#235 Submission-Only BJJ and Grappling Tournaments

Brazilian jiu-jitsu arm lock
A competitor in US Grappling’s first ever sub-only BJJ tournament sinks an armbar. Photo courtesy US Grappling.

I don’t know why you started learning Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I have a few guesses (that probably involve the name Royce Gracie somewhere in there), but I can’t say I really know. But I do think I know some reasons you did not begin taking jiu-jitsu classes. You did not begin taking jiu-jitsu classes because:

  • you wanted to compete in a tournament somewhere and win by an advantage when time runs out
  • you heard really great things about winning a BJJ match by referee decision

Neither of those are the goals of people who train jiu-jitsu, whether they’ve been around forever or just started. So today on The FightWorks Podcast we brought on Chrissy Linzy of US Grappling, to talk about submission only (“sub only”) BJJ and grappling tournaments. As the name implies, the only way to win a match is if you tap your opponent. No time limits. No points. Just an awesome day of tap tap tap everywhere.

That’s one of the most fun things about jiu-jitsu right? Comparing your techniques against others’. That’s the point of sub only BJJ events.

One concern people have about sub only jiu-jitsu tournaments is that the matches may take a long time, and make the event unmanageable. Luckily Chrissy is a data-nut and keeps details stats on just such topics. According to her:

Overall average match time is around 8 minutes.
Fastest submission ever is 5 seconds (Mike Galitello’s flying armbar).

Most popular submission has always been armbars. That’s usually how about 20% of the matches end. Top three are almost always armbars, triangles, and rear naked chokes, but americanas have edged out RNCs at two of our last three Sub Only events.

(If you’d like to nerd-out in a BJJ data-frenzy, here, here, and here are good places to start. Don’t hurt yourself!)

So join us today as we learn more about this increasingly-popular style of BJJ competition.

[iTunes] Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (recommended)
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5 Replies to “#235 Submission-Only BJJ and Grappling Tournaments”

  1. i really liked this show. makes me wanna do this kind of tournament for sure, but they are very rare on the west coast, so-cal in particular.

  2. I do a sub only tournament every fall in Idaho and I agree wholly with Chrissy about the different vibe. It was our first sub only tournament and we had 90 competitors and it was amazing mellow, fun, and quiet (not nearly as much screaming from coaches). Our stats for the tournament we as follows:

    Average match length Gi: 5:45
    Average match length Nogi: 5:30

    Most common sub gi: Arm bar
    Most Common sub nogi: head and arm choke (darce, brabo, ect)

    Least common sub gi: flying arm bar
    least common sub nogi: shockwave (sorry I dont have any other names for it)

    They are amazingly fun tournaments and I would tell anyone that would listen that they should compete in them. I did get some resistance from some local schools because of the format, but I think that was more because its a newer format than the resistance being based on a flawed system.

  3. Ohio Grappling Challenge organizes at least one pure submission only tournament per year. Louisville Martial Arts academy also organizes them from time to time. I have done both and can attest that they are a lot of fun. Much more satisfying conclusions to matches win or lose. I would highly recommend trying them out if you haven’t.

  4. I saw an ad in facebook there’s no time limit grappling tournament in pennsylvania in january does anybody know when and where hopefully?!!!

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