IBJJF revamps rules and green lights antidoping

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The first rule change has to do with belt promotions for kids. In the photo, the IBJJF's Pan Kids, taken by John Lamonica.

A sign Jiu-Jitsu culture is also a process that changes and evolves with time, the IBJJF contemplated and decided to implement some changes to its rules, regulations and systems; criteria that in some instances have been around for 40 years but that now require some adjustment.

That’s the case with the system for kids’ belt promotion. To motivate and reward the young ones, different schools devised their own methods that albeit creative, for being so varied, the system become somewhat chaotic from academy to acadmy.

So the IBJJF stepped in and, on January 1, 2012, the new belt system for the little ones enters into effect.

Starting next year, kids who start training at four years of age will only be promoted once they turn seven.

However, so as to not demotivate the young ones and to to prevent a technical discrepancy between beginners and those more experienced, the Federation’s new system suggests a division be added to each already existing belt color.

Hence, each belt color will be divided into three “subcolors,” so to speak.

The grey belt, for example, shall now be extended to young people from 4 to 15 years of age.

With the new belt colors teachers will be able to promote their students every year. For example, the IBJJF recommends a kid who starts training at four stay at white belt for six months before being promoted to grey-white belt. Another six months, another promotion: solid grey belt.

After a year at grey belt the practitioner becomes a grey-black belt. At seven years of age, depending on how long they’ve been training, of course, they can be promoted to yellow belt.

At ten years of age, young practitioners who started training at six years of age at the latest will be promotable to green belt.

At tournaments, young athletes will be sorted by sold colors: white, grey, yellow, orange, green.

For a more thorough description of the new belt-promotion system, click here.

Antidoping and blue gi

Changes to the promotion system are just part of the greater changes to the rules, which will be released soon and only be implemented in 2012. One of them, according to a source close to the IBJJF, is a measure meant to make life easier on the referees, which is to require competitors bring two gis – one white and one blue – to competitions, with each of the two competitors in a contest wearing different colors to make them more easily distinguishable to referees. According to recent studies in Europe, this simple measure spares the referees’ eye sight and reduces refereeing mistakes by 20% in martial arts competitions.

Another subject on the docket is the question of antidoping. A source close to the IBJJF broke the news to GRACIEMAG.com that the request of the broader public and many readers, through comments here on the website, will become reality.

An expert in antidoping measures has already been consulted, and efforts should move forward next year. “Testing for banned substances doesn’t boil down to just testing and penalizing, it’s a process of educating the athletes. We need to define what is banned, and we’ve already started touching on that,” said the source, without specifying a deadline. But one can already start dreaming of a 2012 Worlds free of doping.

Check back with GRACIEMAG.com later for more on the new rules and Jiu-Jitsu championships.


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There are 60 comments for this article
  1. Pingback: IBJJF updates: new blets for kids, white vs blue gi competition and anti doping - Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums
  2. MacBeth at 12:31 am

    The IBJJF now has more belts than Tae Kwon Do. That is really pathetic. I never wanted to compete in the IBJJF because of all there rediculous rules, now I REALLY don’t want to

    • BJJ4Life at 12:49 pm

      These belts are for kids. It’s normal for there to be evolution in our sport, unless you want us to be stuck forever in 1935, like Judo. All the “rediculous” rules? You mean rules meant to protect athletes and legitimize the sport? You don’t have to compete in IBJJF events if you don’t want to. No one is holding a gun to your head, but get your facts straight before you post nonsense.

    • Roberto Torralbas at 2:17 pm

      I do like antidoping talks and discussion.

      Two gis blue and white no black…also good change…I think athletes should get closer to samurais that Abercombie and Fitch models as far as professional competitions go….I just hope these requirements are excecuted properly and don’t affect how the tournament is run.

      Once again the belt stuff is NO GOOD!

  3. Tragic29 at 12:33 am

    I know they mentioned two gi’s, blue and white. So is it official, no more black gi’s in ibjjf competition? I don’t own one, just curious.
    Thank you

  4. spidermonkey at 7:00 am

    If a referee has a problem distinguishing between 2 athletes he or she shouldn’t be a referee! I don’t think its the referee who has the problem I think its the table workers who consist of kids and people who really don’t pay much attention as the day goes on,because they do it to compete for free or for barely any money.

  5. Pippa Granger at 10:51 am

    Big Congratulations to the IBJJF for listening to the people on the anti-doping issue and to Caio Terra for kicking it all off and all of the other top-level athletes who got behind him and called for the testing. Our sport just took a big step up 😀

  6. Douknowbjj at 10:52 am

    BJJ gi’s are already expensive, I think making us bring two kimonos, both of which need to be approved by IBJJF(patches, sleeve and collar lengths, etc.) is too much for athletes. Another fact being that in the lower belt ranks there isn’t money to be made, and our kimonos wear down much faster when you are training full time. I think using the green and yellow belt should stay in bjj, as it has been there for a long time and it seems to be working fine.

