How To Become a BJJ Tournament Judge?

How To Become a BJJ Tournament Judge?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling combat sport. With a great number of practitioners competing and enrolling in BJJ gyms and schools, there is a dire need of a senior authority who can judge the fight and mediate rational results. For that purpose, the judges are introduced in BJJ.

Eliminating bias from decisions is a challenge, the same is the case in BJJ fights. To overcome this situation, judges took the responsibility of deciding the result of the fight. It removed biases and favoritism from the combat sport. It also created a new job (judge) in the BJJ. There are also some requirements from judges. To perform the duties of a judge in the BJJ match, the individual must have a license that should be verified by the BJJ Federation. Having knowledge of BJJ is also crucial for the judge.

1. BJJ Tournaments

BJJ Tournaments are conducted across the world to promote the gentle art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Local and international tournaments and championships are held worldwide in which different practitioners participate under varying sets of rules and earn their Kudos.

1.1. In-House Tournaments

Many BJJ gyms and institutes conduct their own in-house tournaments once or twice a year. This is a wonderful and beneficial method of fighting for beginners who will definitely hesitate to fight in other tournaments. Fighting in their own gym or institute gives them a sense of validation from the people they most definitely see daily in your dojo. It is an ideal situation for beginners.

1.2. The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF)

BJJ tournaments and championships are conducted worldwide by the international governing body, The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation, (IBJJF). IBJJF is responsible for maintaining the decorum of BJJ as well as keeping its principles the same as the foundation laid by the Gracie’s.

Some other organizations also conduct tournaments across the globe:

  • The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation Europeans.
  • UAEJJF Abu Dhabi World Pro Jiu-Jitsu Cup.
  • UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Grand Slam (ADGS)
  • The Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC)
  • The North American Grappling Association (NAGA)
  • Fight 2 Win
  • ONE Championship
  • Eddie Bravo Invitational (EBI)

2. BJJ Tournament Judge

The BJJ tournament judge gives the final decision of a BJJ fight. He observes the fight and grants points to the fighters according to the level and application of their techniques and moves. A BJJ tournament judge is different from an in-house tournament judge. It takes great effort and time to become a judge of a prestigious BJJ tournament. It requires a great level of skill and validation from the top authorities. It is important to note that for the past few years, in most of the tournaments, BJJ referees have been working as active judges too. So, when we talk about BJ judges, we are indirectly discussing the BJJ referees.

In case there are no submissions in the fight, there are judges who decide who is the winner. A judge must know all the rules and regulations of BJJ because only then can he tell the winner. The judges are sometimes scorned upon and it is their decision that puts the fighters in the spotlight.

3. How To Become a BJJ Tournament Judge?

The process of becoming a BJJ tournament judge is challenging if not easy.

3.1. Registration With The BJJ Federation

To perform activities as a BJJ tournament judge, a local judge has to be verified by the BJJ Federation. It means that the judge is recognized and acknowledged by the authorities as a judge. Registering with the BJJ Federation will represent the judge that he has knowledge of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

This knowledge is enough for him to judge BJJ tournament fights.

3.2. Getting A License

After getting registered with the BJJ Federation, you can receive your training. After the successful completion of training, you are authorized as a BJJ judge. This process mostly takes 6 months to a year but can be prolonged because of different rules and regulations.

While under training, you can still become a judge in amateur matches. It will provide you with relevant experience that will eventually help you in achieving your goal of becoming a BJJ tournament judge.

3.3. Getting A Private License

Getting a license from the BJJ Federation can take a lot of time. You can also enroll in a specialized and private school. The drawback with this is that it will cost you a lot of money. The certificate status from either IBJJF or a private authority is the same, both Are equally valued.

3.4. Having A B©JJ Background

Just because a tournament judge has only to judge the fight, it does not mean that his knowledge of BJJ is not important. When getting a license for judging BJJ tournaments, the applicant’s BJJ knowledge is of prior importance. Having a BJJ background means that the judge is aware of the techniques, rules, and penalties of BJJ.

Having a BJJ background means that the individual was either himself a previous BJJ practitioner or his family was also involved in BJJ. Although a background in BJJ is appreciated and welcomed. Whatever the case is, the individual must have sufficient knowledge that will eventually help him to become a licensed BJJ judge.

