Most jiu-jitsu events happen following weeks or even months of hype, with promoters pushing ticket sales to fill seats as much as possible. But one new promotion called Shugyo is shaking things up by keeping things silent and secret.
Led by Phill Schwartz, Shugyo is described as “an elite challenge designed for the traveling warrior or ‘Shugyosha.’ These competitors have risen to the tops of their clans and now they travel the lands in search of purer training and tougher competition. These men do not need the protection of judges, points or time limits.”
Shugyo was formed with the intention of optimizing BJJ events for athletes (who are often frustrated with a lack of matches and bad judges’ calls), viewers (who may tire of paying to watch events with long matches with long periods of inaction), and sponsors (who may see their advertisement value decrease on PPV events that don’t allow playback). Instead of the standard BJJ event, Shugyo hosted an eight-man sub-only round-robin tournament, but kept it completely secret. The competitors signed non-disclosure agreements, and there were no outside spectators. They then edited the footage into episodes that feature the highlights of the matches and interviews, which will be released on YouTube for viewers to watch for free as often as they want. The no-time-limit, sub-only format meant that none of the matches were left up to points, advantages, or judges’ decisions, and all of the competitors got multiple matches thanks to the round-robin organization. Plus, the $7,500 in total prize money ($5,000 for the first-place winner) wasn’t a bad incentive for them to participate, either.
The promotion’s first event has officially released its first episode, revealing that it featured some of jiu-jitsu’s top rising stars of the era. The full card included:
Shugyo has officially released the first episode from the event, and so far, it looks to be everything that they’d aimed for: free, high-level jiu-jitsu with everything you want to see from a sub-only event and none of the boring stuff. They’ve taken a big risk in dumping the traditional jiu-jitsu competition format on its head, and while it remains to be seen how well the risk will pay off for them, the first impression from a viewer’s perspective is solid. Take a look below: