Four Must-Do BJJ Competitions for 2023
With a new year… comes a fresh start to hit those competition goals. If COVID taught us anything, it’s to not take life for granted. Don’t wait to change careers, don’t wait to take that bucket list trip, don’t wait to enrich your life with exciting new things. Because you never know when some other epic catastrophe will hit and you’ll find yourself back, locked up in your house and bartering off your kid brother for a single roll of toilet paper.
This should include with your competitive jiu-jitsu career. Whether you’re a veteran BJJ athlete, who has amassed tons of shiny IBJJF medals, or brand new to the competition scene… I highly encourage you to make 2023 different.
Don’t just opt for the same-old tournaments this year. Sure, do those, too, if that’s what you dig. But liven up your 2023 plans with some competitions that challenge you differently, offer some novel experiences, and which give you some warm memories for when the next apocalypse comes.
Don’t know where to start? Here are four must-do BJJ competition options for your 2023 season:
A Local Tournament in another State or Country
If you’re a frequent competitor at your local tournaments, you’ve likely discovered that you end up fighting against the same people, over and over again. While this might be useful in gauging your growth since the last time you faced him/her, it can also be monotonous. It’s like training with the same people… eventually you’ll know their game, they’ll know yours, and essentially the same match plays out each time with little to no variation.
The beauty in going to a tournament in another state is that you’ll face people that you might never have fought before. Not only is this more challenging and exciting, but it will also show you where you might have holes in your game, as your opponents may have strengths in areas in which you don’t regularly get experience. Already travel out-of-state? Shake it up with a tournament in a completely different country! Bonus points if you can’t speak the language.
Luckily, Smooth Comp has made it easier than ever to do this. Yes, they don’t manage all jiu-jitsu tournaments out there, but you can find a ton of local and international tournaments in their system.
You don’t have to a BJJ heavy-hitter to enjoy the novel ruleset of the ADCC. Last year, ADCC announced that, in addition to their regional ADCC Trials events – in which winners get the opportunity to be one of the select few ADCC World Champion event competitors – they will be doing regular Open events.
Why should you enter an ADCC Open? Because their ruleset is an awesome mix of points-based and sub-only. The first half of your match is submission only, which allows you to hunt for submissions without any concern for your opponent securing a lead via points. Then, the second half of your match is points-based. The hybrid ruleset forces you to adapt and adopt new strategies to win, which you might not have employed in a regular IBJJF style tournament… essentially, it makes you evolve as a competitor.
While the availability of nearby ADCC Opens is still minimal, you can follow them on Instagram or browse their upcoming tournaments on their website. If you’re feeling really ambitious, combine two opportunities in one and hit an international ADCC Open!
EBI Style Tournament
Likewise, an EBI style tournament exposes you to a non-traditional ruleset. This one was devised by Eddie Bravo of 10th Planet fame for his original EBI tournaments, and has since been adopted by several other jiu-jitsu promotions.
The EBI ruleset is a submission only, with unique overtime rules in the case of no submission. If that happens, competitors receive a choice of two positions in overtime: spider web, in which the attacker begins in an armbar position, or the back. There can potentially be three overtime rounds, in which the competitors each have an opportunity to attack. If the first person submits during one of the rounds, the other person must submit in a shorter amount of time. If neither person submits in all overtime rounds, the “escape time” is summed up, and the competitor with the fastest escape time wins.
Just as with the ADCC Open tournaments, a different ruleset challenges you in new ways… allowing you to evolve as a grappler. Where can you enter an EBI style tournament? Here are a few options:
Less common, but wildly entertaining, are team-style tournaments. Just in the last few years these have been gaining traction in the BJJ competition scene.
Teams are typically composed of three to five members, and are sometimes co-ed. Rulesets differ, as it seems different promotions are feeling out what works best and is the most exciting for viewers. For example, Kazushi Sakuraba’s Quintet is a 5-on-5, winner stays in ruleset. So, you could potentially have one team member plow through the entire opposing team. Others, such as Subversiv's 3x3 event, allows the team to pair off their members with members from the opposing team, in one-on-one matches that accrue points for the team depending on the outcome.
Many of the team style tournaments are by invitation only, but promotions are often looking for teams to fill their brackets. So, if you’re a decent colored belt and you can get enough friends together to form a team, don’t hesitate to reach out to the promoter.
Some examples of promotions that do or occasionally do team-style tournaments are:
Whatever you decide to do this year, please do one thing: make 2023 the best year yet. Push yourself, evolve, become more. One way to do that is committing to one – or all – of these must-do BJJ competition ideas.