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How the BJJ points scoring system works

The key points scoring positions and maneuvers in IBJJF, Grappling Industries and More.

Almost all Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) competitions use a points system to score competitors.

The most common BJJ points system used by the IBJJF and SJJIF awards between 2-4 points when a competitor successfully establishes one of four positions or completes one of three maneuvers. These are:

BJJ points scoring system

Position/maneuverPoints scored
Knee-on-belly2
Takedown2
Sweep2
Guard pass3
Back control4
Back mount4
Mount4
Source: IBJJF

This points system is used by the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF), the Sports Jiu Jitsu International Federation (SJJIF) and gi matches in the North American Grappling Association (NAGA). 

Grappling Industries uses the same points system but also awards two points for a “solid submission attempt that was stopped out of bounds”.

Table of contents

Points scoring positions and maneuvers in BJJ

The below positions and techniques score points in most BJJ rulesets. The definitions are based on the IBJJF ruleset.

Takedown

  • Points scored: 2
  • Notes: Attacker must keep dominant position after takedown for three seconds to score.

A takedown is when one competitor starts with two feet on the mat and causes the opponent to land on their back, or in a sideways or seated position. To score points for a takedown in the IBJJF ruleset the attacker must keep a dominant position after the takedown for three seconds.

Knee-on-belly

  • Points scored: 2
  • Notes: Must hold for three seconds to score points, must have the opposite knee off the mat.

Knee-on-belly is when a competitor places their knee or shin on their opponent’s chest, ribs or belly while the opponent is on their back or side. The attacker must have their other knee off the ground and hold the position for at least three seconds to score.

Sweep

  • Points scored: 2
  • Notes: Must start from guard or half guard, must keep dominant position for three seconds after sweep

A sweep is when the athlete in bottom guard or half guard inverts the position to get on top of their opponent and holds the position for three seconds.

Guard pass

  • Points scored: 3
  • Notes: Must hold side control or north-south after passing for three seconds to score.

A guard pass is when the competitor in the top position overcomes the bottom opponent’s legs in guard or half guard to end up in side control or north-south position. The passer must hold side control or north-south for three seconds to score.

Mount and back mount

  • Points scored: 4
  • Notes: Must hold for three seconds to score, top player can be up on one foot.

Mount is defined as the top player sitting on the opponent’s torso while facing the opponent’s head. The top player must have two knees on the mat or one knee and one foot. The position must be held for three seconds to score. 

Back mount as defined in the IBJJF ruleset is a variation of mount where both athletes are facing down towards the mat, with the top athlete having the same mount position but over the opponent’s back.

Back control

  • Points scored: 4
  • Notes: Must have legs uncrossed, must hold for three seconds to score.

Back control is when the back athlete controls their opponent’s back using their legs and feet between their opponent’s thighs, while being in a position to trap at least one of their opponent’s arms.

In IBJJF rules, the four points are not awarded if the attacker crosses or triangles their legs but rather an advantage is given.

Other BJJ points scoring systems

ADCC

The Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) competition is unique because most of its matches don’t allow scoring of positive points in the first half of the match. Once the first half of the match is complete both positive and negative points can be scored.

The ADCC points system is as follows:

ADCC points system

Position/maneuverPoints scored
Knee-on-belly2
Mount 2
Takedown (ends with you in the guard or half guard)2
Sweep (ends with you in the guard or half guard)2
Guard pass3
Back mount with hooks3
Clean sweep (ends with you passing the guard) 4
Clean takedown (ends with you passing the guard)4
Source: ADCC

NAGA (no gi)

For no gi matches, NAGA has a different points scoring system than it does for gi matches. The no gi scoring system is below:

NAGA (no gi) points scoring system

Position/maneuverPoints scored
Takedowns1-2
Submission attempts1-2
Sweeps2
Side control variations2
Mount 2
Back grab / back control2
Knee on belly2
Source: NAGA

In NAGA no gi rules, takedowns score 1 or 2 points depending on the quality of the takedown and the response of the defender. 

For example a takedown which forces the defender onto their back, side or rear end earns two points if the attacker keeps a dominant position for two seconds. If the attacker performs a takedown and the defender immediately rolls and leaves you in the bottom position only one point is awarded.

Unlike other competition rulesets, successfully getting side control also earns two points.

Submission attempts are treated similarly, with two points awarded for submissions where the defender is “in danger” of having to tap out and one point awarded for significant submissions that do not put the defender in danger.

How do you win a BJJ match?

A BJJ match can be won instantly by submitting your opponent before the clock runs out. If there are no successful submissions before the clock runs out, matches are generally decided by the points score. If there’s a points tie, the different methods below are used to decide the winner.

How winners are decided in a tie

The way a winner is picked in a tie depends on the ruleset.

In IBJJF rules, the athlete with the higher number of advantage points wins. If both points and advantages are similar, the athlete with the fewer penalties wins. If there is still a draw, the referee will decide which of the athletes wins based on which athlete shows greater offense and comes the closest to successfully scoring points or submissions during the match.

In Grappling Industries rules there are no advantages, and penalties are not used in the event of a tie breaker, so the referee decides the winner.

SJJIF rules differ from both of the above rulesets by putting both competitors into a sudden death round in the event of a tie. The first competitor to score or submit their opponent wins.

Advantages and penalties

Advantages and penalties are assigned and used differently in the various BJJ rulesets.

In IBJJF rules, advantage points are usually awarded when an athlete almost scores points or almost submits their opponent. For example an advantage is generally awarded when an athlete gets a points-scoring position but is unable to hold it for the full three seconds. Penalties on the other hand are awarded for serious fouls or lack of combativeness.

In a tied IBJJF match, advantages are used to find a winner, with the competitor with the most advantages winning. Penalties are used if there’s still a tie once advantages are taken into account.

In Grappling Industries matches, advantages are not awarded but penalties are given and have the following effects:

  • The first penalty is a warning
  • The second penalty awards the opponent two points
  • The third penalty disqualifies the offending competitor

Strategies to score lots of points in a BJJ match

Some successful competitors design strategies specifically for scoring many points in a BJJ match. The below video shows Robson ‘Mau Mau’ de Lima Rodrigues’ method for scoring 15 points. He starts in half guard, grabs a kimura grip on his opponent, and then proceeds to sweep, pass and get points for positions like mount and knee-on-belly before trying to submit his opponent.

If the above seems a little too complicated for you, the below video shows how to score nine points using a guard pass, knee-on-belly and finally mount.

BJJ rules and regulations 

Curious how the specific BJJ competition you’re entering awards points? Check out the official rule guides below for more information:


Did we miss anything? Let us know below!

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