Cobrinha exclusive: “Jiu-Jitsu needs more penalties for stalling”

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Cobrinha on the attack / Photo: John Lamonica, 2010

Our GMA Rubens Charles Maciel, aka Cobrinha, returned to work at his new academy in California after scoring a bronze medal at the 2011 Worlds – his first as a black belt in the featherweight division, where he has amassed four golds and one silver.

However pleased about Alliance’s conquest of a sixth world title as a team by a large margin (127 points), the superstar also had criticism to voice and analysis to share about his matches and, of course, his 4-2 loss to Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes in the semifinal (takedown and sweep versus sweep). Rafael Mendes would triumph to become (two-time) champion.


“I felt great in my matches; I was prepared to fight anyone. And that’s what I imagine every fighter should prepare for, of course. At the same time, it brings me to ask the same question I repeat to myself at every championship, and perhaps you can answer it for me. If everyone’s training to exhaustion to face any opponent, why’s there so much stalling going on? Having motionless matches goes against the very objective and philosophy of Jiu-Jitsu itself, which is to always pursue the finish. If you take a close look, free-flowing matches were in the minority.”


“One example of a motionless match was mine with Tanquinho in the semifinals. Of course he’s an athlete who competes by using the rules in his favor. Please, I’m not trying to take any credit from him, much less complain about something that can’t be undone. But that match was a good example of it, of how the rules work against the spectacle. Furthermore, we can’t forget about the ‘influence’ on the refereeing. I feel, like a lot of good folks do, that if you don’t want to get hindered by the refereeing, you have to go for the finish. But what about when it’s impossible to achieve because your opponent falls back on evasive maneuvers? And what about when you get to a good position and he runs away to have the match restarted on the feet? Such attitudes should be penalized more severely, in my opinion.”


“I feel minor modifications can change Jiu-Jitsu in a big way, make it more attractive. I look at other fight sports, like judo and taekwondo and even MMA – the rules are frequently revised so as to improve the spectacle, which is the matches, making it more appealing to the public to watch. That hasn’t happened in Jiu-Jitsu yet. There still isn’t much by way of penalization for stalling and certain positions, like the 50/50, which aren’t shunned because some people consider them to be innovative. Nobody does anything, the matches are motionless, they’re just waiting for time to run out. I don’t believe that’s what we want for our sport, is it? How can we promote Jiu-Jitsu and get it to grow even further with situations like that? The organizers promote the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship and we, the athletes, should promote the spectacle. But that’s not what’s happening these days, unfortunately. That’s why I feel the rules should be revised to help change the athletes’ mentality, so they’ll look to have free-flowing, open matches, improving the spectacle and drawing spectators and subsequently sponsors, making Jiu-Jitsu grow. At least that’s what I hope for as a fighter, teacher, and as someone running a business in the field (of Jiu-Jitsu).”

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There are 19 comments for this article
  1. Sandychow421 at 11:32 pm

    Agreed with master Cobrinha. I bet Tanquino would be in agreement as well but the way the rules are today, anyone would stall to win such an important tournament unless there was a penalty for doing so.

  2. pmghost at 4:45 am

    Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes is not a Mendes Bros. but i guess that wouldnt make sense to you because your not eminem either.

  3. dimitri at 8:09 am

    Let’s see this issue from another angle. It doesn’t matter if your opponent avoids the fight or is using the rules against you as long as your bjj is better than his. Let’s put it this way. Do you see Roger Gracie’s opponents stalling? No, because even they try to evades the fight they cannot mainly because Roger’s bjj style prevent them from running or stalling.
    Of course, the issue signaled by Master Cobrinha is real but only when the fighters are looking for points and not for submissions.

    • Anonymous at 5:56 pm

      Hey Dimitri!! Hope you doing well. But lets put out this way, Roger Gracie is a big guys with a lot of strength and leverage with very good technic, and it counts a lot, you should know that if you do jiu jitsu, Roger Gracie toke almost 10 minutes to pass and tap out Romulo Barral at the BJJ Worlds 2008 if am I right and Roger didn’t won in the first Black Belt open class that he fought, he had to study and get a lots of bit till he got the skill that him have now and after I sow Rodolfo’s fought I do think he can beat Roger, it is just one example. Of course in the light weight division they can move a lot more in this case made easy to the stalling people hold his opponent for just make his point and secure the score. If you does appreciate this kind of boring fights good for you but I really like to see when they go to try to see who is the best and open up the game but I guess you train in this way right. Sorry if you have that kind of ego I don’t believe you enjoy your jiu jitsu class!!! Lets see if somebody sponsor a jiu jitsu competition without points and limit time. JIU JITSU TO TAP!!!!!!

