When Jiu-Jitsu Becomes An Olympic Sport, It Won’t Be called Jiu-Jitsu

Flickr/Creative Commons: MartialArtsNomad.com

This article is not meant to address the debate surrounding sport vs self-defense jiu-jitsu. It is merely to show what the rule-set may look like for Olympic Jiu-Jitsu. All photos come from the UWW Grappling Rule Book.

Instead, it will be called Olympic Grappling. United World Wrestling already has a grappling event. The closest Jiu-Jitsu used to be to an Olympic sport was actually more closely related to Catch Wrestling when the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) was in charge of the events. We even covered when WMMA bantamweight, Colleen Schneider, won the world championship.

However, with corruption and bribes running much of what happened with FILA, the organization was disbanded and absorbed into the United World Wrestling organization. Team USA Wrestling even has a Grappling team that attends UWW’s Grappling competitions.

Now that UWW has taken over, the rule set has seen a drastic change. It more closely resembles  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu than Catch Wrestling. However, it is still not the BJJ that many of us are used to seeing. There are some major differences. Here are just a few:

1. Restart Positions

In BJJ, if the action moves out of bounds, referees often will attempt to reset competitors in the same position they were in before leaving the mat area. In Grappling, this is not the case.

Instead, there is essentially a modified guard position. This is much like
resetting to the referee’s position in wrestling. This position is used when guard action moves out of bounds.grappling_rules

There is also a side control restart position that looks like this:


A mount restart will look like this:


A back control restart position will look like this:


A restart position is something that many BJJ practitioners may not be ok with. However, in order to make rules more uniform, it is clear that these positions are valuable, though perhaps some modifications could be made.

2. Scoring

Takedowns still score 2 points, but can score 3 if a grappler manages to lift their opponent above waist high while taking them down.

Reversals are worth 2 points. This would include sweeps, and even an Upa from the bottom of mount. However, if a dominant position is established off of a reversal, points for the reversal will be combined with the points for a dominant position.

Reaching Side Mount is worth 3 points. However, no extra points are awarded for knee-on-belly. Here are some examples of side mount:




Mount positions are awarded the same as in BJJ with little difference.

However, back mount position is only awarded when it looks like this:


Body-triangles or crossed feet will not award any back mount points.

Takedowns that do not establish control for 3 seconds are still awarded 1 point. Close submission attempts are also awarded 1 point. This does not mean that any submission attempt is awarded a point (in BJJ they are often awarded advantage points for simply attempting a submission). The submission must appear to be close to succeeding in order for a point to be awarded.

In Conclusion:

There are other differences between BJJ and UWW Grappling. You can find the new set of rules HERE. If it’s something you might be interested in, I suggest studying up.


  1. Seems still a little far in the future.
    JJ still lacking well structured national federations who can pull out national teams.
    There are no “qualificating criteria” for continental or world champs, anyone is able to partecipate and the situazion when each nation will pull out 1-2 players only per each weight category seems also quite far.
    Not to be forgotten that the total amount of available medals is not goin to change aka either one sport goes out or some other gets a big cut in medals availability. This also gives doubts about the change of keeping current weight category setup in jj,

  2. I’ve competed in FILA/UWW world competition basically since its inception. In my opinion it is superior to all other grappling/bjj organizations. Rules encourage a more well rounded game. The federation is a REAL federation with actual country & continent representation as opposed to being a family owned or private promotion. Each country must send only one athlete per weight and each athlete has to qualify to participate. Three referees (mat, mat side & table) all from different countries, no Brazilian biases. Also there is a disputed call and replay/review process. Very well run events and the host country changes each year which also encourages fairness.

    • They (UWW) currently have both Gi and No Gi Grappling competitions as well as Amateur MMA and Pankration being contested at their world events. Also to clarify in the article, FILA never disbanded, they simply changed names and branding. The federation has made internal cleanups and modifications but never dissolved.

  3. This is bullshit what is UWW grappling?? Is BJJ that was changed the name and changed the rules a little bit, is was something else why just started few years ago and not decades like BJJ I like the guy learn boxing and train Jab and cross hook and upper cut and change the name of the art and rules and tell them is not boxing!

  4. The American Judo and Jujitsu Federation spent two years to come up with a perfectly good sport version of Jujitsu for the AAU. This was over 15 years ago. It was sanctioned and competed in for years, until Brazilian Jujitsu tournaments became popular. At that time the AAU did not like what they saw of BJJ and the other offshoots of it, the popularity of the BJJ styles did not suit the safety they had in mind, and all jujitsu was DROPPED jujitsu from their listed curriculums. A letter was put out by the AAU saying just that. Look it up. We used to join the AAU as a jujitsu club and members, now we have to join as Judo or Baton Twirling (hey it’s a martial art 😉

  5. One reason why BJJ should never make it to the Olympics is the fact that BJJ is, basically, a rip-off of Judo, focusing on a subset (ground fight) of Judo techniques. Judo has been simplified in order to become an olympic sport: ground fight is very limited in competitions. Even though jiu-jitsu fighters are the best when it comes to newaza, don’t forget: BJJ = basically just Judo.

    • your opinion is quite biased and based on misunderstanding on martial art. historically BJJ came from Judo. but BJJ has unique philosophy on fight, which totaly differ from judo. The philosophy makes BJJ’ technicque and principle of movement change far differently. As a practitioner of Judo and BJJ, I have seen so many people having a hard time to transit from one to the other. Judoka take long time to understand the mindset of Jiujiteiro and principle of movement. The opposite is as same as well. Even when it comes to using strength of muscle and standing strategy, those of BJJ become similar to those of wrestling. If you think both are similar, the reason is cause you compare their technicque in too superficial level or you have some fantasy on old Judo. Newaza is just Japanese word of ground fighting. Ground fighting is not only attributed to Judo. some people think newaza in Judo is far unique, but it’s not true. In early 20C wrestler could fight with judoka on the ground including submmision. some series of skills might be unique, but that’s all. the view of ground fight was same to others. throw, grab upper body tight, submit or pin. the concept of guard was too weak in judo. You may think Judo had lost their ground skills for sport. but it’s not also true. Judo dojo have never dropped newaza teaching in their program. their ground game is not lost, but just no progress. No one can imagine to fight like BJJ. BJJ totally changed the aspect of ground fight. BJJ=Judo is a biased conclusion from neglecting this fact on purpose. And grappling of UWW is a bad attempt to taking the success of BJJ.


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