April 16, 2012

Justin Rader & Proposed Rule Changes in BJJ Competition

I wanted to re-post this letter Justin Rader threw out on Facebook about 24 hours ago.  It addresses some rule changes he would like to see in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Competitions.  Agree or not, he raises some solid points and has very reasonable suggestion (especially more compensation and accountability for refs!).  Check it out:

   "Hey guys, I don’t normally do this, but I would like to voice my opinion and viewpoint on the rules for the sport of jiu-jitsu, and some of the changes I would make. I have thought about this a lot lately from things I have seen over the past few years, and I really wanted to express what I feel. I emphasize, these are only my opinions, and you’re welcome to agree, disagree, ignore, share, etc. I am in no way saying these changes will or should be made, they are just what I think would help make the sport more exciting. This is also not based on any one single event or incident or is meant to target any competitor, it’s just what I have seen over the past few years many times. This is based on my interpretation of the points and how I view the art.

   The first change I would make would be to get rid of advantage points. I understand their intention to help reward athletes to be aggressive and promote action and submissions, but I do not believe from what I have seen that they accomplish this. My own opinion on advantages is this: “Advantage points reward shoddy offense and punish good defense or toughness.” I do not believe an athlete should be rewarded anything for “almost” or “close but not close enough”. I believe the expression “the greater the risk, the greater the reward,” is how the sport should be scored, especially for submissions, which already has the greatest reward which is end of match. I believe this would force athletes to open up much more and risk much more to win, and make the sport more exciting.
   Now, because there would be no more advantage points, I also think there should be an overtime period that is half the time of the regulation match time if the score is tied (if 10 minutes then 5 minute overtime if necessary). And in the case of a tie at the end of an overtime period, then it could go to a ref’s decision. I have heard the argument at times that this would make tournaments take too long, but I really don’t believe it would as I would also like to see more of the local open tournaments start to in some way count as qualifiers for the bigger tournaments to really help limit the number of athletes in a division and give people something to strive for.

   Next, in case of a ref’s decision, I think the decision, I think the win should go to the athlete who was really pushing the pace and trying to progress and finish the match, not to the one who was in “control” for the majority of the match. As holding somebody in spider guard is considered “control” even if the athlete is making no real attempt to progress in position and the other person keeps breaking grips and trying to pass.

   I also do agree with having to engage to pull guard, as I think this will help force a person to at the very least develop good takedown defense. I have also never made the argument that a person should be penalized anything for pulling guard, as this is not a real fight where punches are being thrown (which in my opinion makes being on top the more dominant positions) and is part of the art to develop a person’s skills to sweep or submit from their back. Athletes should not be allowed to just sit, as they wouldn’t necessarily do so in a real fight.

   Another thing I would like to see being enforced more is stalling, and I’d like to see the addition of a stalemate call. I do believe this does have to be left to the ref’s discretion, but I would like to see more stalling calls made (if justified) especially if a minute has gone by with no movement from just one athlete. If one minute has gone by, but both athletes have made no movement, then a double stalling call could be made (if justified, like to athletes on their feet), but if they are in a position that locks each other down (one example could be the 50/50 position), then I think the call should be a stalemate call, and both athletes stood back to their feet. I've seen matches go 8 minutes of no real movement in the 50/50 position, and that needs to be fixed. I'm not saying at all that the 50/50 position shouldn't be used or allowed, I just want to see people use it to advance or finish, and limit the amount of non-movement and non-progression. Also, if an athlete repeatedly seeks and forces a position like this with no movement or progression, then he will be given a warning or penalized for stalling.

   I’d also like to see is boundaries honored more and called consistently. I really do not have any idea anymore on where out of bounds exactly is with the calls I have seen made over the years. I have heard so many arguments one way or the other about calls made about out of bounds, I would just like to see consistent calls about it made.

   With these changes, I would also like to see ref’s compensated more for their time and effort, but also held to a higher standard and fired if they have proven to be repeatedly and blatantly incompetent. I think that whoever hires the ref’s should take complaints about their ref’s very seriously and review on video a ref’s actions, and make a decision whether a ref needs to be fired or not. This should also take place after an event or events, and I do not believe calls or matches should be reversed once a match ends. If a call needs any further clarification by a ref during a match, it should be handled at that point in time, and the match should not be continued in any way until the call is final.

   Again, these are just my thoughts and opinions on how I think the sport of jiu-jitsu could be improved. It’s not based on any single event, incident, or meant to target any competitor. And I have tried to be as complete and absolute in objectiveness as I can. I am also not saying these changes would or should be made, and I’m also not complaining either. This is solely based on what I have seen and improvements I think could be made to help make this sport more exciting and something people might like to watch more. You’re welcome to comment and agree, disagree, ignore, share, etc. These are just some of the things that have been on my mind for a while now, and I wanted to express them." - Justin Rader

Here is an interview that slipped by me in the past with both Justin and his coach Rafael Lovato Jr.:

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