Last month saw leading jiu jitsu superfight specialists, Polaris Pro, announce a new judging system to be implemented at their future events. These changes see the organisation move away from the ‘sub-only’ format, with fights now being decided by either submission or judges’ decision.
There’s no denying that Polaris Pro 3 was an extremely entertaining event, with some amazing grappling on show for viewers around the world. However, despite the high level of jiu jitsu, many sighted the eight draws across the main card matches to be a little anticlimactic. This feedback didn’t go unnoticed by Polaris officials, who have worked hard on developing a brand new judging system for their next event.
“I don’t want to say anything disparaging about the competitors from the last event, because that’s not how we felt at all,” says Polaris Pro Creative Director, Matt Benyon. “But, it just felt wrong to have eight draws when there were clearly winners in some of the matches.
“We are also thinking about the bigger picture here and looking to the future. Let’s say one day there’s a league, a world ranking or collaboration with other events – things like that. You can’t build a league around people that have records of, say, ten draws and five wins. I think we need a win/loss record to help build rankings.”
The new system sees the judges score a bout based on three aspects:
– Aggression and heart
– Positional control
– Legitimate submission attempts
Each aspect has three points to allocate between the fighters. The points must be shared between the fighters, so that the total number of points in each aspect is three, for example 0:3, or 2:1. The judge must score the aspect in favour of one of the fighters. The “Submission Attempts” category is the only category where less than 3 total points can be allocated.
There is a negative aspect – one negative point can be awarded to each fighter every five minutes for infractions that come under the categories ‘stalling and passivity’ and ‘poor sportsmanship / fouls’.
“In honesty, I think the whole ‘sub-only’ thing was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to a load of slow, traditional tournament finals where winners were being decided by a single advantage or a late sweep after lots of stalling,” says Benyon. “Now that we think about it, it doesn’t have to be sub-only. If you can come up with the right rule set then it becomes easier to be left with a clear winner and loser. I don’t really like to use the words winner and loser, but you know what I mean. I think sub-only matches need to be no time limit for the format to really work. We are big fans of the EBI rule set, but I think there’s space for a tournament rule set and a super fight rule set.”
Benyon was quick to note that Polaris Pro’s new system is “definitely not set in stone”, and the organisation will continue to tweak and amend the rules if needed. From our perspective, the changes are a welcomed addition that will no doubt heighten the overall experience for both fans and athletes.
“I think there’s been a few people reacting without really reading and absorbing what we’ve changed,” explains Benyon. “If people think fighters are just going to be able to ‘game it’ and win a match with a takedown, they just can’t. The judges will be briefed and if there’s any gaming or any stalling, the athletes will get negatively affected.
“Some have argued that the way we select a winner is too subjective, well it is in a way, but by not making the criteria for winning that precise, it means the fighters have to concentrate on putting in 100% effort for the whole match. Because the fighters don’t know, for example, that a takedown will result in one point, that encourages them to keep fighting and working throughout. The changes are definitely something we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and I’m confident they will be really positive for us.”
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