Calling all belts: The IBJJF wants you…to register for membership. And then register to compete.
The change, which goes into effect January 2019, will mean an increase in competition costs for lower belts competing at IBJJF events. In previous years, only high belts were required to obtain membership to qualify for competition. Purple belts were added in 2018.
It is not uncommon for governing bodies to require membership in order to compete. However, unlike USA Wrestling or Judo, IBJJF membership does not currently appear to offer any “perks” or benefits outside of helping the organization track records. Perks offered by other organizations vary, but can include hotel discounts for traveling competitors, members-only web sites and content, accident medical insurance for any injury occurring at sanctioned events or governed training sessions, and automatic membership in state/local sport organizations.
As per the IBJJF web site: “The athletes registered with IBJJF will have their graduation recognized by an official sport organization. Keeping the athlete’s registration valid and accurate helps IBJJF to preserve the competitor’s record as an athlete or Professor.”
If you’re a purple belt or above the new requirements are meaningless. Time will tell whether the changes will ultimately benefit other promotions not requiring a membership fee by funneling lower belts to their events, or trigger a costly shift in the overall athlete expenses throughout the tournament landscape.