Todays problems with BJJ referees

| October 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

(Revised 3OCT17) 2128hrs.

Over the course of what???, here in America, 20+ years or so now, give or take, has there been a need for sports BJJ referees? Maybe the amount of time is more or less, but that’s not the purpose of this release.

What is a BJJ Referee?
What are the flaws of a BJJ Referee?
What is the Fame of being a BJJ Referee?
How does a BJJ Referee fuck up?
How does a BJJ Referee fix and correct each fuck up.?

Now, this release isn’t meant for everyone, so if you’re easily irritated, or butthurt about anything and everything in the world, then simply hit that X button on the top right of your screen. Shits about to get CRAZY messy, with facts, opinions, stories, and hidden agendas that will be leaked out for the greater good of our readers out there.

What is a BJJ Referee?

     A BJJ referee is a “person” who has been hired by a tournament company, to ensure that the rules of the tournament company are fully adhered to at every given moment and that each match they are refereeing shall be free of judgement, political agenda, biased, and personal ideas that would alter the outcome of any and all matches set forth in front of the referee.

A pretty good line of bullshit right?

So, basically, “Hey dude, know our rules, don’t hate, don’t discriminate, and most of all don’t fuck up and make our company look bad.
That about sums it up.

Some referees are “Certified” by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation…… meaning that they went to a referee’s course, watched and learned, and got a piece of paper saying that they’ve paid for the course and well “go out and good luck to you.

NOW: Some of the referees you see out there, haven’t been certified under the IBJJF…. Does that make them any better or any worse,?: Of course not. But, it is definitely a good idea to get some experience under your belt prior to jumping out on ANY tournament mat, where chances are you’re going to get…… Well, let’s move on.

So now that we know who the referees are, let’s talk about the flaws of the BJJ referee.

BJJ black belt, and creator of THEGRAPPLINGREFEREE.COM. David Karchmer is indeed one of THE most talented referee directors I’ve come in contact within the business of BJJ!




The flaws of a BJJ referee

The flaws of the BJJ referee are abundant, ha ha ha ha ha, aha! Simply ask any spectator, coach, teammate, practitioner or keyboard fucking cowboy out there. There is always going to be that one or group of people who have been “screwed over” by a specific referee.

Why? The human factor. And let me get into the detail of what I’m referring to.
As an MMA certified referee thru ABC, trained by Kevin McDonald, I have intertwined my BJJ and MMA referee skills to combine for a more effective “PROCESS” of being a referee.

Examples. There is always a position that a referee needs to be in, in order to maintain accurate visual depiction of possible fouls, the safety of the competitors, and also ensuring that you are seeing in and all pertinent position changes are “point worthy”, “advantage worthy”, etc.

Most referee’s don’t have the know-how of where to be in accordance with the competitors and the position they are in during a match in order to fulfill their job requirements in their entirety. Is that their own fault? You bet your ass it is.

Why? Because they are either untrained, lazy, aren’t paying attention, or are checking out some hot chick in tight spats over on mat 4. No bullshit. We fuck up because we are human. We may not have the proper skills to properly referee matches that involve movements that we haven’t seen before, we get lulled by the repetitive nature of what we are doing, and we get sidetracked from the task at hand. That, in a nutshell, is the flaws of refereeing, the human factor.

What exactly is the referee doing that are considered mistakes????

One of the greatest weaknesses any referee can have is to not have enough experience. Anyone worth their weight in salt will tell you this comes into play more so than you’d think.

Here are some examples of how the BJJ referee messes up, makes mistakes and generally fucks up during the competition.

  1. They’re out of position.
  2. They award incorrect points.
  3. They award points to the incorrect competitor.
  4. They are subjective rather than objective.
  5.  Prejudice.
  6.  Political views
  7. Biased
  8. Racism.
  9. LACK OF EXPERIENCE (Both as a referee and in the sport of BJJ).

Biting off more than they can chew (I’ll explain this one.)
Ok, so some of these are redundant to the above flaws, but we can go ahead now and break them down.

Being out of position. (see the dick)…. If you don’t know what this means, don’t worry about it.

