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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

BJJ BUREAUCRATS BERIMBOLO BAN AND OTHER IBJJF RULES BANTER.

The berimbau is a Capoeira single-string percussion instrument and these are real t-shirts you can buy, grappler.  Go figure.
Grapplers, here's another great article for you from my teammate and fellow black belt, Daniel Rodriguez aka Da Rod aka Akume.  Daniel is a talented coach and a Pan American Gold Medalist.  He's contributed to DSTRYR/SG a number of times, recently by doing Jiu Jitsu at.13,000 feet (i.e., while skydiving) and in a write-up last week about Non-Gracie BJJ lineage.  He also has, hands down, the most magnificent beard in all of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

I asked Daniel what he thought about the very recent IBJJF rule affecting the berimbolo/DLR hook.  Here's what he had to say:

Lately, there has been quite the controversy on the latest rule to affect tournaments - an underhook to the shin while performing the De La Riva/berimbolo. In sports, rules are constantly being modified and changed for different reasons. It wasn't too long along that a rule was instituted that if you looked at a ref wrong in the NBA, you got a technical foul. It's a sport, these things happen and, in IBJJF's case, their reasoning is that the underhook creates pressure on the knee that can potentially injure competitors. Personally, I don't get it because Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a sport in which the submission is the ultimate goal. ALL SUBMISSIONS CAN POTENTIALLY INJURE COMPETITORS. I can see the interest in protecting the athlete at brown belt and below, but at black belt adult, I believe anything should be game. On the flip side, though, when the heel hook was eliminated --> the 50/50 was born so maybe this restriction with give birth to a new guards and techniques. Who knows.

But while we're on the list of adding rules here's a few that should be added to the list:

  • No more gentleman's agreements.  This is a tournament not rock, paper, scissors. I don't care if you're from the same team --> there can only be one gold medalist and you don't train to be second. If you don't wanna fight someone you should be DQ'd.
  • No more team trophies.  Jiu Jitsu is not a team sport. Yes, you train with teammates, but if this is going to the Olympics, realize that it's broken up into countries and not Gracie Barra, Humaita, Atos.  If the IBJJF's goals is to get this to the Olympics, then it needs to start being organized accordingly.
That aside, what we need to realize is that there's a bigger problem. I've scoured several forums and people are always saying, "quit bitching and do something about it," but the IBJJF has no transparency in the system. I very recently became a recognized IBJJF black belt which required me to fork over $60 bucks for a referee course, $90 dollars for a first aid course, and finally $400 dollars to become registered. Now I'm a part of the organization, where is there a rules committee? The board of directors? Where's my vote? Where's my ability to participate on issues and topics that affect the organization? So far the only thing this registration has given me is the ability to send students to tournaments under my name and stripe recognition for my black belt degrees as I receive them. Going to the website reveals a FAQ page that's been empty for years and a few emails in which to contact the org. There's not even a list of people who work in this organization! Personally, I think the organization needs to confer with it's members, especially it's black belts, about these rules and issues in general that affect it's members. Their tournaments are super organized, now its time to clean house.

31 comments:

  1. very well said sir!

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  2. I swear the IBJJF rules are aimed at eliminating all moves that Helio didn't personally use at least twice from their competitions! There seems to be some weird, anti-innovation bias going on here that I think will hurt the sport in the long run.

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  3. Always love reading your stuff! BJJ is a little anti-innovative, simply because they Brazilians feel they are the best at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (go figure) This is why I prefer ADCC that is a little more geared towards the mixed submission grappler.

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  4. I disagree, I think forcing players to work harder for subs is the quintessential breeding ground for creative innovation.

    I tip my hat to Da Rod as well. It's exactly that kind of open questioning that's needed to bring the IBJJF to more accessibility and transparency. As the sport progresses and we expect more from the athletes, so to should we expect more from the governing organizations...

