The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation has made a couple of rule changes over the past few weeks:
1) They have added 2 new weight classes for women. Since weight classes were lacking for the lightest and heaviest gals, the IBJJF has added rooster and superheavy weight divisions, beginning this year at the mundials.
Until now, the lightest weight class available for women was under 114 lbs (118lbs with a gi on). There has been a grassroots petition circulating on social media to add an under 105 lb division and it looks like the petition was answered!
Also until now, the heaviest weight class available for women was heavy weight - over 158 lbs (163 with a gi on). 158 and up is a pretty huge weight range. That meant that women who couldn't make 158 have had to compete in a weight class with no ceiling. Adding a super heavy weight division, in effect, puts a reasonable ceiling on the heavy weight division (somewhere around 170 lbs).
I cut weight to make medium heavy and have always said that I only do so because otherwise I would be in a weight class with no limit. Well, as it turns out, I was full of shit. Even with a new division available, I will continue to compete at medium heavy at the mundials because I feel faster when I am a bit leaner. The new division does take some of the pressure off to cut weight for lower tiered tournaments, however.
My only concern with these changes is that having too many divisions for women makes our divisions too small, with too few competitors. However, I had the same concern when women's masters divisions were added, and those divisions are growing steadily.
Read here for more information: New Female Weight Divisions
2) The IBJJF is now restricting which black belts can enter the mundials
The new rules state "Athletes eligible to participate in the 2015 World will be:
- Black belts with minimum of 50 points in the IBJJF black belt adult ranking
- Former Black Belt adult World champions
- 2014 Brown Belt World Champions (all weight divisions)."
I am all for making the mundials more competitive, since doing so legitimizes our sport. After all, the world championships of most sports are extremely hard to qualify for. But it is ridiculous that any white, blue, purple, and brown belt can sign up for the mundials without restriction, while it is only the black belts who have to qualify.
Earning a black belt in BJJ is an ernormous achievement in itself. If anyone should get a free pass to compete at the mundials, it should be the black belts. If the goal is to make the mundials more competitive, it would make more sense to eliminate the white and blue belt divisions altogether, than to impose these standards only on the black belts.
Winning the mundials as a blue belt was one of the athletic highlights of my life. Yet, I am well aware that I only had to go against blue belts to win. The true world champions are the black belt world champions. While I am excited to go back to the mundials to compete this year as a purple belt, I recognize that every single black belt has more of a right to be there than I do. That is why I don't like this rule change.
For more information, check the IBJJF website:
Black belt adult division requirements for the 2015 IBJJF Worlds Jiu-JItsu Championship