How to Become a BJJ Tournament Referee?

How to Become a BJJ Tournament Referee?

"The process of becoming an official referee is very arduous and involves intensive training, and how to focus on techniques and how to calculate points. Our training also teaches us how to handle the pressures we might face from players, coaches, or even the audience"

(Obaid Al Kaabi)

Are you a dedicated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner looking to make a difference on the mat? Imagine being the ultimate authority (BJJ Referee) on the mat, making decisions that determine the outcome of a match. It's not just about knowing the rules, it's about having the ability to apply them with precision and fairness, even in the heat of the moment.

A professional BJJ referee is someone who upholds the laws of unarmed conflict using their expertise in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as their training in those sports. A referee decides when to halt or start a fight, and offers advice to both competitors before the match. Some grapplers are in love with holding the position of BJJ referee. However, there is a lack of basic information about the selection procedure and referee courses. This article will provide a roadmap to becoming a BJJ referee and explain their responsibilities.

1. How to Become a Certified BJJ Referee?

To become a certified BJJ referee, you have to go through various certifications and attend webinars and seminars. After receiving the required certificates, you can apply for referee training to proceed further.

2. How Can You Become a BJJ Referee of IBJJF and UAEJJF?

There are different courses offered by experienced referees for the competitors. BJJ lovers who want to pursue their careers as a referee have to attend BJJ courses and webinars. Below mentioned procedures must be followed to become a BJJ referee.

2.1. Requirements of IBJJF Referee

To become an IBJJF referee, one must first meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a minimum of a Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
  • Have a minimum of 2 years experience as a competitor in IBJJF events.
  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Attended BJJ webinars/seminars.
  • Pass the seminar with at least 85% marks.
  • Then pass out the multiple-choice test.
  • Some organizations also ask to make presentations on the “Rules” of referees.
  • After successfully passing the presentation, organizations called the candidates for training.
  • Selected referees Join the RTP ( Referee Training Program)

2.2. Requirements of UAEJJF Referee

The UAEJJF also has similar requirements for becoming a referee. To become a UAEJJF referee, one must:

  • Hold a minimum of a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Have a minimum of 1 year of experience as a competitor in UAEJJF events.
  • Attend and pass a UAEJJF Referee Seminar.
  • Must secure 85% marks to qualify.

What are the benefits of attending the IBJJF and UAEJJF seminars for referees?

The IBJJF and UAEJJF referee seminars cover the topics such as the rules and regulations of IBJJF and UAEJJF championships, the responsibilities of a referee, and how to handle different situations that may arise during a match. The seminar also includes a practical evaluation, where participants are required to demonstrate their understanding and application of the rules. So, it’s mandatory to attend the seminars to successfully excel in the BJJ referee career.

Once a referee has completed the seminar, they must pass a written exam and practical evaluation to be officially certified as an IBJJF and UAEJJF referee. After certification, referees must remain active by working a minimum number of IBJJF, and UAEJJF events per year to maintain their certifications.

Both IBJJF and UAEJJF have their own specific set of rules and regulations for referee selection. These rules are put in place to ensure the referees are competent, fair, and unbiased. The rules of BJJ referees are meant to ensure the referees have proper knowledge of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, can make quick and accurate decisions on the mat, and have the necessary experience to ensure the safety of BJJ fighters.

3. UKBJJA Referee Requirements

Apart from the international organizations of Jiu-Jitsu including IBJJF, and UAEJJF, different national federations set their own rules and regulations for professional BJJ referees. We will also discuss the requirements of one of the national federations (UKBJJA) regarding BJJ referees.

UKBJJA has different requirements than international BJJ organizations and a slightly different selection process for referees. This organization has three levels of referee selection programs with specific rules. The referee who passes the 2nd and 3rd levels are able to become an independent referee. Here we skim through the selection procedure for BJJ referees of UKBJJA. 

3.1. Requirements for 3rd Level Referee

  • Blue Belt champions are eligible and can become referees in their respective belt-level tournaments.
  • An individual should be a member of UKBJJA.
  • Must be 18 or above.
  • Pass out the UKBJJA referee course and exam.
  • Pass the theory and practical exam with a 90% result.

3.2. Requirements for 2nd Level Referee

  • Blue Belt champions are eligible and can become referees up to their belt-level tournaments.
  • An individual should be a member of UKBJJA.
  • Must be 18 or above.
  • Pass out the UKBJJA referee 3 hours course.
  • Pass the theory exam.
  • Pass the practical assessment within 12 months after the theory exam.

