LA

April 14 – JJWL OC

April 14 – Subcon SD

April 28 – NABJJF Inland Empire

April 28-29 – Copa Pacifica

April 28 – Grappling Industries SD

April 28 WSOJJ Purple Belt No Gi

April 29 Grappling X SD

May 12 – IBJJF SD

May 19 – JJWL LA

May 30-June 3 – IBJJF World Championships

Here are the pros and cons of having so many tournaments in So Cal.


You can compete more often.

If you moved across the country to become a world class competitor at AOJ, Atos, or Cobrinha’s, then you will get plenty of chances to compete without flying around the country or world. Whether you are just looking to stay active or entering your first tournament as a white belt, you won’t have to wait or travel long to get a few matches under your belt.

There is a chance a high number of competitions will stabilize or lower prices.

BJJ competitors have complained about the high cost of IBJJF events that cost $100 or more to enter. Now with competition from Grappling Industries, NABJJF, Five Grappling, JJWL, Dream, and other upstarts, competitors have alternatives to the IBJJF events. Also, the quality of competition at these tournaments will be solid as these tournaments are drawing competitors from some of the top BJJ schools throughout the region.

Competition equals innovation

Hate the cost, bureaucracy, or rules of the IBJJF? Competition spurs innovation such as friendly leg lock rules, round robin formats where you aren’t one and done, and prize money and fancy belts for the winners of advanced and upper belt divisions. While the IBJJF is still the established gold standard and market leader, promotions like Grappling Industries and Five Grappling have pushed the envelope in improving the rules set and competitor experiences.

There are warm-up events prior to Pans, Worlds, Master Worlds.

So Cal has competitors of all levels and ages who love to compete on the big stages. However, Roger Federer never stepped onto the courts of Wimbledon without a few warm-up events prior to the big show. With all of the competitions in So Cal, competitors from around the region can have warm-up competitions to help sharpen their games prior to Pans or Worlds without the costly travel expenses. Just a quick day trip to the venue and back home for dinner.


It thins the competition pool for tournaments.

Having four events on the same date as stated above can’t be good for the competitors or promoters. At past events in So Cal, it wasn’t uncommon for over 1,000 kids and adult competitors to be entered into a single event. With four events occurring on the same day with additional events taking place around the same date, this can cause several headaches for competitors and promoters, with competitors trying to pick the competition with the most competitors and promoters struggling to attract competitors.

People wait to register.

Competitors like to see who else signed up in their division before signing up themselves since they want to get at least one or two matches in at a tournament. While there are early bird sign-up discounts, the discount isn’t enough to offset the wait-and-see-who-signs-up game. This is further complicated when there are multiple events taking place around the same time period.

There are fewer bouts.

Back in the day, when there was only one event a month, the competition pool at events was deeper, with most competitors guaranteed a few matches in a large bracket. With the number of events taking place, the competition pool will be spread and thinned out at the tournaments, giving the competitors fewer matches.

It combines divisions. If there aren’t other competitors in your division you will need to move up a weight division or down an age division. Sometimes this is done by choice and sometimes it is done by the promoters giving you a less than fair match where you are at a weight or age disadvantage.

There are potential event postponements and cancellations.

The worst case scenario is having the event postponed or cancelled. For the promoter, they are likely eating a financial loss on the event. For the competitor, it is the possible scenario of chasing down the promoter for a refund or information on the new event date which can be a huge headache.


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