Jiu-Jitsu is a sport and an art that is constantly evolving. The style being played in high-level matches is completely different today compared to what it was like ten years ago. Even within a five-year period, there have been many changes of style and strategy.

How does the development of techniques and strategy continue to occur?

It has to do with action and reaction. Most of the time it occurs when someone discovers a technique that is deemed unbeatable and now that is the must-do move. That will be done over and over again until everyone knows about it and many are constantly getting beaten by it. From there, the big thing is finding a technique to counter this move. Then once one is discovered, there is a counter to the counter. Then soon there is a counter to that, and so on and so forth…

But after a while the development comes to a point where in high-level matches both opponents are negating each other’s attacks and the fight turns into a stand still, where both guys are sitting on their butts unwilling to work for the guard pass. With so many good guard players, with such advanced techniques such as the berimbolo and “kiss of the dragon,” is it worth running the risk of coming up into the top position and looking to pass the guard?

Last week at the European Championships, this growing controversy of what to do with these boring bouts came to a boil. In the brown belt category’s biggest matches in both the weight classes and absolute class, there were many encounters that consisted of both opponents fighting from their own guard, exchanging grips and trying to spin underneath each other to take the back or look for a footlock. Although between the two opponents there is a lot going on, both in action and in the minds, to the viewing audience, it is not pleasing to watch and many want to get rid of this style of fighting.

But what much of the audience doesn’t realize is just how much goes into the little details of grips (controlling your opponents gi) and your foot and hand positioning. Any mistake and missed grip could lead to your back being taken or getting caught in a really difficult position. There is actually a lot going on in these matches that people don’t look at close enough to realize.

Another thing that the crowd doesn’t consider is the importance of strategy. Especially at the highest levels, there must be a sense of respect for the opponent’s skill set, and the goal then becomes to keep at a distance of their strengths and fight hard for your own. When strategizing against what will be their toughest opponent, the competitor is never concerned with how it will look for the audience; the main goal is to simply win. So, don’t count on anyone going outside their game to make others happy. When it comes to strategy and the mindset of winning championships, you must stick to your own skill set, no matter how boring it may appear.

Last, the crowd must consider how much this costs for the competitor and how much simply winning means to the athlete. For example, I was a part of one of these controversial matches in the final of the Europeans against PSLPB Cicero Costha’s Paulo Miyao. To simply get to the tournament, there was the concern of paying for airfare, registration, hotel, food, etc. There is a lot that goes into it when it comes to training. For the major championships, I, along with most of the top competitors, will train or workout three to four times a day, exasperating our bodies to complete exhaustion on a nearly daily basis. Do people think that I or my opponents are going to go through all the sacrifice and risk while wasting it all by not playing our style or going by our strategy to simply please the crowd? Not a chance. There is so much that is given up to get to those deciding moments of a championship, why risk it with a move that you are not comfortable with?

Now, many people are looking for a rule change to be made to stop this style of fighting, and there have been many ideas thrown around over the last week.

What is my option?

I say that the change will occur once the sport evolves even more so. Someday there will be a new technique or position discovered, not a rule change, that will put an end to this style.

What do you, the reader, think of this controversy of double guard pulls and 50/50 bouts? Comment below and let your voice be heard! Osss!

Photo: Rafael Mendes attacks with the “berimbolo” (Mike Colón/Gracie Mag)

About The Author

Gianni Grippo
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Contributor
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Gianni Grippo is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Marcelo Garcia and trains at the Marcelo Garcia Academy in New York City. Besides being a big fan of the sport, Gianni is also an avid competitor and has ranked among the best in the World from blue to brown belt winning 6 IBJJF World titles and 7 Pan Championships. Still at 21, Gianni looks to continue to compete for many years to come as his main goals are to win the World championships at black belt and win the ADCC title.

  • As a fan, I don’t enjoy the double guard pulls. Kinda getting too sport specific IMO.

    As a competitor, I wouldn’t be showing up to lose a tourney. So if double guard pull was part of the game, I’d play the game.

    Any of these guys pulling double guard would still steam roll me as well as the majority of ppl training.