fredag 9 maj 2014

The double-guard dilemma

With IBJJF pushing out their updated rulebook just 2 weeks ahead of the Mundials alot of the ”modern” jiu-jitsu players will have to adapt their game to not fall victim to the new anti double-guard pull rules. The new rules state the following:

Novo item 6.5.3
When both athletes pull guard at the same time, the referee will start a 20 second
countdown. If at end of this 20 second countdown, even if the athletes are
moving, one of the athletes does not reach the top position, does not have a
submission in hold, or is not imminently completing a point scoring move, the
referee will stop the fight and give a penalty to both athletes. In this situation, the
referee will restart the combat in standing position. ”

I have quite a few opinions on this but lets start out with the fact that they are putting even more pressure on the referees to judge whether or not a submission is tight enough to warrant the position to go on or not or if there is a point scoring move to be attempted. What defines imminent? Would it be imminent when the fighter is inverted and obviously trying to go for the berimbolo? Is the foot on the bicep enough to warrant the prolonging since there are numerous setups for sweeps from there? Or is it simply so that you have to be already fighting for hooks or have your opponent swept and you are coming up? To some these questions are silly but for the people who play the double-guard game this is important when devising a gameplan. And to the referee it is very important to have a clear knowledge of the rules to prevent misunderstandings as much as possible.
I'm not opposed to the idea of the rule which is obviously to prevent stalling. However I'm opposed to the fact that you need to stress to seek an advantageous position. A very good match in my opinion is the highly controversial Paulo Miyao vs Keenan Cornelius match in Abu Dhabi last year. I am aware that the Abu Dhabi rules are NOT the IBJJF rules but they are very similiar so I do believe that it is a valid example.

You can watch the fight right here.

I do not believe that they are stalling at all. For those who play the double-guard, berimbolo, 50/50 and the rest of the ”modern jiu-jitsu” game and are atleast somewhat versed in it can tell that they are both actively working for dominant grips and angles. Paulo is constantly trying to setup the berimbolo and Keenan attempts leglocks and transitions between various positions while still on the ground. They both showcase a mastery of this very intricate and advanced positional meta-game and I feel that it is a shame that it is frowned upon and even considered stalling. If they had both just sat there looking at eachother or just holding the same grips for the entire time the penalties for stalling would be warranted. However it is obvious that they are working towards better positioning and actively seeking to put the other person at a disadvantage.

I believe that the main reason for this rule to be enforced is to make the sport more audience-friendly. And I do believe that it is a good thing for the sport to be able to attract newcomers and I understand that not everyone finds it very interesting to look at two guys sitting on their butts rocking back and forth. However as a person who doesn't understand baseball I think that it's not even a little interesting to watch whereas it has a huge following and alot of people think it is super exciting. My point here is that you should not forsake the integrity of the sport to please the people who are not a part of it. The sport has to evolve and I'm certain that this rule will not affect very many people because it will only lead to more aggressive attacks from the double-guard pull. However I'm afraid that BJJ is slowly moving in the same direction as Judo where ”boring” things are phased out with new rules and regulations basicly telling people who have been training for years that ”nope this move is boring” and thus eliminating a very big aspect of jiu-jitsu.

To me jiu-jitsu is all about freedom and expressing yourself in a creative manner. To me it is exactly the same as music, drawing, painting or writing. It is important in my opinion to let everyone develop their own style and not limit them to a specific set of techniques, inside the reasons of safety of course.

Another way they are limiting the usefullness of the double-guard pull is a new rule that reads:

”Page 22, Item 5.7.6.
Obs added:
When both athletes pull guard at the same time, the athlete who achieves top
position first is awarded an advantage point.
Obs: In cases that the athlete achieves the top position by going straight to the
side-mount, he will not receive points nor an advantage for the guard pass. ”

Not only are you forced to attack fast, now you are even penalized for attacking too well. I feel that this is counter-intuitive and basicly forces one guy to just stand up and claim his advantage before he passes the guard. The fact that side-control is a very dominant position and that you can probably score points both for knee-on-belly and mount or even finish by submissions is not lost on me but what if you smash past the double-guard with only 5 seconds to go? You get your lousy advantage and you have the 3 seconds required to stabilize the position and get points for the guardpass. Success! Except you don't get points for the guardpass and now time is up and you lost by points even though you managed to pass the guard, which is usually no easy feat.

I believe that if you pass the guard from the double-guard you should absolutely be awarded the full points for the pass aslong as you fulfill the requirements that constitutes a guardpass. The reason you are not allowed the points I believe is that you are not in a defined top position when the pass is initiated but I do not believe that that should carry any weight since you make the active choice to come up and advance the position and pass your opponents guard. This would also encourage players to get creative in their passing from the double-guard pull.

To reconnect to my earlier point about stressing the competitors to seek an advantageous position, I strongly feel that guardplayers are being discriminated against. Unfortunately I've been unable to find any videos of what I'm about to describe but anyone who has ever competed has seen this happen. As soon as you climb up a few notches in the weightclasses you tend to see these two guys who refuse to pull guard and are unable to take anyone down. They spend the better part of their allotted time just butting heads and walking around in circles playing some bizarre kind of tug-o´-war. This is not something that is limited to whitebelts with a limited knowledge database and can atleast blame it on ignorance. This is something I've seen at many of the major tournaments in the blackbelt divisions. These players are not even nearly as chastised as the double-guard pullers nor are they penalised as often by the referees. To me the situation is identical to the double-guard pull, atleast in theory if not in practice. A neutral position where the correct setup is imperative to create the opportune moment to engage and score points or sink a submission.

Now there are new rules in place and all of us who compete under the IBJJF banner will adhere to them and we shall evolve.

These are just my opinions. Feel free to comment!

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