The IBJJF is the single-largest BJJ competition organizer and it’s to be expected that the business will generate a decent amount of revenue as a result. That being said, a number of competitors have complained about certain decisions that the organization has made over the years that have sometimes come across as caring more about the money generated, than the growth of the sport itself. It’s this perception that has led to the rise of a number of other competitions like NAGA and Grappling Industries performing surprisingly well and starting to overtake the IBJJF in smaller, local scenes.
Regardless of the IBJJF losing some ground when it comes to smaller tournaments, they still hold the position of the de facto BJJ World Championship. Their major events hold more prestige than any others and naturally attract the highest level of competition that is physically possible. It’s no doubt good for the sport to be able to have a single tournament with the best athletes available in order for fans to know exactly who the best competitors are, but many people criticize the IBJJF for a number of their business practices. Most recently, they came under fire for their refusal to recognize Japanese MMA legend Enson Inoue as a legitimate BJJ black belt. This is something that comes around from time to time when a well-established competitor does not meet their arbitrary requirements, something Dean Lister has also fallen afoul of.
The concept of the IBJJF membership is one of their most hotly-debated revenue streams and for good reason. Not only do competitors have to pay an entry fee for every tournament, one that is often much more than any other tournament like Grappling Industries, NAGA, or ADCC. They also have to pay a yearly membership in order to be eligible to compete in the first place. It turns out that this practice is actually worth millions of dollars to the organization every single year, with the 2019 total being estimated at $1.7 million. The information was collated and posted on a relatively new Instagram account, BJJData:
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