We’re bang in the middle of summer which is as close to off-season as we can get in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There is still the odd tournament here and there, mostly local, but nothing major is taking place at the moment. This is the perfect time for you to sit down and decide where exactly you want to compete next season When you start planning your training camp why not focus on the best BJJ tournaments in the world? After all, the local scene is always going to be there, whether you plan on competing or not. The biggest grappling tournaments in the world, on the other hand, require some careful planning and dedication. Let’s see what your options are in the upcoming “BJJ season”.
Competing in BJJ is fun when you win. Let’s be completely honest for a moment there. “You either win or you learn” is a great crutch to fall back on whenever you miss out in a tournament. In fact, I’ll talk more about this quote in a dedicated article real soon. However, the real cold truth is that losing sucks big time! Everyone wants to be a champion, and just as equally, everyone hates losing! That said, competing at the biggest and best BJJ tournaments in the world is even more rewarding when you win. Still, getting to that podium is anything but easy and will require some no-nonsense preparation. The best thing you can do is known what the best tournaments in the season are, and when they’re taking place so that you can decide your battlegrounds well in advance.
Choosing BJJ Tournaments
There are no real criteria for choosing a BJJ tournament to compete in. Any tournament experience is worth about as much as a year spent training in an academy. Still, if you’re not a complete beginner you need to answer a few questions when you’re thinking about signing up for the best BJJ tournaments around.
The first thing you need to consider is whether you’re going to compete in Gi or No-Gi. Competing in both is an option, but not at the best possible Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments. The reason for this is that there are so many competitors in the best tournaments, that there’s no way they could fit in both Gin ad No-Gi matches. In fact, most of the best BJJ tournaments we’ll list later on are multi-day events with thousands of people participating. Which bring us to the second question you need to answer.
Once again this depends on skill level. However, you might not actually have a huge say in this one. BJJ tournaments are divided into open tournaments and professional ones. The professional ones might have an open bracket system and high-level invitation-only matches, or be exclusive invitation-only events. To get an invite, you’ll need to build a name for yourself in the open tournament circuit first. The thing is, most pros still compete at the biggest open-style tournaments, so you might just end up testing yourself against a legend there.
The final question you need to answer has to do with location. What makes certain Jiu-Jitsu tournaments stand out in comparison to others is the number of competitors that sign up. Those tournaments are in spots that might turn out to be quite far away, like the Brazilian Nationals. Also, some tend to switch countries every time, making it near impossible for you to participate.
The Best BJJ Tournaments For Everyone
Time to take a look at some of the best BJJ tournaments around. We’ll start things off with the open-style tournaments that everyone can sign up for. To that extent, remember that there are not many promotions out there that can put together massive events. The IBJJF and UAEJJF are a couple that pretty much rule the tournament scene, particularly when it comes to Gi Jiu-Jitsu. However, we have to mention the ADCC here as well, although we’ll talk more about it in a dedicated section.
1. The IBJJF Worlds
If there’s one measure of recognition out there it has to be whether you’re a world champion or not. Saying you’re e a world champion in any sport means you’re the absolute best. In terms of Jiu-Jitsu though, it is not as easy. Still, the one tournament that’s guaranteed to provide the most competition is this one. It is held in Long Beach, California and is usually the last tournament of the “BJJ in season” taking place in early summer. The IBJJF world, or Mundials, are a true measurement of who the best grappler is so far, with the current leader being Marcus ‘Buchecha” Almeida with 7 weight class and 6 open class titles to his name.
Oh, and if you’re a black belt, you might want to know that a prize of $4.000-7.000 is available for the winner of each weight class, with $10.000 going to the winner of the open weight.
2. IBJJF Europeans
This is arguably the second biggest competition in the world when it comes to open-style Gi tournaments. The reason why it is so huge is that most people from the US still travel to compete here. In comparison, not many Europeans make it to the Pans. Clearly, someone is going to place the Pans before the Europeans, but the numbers speak differently. So far, only the Mundials have more competitors than the Euros. In certain years it even surpasses the Mundials.
The IBJJF European Championships take place in January of every year, always in Lisbon, Portugal. This is a 5-6 day event that has all fo the biggest names competing regularly. It is also where new talent, particularly in the purple and brown belt divisions gets to shine. IF you’re really serious about competing at the best BJJ tournaments in the world then you might want to consider the Europeans as your first real big test.
