Everything you need to know about how long matches are in BJJ
I recently decided to start competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) again, and was curious how long matches are in different competitions and at different belt levels.
BJJ matches are typically 5 minutes long for white belt adults, 6 – 8 minutes long for more experienced belts and 10 minutes long for black belts. Kids’ BJJ matches are generally 2 – 4 minutes long depending on age.
The exact length of a BJJ match will depend on the competitor’s age bracket, belt, ruleset and the event itself. In some events matches even have no time limits!
Some competitions also have longer matches for finals than they do for qualifiers. ADCC trials and national championships are one example, where qualifying round matches are 6 minutes long and finals are 8 minutes long.
The exact BJJ match times for different competitions are below.
Table of contents
- Match length by competition:
- What if there’s a draw at the end of the match?
- How does a BJJ match start?
- Where is the time shown in a BJJ match?
- How long is the rest break between BJJ matches?
- How can I train to last longer in a BJJ match?
The IBJJF is the largest organisation in BJJ and runs a long list of competitions around the world each year, culminating in the prestigious annual World IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship. IBJJF match times for adults, kids and masters are in the tables below:
|White belt||5 minutes|
|Blue belt||6 minutes|
|Purple belt||7 minutes|
|Brown belt||8 minutes|
|Black belt||10 minutes|
Note: Adults are defined as: (Current Year) – (Birth Year) ≥ 18
|Category||Age||Match time limit|
|Master 1 – white and blue belt||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) ≥ 30||5 minutes|
|Master 1 – purple, brown and black belt||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) ≥ 30||6 minutes|
|Master 2||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) ≥ 36||5 minutes|
|Master 3||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) ≥ 41||5 minutes|
|Master 4||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) ≥ 46||5 minutes|
|Master 5||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) ≥ 51||5 minutes|
|Master 6||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) ≥ 56||5 minutes|
|Master 7||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) ≥ 61||5 minutes|
Kids and teenagers
|Category||Age||Match time limit|
|Mighty Mite I||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) = 4||2 minutes|
|Mighty Mite II||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) = 5||2 minutes|
|Mighty Mite III||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) = 6||2 minutes|
|Pee Wee I||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) = 7||3 minutes|
|Pee Wee II||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) = 8||3 minutes|
|Pee Wee III||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) = 9||3 minutes|
|Junior I||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) = 10||4 minutes|
|Junior II||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) = 11||4 minutes|
|Junior III||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) = 12||4 minutes|
|Teen I||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) = 13||4 minutes|
|Teen II||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) = 14||4 minutes|
|Teen III||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) = 15||4 minutes|
|Juvenile I||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) = 16||5 minutes|
|Juvenile II||(Current Year) – (Birth Year) = 17||5 minutes|
The Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) was founded by Sheik Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan with the purpose of growing martial arts in the United Arab Emirates. The ADCC runs one of the most prestigious no-gi grappling competitions in the world and has more relaxed rules around some submissions compared to IBJJF rules.
|World championships||10 minutes||20 minutes|
|Trials||6 minutes||8 minutes|
|Nationals||6 minutes||8 minutes|
Grappling Industries is a gi and no gi competition organisation which runs events in North America, Australia and Europe. The key difference between Grappling Industries and IBJJF competitions is the use of a round-robin tournament system. This means competitors have up to four matches, versus a normal elimination style tournament where a competitor might only get one match if they lose.
Match times are similar to IBJJF, although matches are shorter at higher belts compared to IBJJF.
