Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The IBJJF Rules Changes for 2013

Alvaro Mansor is a walking rule book

The IBJJF is finally addressing the complaints of the BJJ community!  A preview of the updates can be found at GracieMag, with an updated rule book to be released any day now.  The major changes and my thoughts are below:

Takedown Score:
Starting in 2013, the referee will award two points for a Takedown after the athlete who initiates the Takedown stabilizes the position on the opponent on the ground for three (3) seconds.
This update streamlines the takedown scoring rules by removing the "Ippon Rule".  I agree with this change because the rules for takedowns are already overly complex before taking Ippons into account.  Presently, I've refereed hundreds of matches with these changes because US Grappling has used these rules for scoring takedowns for as long as I can remember.  This works out really well in practice because as a referee you can devote one hundred percent of your attention to the guard pull and not worry about how the competitors land.

The only thing I dislike about this update is that it becomes harder to score with a takedown.  Takedown points are already rare enough because of the prevalence of guard pulling, so I hate to see a change that has the potential to make takedowns even harder to secure.

Adding new “Serious Penalty”
An athlete will receive a “Serious Penalty” in situations where an athlete unintentionally reacts in a way that places his opponent in an illegal position.
Reaping is no longer an instant disqualification if it's unintentional!  This addresses one of the biggest complaints against the IBJFF!  I hate for competitors to invest so much in training, travel, and fees and then get snap DQ'd for an accident.  Many tournament organizations, including US Grappling, have been doing this for years, so I'm glad to see the IBJJF catching up.

Adding new “Severe Penalty
An athlete will receive a “Severe Penalty” in situations where the athlete intentionally attempts to get his or her opponent disqualified by reacting in a way that places his or her opponent in an illegal position.
This is another necessary change, but as a referee I hate having to judge the intent of a competitor.  I tend to err on the side of accidental, so unless a competitor is blatantly fouling, I always assume the infraction was unintentional.  I don't expect to see this penalty invoked very often, but it's an important addition.

Restricting registration for athletes with experience in other sports:
Starting in 2013, athletes with experience in wrestling at the University level in the USA or with a professional career in MMA cannot subscribe to compete as a white belt. Besides the USA, wrestling competitors with experience in National tournaments around the world are also restricted from competing as white belts.
I think this is a welcome change, but it won't really affect much.  White belts are our future, so it's important that they don't end up with a sour taste in their mouth after their first IBJFF outing, but the fact is that not many people care about the white belt world champion beyond white belts (and their friends / family / coaches / teammates).  This change is good politics, but ultimately won't affect anything beyond white and blue belts.

In the end, it's nice to see the IBJJF respond to customer feedback.  Many regional tournaments have been running with these rules for years because they survive by being responsive to their customers since they lack the heft and prestige of the IBJJF.  I like the idea of smaller promotions implementing experimental rules changes and then having the IBJJF harvest the best changes once they have been proven.

Want to try out a non-IBJJF tournament and live in the Chicago area?  US Grappling is headed your way!