  7. Roberto Torralbas at 2:09 pm

    The belt color changes are no good! It was perfect how it was…too complicated….waters down competition.

  9. Tyler Bishop at 2:59 pm

    Bringing too gi’s will be a mess.

    So now competitors will have to carry two gi’s, a bottle of water, and an ID card as they wait in the bullpen?

    The Ibjjf should focus on creating a qualifier for the larger tournaments. The Pan and Worlds have become to crowded. Purple and Brown belts have almost a hundred competitors in the largest weight classes now. This is too much, especially if the athlete can qualify for the open.

    If you place at one of the international opens, or other Ibjjf tournament you should receive an invitation. Otherwise these will be too crowded.

    Anti-Doping is great but how do you enforce this on competitors that already struggle with your established rules. If you only implement at black belt that’s one thing, but at all belts will be too hard. It will disenfranchise customers.

    The whole approach to jiu jitsu competition should be revamped. The World Pro is going along way to do this already and I think the IBJJF should follow suit.


  10. Bruce at 3:24 pm

    I read the title “Rule revamp” with excitement b/c I thot IBJJF will finally ‘revamp’ the tired point system to encourage more actions and submission attempts, and penalize stalling. Instead, half the article talks about belt promotion for the children! What a disappointment!

    They teach this in psych and business school (HR subject) that the reward system influences one’s behavior. Since the current point system rewards the positions, so competitors tend to go for positions and once they get it, they will hold on to it. The result is the long boring matches with little activities and lot of stalling.

    If IBJJF wants Sports BJJ to become an Olympic sports, they have to make it a spectacle. And one primary way of facilitating this is by making the sports more exciting by encouraging more actions and submission based. It’s high time for IBJJF to revamp the obsolete rules and reward submission attempts and penalize stalling. They will see the results quite immediately.

    Do they want Sports BJJ matches to look like GSP or Anderson Silva’a fights? Stalling and boring OR finishes and exciting?

  11. TL at 3:42 pm

    It’s about to get even more expensive to compete. Someone has to pay for these drug tests! THAT is going to water down the competition if not implemented correctly. I see you Roberto.HAHAHA

  12. Ilaria De' Stefani at 4:33 pm

    Personally I think that the big and main issue is anti-doping tests. And it’s a thing to do; in all sports. About it, the IBJJ Federation MUST take care of it carefully and with lot and precise attention; it’s a duty. Because together with the “drugs/steroids” to be put in a black list, they also should inform and create a list where they describe some ingredients/composition which are part, even in micro quantities, of some suplements and which could be forbidden…as all athletes or almost all, take suplements before or after training. And there are certainly some suplements, whose composition, time after time -even is not dangerous and recognized by the food and drugs association- might affect the result of blood test. Said that, is necessary to treat the issue with the most precise attention and sensibility, in order to discourage doping (which is a thing that I can’t even take into consideration….it’s a real shame on someone) but also to give all the information athetes need and make all things as much clear as possible.
    Even these are mtters that mainly depends on the intelligence, morality and sportivity of a person. But for sure it is needed a check, of course, especially if we want BJJ recognized of all the credits it deserves and also as an olimpic sport in the future.

  13. thepope at 4:52 pm

    I can only wear white gi’s at my academy so i’d have to buy a blue solely for competing IFBJJ. Like you guys don’t make the costs high enough already. Lame rule. How about you get ref’s that can tell whats going on in a match instead.

    • BJJ4Life at 12:15 pm

      It’s better for the people watching, so they know who is who..and after 10-12 fights when you’re a ref and have two fighters in the same color go, mistakes can happen. Have you refereed before?

      • Jpcrimi at 11:58 pm

        Just like mistakes happen in your writing like “go” instead of “gi” you’re probably the reason they need different colors. lol

  14. Clv1546 at 4:54 pm

    Great news on the Anti-Doping movement. This is a wise and intelligent move by the IBJJF. They will be more respected and the image of BJJ across the world will be a more positive one. The top competitors who are on steroids will also benefit from this in that they will be encouraged to refocus themselves back on the idea that true “Jiu-Jitsu” overcomes through technique and not superhuman strength and explosiveness.

  15. BJJ4LIFE at 5:33 pm

    People are always resistant to change so the criticism is expected. These changes will improve our sport drastically. Great job by the IBJJF. To all the naysayers out there, I challenge anyone to find a better BJJ organization. Even the World Pro has been criticized because of rules and refereeing….

  16. Monstro at 9:43 pm

    The different color gi’s in a major tournament is good. The testing for steroids is great. The adding all these different belts for kids with different stripes colors is not a good idea.

