Ask Ginger

"There is no losing in Jiu-Jitsu. You either win or you learn." -Carlos Gracie Jr.Barber Brian, one of our white belt Brians at Lincoln BJJ Center, is signing up to compete in the upcoming Circle of Iron Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament. It will be his first competition, so when I saw him in class yesterday, he was asking me some questions about it, and I thought there might be other new competitors wondering the same kind of things, so I decided to answer some of them here (I also added a few others which he didn’t ask). These are specific to the Circle of Iron, but usually also apply at most other BJJ tournaments.

Q: Do I have to wear my gi to weigh in?

A: Yes, and also your belt. (my gi weighs 3 pounds!).

Q: Can I wear a navy blue gi?

A: No. The only gi colors allowed at this tournament are white, royal (traditional) blue, and black. They will also measure your gi to make sure it fits regulation.

Q: If I sign up in the Senior I division, what happens if there is no one else my age?

A: They will move you into the closest division which has competitors (at the last tournament, I signed up in the Senior II division, but one of the women in the division that I competed in was younger than my daughter!).

Q: What if there is no one in my weight class?

A: Same as above.

Q: Are the divisions separated by the number of stripes on your belt?

A: No, only by belt color (and usually not even that for women!).

Q: How long will my matches be?

A: Five minutes for white belts, every belt after that goes up a minute. Unless you are competing in one of the “old people” divisions (and didn’t get bumped to “adult”), then all matches are five minutes, regardless of rank.

Q: How many matches will I have?

A: That depends on the number of people in your division, and how you perform. The Circle of Iron is double elimination, so if you lose twice, you’re done. If you keep winning, and there are a lot of people in your division, you could fight about six or seven times. I think the average is probably three or four matches.

Q: What is the “open” division?

A: In some tournaments, the open includes all weights, ages, and ranks, but at this tournament they have separate open weight/age divisions for each belt color (again, except for women!).

Q: What are the rules?

A: You can (and should!) read the complete rules on the IBJJF website. At the Circle of Iron there will not be a long, boring rules meeting, everyone is expected to know what the rules are before they show up to compete! Also, make sure your fingernails and toenails are trimmed, because they will check.

Q: What if I lose?

A: There is no such thing in BJJ!

If you have any other questions, you can consult the Circle of Iron website, or feel free to ask me (if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out!). High fives to everyone who is taking the plunge and competing for the first time, you’ve already won in my eyes, regardless of how your matches turn out! I think I’ve competed in Jiu-Jitsu more than anyone else at Lincoln BJJ, and my record is about 50/50, but I’ve honestly learned something every single time.


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