Sizes of IBJJF Tournaments: Guide to Choosing Your Next Tournament

Having just competed at Worlds in a division of 126 guys, I started to look ahead at what and when the next “big” IBJJF tournament is. I looked at Boston, Chicago, etc, and quickly realized that they are an order of magnitude smaller than the Mundials. So I decided to measure the relative size of the major IBJJF tournaments I’m aware of by what size the blue belt middleweight division was in 2011 for that tournament. This is usually one of the biggest (and often the biggest) division of the tournament. So I figured that it would serve as a decent measuring stick.

When considering whether to do a tournament, I’ll often just look at the next one, and decide based on how I’m feeling. But after doing the little research I mentioned above, it’s clear that it’s smarter to plan ahead to make sure that the division is big enough to justify the costs of travel.

So here’s the results. Below are the major IBJJF tournaments and in parentheses is the number of people that competed in the blue belt middleweight division for that tournament.

Pans (82)
Brasileiros (47)

No-Gi Pans (49)
No-Gi Worlds (38)

New York (37)
American Nationals (19)
Miami (18)
Houston (18)
London (16)
Las Vegas
Asian Open (14)
Dallas (13)
Chicago Winter
Chicago Summer(11)
Montreal (11)
Boston (2)

From the above “results”, I draw several conclusions:

  1. I will not be going to Boston this year, lol. Come on, Bostonians, get your s*** together!
  2. The regional tournaments I’m considering are Miami in the fall, New York in the spring, and maybe American Nationals (since it’s both gi and no-gi and is pretty well attended).
  3. Since I have friends in Chicago, and the regional tournaments there are of a good size, it’s worth it to make a trip there.
  4. The two major IBJJF no-gi tournaments, while young, are really holding their own in terms of attendance. Just goes to show that the label of “World Champion” is worth a lot to people no matter how you look at it.
  5. All these tournaments are growing by leaps and bounds. Just in 2012 most of these tournaments had an extra 20+% of competitors in this division. The future of BJJ tournaments looks pretty damn good.
  6. And the biggest conclusion of all… the biggest and toughest tournaments are the Pans and the Worlds. If you go anywhere, go to those.

So here is my new strategy for choosing jiu jitsu tournaments to attend:

  • Do as many as I want that are within 2-3 hours driving distance.
  • Travel far only for Pans and Worlds, unless there is a good reason.
  • Do the closest World Pro trial (usually one in New York, or worst-case, Montreal).

0 thoughts on “Sizes of IBJJF Tournaments: Guide to Choosing Your Next Tournament

  1. Jimmy Cerra

    Boston was an anonomly. They had a hurricane that day. The brown feather masters had 4-5 guys in it, same as brown adult. People randomly didn’t show. Weird day.

    1. Lex Post author

      That’s what I hear, so it’s not fair for me to be so harsh on Boston. I’ll look out for it in 2012, and maybe go there after all 😉

  2. Shawn Carn

    Bro… We got the same Agenda lined up…
    but I have a score to settle in the Houston Open. I must go back and dominate that tournament.. I got cheated ones it wont happen again..

    Nogi Worlds 2012
    Worlds 2013
    Pan AM 2013
    World pro trials 2013
    are the top on my list…

    1. Lex Post author

      Haha, Houston is big too and growing. Good call. I’ll see you on the mats brother. Your drive is a constant inspiration for me.

    1. Lex Post author

      Thanks bud, you got me thinking about what tournaments are and are not worth the trip. Even though my responsibilities are simple, maybe planning ahead is not such a bad idea.

  3. Alan

    I expect that Montreal will be bigger this year than last. Remember, this is only the second edition of the Montreal Open, so 11 competitors isn’t too shabby. You may also consider doing the very first Toronto Open. There were 28 competitors in the Blue belt Middle division this year, and I fully expect that number to increase significantly with the IBJJF name behind it. You may also get another shot at Joel Hadden, who I would expect to be at both Canadian tournaments. Just sayin’…

    1. Lex Post author

      I haven’t done a tournament in Canada yet, and really should. I hear a lot of great things.

      By the way, Joel is one of the guys I respect very much, and look forward to competing against. He beat me once, so next time it’s my turn to come out on top 😉

      1. Alan

        I recall reading that on your blog, which is why I specifically referenced Joel, in an effort to entice you to compete here. I met him a couple of years back at the Bravado Open (one of the Ontario Jiu-jitsu Association’s bigger events). As an aside, I was talking to a black belt friend and mentor of mine who said that Joel is too good to be a blue belt at this point, so I think someone’s holding both of you back if you’re competitive…

        1. Lex Post author

          Haha thanks Alan. For the big IBJJF tournaments, belts get blended together a little bit. I intend to do BJJ for the rest of my life so there’ll be plenty of time to get to black belt 😉 And you have my word, I’ll make it to at least one Canadian tournament this year!

  4. JCASH

    The boston open competitor list is incorrect. I competed and my name isn’t on that list it may not be the final list. I know for a fact Blue belt Leve had atleast 10 guys. Registered and showed up. I don’t know what other lists may not be complete and accurate as well


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