The Rules Of The Game - BJJ vs. Judo

I’m often fascinated by the number of Judoka who complain about BJJ rules - and the number of BJJ’er who complain about Judo rules…

Judoka: BJJ doesn’t give enough points to effective throws and/or takedowns.

BJJ’ers: Judo doesn’t allow enough time on the mat for an effective ground game.

But as I see it, Chess has entirely forgotten the use of a .45 in settling the winner of the game. (Yeah, I think I saw a few of you raise your eyebrows at that comment!) Rules define what sport, game, activity you’re engaged in. Take the rules of Judo… make a few judicious changes, and what do you have? BJJ, of course. And visa versa.

There’s enough problems with the rules without trying to match them to what other sports are using. Judoka should be concerned with the rules of Judo, not BJJ; and likewise with BJJ’ers.

BJJ’ers can do very well in Judo tournaments - if they learn Judo. Ditto with Judoka who wish to learn BJJ to enter BJJ tournaments. But don’t give excuses for not winning a BJJ tournament if you’re a Judoka with superb throwing skills, and a so-so ground game.

The rules of Judo have evolved in ways that aren’t entirely perfect, although I grant that no matter what set of rules you use, you’re bound to disappoint someone. How many people realize that Judo used to use a ‘best out of three’ Ippons in competition? And think about this for a moment, do you think you’d improve the attacking aspects of Judo should we re-adopt such a rule? Judoka wouldn’t be afraid of using Yoko Guruma as a counter-attack anymore - and would be willing to take more risk with attacking. Think too, of the spectator response - you’d have far more exciting matches… instead of the tremendously defensive matches, you’d have exciting and active attack, with beautiful throws.

Yoko Guruma is one beautiful throw (and one that illustrates underlying principles of Judo so perfectly!) that has virtually disappeared in competition because of the rules… for even if you do it perfectly, a referee who was out of position could call the score against you - and with a single Ippon being the measure of winning or defeat, this throw is simply too dangerous for Judoka who want to win to use…

Other changes in the rules that backfired was when ‘Kinsa’ (minor advantages) was moved from the referee’s mind, to the scoreboard. Judoka would note that they were winning by a koka, then merely try to ’sit’ on that score… so the next evolution in rules had to take place - ‘Non-combativity’ rules… which, of course, provoked Judoka into creating attacks that didn’t provide openings for counter-attacks… so we had to move to the next rule: ‘False Attacks’.

This whole sequence could have been avoided by moving Kinsa back where it belongs… in the referee’s mind. Penalty rules, too, have gotten to the point where many matches are decided not on good Judo - but on arbitrary penalties. Let Judo skills decide the winner - not our concept of what a match is supposed to look like.

But perhaps I merely long for the good ole days?