Change the Mentality Not the Rules

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.

0 thoughts on “Change the Mentality Not the Rules

  1. docere24

    I enjoy listening to Inside BJJ. But I’ve to admit those guys are super critical of IBJJF. Off course, the IBJJF is not perfect and neither are the rules. But ultimately matches are decided on the choices of the competitors.

    1. Lex Post author

      Yeah, it’s funny, but IBJJF has become “the man”, and it’s always cool to protest against the man 😉 I like the variety of tournament rules. I like GQ no-gi advanced where everything goes, and I like submission-only tournaments as much as the IBJJF more restricted rule set. The variety is what makes it interesting!

  2. OldTimer

    This would carry a lot more weight coming from someone who didn’t play for points most of his own (steller) career. I wonder how he feels about Xande’s wins over Roger in 06. The Pan Ams win especially where he just grip fought his way to an advantage win was pretty lame.

    The fact remains that a couple years later no one remembers if you win the Worlds by 1 point or sub, and it has a huge impact on your ability to make a living. The notion that people will somehow throw that aside is ridiculous. The rules desperately need to be reworked.

    1. Lex Post author

      Good point. There are lots of good finishers, but very few people truly go for the finish at all times under the IBJJF rules. The one guy I can think of is Kron Gracie.


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