Rose Gracie Sets-Out to Change the Competitive BJJ Scene with the Gracie World Championship
Words by Matthew Soroka
The sportive Brazilian jiu-jitsu game is about to change. With rules that may seem new and revolutionary to most, the Gracie World Championships will run according to one main rule: submit your opponent or you, and your opponent, are eliminated from your bracket – a rule that predates today’s traditional rules that most BJJ tournaments use.
Rose Gracie, a granddaughter of Helio Gracie, is the driving force of the growing project. The concept behind the tournament is to use the rules that Helio originally preferred in BJJ matches. This will be her second Gracie tournament after the successful Gracie U.S. Nationals this past January.
“Basically, if it’s an 8-man bracket, and no one taps in any of the matches then there is no one left on that side of the bracket. I tried to make it as simple as possible so that its not complicated and doesn’t have many rules around it. It’s very simple and straight to the point.”
Therefore there are no advantages and no points in the 15-minute matches. This makes the entire tournament easier for competitors to focus on submission and they don’t have to worry about losing points if they give up a position.
“There is no such thing as stallers in my tournament because they go in with a different mind set. They go in thinking ‘I have to tap this guy in two minutes because I don’t want to get myself tired for my next match, I have no idea how long its going to be’. So there were matches that were over in 50 seconds and some that were done at 14:50. In the last few minutes, guys go into desperation mode and suddenly a submission comes up. This keeps the matches very exciting.”
With such a basic and straight-forward objective, this also makes the lives of the referees much easier.
“The biggest misconception in jiu-jitsu now, I think, is that people think referees are judges. Referees are not judges. You don’t go into a soccer match and the ref has to decide what’s going to happen if there are no points. The referee cannot be there with a bias opinion or with any pressure. The ref is working all day, and the next thing he knows, he has to decide who deserves the win. All the referee does in my tournament is to make sure he counts the time properly, pays attention to the match and makes sure that no one gets hurt. That’s the only thing he is there for.”
The upcoming tournament in San Jose will feature some of the best grapplers in the business, including Kron and Ryron Gracie who have already confirmed their participation. Braulio Estima has also shown interest in re-matching Nick Diaz at the event, something most people would love to see. However at this moment, Rose is unsure whether the top competitors will be part of the regular tournament brackets or if there will be a lineup of super fights. But what is certain is that the tournament has received great support from the international community.
“There are several plans on what to do in the future. I’m thinking whether I can travel with the event, that’s why we are in San Jose for the Worlds. It will be there every year, just like the nationals every year in January in Los Angeles. I’ve been requested to do it in other places around the world and it’s received an overwhelmingly large response. What people need to start doing is running my rules as much as possible in the little local tournaments and test these rules so they see the difference.”
Rose is strongly passionate about her mission and states her motivation for the entire endeavor as her conclusion.
“Its just not fun watching the jiu-jitsu tournaments anymore. At the world jiu-jitsu expo this weekend I was just angry because it was so boring and no fun. It just looked like a cloth tug-o-war. Just do it and tap them already!”
It is clear that with Roses determination and strong support from the BJJ community, her style of tournament will continue to expand globally.
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