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    1. It may breed innovation, but it's moving the sport in the completely opposite direction of what BJJ was all about in the first place which was efficiency. If the rules keep changing in the way that they are, it will create an entirely new sport that will have nothing to do with the fundamental principles of BJJ/GJJ and submission grappling for that matter. We need look no further than the current state of Judo in order to see what the future holds for BJJ if we keep sacrificing it's integrity for safety.

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    2. Removal of that isolated position is not counter to the over-arching philosophy of BJJ, nor the stance already taken by the IBJJF regarding knee vulnerability. Physics remains the same, as does all the utility of using techniques efficiently. One could argue that bringing back the eye-gouging and groin attacks left in classical JJ would be in the name of efficiency as well...

      Arguing we're turning into Judo is creating a bit of a straw-man, as the limitations placed on Judo were less in the name of safety and more on an attempt to make the sport more spectator-oriented.

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  5. Team scoring exists in wrestling. I don't understand how that keeps it from becoming an Olympic sport.

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  6. True, but those are teams that actually train together as a unit (e.g., high schools and colleges or regional clubs). The "teams" in BJJ are unique to this sport (although I'm sure there are parallels in other sports/activities). They are more like unions/affiliations/alliances.

    We've even seen athletes switch from team to team in recent history (e.g., Andre Galvao going from Alliance to Brasa to TT to Atos [I think in that order]).

    I'm a little softer on the issue than my teammate, Da Rod, who wrote this article, but I agree with the sentiment.

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  7. "If the IBJJF's goals is to get this to the Olympics, then it needs to start being organized accordingly."

    The author appears to assume that the IBJJF wants BJJ to be in the Olympics. I am not convinced that's necessarily true.

    Caleb

    p.s. Keep up the good work on this site!

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    1. One of IBJJFs founding principles was working towards becoming an olympic sport, the IBJJF has been lobbying the IOC since it's inception. Most of the changes the IBJJF has done like eliminating certain moves and requiring black belts to be members to compete has been done to streamline it to fit the olympic mold.

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  8. I believe certain things need to be changed in the IBJJF rules. yeah, definitely no more gentleman's agreements. guard slamming should be allowed in brown & black divisions, along with the scissors takedown ( kani basami ). in the finals of belt divisions, there should be no advantages given ; just submission or actual points, in case of a draw rather than judges decision , there should be an overtime to decide who wins. bring back the berimbolo ( even though I do not use it myself )!! restart & stand the fighters more from stagnant & stalling positions ( holding on to an advantage by reaching half guard or just pinning once passed to side control because of the 3 points ) any thoughts ???

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  9. Rulings such as this are for a lack of better terms complete garbage. I also am not a practitioner of the berimbolo; however the sentiment that removing the position from competition breeds innovation can also be looked at inversely. Perhaps the individuals constantly being assailed by the berimbolo need to innovate better ways of defeating it; thus making them better competitors overall. While the stance on knee vunerability is easy to understand (and graduated levels of leglocks for different belt divisions) that does not mean the BJJ community as a whole should accept it as canon based only on its source. At the end of the day we practice a combat sport; we do the best we can to preserve the integrity of its training while giving all a safe environment to train in. However individuals that are exposed to the berimbolos and leglocks of the world will without a doubt deepen the BJJ gene pool so to speak. Individuals that are not exposed are at a greater risk of suffering the same fate we all did during our first grappling session; defeat due to ignorance of technique.

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  10. Firstly, I'd like to say that I appreciate all the comments thus far. I like that people have some interesting ideas on the ways the rules should be. But like I said, that's all secondary. The first thing is finding out the most basic information.

    Who are the board of directors?
    Who are the representatives for each region?
    What are the committees?
    What is the process of being nominated to one of these committees?
    What did i get myself into? =)

    I've already sent an email to IBJJF but haven't found any answers yet. If anyone can shed some light on these questions, it would be appreciated.

