It’s OK to be Mutually Exclusive

It seems that around major events in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu,  the World Championships for example,  pundits remind us that the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has too many rules.  Some of these same pundits also argue that the point system has bastardized the ultimate goal of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu:  the submission.

We are spoiled with outstanding organizations of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions:  IBJJF, Copo Podio, and The Abu Dhabi Pro  that have a points system, and the Gracie Nationals,  Metamoris, and the  Eddie Bravo Invitational that are submission-only events.   Of course we cannot forget the ultimate hybrid event that combines submission only and points:  The ADCC World Championships.   Each organization probably feels that their rules of engagement are what truly represents and defines the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

To argue that one form of the sport is better than the other is self-defeating.  It is okay for points and submission-only competitions to be mutually exclusive.

Each is an art in and of itself.  Does one need to be better than the other?

Maybe we do have too many rules.   Advantages, penalties, and time limits do create certain strategies that limit action and activity.  Conversely, no points or no judging does not provide us with a winner in the absence of a submission.  Both styles of competition have equal opportunity to provide some of the most exciting grappling available or matches that are unbearable to watch.

Therein lies the problem.   What we see as unappealing generates the most criticism.  It boils down to the quality of “spectatorship” of the match.   But, a 50/50 guard is difficult to watch regardless if it is with in a points match or a submission only match.   We must consider the fact that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, in any of its forms, is not a spectator sport to the general public.  It is a spectator sport only for those that participate.   Stop trying to create a set of rules to make it a watchable event for everyone.   Olympic Judo and Wrestling have struggled with this very same problem for years and they still remain a niche spectator sport.

We overlook what all of this variety of competition offers us: more opportunity.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the ultimate art of self-expression.  Every single person who practices has their own individual beliefs, interpretations, and values as to what the art is, TO THEM.  Opportunity to express oneself within a variety of rules of engagement can only bolster one’s development within the art.  Why stifle growth of the individual (and of the art) by limiting exposure to only one set of rules.

 Lets embrace each aspect of our sport and not waste anymore time pitting them against each other.