|Category||Match time limit|
Source: Grappling Industries
The Sport Jiu-Jitsu International Federation (SJJIF) is an organisation which aims to get Brazilian Jiu Jitsu into the Olympics. It also runs a calendar of events around the world and has its own annual world championship in both gi and no gi. Match lengths in SJJIF competitions are very close to IBJJF and can be seen below:
Adults and Juvenile
|Category||Adult match length||Juvenile match length|
|White belt||5 minutes||5 minutes|
|Blue belt||6 minutes||5 minutes|
|Purple belt||7 minutes||5 minutes|
|Brown belt||8 minutes|
|Black belt||8 minutes|
|Category||Masters 30 – match length||Masters 36 and up – match length|
|White belt||5 minutes||5 minutes|
|Blue belt||5 minutes||5 minutes|
|Purple belt||6 minutes||5 minutes|
|Brown belt||6 minutes||5 minutes|
|Black belt||6 minutes||5 minutes|
|Kid 1||2 minutes|
|Kid 2||2 minutes|
|Kid 3||3 minutes|
|Kid 4||4 minutes|
|Kid 5||4 minutes|
|Kid 6||4 minutes|
The Jiu Jitsu World League (JJWL) is an organisation founded by Rigan Machado, a BJJ icon and pioneer. JJWL match lengths are similar to IBJJF, although shorter at higher belts:
|Kindergarten, youth and pre-teen||3 minutes|
|Junior teen and teen||4 minutes|
|Juvenile, adults white to brown belts, all masters||5 minutes|
|Adult black belt||6 minutes|
|Master black belt||5 minutes|
What if there’s a draw at the end of the match? Is there overtime in a BJJ match?
In most cases, draws are decided by advantages, penalties, referee decisions or overtime. The rules vary depending on the competition:
In IBJJF competitions, if points are equal at the end of the match, the competitor with the greatest number of advantages will win. If points AND advantages are equal, the competitor with the least penalties will win.
If points, advantages and penalties are equal, the referee will choose a winner. According to the IBJJF rulebook, the referee will take into account who “displayed greater offense during the match and came closest to achieving possible point- or submission-scoring positions”
In Grappling Industries competitions, there are no advantages, so in the event of a draw the referee will choose a winner.
ADCC competitions have overtime rules if there is a draw with no advantages. The overtime durations are as follows:
|Event||Qualifying round overtime||Finals overtime|
|World championships||5 minutes||10 minutes|
|Trials||3 minutes||4 minutes|
|Nationals||3 minutes||4 minutes|
Note: There are a maximum of two overtime periods for the world championship finals, and one maximum overtime period for all other competitions.
The SJJIF has no advantages and no referee decisions (unless both competitors are injured). In the event that a match ends in a draw, it goes into sudden death overtime.
As the name suggests, in sudden death overtime, the first person to score points or get a successful submission wins. Conversely, the first person to score a penalty loses.
In JJWL rules, in the event of a draw the last person to score points wins the match. If no points were scored, the referee will decide the winner based on whoever made the most submission attempts and displayed more “combativeness”.
How does a BJJ match start?
A BJJ match will start when the referee signals for the competitors to enter the mat. The competitors will usually shake hands with the referee and each other, and the referee will make sure both competitors are ready. The referee will then use a verbal and visual command to begin. In IBJJF and SJJIF rules, the referee will extend their arm vertically down to the ground and say “combate” pronounced com-ba-tchee.
Where is the time shown in a BJJ match?
A BJJ match will usually display the time on a scoreboard located on the official’s table, just next to the mats where the match is being held. A competition official will keep track of the match time and note the score on the display board.
When the match ends, the referee will announce the end of the match.
How long is the rest break between BJJ matches?
This will again depend on the competition. In IBJJF, SJJIF and UAEJJF rules you’ll generally receive a break which is the same length as your match length. So if your match was a five minute match, you’ll receive a five minute break. In finals matches, the break is double the match length time.
How many matches will you have in a competition?
The number of matches you’ll have in a competition will depend on two things: the format of the competition and the number of people in your bracket.
In most elimination-style tournaments the winner progresses to the next stage while the loser is eliminated.
In a round robin style tournament like Grappling Industries, you’ll be pooled into a bracket and will have up to four matches. If there are more than five competitors, the winner of each pool will face off against each other in an elimination-style tournament to decide the ultimate winner.
How can I avoid getting exhausted in a BJJ match?
Competition matches are generally of a much higher intensity than regular sparring rounds. Once you’ve also factored in adrenaline, any other previous matches you’ve already had on the day, and stand-up wrestling, a competitive BJJ match will be more physically draining than a regular roll at your gym.
Energy conservation in BJJ is a large sub-topic, with whole videos and articles devoted to it. Some basic tips from the excellent book The Blackbelt Blueprint from Nic Gregoriades include:
- Breathing more efficiently and not holding your breath
- Being precise with your techniques to reduce the energy required to execute them
- Knowing when to use more energy (e.g when escaping) and when to back off and conserve energy (e.g in dominant positions).
- Doing regular cardio training outside of BJJ such as swimming
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