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  1. Aesopian is offline

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    Posted On:
    6/05/2006 10:52am

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    SBG Sub League Rules

    A recent thread prompted me to post a topic I've been sitting on for a while. I have been giving a lot of thought to the problems that currently affect BJJ and submission grappling tournaments, especially those caused by their rules. I personally think the current rules for most tournaments are pretty good, but it seems all suffer from the same problems to some degree, such as:
    • fighters stalling when ahead on points
    • getting the takedown and stalling for points
    • playing for points (not going for submissions)
    • single elimination so first round losers are screwed
    • sandbagging
    • biased referees
    • inattentive/incompetent referees
    • the subjectiveness of the advantage point
    I'm not really worried about the legal or illegal submissions; I'm more interested in the point system, the round format, the elimination of competitors and the brackets, the reffing, etc.

    The widely agreed upon viewpoints on the current rulesets are that a positional point system is necessary to determine a winner unless you removed time limits and made submissions the only means of victory. Due to the difficulties of running a no time limit tournament and the need to determine a winner when no one is submitted, most tournaments use a positional point system in some way. Even the IGJJF, which prides itself on not being a "point" tournament, has 30 minute times limits and a "first to 12 points wins" rule.

    I was in Oregon recently and while visiting Straight Blast Gym Beaverton I kept hearing guys tell me about how they were training for the "sub league". I didn't have a chance to check out the upcoming tournament, but I did check out the rules, and I was really impressed. From the Sport Submission Wrestling / Submission League website:
    Ways to win:

    Submission (physical and verbal), Referees Stoppage (medical or rule infringement), Corner stops fight.

    Time limit:

    1 x 4min round per bout

    Scoring system:

    The league runs using a pool format - competitors will face every competitor in his/her pool. There are no points awarded within a match ... points are only awarded based on the outcome of a match: 3 points for a win (submission), 1 point for a draw (1 point goes to each competitor), and 0 for a loss. At the end of the competition the "per match average points" are tallied for each competitor and entered into the season table. The top 3 best events will be calculated for each competitor at the end of the season, thereby determining the season championship pools. The 6-12 competitor* with the highest scores will meet in the Championship in June.
    Full rules here.

    As you can see, they have removed the positional point system and replaced it with one that awards a competitor for winning by submission and nothing else, eliminating most of the benefits of stalling or "playing for points". They have also removed all referee interaction beyond ensuring the safety of the fighters, thus removing the potential for bias or misjudgment. And they have done all of this without turning to impractical no-time limit matches. From their site:
    Benefits of the Submission League format:

    1. Athletes get lots of opportunity to compete (3 - 6 matches an event)

    2. There is less drama/controversy because there is minimal judging during a match - either an athlete get a submission, gets submitted, or itís a draw. Points donít count within a match.

    3. The "league" concept encourages the submission wrestling community to train and compete over a longer period of time ó promoting a higher, more consistent quality of submission wrestling all the way around.

    4. The format allows an event to move quickly. We have piloted three events so far, running 85 - 125 competitors per event through their pools (each athlete getting 3 - 7 fights) in under 4 hours each time ... which, compared to any tournament standard, is quick.
    More on why they created the Sub League:
    Our motivation behind starting the Sport Association of Grappling Athletes (SAGA), Submission League, and www.sportsubmissionwrestling.com is to help promote the growth of submission grappling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and western wrestling throughout the Pacific Northwest.

    The idea behind the Submission League is to develop a competition which will showcase submission wrestling at its best. We want to move away from point scoring and create an environment where submissions are everything.

    This format doesnít favor the takedown specialist or the control wrestler or the positional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor. Instead, it plays to the athlete that can complete submissions against an uncooperative opponent in a defined amount of time. We are working to create a consistent venue for good, healthy, and positive competition.

    We compete in a pool format, where you wrestle all the competitors in your group. This format, as opposed to brackets, where the number of competitors are cut in half each round, allows for more guaranteed matches for each athlete. We also have a clear point system, where there are no points in a match -- simply submission or draw. This system really allows the virtues of competition to shine.

    We are hopeful that when people experienced the Submission League structure, they will be pleased with its emphasis on participation and itís quick format. It should be a lot of grappling for everyone.
    The concerns I've heard about these rules are that the removal of the positional point system would encourage sloppiness or "hail mary" submission attempts; that it encourages stalling by the worse fighter, since drawing for 1 point is better than losing; that it would take too long to match up every fighter in a large event; that 4 minute rounds are too short; and that it would make team tactics more beneficial (e.g. teammates giving one fighter easy wins).

    I have my own thoughts on these issues, but at the moment I am just interested in seeing how these rules would work in bigger events and how well the intentions of removing stalling and other rule-related problems would play out on a larger scale. I am just happy to see that someone has taken a fresh look at the issue and come up with an original ruleset that encourages action.
    Last edited by Aesopian; 6/05/2006 10:57am at .
  2. Teh El Macho is offline
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    Posted On:
    6/05/2006 11:20am

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    Hmmm, interesting. What's the criteria for a competitor to be assigned to a pool? Is this moving to an approach to avoid sandbagging?
    Read this for flexibility and injury prevention, this, this and this for supplementation, this on grip conditioning, and this on staph. New: On strenght standards, relationships and structural balance. Shoulder problems? Read this.

