Have you ever thought how the competition rules may be the largest determining factor in how jiu-jitsu is taught?
The origin of most forms of martial arts that we see in sport competition comes from real fighting, where there are few if any rules. In order to make the combat art into a sport, many techniques will be prohibited – for example, groin shots and eye attacks – to protect the competitors.
In addition to safety, the rules will prohibit certain attacks in order to preserve and emphasize the essence of the art. For example, in tae kwon do, face punches are illegal, as the governing bodies of TKD wish to emphasize the kicking aspect of the art. In judo, for many years, leg attacks such as double and single leg grabs were prohibited in an attempt to steer the competition into upper body throws. The judo higher ups wanted to preserve the aesthetic of judo’s throwing techniques.
The effect is that, when some types of techniques are not rewarded with points in competition, they fall into disuse in the gym, even if not all of the students care about competition. If you cannot use the strategy to win a gold medal, then the techniques are no longer taught.
This is especially true in gyms where the instructors emphasize competition and come from a strong competitive background.
Spending your training time on areas that will bring the greatest return in competition is wise if your total emphasis is on sports. But for those students who don’t care about tournament BJJ, this can create a significant gap in knowledge.
Looking at sports BJJ, takedowns are a great example to illustrate this idea. Two points in a BJJ competition can be easily nullified by your opponent pulling guard without penalty. Without a significant incentive to train takedowns, many BJJ players neglect them and start their training on the ground.
The submission-only format has become more popular in professional BJJ competitions and this has lead to a diminishing of the importance of the sweep that is so central to IBJJF competitions. Positional dominance without the four points for mount or the three points for the guard pass is no longer as important. Leg attacks have skyrocketed in popularity due to all leg locks being legal.
When we examine the prevalence of certain strategies under specific rule sets of different competitions, we can see how the rules dictate the training.
Do you train predominantly for a certain rule set?
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