There are so many different organizations in the BJJ world and as a result, there’s a lot of different options to choose from when picking your favorite ruleset. Naturally the answer might be different if you’re actually competing yourself, or if you’re just watching the matches unfold. Some rulesets are designed specifically to maximize the excitement for the fans, and others are designed to ensure that there’s always a clear winner once the match is done. Everyone has different opinions on the subject and some athletes are known for competing under specific conditions, so it’s interesting to see how they line up.
We spoke to a wide range of different elite coaches and competitors to ask them what their favorite BJJ ruleset is and they gave a huge range of answers, sometimes even different choices depending on if they’re watching or competing themselves:
“CJJ (Combat Jiu-Jitsu) rules are my favorite, that’s why I’m using them. Adding strikes to Jiu-Jitsu not only exposes unrealistic Jiu-Jitsu but it’s also way more entertaining for the audience than Jiu-Jitsu without strikes. Imagine Gordon Ryan vs Nicky Rodriguez under CJJ rules, that would be insane.”
Caio Terra – Ten-time IBJJF no gi world champion and two-time IBJJF world champion
“I love Jiu-Jitsu so I love all rulesets and the diversity that it offers with all these rulesets. In the end, most champions win regardless of the ruleset. However when the level is very close, a ruleset may influence in the final result.”
Gianni Grippo – Two-time IBJJF no gi world champion and six-time IBJJF Pan gi and no gi champion
“To be honest, I may still be bouncing back and forth between what rulesets I prefer competing in most, but right now I do think my favorite is the ADCC ruleset. I really began to feel that way during last year’s ADCC trials. I felt like the ruleset made me fight harder earlier on because my goal was to either finish the match before the points began, or put myself in the best position possible right before the points begin. This might not be the same for everyone, but I feel like the ADCC ruleset provokes more action than most others.”
“Now, as a spectator I do genuinely enjoy the WNO sub-only ruleset. I prefer watching that over ADCC because it doesn’t force competitors to wrestle after a certain period of time, which can sometimes turn into a stalemate. I also appreciate that although they are a sub only ruleset, they do emphasize positional control as well. Some sub only rulesets completely disregard positional control and only look at submission attempts and I don’t believe that leads to the most eye catching or the most entertaining matches.”
Matheus Diniz – ADCC world champion and multiple-time IBJJF no gi world championship medalist:
“I really like ADCC rules and IBJJF, still have a lot to improve on those rules, but they are my favorite. I think they can still improve in a lot of aspects but definitely they are my favorites.”
Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida – Thirteen-time IBJJF world champion and two-time ADCC world champion:
“I like submission only but with time limit, because you know the time frame you have so you need to be able to get the submission during this time! I hate to watch no time limit fight when both opponents are not willing to finish, makes it really boring to watch.”
JT Torres – Two-time ADCC world champion and IBJJF no gi world champion
“My favorite ruleset to compete in and also watch would have to be the ADCC ruleset. The combination of no points and points I believe makes for exciting matches.”
“I don’t have a preference really on ruleset but I do enjoy when there’s the open space to continue the fights no matter what, no out of bounds whether that be in an octagon or on the mat as the canvas. I do like longer rounds, anything 10 minutes or more is great and I really like the ruleset ACBJJ had where it was rounds, 3 x 5 or 5 x 5 for Jiu-Jitsu would be amazing. I prefer no overtime but if it’s a ruleset for the event it is what it is, practice it and don’t make excuses, keep on learning from every experience.”
Roger Gracie – Ten-time IBJJF world champion and ADCC Triple crown winner
Jeff Glover – IBJJF no gi world champion and ADCC bronze medalist
“The rules I invited called ‘ten or tap’. Scored ten points before time reg and you win, or tap the dude. Very different vibes from the sub only events.”
Diego ‘Pato’ Oliveira – Two-time IBJJF world champion, IBJJF no gi world champion, and ADCC medalist
“My favorite ruleset is IBJJF no gi. Gi and no gi, but more no gi. The rules works better for the situation, when for example the person on top is just stalling so they get penalties because they’re running or don’t want to engage.”
Rubens ‘Cobrinha’ Charles – Three-time ADCC world champion, five-time IBJJF world champion
“My favorite ruleset to compete in is no time limit, no points, no advantages, sub only!”
Tayane Porfirio – Four-time IBJJF world champion and four-time IBJJF European champion
“I like IBJJF rules. I like UAEJJF but that an advantage is a point harms the athlete who made an effort to pass guard a little, for example.”
“Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now – Richard G. Scott. It refers to discipline and delayed gratification. ADCC rules are my favorite. OK I have a biased POV I’m Sure. I feel it is the more balanced rule set. Completely favoring submissions with points being second. I don’t like advantages personally. I think it is like getting a point for hitting the rim but not making the basket.”
“Favorite ruleset is ADCC to compete in and to watch. The reason being is because it’s the most important ruleset to know. Doesn’t penalize action, and is well thought out with many years of revision. Allows for exciting and fair matches.”
What Is Elite BJJ Competitors and Coaches’ Favorite Ruleset?
The results are in, but they’re far from unanimous. We heard opinions in favor of a wide variety of different rulesets but realistically, they heavily favored two promotions in particular. When we asked top competitors and coaches what their favorite BJJ ruleset was, 5 of the 14 respondents mentioned ADCC specifically and 4 out of 15 mentioned the IBJJF. Outside of these two major players we saw several other rulesets mentioned once but curiously, none of the elite competitors and coaches we asked mentioned any team grappling options like Quintet or Polaris Squads.
We reached out to many more elite BJJ competitors and coaches to find out their favorite ruleset, and we’ll add any more quotes in as and when we receive them.