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  3. Aesopian is offline

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    Posted On:
    6/05/2006 11:28am

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    These rules don't do anything to prevent sandbagging; I just included that in the list of problems since it's a common one.

    Here are the divisions:
    Beginner: Less than 18 months of training in submission wrestling / white belt

    Intermediate: 1Ĺ to 3 years of experience / blue belt / collegiate wrestler

    Advanced: 3 years or more experience / purple belt or higher / collegiate wrestler
    These are then broken down by weight classes.
  4. UpaLumpa is offline
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    Posted On:
    6/05/2006 11:39am

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    The funniest part of the sherdog thread is about having your school register you in order to prevent sandbagging.
    WTF? Don't these people know why sandbagging occurs?

    Oh wait, it is sherdog thus many of them likely don't compete.

    Otherwise I like the setup, though I am picturing about 500 overweight whitebelts attempting rolling toeholds.
    It's quite Monty Pythonesque.
  5. Aesopian is offline

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    Posted On:
    6/05/2006 11:46am

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I actually meant to link to this thread on Bullshido, not Sherdog, but oh well.
  6. Fighting Cephalopod is offline
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    Posted On:
    6/05/2006 12:00pm

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aesopian
    that it would take too long to match up every fighter in a large event;
    This is what I would be most concerned with. The last time I competed at grappler's Quest, there were eight people in my division - That comes out to 28 matches, total, which at 4 minutes each is just under 2 hours, not counting the time it takes between one match and the next, and the difficulty in setting them up so everyone gets proper rest periods. 8 competitors isn't unusual for a bracket in a large scale tournament, and as there got to be more and more I could see time constraints becoming a major problem.

    I do like this format in theory, though; it addresses a lot of the annoyances people have with tournaments in a creative way.
  7. UpaLumpa is offline
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    Posted On:
    6/05/2006 12:32pm

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    Knowing you have more matches would, I suspect, lead to less stalling and shorter matches on average.
  8. Odacon is offline
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    Posted On:
    6/05/2006 1:00pm

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    Quote Originally Posted by fatherdog
    This is what I would be most concerned with. The last time I competed at grappler's Quest, there were eight people in my division - That comes out to 28 matches, total, which at 4 minutes each is just under 2 hours, not counting the time it takes between one match and the next, and the difficulty in setting them up so everyone gets proper rest periods. 8 competitors isn't unusual for a bracket in a large scale tournament, and as there got to be more and more I could see time constraints becoming a major problem.
    I would have thought a big competion like grapplers quest would be spread over more than one day, allowing you to fight half your fight one day, and half the next.
  9. Yrkoon9 is offline
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    Posted On:
    6/05/2006 1:23pm

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    The only problem I have with no time limit (30 min) sub-only competitions is the physical fatigue involved when you have equally skilled competitors in a match. Usually brackets are broken down by skill and weight to give a fair playing field. But when you get guys who are near each other in skill you might not see a submission early. You might have a couple of 15-20 minute matches in your bracket.

    That isn't a test of skill. That is a test of endurance. I am one of the biggest proponents of conditioning for tournaments. But I also recognize what a 30 minute match does to a person. It pretty much kills you. And if you don't get the sub within 30 minutes it has to go to a judges/ref's decision. And how is that going to be scored? Grey area.
  10. Yrkoon9 is offline
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    Posted On:
    6/05/2006 1:32pm

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    Quote Originally Posted by odacon
    I would have thought a big competion like grapplers quest would be spread over more than one day, allowing you to fight half your fight one day, and half the next.

    Bwahahahahhaaa! No.

    You have to see a GQ to believe it. You are talking about 1500 competitors. Most brackets are only like 8-10 people but still. Imagine a round robin with 1500 people. I can't even fathom the math and logistics.

    Even with 2 days you wouldn't be able to do it.

    There is a difference between theoretical possibilities and the real world of tournaments. I say this as a veteran of literally hundreds of tournaments: **** goes awry. No matter what time things are supposed to start they won't. No matter how well organized things are nothing seems to work out the way they were planned.

    Heck - imagine weighing in 1000+ people. Getting them registered and on the brackets is a feat. Now try organizing them into times and on a mat with a ref and a timekeer/scorer. Now add 10 guys at every table looking through the brackets and asking questions about when they are going to fight.

    It's fucking madness.

    Now I know all about sandbagging. I know all about stalling. They are horrible things that are trying to be dealt with. But nobody can eliminate them. You learn to deal with it and hope for the best. Different people have different systems in place. Some work. Some don't.

    There is no perfect tournament. There are no completely fair rules. There is no unbiased referee. You deal with, and compete under, the inherent limitations of the competitions. Like I said in another thread there are a zillion tournaments out there with a zillion formats. Find one you like. Stay away from those you don't.
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