I heard an interview with Saulo Ribeiro on the Inside BJJ podcast and Saulo got me thinking…
The interviewers asked him if he thinks that the submission-only rules of the upcoming Gracie Worlds tournament will help prevent overly cautious point-centric jiu-jitsu that has been widely observed in recent IBJJF tournaments. People want to win, and sometimes that means not taking any risks.
Saulo didn’t think so. He believes that changing the rules will not ultimately solve the problem. If black belts want to, they will find strategies to play the rules for minimizing risk, while still getting the W in the end. What he believes can solve the problem is changing the mentality of the competitors and the academies where they train. The eternal optimist, Saulo believes in the warrior ideal, and if only everyone can embrace it, then tournaments will have more exciting battles that end in submissions.
The idea is simple. Disgrace the person who wins by an advantage and honor the person who wins via submission. I know that this idea is embraced widely in the BJJ community. However, months after the tournament, when the fighting is all done and almost forgotten, it’s the competitor who walked away with the gold that gets the public recognition. Too often, the brave risk-takers that didn’t quite make it are quickly forgotten. The pragmatic incentive of going for the submission are not there.
So what Saulo explains is near and dear to my heart, and it’s the way I strive to train and compete, but it’s also an ideal that perhaps cannot come to be in a tournament scene where winning is everything, and the competition is tougher and cleverer than ever.