Now that everyone’s gis have been washed since the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship of 2014, let’s examine the new IBJJF double guard pull rule and how it will affect the sport of BJJ in the long run. Let’s be honest, this rule was created to discourage both athletes from sitting on their butts for ten minutes and calling it Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. However, sometimes rules give us unintended consequences. So let’s jump right in (to double guard) and look at this rule. You can download the rule book here.
Rule 6.5.3 When both athletes pull guard at the same time, the referee will start a 20 second countdown. If at end of this 20 second countdown, even if the athletes are moving, one of the athletes does not reach the top position, does not have a submission in hold,or is not imminently completing a point scoring move, the referee will stop the fight and give a penalty to both athletes. In this situation, the referee will restart the combat in standing position.
Ok lets summarize this rule. You both pull guard, you have 20 seconds to make something happen or you are both given a penalty.
Maybe I am missing something here at first glance, it seems pointless to give both competitors a penalty and expecting them to react in different ways. If I believe that the only way I will win a match is to pull guard and my opponent believes the same thing, we are going to rack up penalties in a BJJ style of “guard pulling chicken.”
Here is the rule for penalties:
Rule 7.3.1 Referees shall abide by the following series of penalties.
• 1st penalty – The referee will mark the first penalty for the athlete.
• 2nd penalty – Advantage point concession to opponent of penalized athlete and second penalty marked on scoreboard for perpetrating athlete.
• 3rd penalty –Two points concession to opponent of penalized athlete and third penalty marked on scoreboard for perpetrating athlete.
• 4th penalty – Disqualification of perpetrating athlete.*
I watched over 20 hours of matches from the worlds this weekend. From what I saw the vast majority of competitors did not play this game of “guard pulling chicken.” There could be a situation when guard pulling chicken could be used as an evil strategy, I will come back to this. But there was still plenty of double guard pulls, and I predict that there will be even more in the future. Why will there be more matches that start with a double guard pull? Because there is a free advantage point if you are against an obvious guard player, and you don’t mind playing top. This is because of rule 5.7.6.
Rule 5.7.6 When both athletes pull guard at the same time, the athlete who achieves top position first is awarded an advantage point.
Here is an example: Gary vs Byron. Let’s just say Gary is a guard player and Byron knows this and is comfortable with trying to pass Gary’s guard. The match starts with Gary pulling guard. Byron has a choice, does he enter into Gary’s guard fighting for a pass? Or does he pull guard too, then pop up to work for a pass? The strategic answer is for Byron to double guard pull with no intention of playing guard and then pop up for an advantage point. This is an easy way for the passer to score an advantage point vs the guard player in the opening seconds of the match.
Another example: We saw this in the match Bruno Malfacine vs Joao Miyao for the rooster weight final. This was an action-packed match that was a back and forth battle. When it was all over, the score was tied and Bruno won by a referee’s decision. Do not forget that Bruno pulled double guard vs Joao and stood back up for a critical advantage point at the start of the match.
In the past we saw a lot of guard pulls with one person being forced into the passing game (pre double guard pull). With these new rules, we might see a time when one person pulls guard, they both pull guard. What a silly looking way to start a grappling match.
It was good to not see two people sit on there butts for the entire match, but I worry that in the future we will see people who don’t even want the bottom position pulling double guard then popping up to get the advantage point. That would start a lot of matches out with both competitors on their butts. The combination of these rules may just give us many MORE double guard pulls that are quickly ended with an advantage point- or a situation where competitors approach each other, sit down, and quickly try to stand up.
What kind of evil plot could use the game of guard pulling chicken as a strategy? You might be asking yourself, who would gain anything if both people get disqualified? You ask yourself this type of question because you are likely a good person who would not do something like this. If something can be done within the rules, given enough time it will be done. When two teammates are in the same division, one of them could be sacrificed in order to circumvent the need to beat the dedicated guard player.
Example of the evil guard pulling chicken game: Now Gary and Byron are on the same team and in the same division. In the opening round Byron faces a person like Joao Miyao (someone who will pull guard every time). Byron realizes that he will be unable to beat this guard machine. If Byron can double guard pull four times and last 20 seconds each time he can prevent his teammate from even facing this guard player. By sacrificing himself he has helped his team. Byron can play this game of guard pulling chicken even if he is down on points, giving him less to loose.
- Points should not dominate the game, but they usually do.
- People should not try to work the rules for any slight advantage, but many will.
- These rules have good intentions, but they can be manipulated, and they will.
I have four questions for you to consider.
- What do you think about the new rule?
- Do you think people will abuse it?
- Is this rule good for the sport?
- This rule is intended to improve the sport, would you alter it?
I am not recommending these strategies for anyone, but just pointing out some of the potential flaws in the rules.
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