    @Fludbucket. Sorry I should have clarified myself a bit more regarding the teams. I personally think that if the world championships should be broken up into countries not clubs. I say this because we're consistently starting to see members of the same team closing out brackets in gentleman's agreements. I despise that. It's a disservice to the spectators and a disservice to the sport. No one trains to be second best and you came to compete, so compete. Also, I believe the worlds should only be for black belts or qualifying brown belts in their respective weight classes and an absolute class. The lower belts should not be removed but their tournament should be reclassified as the Junior Worlds or something to that effect. There's no way a white, blue, or purple belt should be called a world champion. That to me is ridiculous. If a brown belt can compete with the blacks, then go for it. It's already limited to one age, it should be limited to one class as well.

    @Caleb
    "Robson Gracie created a new federation in 1988 and Carlos Gracie Jr. created the Confederacao Brasiliera in 1993. Carlos Jr.'s federation is the most active one worldwide and is responsible for the development of the World Championships. The idea of the Mundial (World's) is to attract foreign competitors in hopes of making Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu an Olympic sport." taken from http://www.jiu-jitsu.net/history.shtml. Maybe the organization no longer has this goal but that website is where I was given the impression. Submission wrestling has already been recognized by FILA and is already on its way to potentially being recognized as an Olympic sport. http://www.lockflow.com/news/submission-grappling-recognized-fila

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  11. Just a quick point: the berimbolo in and of itself was not banned - underhooking at the shin while in berimbolo was. You can still use berimbolo, but change the grip so as to alleviate pressure on the opponent's knee (grip the pants, overhook, etc.) For the record, I'm a white belt (2 stripes) and have only competed in house tournaments, but I can easily see both sides to the argument. However, if you're dying to underhook while in berimbolo, go to Grapplers Quest, ADCC, etc. No harm, no foul.

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    1. While I understand your point the elephant in the room here is that we are not seeing an influx of berimbolo related knee injuries; therefore there isn't really a great deal of empirical evidence to justify a change, only circumstantial. While your suggestion is definitely a constructive (and albeit one that will definitely be utilized) there is still a difference in the two types of grips. The underhook is much more secure and realistically will be the only way to transition to X guard at higher levels of competition in this context; gripping the pants is going to result in many "near miss" situations, especially for individuals with shorter arms.

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  12. The money issue is a big one. Why does it cost $400 to enter someone in a database? Why was the rule that no-gi competitors need belt colored shirts brought in? Is it really because people didn't know their own division, or because someone decided it would be a great way to sell shirts? As a kid I grew up doing tae kwan do with all its questionable practices, I would hate to see BJJ go the same way. BJJ should be a fighting art based on takedowns, sweeps and submissions, not a tedious advantage-fest built around money.

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    1. I agree about the colored shirts and shorts (shorts need to have the belt color, too). I feel that it's needlessly restrictive, and right now, I don't have a rash guard or fight shorts that have the right proportion of the right color; nor do I have the money to buy them. That basically means I can't do no-gi in IBJJF competitions.

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    2. Competing in any sport costs money. You are going to need a rash guard/fight shorts any how, so buy the appropiate color. You are going to be at your BJJ ranks for at least 2 years at a time. Plan ahead.

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    3. This reasoning is archaic; gi aside BJJ and grappling should be among the less financially intensive sports. We aren't concerned with jerseys, field and stadium maintenance and other related fees. I refuse to believe that the individuals officiating aren't competent enough to figure out the division which they are presently involved in judging.

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    4. I fail to see the problem.

      If BJJ wants to be an Olympic sport, then yes there are going to be uniform guidelines and all this other hoopla.

      I'm sorry, but if I try to enter my blue belt gi division wearing a purple, brown, or black belt people are going to have a snit. I have to wear an appropiate belt color. I have to wear a gi, it has to be well maintained and be clean. What is the problem with having some uniform standards with no-gi? It adds to the professionalism and it certainly doesn't hurt.

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    5. And like I said, you need shorts/top to compete anyways. Just buy the appropiate color and you don't have to buy another piece of clothing for 2+ years.

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    6. Ive never met a grappler that wears one of those belt themed rash guards or shorts that wasnt his current rank; and if you're officiating at tournaments where thats a problem maybe you should blame it on the offending gym instead of attempting to churn out the same arbitrary color themes they have in judo and traditional martial arts tournaments. Many no gi tournaments dont split experience divisions the same way gi tournaments do; Advanced is often recognized as three plus years of training. That doesnt mean I'm going to buy a pair of shorts with a black belt emblazoned upon them.

