Skip to content

BJJ Rules: Here's what you need to know!

Introduction In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), different rulesets govern competitions, shaping the dynamics and strategies of matches. In this article we...


In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), different rulesets govern competitions, shaping the dynamics and strategies of matches. In this article we will compare four prominent BJJ rules: IBJJF, EBI, ADCC, and WNO (Who's Number One). By examining these BJJ rules, practitioners can gain valuable insights into the nuances of BJJ competitions. We will also discuss the relevance of BJJ clothing and equipment in relation to these rulesets. So, let's explore the similarities and differences between IBJJF, EBI, ADCC, and WNO, and understand how they impact the world of BJJ.


The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) ruleset is widely regarded as the gold standard in BJJ competitions.

Under the IBJJF rules, matches are divided into Gi and No Gi divisions, hosting individual brackets for the various ranks & weight classes of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Gi divisions require practitioners to wear a traditional BJJ Gi consisting of a jacket, pants, and correct color of belt correlating to the athlete's current rank.

In No-Gi divisions, athletes are required to wear specific attire, including a BJJ rash guard, BJJ shorts, and/or BJJ spats. Unlike in Gi divisions, where belts are worn, No Gi BJJ rules by IBJJF specify that athletes must wear a rashguard with at least 10% of its color representing their current rank or belt.

The IBJJF rules focuses on takedowns, positional control, and submissions. Points are awarded for achieving dominant positions like mount, back control, and guard passes. Submissions, such as chokes and joint locks, play a crucial role in determining match outcomes.

Advantage points are given for near submissions or significant offensive actions. Match durations in IBJJF competitions typically range from 5 to 10 minutes, based on belt rank and age category.


ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) is a submission grappling promotion that organizes championships every two years. Its BJJ rules incorporate points, submissions, referee decisions, disqualifications, and even knockouts in certain situations. The ADCC rules strongly favors grapplers with a wrestling background.

In each match, there is a first half with no points and a second half where points are awarded. Victories can be achieved through submissions, points, referee decisions, or opponent disqualifications. The time limits vary depending on the stage of the competition. Qualifying rounds last 10 minutes with a potential 5-minute overtime in case of a draw. Finals, absolute finals, and superfights have a duration of 20 minutes, with a possible 10-minute overtime.

During the second half of the match, points are granted for various actions such as passing the guard, knee on stomach, mount, back mount with hooks, takedowns, and sweeps. Reversals are also considered as sweeps. Negative points are given for specific rule violations including pulling guard, disengaging from contact, and passivity. ADCC allows most submissions, with the exception of certain neck cranks. Notably, slams are permitted when attempting to escape a fully locked-in submission.

ADCC's rules creates a dynamic and competitive environment, highlighting the importance of wrestling skills while allowing a wide range of submissions. This platform showcases the exceptional abilities of skilled grapplers, making for an exhilarating and top-tier competition.


The Eddie Bravo Invitational (EBI) is unlike traditional competitions, as EBI events discard the conventional point-based system, focusing solely on submissions. This creates an atmosphere where competitors are motivated to relentlessly pursue and secure finishes, showcasing their expertise in submission techniques.

Each match consists of timed rounds, typically lasting ten minutes. If no submission occurs within the allotted time, the match enters overtime. During overtime rounds, competitors take turns starting from designated positions, such as the back or spider web, aiming to submit their opponent in the shortest time possible. EBI also employs a "golden rule," wherein a submission attempt that remains uncompleted after a certain duration leads to a restart from the initial position, adding a strategic element to the matches.

One notable rule in EBI is the "get down" rule. If both competitors are standing for a significant portion of the match without engaging in meaningful grappling exchanges, the referee may enforce the "get down" rule. This rule prompts the competitors to engage on the ground, ensuring an active and dynamic contest that showcases their submission skills.

The absence of points and advantages in EBI events, coupled with the inclusion of the "get down" rule, fosters an environment of relentless action and constant submission hunting. Competitors are driven to showcase their technical prowess, creativity, and tenacity in pursuing finishes, providing spectators with a captivating display of high-level grappling. EBI has become a revered platform for submission specialists to exhibit their skills, elevating the excitement and intensity of the sport.

Who's Number One (WNO)

Who's Number One (WNO) matches last 15 minutes and adhere to a unique ruleset. There are no points, advantages, or interruptions - just pure grappling excellence.

The preferred path to victory is through submission. All submissions are allowed, giving competitors the freedom to unleash their arsenal of techniques, from heel hooks to arm bars and beyond. Should a submission not materialize, three neutral side judges step in to determine the winner based on WNO's specific judging criteria.

Aggression takes center stage, rewarding those who constantly press forward and launch dangerous submission attacks that nearly secure victory. Minor attempts won't suffice; WNO values impactful moments that truly test opponents. Positional control, including guard passes, mounts, and back takes, is also crucial in showcasing dominance.

The match is evaluated as a whole, with the person displaying superior grappling skills emerging victorious. The referee remains neutral and focuses solely on maintaining the match's flow and resetting any out-of-bounds action.

Run by FloGrappling, WNO shows are often large events and make for some exciting grappling matches. As a major organization in the sport, they often accumulate the biggest and best athletes Jiu Jitsu has to offer. 


In conclusion, the BJJ rules of IBJJF, ADCC, EBI, and WNO offer diverse approaches to competitive grappling. While IBJJF focuses on points-based scoring and positional control, ADCC favors a hybrid rule set with an emphasis on submissions and wrestling. EBI stands out with its submission-only format and fast-paced action, while WNO prioritizes aggressive grappling and effective submission attacks.

These BJJ rules vary in scoring, time limits, and allowed techniques. IBJJF and ADCC employ point systems, while EBI and WNO prioritize submissions as the primary means of victory. Time limits range from longer durations to no time limits, depending on the ruleset. Allowed techniques differ, with certain restrictions in IBJJF and ADCC, while EBI and WNO allow a wide range of submissions.

Strategic considerations play a significant role in each ruleset. Competitors must adapt their training and strategies accordingly. IBJJF rewards calculated and methodical grappling, ADCC requires a strong wrestling base and risk-taking mindset, EBI demands an aggressive pursuit of submissions, and WNO encourages dangerous attacks and positional control.

Understanding these BJJ rules is crucial for grapplers to optimize their chances of success. Each ruleset offers unique challenges and opportunities, shaping the strategies and styles of the competitors. Whether it's accumulating points, chasing submissions, or showcasing elite skills, these BJJ rules provide avenues for grapplers to determine the true champions of the sport.

Select options