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What Are The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Training For A Specific Rule Set?


Throughout the sport of jiu-jitsu there are numerous possible rule sets.  Some allow for more than others, and some will put the competitor in harm’s way for the sake of providing competitors a chance to finish matches by submission (for example EBI rules…) Rule set specific training is a very real thing.

A while ago, I participated in an EBI rules no gi match, so for the few weeks leading up to the match I did not put a gi on, and spent a lot of time with my training partners on my back or in “spider web.”  I was training for a specific rule set and competition format, and I was not shy about focusing ONLY on the rules and scenarios that this match would present me.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of rule set specific training?

I’ve visited gyms that focused on IBJJF rules tournaments, and found that most if not all of the practitioners shied away from techniques that would be illegal in IBJJF.  This of course means that the students at these gyms are best suited for IBJJF, but if they were to compete in a tournament that catered to a different crowd, a non-IBJJF crowd, they would potentially be at a disadvantage.

Similarly, if I had decided to enter an IBJJF tournament immediately after the EBI rules match, with no time to recalibrate in between, I would have to be more hesitant when entering leg entanglements to avoid getting disqualified for reaping which is a specific no-no in the IBJJF rule book.

This effect can be seen when competitors known for their results in submission only fall flat in points tournaments, it can also sometimes be seen when competitors who haven’t had to deal with a full array of leg locks wind up entering tournaments in which their opponents have no restrictions.

Rule set specific training is a double edged sword.

We’ve all seen competitors who simply possessed superior jiu jitsu no matter in what rule set they were competing, but that’s the exception.  Most competitors need to get into a certain mindset in order to prepare for their upcoming task.  If you’re prepping for a no gi tournament, you might want to shed the gi.  If you’re prepping for a tournament that allows or forbids heel hooks or other specific submissions, you might want to factor that into your training.

This may not be the best way to improve one’s jiu-jitsu overall, but it increases the likelihood of winning a specific match or tournament.

If you’ve ever prepared for a tournament that had a rule set outside of your normal comfort zone, did you go with specific training using moves and strategies appropriate for that tournament?  Or did you just continue with what you are normally used to doing?




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