This week at BJJ class we are working on the knee bar.
One white belt student with over a year’s worth of experience asked a good question: “If the knee bar is illegal in the tournament, why should I train it?”
At the time of this writing, knee bars are legal at brown belt in IBJJF tournaments.
I had a few points in my answer.
Rules change and are different for various competitions.
The IBJJF is not very leg lock friendly, but submission-only formats (like the EBI) allow a much greater number of leg attacks. Knee bars are an important attack to understand if you find yourself competing in a rule set that allows them. Also, what was illegal last year (e.g. wrist locks) are now legal. Rules change periodically.
You don’t want to be a brown belt who is a white belt at knee bars!
It seems a silly thing to say, but if you never trained a certain position until such time as you were at the belt where it was legal in competition, you would be basically a white belt at that position.
Provided that your training partners understand that knee bars (or whatever attacks) are fair game, it is perfectly okay to train them at whatever belt. Your head instructor sets the rules of your academy, so make sure that it is okay. Don’t surprise any training partner by jumping on a knee bar without agreement that it is cool in training.
You want to be the best.
The most important point of all is that the job of your instructor is to help the student become the best grappler possible. This includes important areas of grappling (e.g. self-defense and defending illegal techniques) that fall outside of the rule set of any single competition format.
Many jiu-jitsu schools are completely driven by strategies and techniques for sports competition. Rickson Gracie reminds us that jiu-jitsu is more than just winning medals in competitions. We have to understand all the parts of jiu-jitsu.
Does your BJJ school train knee bars at lower belts?