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  13. In reality we wont see any changes in the IBJJF leadership, until there is an american Red & black belt, or for that matter any other national attaining that high rank, and then that turns into a question if there ever will any red & black belts outside of brazil. when kodokan judo was spreading worldwide, much like how jiu jitsu is now, the leaders of the kodokan were hesitant in promoting foreigners to their DAN grades as deserved, because the brazilians do not want to relinquish control over the sport. In another decade or two, it wont be know as "brazilian" jiu jitsu much like how it isnt know as japanese/ kodokan judo today.

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  14. I just want to thank you all for the great comments, making this quite possibly the best article/comment thread in DSTRYR/SG history!

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    1. its becoming a serious topic of discussion, bro ! (especially with it being an election year !! ) now even brown belts have to register with the IBJJF. its a 2 way st, you know? one aspect its good, because it keeps the frauds & phonies away, by them having to provide where they got their belts from, and prove their lineage. its good for the overall growth of the sport ( locally, regionally, nationally & internationally ). its bad because theres no direction, we dont know where the money is going. the tournaments are nearly $100, which is way too much, especially since most schools charge a $100 per month. the thing is now there is money to made in bjj, so everyone is running to the bank laughing. the dvds cost too much, gis definitely cost too much ( my 1st gi was a krugans, which cost me $90 brand new !) its almost like the sport is reverting back to the way it was in brazil back in the day, where only the middle/ upper class could afford it, and the rest oh well. luckily, Mestre Fadda spread it to the rest of us ( im totally getting of topic......)

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    2. Quality BJJ, or quality anything really is generally restricted to the financially capable, at least in the US. Most of us know at least one talented person who isn't training because they can't currently afford to...

      DSTRYR = AWESOME

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  15. I'm sadden by some comments. How many people here talk about money and sport before the martial art? Way too many. Today's jj has gone wrong. Not for banning dangerous techniques, but for prohibiting the efficient ones. The difference between the two categories is noteasy to set, and I won't discuss it here.
    But let's face it, since throws like daki-age are prohibited, no one is afraid of being lifted into the air. Go ask Arona and Rampage what it really means. Some attacks on lower limbs lead too many times to injuries and thus can be declared dangerous. But banning techniques that haven't even been proven dangerous? Big egos in there. And they could be crushed. And those egos can only dwell within sports, not martial arts.
    All those saying that Olympics are good for bjj are fooled with monney, sadly. It would be a shame that a competition like adcc could carry on more of the fighting spirit than the europeans or the worlds. As we debate here, there are more judo techniques in adcc comp' than in current judo olympic competions, simply because half of those techniques are prohibited to have judo fit better in the olympic sports familly.
    Do you want it to happen to bjj?

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    1. i totally believe guard slamming needs to be reintroduced at brown & black belts. double guard pulling needs to be penalized . heel hooks & neck cranks should always remain illegal, but if using the under hook while in DLR guard, is deemed dangerous, then it should be allowed at purple & up.

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    2. I hope with all my heart Bjj never gets pulled into the Olympic debacle. Whats the end game? More exposure? We have enough exposure as it is; that is the individuals that want the training and are interested will seek it out. The advent of the internet, social media and other services such as Youtube have made the Olympics less required for a sport's exposure. We could even argue it isnt required at all; I know I am. As far as Im concerned we dont need the Olympics; but they could definitely use us. Still not worth it in my opinion, however.

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  16. I'd just like to know the following

    a) names of the board of directors,
    b) names of the regional directors
    c) who decides the rules.
    d) how i can contribute my input.

    i emailed IBJJF and have yet to get any clear answers on any of these questions. if anybody can help answer some of these questions. that would be appreciated.

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  17. No more excuses not to know the IBJJF official rules, here is all you need to know: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoPvL2fFGWI

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