3. IBJJF Pan Ams
The Pan Ams are pretty much the Euros American counterpart. That said, they tend to have fewer participants but are not really too far behind. The Pan Ams is also a multi-day event, stretching to 5 or 6 days. They are the second-largest tournament that takes place in North America and the only one that hosts both Gi and No-Gi matches at the same time. Historically speaking, the Pan Ams was the first tournament to take the sport global back in the 90s. You can expect every high-level balk belt you’d see at the Mundial and the Euores to feature here as well. Once again, breakthrough talents make sure to sign up for this one, so if you see yourself as one of them, make sure you do not miss it! Usually takes place in March.
4. The Brazilian Nationals
Before the Mundails were established, there was no bigger tournament than the Brazilian Nationals. Up to this day, the Brazilian Nationals remain one of the best BJJ tournaments around and are certainly one of the oldest. Campeonato Brasileiro might not offer as much competition as the Pans and Euros, but the level of quality is extremely high. What you can expect there are some of the greatest grapplers that are still not world-class names and can’t afford o travel across the world. There’s no easy day there and provided you can get to Brazil, you’re in for some of the toughest grappling matches of your life. The tournament used to take place in Rio, but from 2013 onwards it is based out of Barueri. It usually takes place in mid-spring (April).
5. UAEJJF – Abu Dhabi World Pro Jiu-Jitsu Cup
The UAEJJF is the IBJJF’s main competitor, providing alternate venues at the highest levels of grappling. It has pretty much the same ruleset and setup as the IBJJF, with some notable differences in organization and weight classes. For starters, competitors rank not only individually but also by country as opposed to the IBJJF’s individual and team rankings. Moreover, UAEJJF has weigh-ins the day before the event, which is a much better approach according to most people.
The World Pro Jiu-JItsu cup is the UAEJJF’s equivalent of the IBJJF worlds. It is held in the Mubadala Arena in Abu Dhabi every year and takes place around April. It is a Gi tournament that features pretty much every huge name in grappling, both male and female. The reason this is one of the best BJJ tournaments around is that it is not only open but also offers huge cash prizes, the total sum of which is around the $500k mark.
6. UAEJJF – Abu Dhabi Grand Slam
Another huge UAEJJF event and one of the best BJJ tournaments in the world is the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam This is pretty much the Abu Dhabi Pro Jiu-jitsu Cup on the road. Instead of being based solely in Abu Dhabi, the Grand slam travels around the world. Events take place in Tokyo, L.A. Rio De Janeiro, and London. Apart from the white belts, all other competitors receive cash prizes for winning their divisions. This is the perfect tournament for you to test yourselves as an up and comer, particularly in the lower belt divisions.
7. The ADCC
The ADCC, or Abu Dhabi Combat Club, or the unofficial Olympics Of Jiu-Jitsu is an event that takes place every two years. It is a NO-Gi only event that has a very specific ruleset which is unique to this competition only. It is also the arguably toughest tournament to compete in. there are no real distinctions between belts, with only a beginner and an advanced category. Moreover, most of the competitors for the main event brackets of 16 are invited. Only six of the places are open for grabs, and you need to win a continental ADCC qualifier to get one of the spots.
Thee qualifiers or trials are held throughout the world during the intermission between two ADCCs. The best of the best is a part of the bracket, and the competition switches countries every time. Since 2019 is an ADCC year, we’re all stoked for this years edition that’s scheduled to take place in L.A, in September. $10.000 for every winner of a division is certainly a good enough reason to sing up!
8. IBJJF No-GI (Worlds And Euros)
Wrapping up open-style tournaments are a couple of competitions that offer a platform for everyone that’s not a huge fan of Gi JIu-Jitsu. Just like their gi counterparts, the IBJJF World and European tournaments are multi-day events that take place at the same time each year. The Euros are held in March and take place in Rome. The Worlds are held in the US and take place in winter. No cash prizes are available but the level of competition is just as good as in the Gi tournaments if not better. The ruleset si somewhat restrictive compared to the ADCC, but then again, these events do take place yearly and there are o qualifiers needed in order to participate.