    • Guest at 6:41 pm

      If you want to create a new angle, don’t ignore Cobrinha’s central premise: Stalling in competition is inimical to the sport, because such “motionless” fights are boring and erodes the true “objective and philosophy” of Jiu-Jitsu. You stray from the parameters of the debate. What you claim is also fantasy. Stalling does happen as often as it does. That’s reality. And it is boring to watch. The sport does need to grow in general, and in the real world, that requires more funds, more spectators, a spectacle, and respect / pride for the martial art. So all these points do matter. You are focused on BJJ aptitude so much, you forget we’re talking about the integrity and growth of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu dependent on the athlete and organizations which support it as well as the spectators who buy into it.
      Side Note 1: You imply Professor Cobrinha (“Master” title should only be reserved for koral belts) raises an issue that would only be “real” if you’re looking for points, not submission. However, since Cobrinha authors this issue — therefore he must find it real — why is it that he believes competitors should “go for the finish,” otherwise known as the submission?
      Side Note 2: If no one can evade Roger, how did Jacare get away? Come on, Jacare had a broken arm and Roger couldn’t utilize that to truly finish it? Your claim itself is problematic.

  4. Pingback: Cobrinha in Graciemag: "Jiu-Jitsu needs more penalties for stalling" - Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums
  5. Mendes "stalling" bros. at 4:36 am

    Mendes “stalling” bros and that fifty fifty guard. You don’t see the stalling in the higher weight classes. It’s the smaller guys doing it and it’s ruining jiu jitsu.

  6. Jim McPherson at 5:30 am

    Sadly, the finals of the Mundials this year were mostly BORING. I completely agree with Cobrinha. Stalling is the deadly enemy of the growth of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. If there were prime-time TV coverage of this year’s finals, how many non-Jiu Jitsu people do you think would find it interesting?
    In greco-roman wrestling a fighter loses a point every time he is forced out of bounds. Those guys work to stay in the middle of the mat!
    The Gracie family was creative in turning an ancient fighting art into a wonderful sport. I think we need that same spirit of creativity to choke out this stalling monster. Stalling penalties may not be the only answer. Perhaps…
    -Team points could be awarded for every submission a medalist gets.
    -Favorable bracketing could be set up based on the number of tournament submissions a fighter has that year.
    -Points, rather than mere advantages, could be awarded for valid submission attempts. I think rewards can be a factor in motivating guys to fight more aggressivly.

  7. dimitri at 7:20 am

    I think it won’t be long until some guy will come up with a choke/submission/pass from 50/50 guard. And this is the beauty of this sport, you can always find ways to do something apparently impossible.

  8. phillips at 8:59 pm

    3 words: Gracie Jiu jitsu. It was created for self-defense that could be used on the street for FIGHTS, not for two dudes to interlock ass to ass, balls to balls (50/50). Everything has strayed very far from it’s premise and that is why we have not seen a solid MMA competitor who was a mundial world champ since BJ Penn (may’be Damian Mia). And I don’t even train with the Gracie’s for the haters. I just agree with them. Sport BJJ ruined BJJ. I agree with Cobrinha, penalizing stalling is a start in the right direction.

  9. Bruce at 1:57 pm

    Cobrinha’s right on the money.

    Does anyone else find the current rules ironic? BJJ’s ultimate goal is submission, yet there’s no point given to the submission attempt, regardless how solid it is.

    Often the competitors are even afraid to go for subs because they might lose the position, which is quite prevalent in the high level competitions. With the exception of the early rounds, most of the final matches of Mundials, PanAms etc have looked more like a GSP’s fights nowadays.

    If IBJJF is serious to promote BJJ to become at least an exhibition game at the Rio Olympics 2006, it needs to become a spectacle. Can the people in the IBJJF do something about the current rules, please? For a start, they can use Rickson’s idea which he put into practice a few years ago in his Budo Challenge. Man, there were so many submissions in the tournament, and even in the rare cases of the winner winning on points, the match was flowing and exciting to watch!

  10. Golfrent at 9:51 am

    If heelhooks was allowed by the rules the 50/50 position would tap out a lot of people and the heelhook would make the guard passing much easyer,,,

    allowe all subs then the stalling will dissaper by it self

    Wictory by strategy :0)

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