Daily Archives: July 14, 2011

Jiu Jitsu Tournaments and Illinois State Law

According to a new Illinois state law, jiu jitsu tournaments are seen as equal to MMA events, which are ruled by the state’s Boxing Commission. So, what’s all the hubbub about? One of the biggest stipulations is that all competitors would have to take a blood test prior to fighting.

It makes sense when you have a MMA event with maybe 20 people on the card, but the larger jiu jitsu tournaments can potentially draw up to 1,000 competitors, which means big problems and pandemonium for everyone involved. On one hand I can see how this began: a lot of jiu jitsu’s popularity stems from the UFC and MMA itself. Jiu jitsu made a huge splash during the first UFC when it wasn’t the crazy huge guys that won, but a relatively unassuming looking Brazilian named Royce Gracie who won the “almost no rules, no time limit” tournament.

Seriously, even hair pulling was allowed. Well, hair pulling wasn’t included in the rules so technically it was not “not allowed”. That sentence is all sorts of grammatically incorrect, but unfortunately the best way to explain the situation. My head hurts from looking at it though, like staring at the sun, or any outfit worn by “Jersey Shore” star Snooki.

Ack! My eyes!

Anyway, “UFC 1: The Beginning” showed the world there was an effective system which worked to the smaller opponent’s benefit. But since then, when people attempt to explain jiu jitsu, they have been forced to use the UFC and MMA in order to provide a common reference; a place to build from in terms of an explanation. I know this because I am guilty of the same transgression.

“You know the Ultimate Fighting Championships? The fighting in the octagon? Yeah, you know when they are rolling around on the floor? Yeah, some of that is actually jiu jitsu!” and so on.

Therefore, I can see how jiu jitsu fell under the jurisdiction of the Boxing Commission, and was grouped with MMA. But on the other hand I still have qualms with the idea that every competitor, at every jiu jitsu tournament, must go through a blood test. I know the jiu jitsu community is mainly talking about this in reference to one of the largest tournaments in the area, the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (or IBJJF for short) which as the name implies holds events worldwide, but I am also concerned with smaller tournaments.

What I mean:

One jiu jitsu school decides to open one of their in-house tournaments to two or three other schools, for a larger pool of competitors, and just for fun. Must they now also go through the process of blood testing and all other sorts of red tape, just for a little tournament between academies?

These rules were obviously put into place by people who are not familiar with the sport, so while I think the lawmakers in Illinois have good intentions, they are going about it the wrong way.

I think the law would be more apt for larger tournaments where a monetary prize involved, or when a competitor is at a level considered to be “professional”, such as purple belt and above. As we know, the pool of participants tends to thin out as the experience level increases, so if say brown and black belts were required to do the blood tests, the whole process could potentially be more manageable.

As we have heard from one or two  jiu jitsu black belt competitors recently, steroids may be more of a problem than we may believe. My personal opinion however remains that we should leave these kinds of problems to the people who are looking to make a career out of the sport, and not alienate white and blue belts who just want a taste of the world stage.

*I would like to give a shout out to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Lifestyle: World Fight News and Gracie Mag for keeping me up to date on the Illinois situation, and acting as my references for this blog post. Thanks!*

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Filed under MMA, tournaments