A great referee will know where to be and when to be there simply by looking at the location and position that the competitors they are responsible for are, in lieu of where they are on the mat, submission possibilities and vantage points. If a referee is on the back side of an armbar (where the ref can’t see the actual extension of the armbar), they won’t be able to see a number of things such as if the submission is worthy of an advantage, if the competitor in the armbar is in trouble and ready to tapout, if there’s the possibility of the competitor verbally tapping, or possible warnings and penalties.

The awarding of incorrect points. This falls again into inexperience and lack of knowledge of the specific rules set forth by the promotion. There are so many idiosyncrasies in the Jitz worlds tournament rules across the world, that it is sometimes tedious to remember them all, however, there are the basics that every ref should know, and if they don’t, they shouldn’t be out there on the mat. Simple. This also falls true to awarding the points to the incorrect practitioner. Yes, in the heat of battle you have to rely on your eyes and intuition to ensure that the right points are given to the correct practitioner who earned them. Fewer times than more, this occurs and the referee doesn’t acknowledge the fact that they just made a bonehead mistake, and at the end you see a confused competitor having their hand raised and another whose like “Dafuq”???? Facts are facts, it happens. Hell, I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to this.


Subjective versus Objective:

Subjective: based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.

Objective: of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts. WE can go ahead and put the rest of the list into these two words (Prejudice, Politics, Racism, Biased)

How often do we see on the internet or on the mats before training that “So and So” got screwed over by the referee simply because they weren’t from a specific academy, weren’t from a specific country, etc etc.? Frequently, right?

How often do we see on the internet or on the mats before training that “So and So” got screwed over by the referee simply because they weren’t from a specific academy, weren’t from a specific country, etc etc.? Frequently, right?
I agree. Sometimes there are referees out there who are indeed subjective, and that leaves room to start a shit show in our sport. IBJJF, ADCC, FTW, NAGA, G.I. FIVE, AGC, G.Q., pick one, pick any, pick a local one in your area, and chances are you’re going to find a subjective local referee. Again, human, it’s going to happen.


    OY!. Opinions will vary on this particular subject. It won’t matter who you come across, where you are of what academy you represent. The human factor remains Jiu Jitsu’s greatest problem.
Experience. Ensuring that the referee’s know what they’re doing ahead of time is always going to be to the benefit of any promotion.

    Knowledge of basics. Referee seminars, note taking, videos of the matches that the referee is accomplishing and learning from those videos in the event there is a mistake, and what I feel is the absolute LOST ART of being a referee, “Taking a few moments and listening to those around you critique you, be positive in this regard, write down your mistakes to ensure you don’t run into them again, and always shake the hand of the person who is giving you the help”.

I do this at almost every tournament. Personally, I believe I’ve been a referee for at least 8 separate promotional BJJ tours over the course of my career. There isn’t a single event in which I was “Problem-free” where I didn’t make a mistake or wasn’t the subject of ridicule because of an error I made. I am proud to say that I’ve gone thru a few tournaments in select cities where I ran a “perfect ring”, and those are the days that make any referee feel great.

     A great referee will be invisible to the crowd, be ahead of the game, knowledge, prepared, focused, in shape to tackle being the person who spends all day on the mats, understand the sport of BJJ, and what to look for in almost any position or submission chain, and at MINIMUM, a purple belt with over a year of time as rank or above. Rank doesn’t always guarantee a good referee, but it does assist them with knowing where to be and what to look for. And lastly, experience. I’m not sure about others, but I’ll watch just to turn the volume down and ref the matches from the single perspective of the video camera. We as spectators don’t get the 360 degree viewing pleasure that referee has and that ref should always be able to position themselves in the correct place to ensure the integrity of the match ends without question.

“To err is human, to err in public when refereeing a Jitz match is to be shunned for a lifetime”.





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Category: J3 "Just Jiu Jitsu", News

About the Author ()

I'm a born and raised New Englander, I've been around the MMA and BJJ circuits for years dating back to 2005. A Maine native, BJJ brown belt, and ABC certified MMA referee. I'm a grammatical nightmare but hey, you'll get the point. Being a dump truck physically and a blunt object mentally allows me to see the finer points within the sport of BJJ, without being compromised via politics, biased, racism, sexism or negativity. I've been around the country, as a medic, referee, setup crew, breakdown crew, driver, and everything in between that a promotion has needed in order to gain the inside intel on today's world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

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