The Best BJJ Tournaments For Professional Grapplers
Apart from all the open-style tournaments, where just about anyone can sign up, there are also professional grappling tournaments. For the most part, you need an invite to get into one of these, at least when it comes to the main card. These are often structured similarly to MMA events, with preliminary cards and main cards. The prelims might feature an open-style tournament, but they’re also often by invite only. The good news is that blue, purple and brown belts feature regularly in these, so there are divisions for everyone!
1. EBI – the Eddie Bravo Invitational
When it comes to the best BJJ tournaments out there that are invitation-only and can provide you with cash prizes, EBI is on the very top! The only way to participate is to get an invite. However, the good news is that Bravo is not only on the lookout for well-established black belts. Those training in 10th planet get a fair shot trough a qualifier that guarantees them a spot. Often times, there are high level purple and brown belts that really do make an impact. EBI is a NO-Gi, submission only tournament with unique overtime rounds that have actually changed the landscape of professional Jiu-JItsu. As of alate, combat jiu-Jitsu, where slapping is allowed has taken over form pure grappling in EBI events. If you’re about to give MMA a try, you simply have to get through one of these.
2. Polaris Pro
Polaris is the oldest professional tournament of the bunch here. It is based out of England and is Europe’s longest-running professional BJJ tournament. The format includes both Gi and No-GI matches, and it features all kinds of competitors and not only high-level black belts. There have been 10 events o far, with Polaris 11 looming on the horizon, set for August 31, 2019. Preliminary bouts last 10 minutes and the main card ones are 15-minute matches. Victory is available both via submission and a judges’ decision.
3. Fight 2 Win Promotions
Fight 2 Win Promotions are fast becoming one of the leading pro-grappling promotions in the world. With well over a hundred events, they offer a great platform for both seasoned professionals, and those looking to venture into pro BJJ. F2W provide both open tournaments at a local and national level, as well as high-level super fights. The tournament is single elimination style, and it is submission only. Unlike other tournaments, it offers high-level Judo and even wrestling super-fights and tournaments within the same card as Jiu-JItsu ones.
4. Kasai Pro
Another of the best BJJ tournaments around. It is yet another submission-only professional Jiu-Jitsu tournament which is an invitation-only. Once again, some of the biggest names in grappling have shared the Kasi stage. The ruleset is different to most others, with several rounds taking place, similarly to MMA, the winner of the majority of rounds usually gets the nod, with submission being the preferred way of victory, of course. There’s a two-round-robin bracket-style tournament in every event, along with the main card of super fights.
I think we pretty much covered all the best BJJ tournaments that are worth your time and effort. If you can compete in at least one of the above during the season, you’ll gain massive experience, and, who knows, possibly even a title. If you can get to a few of them, you’re BJJ is going to skyrocket. That said, the local competition scene is not something you need to shun completely. Local tournaments are a great way to prep for one of the best BJJ tournaments and get in the right gear. To that extent, we’ll mention a few more tournaments that might be worth your time.
IBJJF Asian Open
IF you find yourself in Asia, the top BJ tournament you can go for is the IBJJF Asian Open Championship. It is something like the Pans and Europeans, only for the region of Asia. Similarly to other major IBJJF tournaments, the Asian Open features grapplers from all around the world. The vent now takes place in Tokyo every year, although it has also been held in Bangkok, Qatar, and Jordan before.
For all of you BJJ enthusiasts that find yourself on the “wrong” side of 30, the best BJJ tournaments come in the form of master’s tournaments. To that extent, there are masters edition of just about every major IBJJF tournaments, like the Mundials, Europeans and Even No-Gi tournaments. The competition here is going to be a lot less compared to the regular editions, but this is just what certain people are after. If you are 40 and only do BJJ as a hobby, but would like to test yourself against the best of a similar age, masters tournaments are definitely a great option!
Modern Day BJJ Tournaments
Finally, a word on all the innovative new grappling tournaments that are fast becoming the best BJJ tournaments in the world. The quintet 5 v. 5 team tournaments definitely the most famous one, with events taking place around the world. The best part about it is that they feature grapplers of all levels, from white to black. Fight 2 win promotion’s SUBVERSIVE is another brand new tournament in a team vs team style that’s bound to catch on too and is worth considering.