Play the Clock, Play the Rules, and Play the Points

In case you didn’t know, this past weekend was the 2014 International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation Worlds tournament.  This is the most prestigious tournament internationally for sport bjj competitors. We tuned-in to watch a lot of the action and matches via and noticed some things.  To keep you up to date, we noticed that the majority of the black belt world champions had a very strategical game plan and were conscious of the clock, the rules, and the points.  As jiu jitsu has grown over the past two decades, so has the competition scene and with that a plethora of new rules, techniques, and other things have come into play for competitors. Many people tend to think negatively towards the new styles and techniques in bjj, or the way the matches are, but what they fail to understand is that people compete to win and they do whatever it takes.  These are titles; for example, Bruno Malficene just won his sixth IBJJF world championship at rooster weight, so he has retained his title as the rooster weight champion of the world.  Bruno probably didn’t train all year to lose a match over a risky move or silly mistake and that is why spectators see the jiu jitsu they see. Jiu jitsu is so high level now and the technique are so detailed that one slight mistake can cost a loss. So now people play a more strategic competition jiu jitsu game and are aware of the points, rules, and clock both in training and competition.


The clock plays a massive role for black belt competitors and we saw it this weekend. For example, in the match between Leandro Lo and Keenan Cornelius, two of the best black belts, Keenan continuously looked at the clock and made sure he knew the time. Towards the end, Keenan had grips established on Lo for a sweep but waited to execute it till the last thirty seconds of the match.  This was something that occurred frequently, and rightfully so.  Many of these high level black belts know that their opponents are so good, and they have to be careful on how much energy they exert and when they exert it.  For instance, if Keenan had swept Lo with two minutes left instead of thirty seconds, this would have allowed Leandro time to sweep him back and Keenan knows that Leandro has an incredible guard.  This is a sport and we have to accept that people want to be known as world champions.  The time plays a big role with games such as 50/50,  when the position is almost identical and one little inch makes a difference.  If a competitor has a good grip, they also have to know the right time to use it.  We spoke with 3x world champ, Rafael Lovato Jr. last week and he said he trains with a clock when prepping for competition, this is because you have to now a days.

The rules were another huge thing we’ve noticed athletes should be conscious of for competitions.  Keenan Cornelius was disqualified for a questionable knee reap and it was extremely upsetting.  These little rules such as the knee reap are things that all bjj competitors today should know. There are many rules that can make or break a match by an advantage point so you have to know them.  Some people don’t know that if you turtle you do not receive any passing points, and not knowing something as simple as that could lose a match, same goes for not knowing what a knee reap is! So study the rules because they are extremely important and very detailed.  There are rules for things such as grips, for instance whether or not you can grip with four fingers in or four fingers outside of the pants.  We believe that IBJJF needs to make some changes on there rules regarding knee reaps, double guard pulls, and four fingers inside the pants.  These are all very controversial topics, but it would make bjj competition more exciting for spectators in our opinion.


Last but not least we’ve noticed you have to know the points and be able to play the point game.  Many of the best matches in the black belt finals, including both with the Miyao Brothers, came down to an advantage point or a decision.  This was because the athletes knew the points so well.  When watching the matches, most athletes were constantly looking up at the scoreboard and taking the points into consideration, which you have to do today. Many matches had advantages that decided them because some of the competitors in the lower belts did not know the rules.  In the light feather weight final between Gui Mendes and Paulo Miyao, Gui Mendes took the world championship home by one advantage.  So learn the points and don’t just know them, if you want to compete we recommend training rounds with points.  It is very important to be comfortable knowing points are in play, and knowing how to play the point game.  So next time you start a 5 minute round, tell your friends or coach to keep track of points, this will help!

All in all, the IBJJF 2014 worlds was an amazing tournament.  The matches were extremely technical and very exciting, there was plenty of sweeps, submissions, happiness, sadness, victory, and so much more.  The commentators also did a phenomenal job on the IBJJF live stream, and we highly recommend that if you plan on competing you learn the rules, play the clock, and know the points!  As much as people want to criticize the new game and style at competitions, we believe it shows that bjj is growing and going in the right direction!


Written by ~Aaron Beznrihem editor @TheJiuJitsu