3.3. Requirements for 1st Level Referee

  • At level 1, the Black Belt champion is able to become the head referee.
  • Must have the level 2 referee reward.
  • A referee who applied for level 1 in UKBJJA must have the record to organize 8 tournaments.
  • The Level 1 referee should be able to maintain a competent level of officiating.

3.4. Prerequisites to Become a BJJ Referee

Besides having BJJ certification and training, there are other prerequisites for becoming a BJJ referee.

  • Having some fighting experience
  • Knowing the rules of BJJ
  • Having BJJ training experience

4. Responsibilities of BJJ Referee

BJJ referees have the following primary responsibilities on the mat.

  • Enforce rules and regulations of the national or international federations (UKBJJA, IBJJF, UAEJJF)
  • Make fair and unbiased decisions for the grapplers
  • Ensure the safety of BJJ competitors on the mat
  • Continuously improve and update knowledge of rules and regulations of particular Jiu-Jitsu federation
  • Communicate effectively with competitors, coaches, and tournament staff on and off the mat.

5. Challenges for a BJJ Referee

BJJ referees also face different challenges while becoming professional referees and fulfilling their duties. Some major challenges that BJJ referees can face include:

  • Lack of accessible training and education opportunities
  • Maintaining control of the match and enforcing the Jiu-Jitsu rules effectively
  • Making quick and accurate decisions on and off the mat
  • Staying updated with the latest rules and regulations of the sport
  • Adapting to different styles and levels of competition
  • Handling disputes and protests during their career
  • Managing the safety and well-being of BJJ competitors
  • Keeping up with the fast-paced nature of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • Handling pressure and stress coming from BJJ fighters and grappling communities

6. Rewards of Becoming a BJJ  Referee

Being a BJJ referee serves as a natural extension of training, as it requires a strong understanding of actions, positions, and strategies to effectively apply rules. and defend against Additionally, being a Jiu-Jitsu referee can improve your physical training as it provides access to an hour after hour of quality grappling and the opportunity to learn from the highest level of coaches and competitors.

Being a BJJ referee, an individual receives the chance to not only grow his grappling skills but also elevate the experiences on the mat. So, if you're dedicated and passionate about the grappling world, consider becoming a BJJ referee.

Some major benefits you can receive after becoming a BJJ referee are:

  • Extension of the Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle
  • Meeting and working with other people who achieved high ranks in the Jiu-Jitsu
  • Getting paid to travel for exposure to the whole world of martial arts
  • Exposure to an hour after hour of quality grappling
  • Access to the highest level of coaches and competitors
  • Learning opportunities that enhance the knowledge about Jiu-Jitsu
  • Paying it forward by offering a quality experience to competitors and helping to grow the sport.

7. FAQs

7.1. What are the Main Responsibilities of a BJJ Referee?

The referee is responsible for properly maintaining the health and safety of the unarmed fighters by utilizing his expertise, training, and understanding of the rules of unarmed combat.

7.2. Are there Online Courses Available for a Referee?

Yes, different organizations offer online courses to train referees. However, candidates also need to attend and clear the physical and written test after passing an online assessment.

7.3. What is the Expected Salary of BJJ Referees?

Although BJJ referees undergo challenging training sessions to become professionals. Apart from the formidable selection schedule, referees can earn handsome amounts in tournaments. Their roughly estimated income is $200-$350 per day or $20- $30 per hour.  

7.4. What is the Cost of Refree’s Course?

The Referee’s course usually costs about 130 Pounds. However, different organizations offer different courses at different prices.  

8. Conclusion

In conclusion, being a BJJ referee is not just a job, it's a responsibility. A responsibility to ensure the safety of the BJJ fighters and to make fair and unbiased decisions on the mat. It's not just a matter of knowing the rules, but also having the ability to detect, comprehend and decipher the complex BJJ techniques in a fast-paced and intense environment.

If you're passionate about BJJ, dedicated, and have the courage and confidence to take on the important role of BJJ referee, you can make a real difference in the grappling world. This designation not only enables you to excel in the grappling world but also increases your knowledge. So, if you have what it takes to be a competent referee, don't hesitate, go for it, and be the one who takes BJJ to the next level.

Photo credit: @jiujitsutimes

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