3.5. Ethics

The individual seeking to be a BJJ tournament judge must be fully aware of the BJJ’s code of conduct. Knowing the code of conduct will help the judge to perform his duties successfully and nobody can question his abilities. Ethics also include:

  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Socializing with others at the venue
  • Discussing the scores of fights with others
  • Dealing with the media

3.6. A Complete Knowledge of BJJ Techniques

In order to master the art of being a judge, the individual must have complete and thorough knowledge of BJJ techniques. It is expected from a judge to award the fighters with scores that they earned during a tournament.

It will then help the judge to give decisions easily. Most of the BJJ judges are from the competitive circuit. As they have already fought in BJJ Gi and No-Gi matches, they are fully aware of all the minute technicalities. This versatility gives them a sense of mastery and makes them suitable for judging the BJJ competitions.

3.7. BJJ Judge Courses

Along with tests and trials, the person seeking a BJJ judging license must go for different BJJ courses of rules and regulations. These courses provide complete guidelines about how to become a rational judge without giving biased decisions. They give an insight about judging qualities as well as what should be the behavior of the judge.

These courses are organized liberally. It means that it solely depends upon the effort and capabilities of the individual that make him eligible for the license.

For example, CBJJ (IBJJF) conducted the BJJ judges and referee course on the 22nd of January in London, England. It was not a costly course. Rather it helped the judges and referees to enhance their judging skills.

3.8. Experience of Being A Local BJJ Judge

Being a judge at in-house tournaments gives the individuals with the necessary information that he needs to judge a prestigious tournament. Among all the individuals seeking a BJJ judging license, the individual having prior BJJ experience, exposure, and knowledge is preferred.

3.9. Shadow Judging

Shadow judging helps to prepare the individual in obtaining a BJJ judging license. It is when the training judge sits behind the active judges of prestigious tournaments and learns how to do the scoring. He provides expert opinion.

He can predict the scores for the match and then verify it with the scoring of the actual judges and compare his capabilities.

4. Difference Between BJJ Judge And A Referee

There is a minute difference between a BJJ judge and referee. In the past, the tournaments were judged by the referee only. There was no concept of a separate judge. The BJJ referee used to give the decision and that was considered final. It was the tradition at the time when Gracies dominated BJJ mats only.

After the formation of IBJJF, the concept of BJJ judges came to the surface. Nowadays BJJ judges are seen as the governing authority for deciding the winner of the match. They are present off the mats usually in front of the mat where they watch the whole match and decide who the winner is. They grant points for techniques. They also give the result of the match in case of disqualification.

A BJJ referee is the person who is present on the mat and ensures the safety of both practitioners. The referee makes sure that the practitioner respects the rules of BJJ at all times. He definitely announces the winner of the fight but the decision comes from the judges. A Referee initiates the fight and can stop the fight in case of any mishap. He can even declare a fighter unfit for the fight. In case of violation of any rule, the referee is one that takes strict measures.

5. Cheating in BJJ Tournaments

Like other sports, cheating happens in  BJJ. It definitely is a harsh reality of this gentle art that most practitioners do not accept. Even if we ignore it, it's still there.

In the earlier times as there was no concept of BJJ judges, referees used to judge the fights. And sometimes the referees used to give biased results. It was usually in the favor of a particular fighter who was either a referee's student or knew him earlier.

It was unjust for the fighters. So to maintain equality and justice during the fight, the concept of BJJ judges was introduced. Since then, BJJ fights are played justly and based on unanimous decisions that nobody questions.

6. FAQs

6.1. Why Are BJJ Judges Important?

Judges are important in BJJ as they maintain the integrity of BJJ intact. They are responsible for just fights without any kind of obstruction in them. For that purpose, they ensure honest and unbiased results.

6.2. What Skills A BJJ Judge Must Have?

A BJJ judge must be a person of great character. The individual must inspire other practitioners. He must be a human of great morals and manners.

7. Conclusion

A BJJ tournament judge has a lot of responsibilities. He must have a complete knowledge about BJJ terms and techniques, so that he can give a professional and honest outcome of the fight. Shadow judging can help the individual to become a better judge.

Photo credit: @themmaguru

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