Sub Only Vs Standard Competitions

So which is better? Which is more exciting for the competitor or the spectator? Which brings more to the BJJ scene? Or which is harder on your body? Over the years I have competed in my fair share of competitions and more recently sub only contests. This blog is about my experiences and what I have learnt from competing so far.

Ace Submission Grappling

Sub only contests

Most recently I competed on Ace Submission Grappling in Bristol. This is a fairly new Sub Only Contest but with impressive match ups and fantastic production made this is a great card to be a part of. This was also a local competition for me as it was in my hometown of Bristol. Which made it even more of an experience as my team, coaches and friends were all there to watch. Even my mum came along and had a good time, when she has no idea whats going on in a Jiu-jitsu match!

Previously I have also competed three times on Battle Grapple in Leatherhead theatre. As a purple belt having the opportunity to be on an invitational sub only card, is always pretty exciting. What comes with this excitement is nerves, adrenaline and expectations. When you first find out you are going to be on a sub only card alongside world class black belts you feel the pressure to succeed and the fire in your belly to impress the audience. Then the hard work begins, training as much as possible, working on submissions that you may not normally use in competiton. You also may need to cut weight, as the weigh ins are usually earlier in the day. You have the option to compete at a slightly lighter weight if you want to.

So what are the benefits of competing on a sub only?

  • Well for the obvious reason its a FREE competition, and you could be paid for your match when you get higher up.
  • For some competitions PRIZE MONEY is involved.
  • FREE publicity, most invitational sub onlys will create match up photos which can be shared on yours and others social media, getting your name out into the world.
  • Opportunity for you to train your killer instinct with quick submission attacks and no care for traditional competition points.
  • Also after you have competed proffessional photos and videos of your match, will be free and ready for you to share with the world.
  • More spectator friendly, although jiu-jitsu itself is pretty hard to watch for someone who is not invested in understanding the sport, sub onlys bring high intensity matches which even the untrained eye can understand.

So are there any negatives of the sub only contest?

  • You usually only get ONE match, which could be seen as a benefit or a negative depending on which way you look at it.
  • Predominantly No-Gi with the occasional Gi match up. So you need to be into No-Gi really, but this suits some people.
Bristol Open 2019

Standard Competitions

Now what I mean by standard competitions is any competitions which you have to pay to enter that most likely use the IBJJF regulated ruleset. I have been training for over 5 years and competed in over 50 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitions varing from local to international competitions in both Gi and No-Gi.

So whats the benefits of competing in a standard competition?

  • You can compete at any level from white to black.
  • You can compete in both Gi and No-Gi so there is no need to choose between them.
  • There is lots of choice of competition, especially in the UK you could compete every weekend if you really wanted too, depending on how far you were willing to travel and if your body could take it.

Whats the disadvantages of competing in standard competitions

  • For me the biggest disadvantage is COST, even smaller competitions cost anywhere between £30-£70, with IBJJF competitions around the £80-£100 for entry fees alone. Plus travel costs etc. This can quickly become a very expensive hobby.
  • Limited submissions depending on belt level in line with the IBJJF regulations. Although this may protect you on some level, it also means if your a blue belt and you enjoy doing a slick roll into a knee bar, you cant do that at competition and if it becomes muscle memory and you end up going there. You will find yourself with a DQ.
  • Lastly, competitions are time consuming. When you are going to a standard competition you dont know what time your match is going to be on exactly, as it fluctuates. Although smoothcomp have tried to help this as much as they can. Also, if you want to compete in the absolute you could be waiting several hours after your category to wait for everyone else to finish.

Ultimately its up to you to choose which type of competition you want to do when you get to blue belt and higher ranks. Although, winning a big IBJJF competition like Worlds or Europeans could be a great benchmark in your Jiu-jitsu career. Creating more opportunities for you down the line in the form of sponsorships. Also, to be able to compete on high level sub only contests you usually need to have performed well at high level competitions to be considered. However, if you are a hobbiest who loves the sport but knows that being elite is not achievable, do which ever type of competition is the most fun for you. Think about what suits your style of training? or do you like competing in front of a big crowd? At the end of the day this is your journey.

Let me know which style of competing you prefer in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.