  17. Professor at 6:26 am

    Dear IBJJF – I’m glad you’re here. Gi colors are a non-issue. Let the individual academies run their own kids’ programs. Test for and punish cheaters (steroid users) at IBJJF events. Go home and drink Sambazon 🙂

  18. JJ4Life at 3:01 pm

    It’s good to see change coming, especially regarding antidoping. Change is good. It comes natural with evolution. It’s good to see that in JJ. It means we are growing/progressing.

  19. Bruce at 4:10 pm

    Bishop has a very good point. It’s time for IBJJF to create qualifiers for Pan-Am and Mundials, and establish a system like ADCC where only those who qualify via qualifiers and those who deserve invites such as the defending champ or other major tourneys winners. By having qualifiers, IBJJF will be able to organize more tourneys around the globe and attract wider scale of competitors and corporate sponsors all year round instead of focusing on one/two major tourneys. It’s a win-win situation for IBJJF and competitors.

    Besides the qualifiers, provide incentives for the the fresh, emerging young talents by inviting those who won the lower belt category of the previous year; for example, competitors who won the brown belt division get invited to compete in next year’s black belt division. This will provide incentives for emerging talents to get better, and for the old guards to keep improving.

    Let’s face it, brackets are getting too big for Mundials and Pan-Ams, and if this continues, many BJJ great competitors may choose not to compete. Nowadays, for a competitor to win both the weight class and absolute, he/she has to fight 12-13 times over two days!

    • BJJ4Life at 12:13 pm

      Bruce, I don’t think the IBJJF is having any issues with lack of competitors at their events. By making them qualifyer only you are alienating A LOT of people from competing. Part of the appeal with these events is that an average BJJer can step on the same mats in the same competition as someone like Roger Gracie and Rodolfo Vieira. If you make these qualifiers only, the events will be empty and people will stop computing. Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone, not just the professional fighter. That’s the appeal. I don’t see how the IBJJF and the sport wins with this.

      • Aranha Rmnu at 7:25 pm

        I agree with your point but I think inevitably, as the sport grows, there will oneday be qualifiers. Enjoy the ability to enter these tourneys while we have them–cuz oneday we’ll be telling our kids or grandkids about the days before there were qualifiers. 😉

      • Bruce at 11:38 am

        Hi BJJ4Life,

        I think you misunderstood my comment. I never said anything abt IBJJF having any issues with lack of competitors, my point was actually that the IBJJF is currently having too many competitors competing at Pan-Ams and Mundials, hence the bracket size’s getting too large.

        I completely agree with Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone. However, when it comes to major tourneys like Mundials, I do believe that the spot there has to be earned.

  20. EscobarBJJ at 4:39 pm

    Great changes… all make sense and will add a lot to the sport.

    Kids can’t wait too long to literally see their progress… it’s a fact!

    Gi colors for comps is something that should have been done a long time ago. Think white & black are the two favorite colors among the BJJ community. Why not stick with those 2 as the official ones?

    Anti-dopping is the biggest step up and I personally will believe in it only when I see it starting to be applied!! Really hope it happens soon. I guess we’ll have a “few” athletes worried about it…

  21. CaioWho??? at 1:06 am

    Caio should be tested right now on the spot for smoking dope, lol. how can you call for anti-doping in a sport that doesn’t give it’s top athletes a single cent for winning major comps?? ADCC is where the testing should be done. As much as everyone prays, whines, cries and begs BJJ will NEVER EVER EVER be an olympic sport. There is a better chance of Elvis returning from the grave then BJJ becoming an olympic sport seriously and even if it ever remotely did the olympics are a joke as well when it comes to judging and reffing.
    It’s pretty simple.
    Caio Terra is a straight up hater simple and plain! Step your game up and you won’t have to make acqusations!

  22. Danielcfrank at 3:20 am

    I agree with those who comment on the size of the brackets being too large at major tournaments these days, but by setting up the qualifiers you are making it harder for those who practice jiu jitsu, along with another job, from competing against professional jiu jitsu players. I enjoy doing the major tournaments despite the fact that I might not always get to the final match. I also work eight hours a day at another profession and teach jiu jitsu aside from training it. I wish I had the time and money to train and compete only, but I don’t. The major tournaments should be open to all, but maybe they should be made longer to accomodate for more people competing.
    Also, coming from Korea to compete in the USA, how would they enforce anti-doping and get a quick testing result without causing extreme schedule/time constraints to competitors?

  23. Dockery Joe at 3:08 pm

    Love the idea of anti-doping. Clean up the sport!!
    Perhaps just have the winners (first 4) in each division tested. If they come back positive, ban them for a period of time (say 2 years). There should be a clear message that there is no place for cheaters in combat sports.

  24. Dockery Joe at 3:17 pm

    when you turn 16, you can earn your BLUE belt. Everything beforehand is just designed to keep kids motivated. I personally don’t know how it works currently, but a number of belt colors with sub-promotions is the way to go in my opinion, because everything is rewards based in today’s Google society.

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