Canada Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championships Postponed After Officials Threaten To Arrest Participants

Canada Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championships Postponed After Officials Threaten To Arrest Participants


Canada Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championships  have been postponed after careful considerations.

The official announcement reads:


After careful consideration, the Canada Pro Jiu-Jitsu committee and the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation has decided to postpone the Canada Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championships that was scheduled to take place at the Centre Pierre-Charbonneau this Sunday, the 26th of February 2017.

This Friday at 6:00 PM, an official complaint was launched to the SPVM. The SPVM, acting on an internal legal memo that included Jiu-Jitsu as a combat sport, i.e. having strikes (“an encounter or fight with fists, hands or feet”), according to section 83 of the Canadian Criminal Code, informed the Abu Dhabi Pro Jiu-Jitsu committee that they would proceed to enforce the section to arrest any participant in the tournament. Furthermore, they informed the committee that the Municipal Prosecutor of Montreal intended to prosecute every such case to court. It should be noted that the commander of the SPVM in charge of the complaint did not know that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) was different from “Jiu-Jitsu” and did not have any strikes in its matches.

The Canada Pro Jiu-Jitsu committee, the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation and numerous members of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community attempted to convince the SPVM of the difference between BJJ and Jiu-Jitsu from the time of the complaint. There were vigorous efforts and resources deployed to explain that section 83 of the Canadian Criminal Code did not apply to BJJ, however, due to the tight time frame between the time of the complaint and the event, there was no time to engage with the SPVM’s legal department or to proceed with other alternatives solutions. We tried every avenue possible until there was no other alternative.

As such, due to the distinct probability of police of arrest of competitors of the tournament if the event were to proceed tomorrow and the fact that many competitors are non-residents of Quebec and Canada, the committee must regretfully postpone the tournament to another the postponement to another venue next Sunday, the 5th of March 2017 with possibilities of weighing in Saturday or the morning of the tournament.

On behalf of the Canada Pro Jiu-Jitsu committee and the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, we would like to apologize to all the athletes, coaches, teammates, and families affected by this decision. It was not a decision that was taken lightly. However, considering that our first priority is the security of our competitors and secondly the reputation of our great sport, we believed that there no other alternative to the postponement of the tournament.

Please contact [email protected] for reimbursement inquiries. We will also reopen the registration process to allow other competitors to come and support the event and BJJ.


Back when the Section 83 of Canada’s Criminal Code was enacted it was questionable whether it would relate to grappling events.

According to combatsportslaw:


We know that amateur wrestling and judo contests are legal, unless Provinces pass laws to the contrary, as these are caught by the “Olympic Sport” exemptions in section 83(2)(a) of the Code.  But what about other grappling events such a a submission Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament?  Would these run afoul of the Criminal Code without a Provincial framework in place?  An argument can be made either way.

As a starting point, section 83 prohibits all prize fights that don’t meet the exemptions in the Criminal Code, with prize fights being defined as “an encounter or fight with fists, hands or feet between two persons who have met for that purpose by previous arrangement made by or for them“.

Eliminating striking likely doesn’t exempt the Criminal Code from being triggered because of the inclusion of the word “or”.  Using “or” instead of “and” means the illegal encounter can allow “fists” or “hands” or “feet” to be used.  It is not a stretch to say that a submission grappling contest without strikes is still an encounter with hands or feet.

An additional exchange between lawmakers was publicized in the same posting:

Interestingly, when the application of Bill S-209 to grappling was discussed the following exchange took place among lawmakers:


Kyle Seeback Brampton West, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Senator Runciman, I have an e-mail from a gentleman who’s in my riding from the Ontario Grappling Alliance. Of course, I wasn’t even aware there was an Ontario Grappling Alliance until I received the e-mail, but I’m going to ask you and Mr. Pacetti as well. He seems to believe or has received some advice that because of the changes in this legislation, grappling will now fall into a non-legal status.

My review of the legislation indicates that if it was legal before, it’s still going to be legal; if it was illegal before, then it may or may not still be illegal, but it was illegal to begin with. I don’t see how this legislation would affect grappling and the Ontario Grappling Alliance.

3:45 p.m.

Ontario (Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes), CPC

Senator Bob Runciman

No, I don’t know either. That issue, not specifically with grappling, came up during the hearings. There is no known sport that does not use fists, hands, or feet. There was talk about naming specific sports. That could create problems, if new hybrid sports come on the scene in the coming years.

I think his fears can be allayed and that he will be safe under this change in the legislation.

3:45 p.m.

Kyle Seeback Brampton West, ON

3:45 p.m.

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

As a non-lawyer, my opinion is that we’re just adding something; we’re not deleting. The bill is just adding “feet” to the Criminal Code, so I don’t see what the issue would be.


Although a strong argument can be made that s. 83 does capture non-Olymoic grappling contests by virtue of the plain reading of the prize fight definition, the above exchange brings some uncertainty to the equation. Provinces wold be wise to address the situation with legislative clarity addressing what contests are legal and how, if at all, they must be sanctioned. Silence leads to uncertainty.

What do you make of this ?