Quebec has long had an issue with jiu jitsu. We first wrote about it a while back. In February 2017 the issues first started:
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.
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.
But now the practitioners are trying to remedy the situation. cbc.ca reports:
Montreal’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu community is fed up with the province’s reluctance to legalize their martial art, even though it’s a discipline that does not allow practitioners to throw kicks or punches.
All forms of jiu-jitsu are illegal in most provinces because of a 2013 amendment to Canada’s Criminal Code. Classes are still being held however tournaments aren’t legal. This is one of the developments that lead Firas Zahabi to start Pure Fighting Championships. Last Pure bjj episode took place about 6 months back.
That year, the House of Commons passed a bill redefining what constitutes an illegal “prize fight”.
Although the bill mainly served to provide a legal framework for mixed martial arts (MMA), ironically, it led to the criminalization of several disciplines that are the basis of MMA.
Now the federal law has room for states to regulate individually which is what they’ve done in Ontario, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island.
A petition was submitted to the National Assembly calling for the legalization of Brazilian jiu jitsu.
In a written response to that petition, Sports Minister Sébastien Proulx said his ministry was evaluating different scenarios.
“It’s not very clear the direction the government wants to take with our sport,” said. Nguyen. “In Ontario, promoters worked hand in hand with the government, and they were told what they had to do.”
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