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Are Submission Only Tournaments Really Possible?

Are Submission Only Tournaments Really Possible?

The concept of submission only BJJ tournaments is not something new. The Gracies would hold challenge matches without time limits back in the day in Brazil. Helio Gracie once fought for 3 hours. The only problematic issue would be to have BJJ competitions follow the submission only format. Imagine you have a large division where you need to fight 6 times to reach the finals. The possibility of having hour long matches would make it a nightmare. US grappling have years of experience running submission only competitions and they recently wrote a article on the issue which covers all the aspects of these type of tournaments, as well as statistics which prove that on average their fights would last only 8 minutes. Check it out:

“Imagine a boxing match where knockout was the only way to win, and there weren’t any rounds. You’d see guys slugging it out and nearly killing one another (some of the time), and fighters would be able to fight perhaps once a year in order to get such a definitive victory.  ”Knockout Only” could certainly be a definitive victory for the boxer, but it’s hardly a sustainable model for a competition.

With a submission only tournament, there is simply no way to present a valid argument against your loss, other than possibly saying you didn’t tap.

Team sports are even worse with restrictions on what has to happen, how it has to happen, and (most importantly) when it has to happen.  People argue over basketball, baseball, soccer, football… “The refereeing was terrible!   Some awful calls.”

“But matches will take all day!  It can’t be done on anything other than an extremely small scale!”   We beg to differ, and so does statistical analysis from over 20 Submission Only tournaments: Matches in these tournaments have no points and no time limits. Despite fears to the contrary, the average match time for Submission Only events is under eight minutes. The fastest match recorded was over in 5 seconds, and was won with a flying armbar by Mike Galitello” with more than 5000 matches, where the average match length is 8 minutes.  Sure, you’re going to have anomalies, just like with any event.   There will be some matches that last more than 20 minutes, and a small handful of matches that could last longer than an hour (usually 2 or 3 matches per event), but for every long match, there are several very short matches.

Which brings us to the main point: adding time limits to any sport is going to change the dynamic completely.  People are going to stall just to survive, and then brag about surviving for however long the match time limit was.  Sure, not everyone is going to view a draw as a win, and some tournaments have elected to eliminate both competitors if there is no submission within the time limit.  Nevertheless, the dynamic of knowing that all you have to do is hang on definitely changes strategy in a way that is not conductive to truly hunting for the submission.

Enjoy the purest form of combat in existence. There are never any time limits, and every single match will have a decisive outcome. No other style of tournament can hope to promise this.”

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