The world of submission grappling is full of high-level athletes capable of manipulating the body in ways that would make most cringe in pain. As MMA has moved toward the mainstream, the grappling world has also garnered its fair share of extra attention as well.

However, that doesn’t mean that every part of the sport is perfect. At least that’s the consensus of famed MMA referees Josh Rosenthal and Herb Dean. Alongside Scott Adams from the WEC and Dayan Henson from On Wax, the group has created S7 Submission Grappling (S for submission, 7 because G is the seventh letter of the alphabet). Their goal? Return the sport to its original intent.

“Grappling tournaments have moved away from the core of what they’re about,” Rosenthal told The MMA Corner. “They’ve turned into this point scoring, advantage, not really trying to finish the guy, do just enough to not get called for stalling approach. It’s watering down the sport. What we’ve done is rearrange the point system so that the emphasis is on catching your opponent in a submission.”

Josh Rosenthal (R) demonstrates technique with Herb Dean during an officials' meeting

The majority of existing scoring systems give points for positional control, with submission attempts only being tallied as advantages for tie-breaking purposes. S7 has reversed the criteria to reward competitors for trying to finish their opponents.

“I’m not trying to badmouth anyone—they’re all great companies—but they’re giving the lowest points for the hardest moves to execute,” explained Rosenthal. “They only give an advantage, which isn’t even a real point. With what we’ve done, there are no advantage points. Either the moves work or they don’t. A near submission or catch is based on your opponent defending the move. It’s basically the same criteria as advantage, but we’re using this as the primary scoring.”

So what about everything else that the current system scores?

“It’s a two-tier scoring system, primary and secondary. Everything that you would traditionally get scored on in jiu-jitsu—mount, back, sweeps, etc.—is now a secondary system. Each is rewarded two points. It’s similar to points and advantages in that if primary scoring is tied, then you go to the secondary scoring.”

“So let’s say I get a takedown, I get two points in the secondary scoring. But my opponent puts me in a triangle and I’m stuck like a dog with its head in the fence (gurgling sounds). I get out, so he gets a primary point. Then I pass his guard, mount him, but never get in the position where I can submit him. At the end of the match, he wins because he almost finished the match.”

The approach is something that Rosenthal and S7 believe will appeal to fans more than traditional grappling competitions. While the newly-formed organization respects the already established form of the sport, they feel there is another path it can take.

S7 Medals

“I love jiu-jitsu; it’s my passion,” Rosenthal declared. “I’ve competed around the globe, but nothing knocks me out on the couch quicker than watching a match where two guys aren’t going anywhere. It’s going to be better for the spectator because they don’t want to sit there and watch two guys tied up in half guard for seven minutes. I believe S7 is what people want. This is the way that I feel I can give back.”

But S7 isn’t just about the fans. They are also focusing on the athletes as well.

“We think this is better for the competitors because this is what they’ve learned the arts for,” said Rosenthal. “It’s all based on pushing the action forward and rewarding submissions.”

“Let’s say that a match has one competitor with a primary point, but his opponent has racked up 10 points in the secondary scoring. In order for that secondary score to matter, he’s got to try to finish this guy. It creates a bit of desperation. Guys aren’t going to try to stall [in our system].”

The organization is holding its first event on Saturday, July 28, in Orem, Utah. It then visits Oklahoma City, Rio Rancho, N.M., and Las Vegas before October. The plan is to visit every city once every four months so that competitors have a consistent place to hone their skills. Furthermore, S7 is looking to utilize technology to make the entire tournament more streamlined for everyone involved.

“We’re trying to make it competitor and fan friendly,” stated Rosenthal. “It’s easy to register. They’ll know when and where they are competing. Our weight divisions are more in line with unified rules. We tried to keep our adult divisions in line with that because there’s a lot of people out there who train and have that mindset.”

“We’ll have LCD scoring so that no matter where you’re sitting, you’ll be able to see the score. Fans can find updated brackets online. In the future, events will stream on the website.”

S7 Belt

Just the presence of Rosenthal and Dean may help draw in the MMA audience, but they’re not sitting back and hoping their names will do the trick. They’re both heavily involved in the officiating aspect of S7.

“You hear a lot of complaints about officiating in these tournaments,” stated Rosenthal. “With Herb and me there, overseeing the officials, we really feel that’s going to help. We think that the respect that we have from what we do in MMA will transfer over. We’re being very selective about the officials that we are picking.”

Whether the MMA audience  jumps on board is yet to be determined, but Rosenthal is confident that S7 will help submission grappling escape the shadow of the mainstream sport, starting on July 28.

“It’s a standalone sport,” he proclaimed. “These are top level athletes. It’s going to draw fans from everywhere.”

For more information about S7, its rules, scoring and event dates, visit

You can find Josh Rosenthal on Twitter: @MMARosenthal

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