Hi there and welcome to my first rules column, in which I will be highlighting and explaining some of the intricacies of the jiujitsu international competition ruleset. This edition, we will be looking at passing the guard.
Possibly the most common misconception about the rules that I see is when people demand points for side control. There are no points for side control. Ever. What there are points for (three, specifically) is passing the guard. For you to be able to pass someone’s guard you have to be in someone’s guard. So what does this mean? This means a takedown that lands you directly in side control only scores you points for a takedown, and no points for the position you land in. If someone is in turtle and stabilised and you push them over and take side control, you don’t score any points. If you’re on bottom in side control and you reverse your opponent and take them all the way over the top so you’re on top in side control? You don’t score any points at all, because you didn’t pass their guard, and because you didn’t sweep them (more on sweeps in a later edition of this column). Note that you don’t have to pass a good guard to score points - if you are in side control, the person pushes you back into a terrible half guard, locks your foot, you pull it straight back again and end up back in side control? Great, you passed their guard, you score your points. For the sake of the rules, this includes situations like a leg drag. So if you sweep someone, come on top into a leg drag position, wait and then pass you will score the points for the guard pass.
In terms of competitive strategy, it’s very common to allow someone to replace a very poor guard after a sweep that you can immediately pass to maximize your point scoring. If you sweep someone cleanly to side control from half guard you get two points. If you pause for a second in between their legs and then pass after, you will score two points for the pass and then three points for the guard pass, maximizing your potential points gain. So definitely an important thing to keep in mind when you’re out there on the competition mats.
Oli Geedes - Head Referee @ United Kingdom Jiu Jitsu Federation