Understanding the nuances of advantages and penalties is crucial for competitors and spectators in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitions. These elements play a significant role in the outcome of matches, often serving as tie-breakers or determining the flow of the contest. This guide will explore the concepts of advantages and penalties, providing a comprehensive understanding of their impact on BJJ competitions.


Advantages: What Are They and How Are They Earned?

Advantages are partial points awarded to competitors for near-successful techniques or positions that indicate progression and control, even if they still need to fully meet the criteria for regular points. These can be critical in close matches as tie-breakers when the point scores are equal.


Earning Advantages – Advantages are awarded for:

  • Near Submissions: Attempting a submission that forces the opponent to defend seriously, even if it doesn’t result in a tap-out.
  • Almost Completing a Takedown: Initiating a takedown that nearly brings the opponent to the ground but falls short of control.
  • Guard Pass Attempts: Making significant progress toward passing the guard, demonstrating clear intent and advancement, even if the guard still needs to be fully passed.
  • Near Sweeps: Initiating a sweep from the guard that disrupts the opponent’s balance and shows clear potential for reversal, even if it doesn’t wholly succeed.
  • Positional Advancements: Almost achieving dominant positions like mount or back control but needing to maintain them longer to score total points.

Advantages reflect the competitor’s activity level and aggressiveness, rewarding attempts to dominate and control the match.


Penalties: Understanding Infractions and Consequences

Penalties are given for behaviors or actions that violate the rules or spirit of BJJ competitions. They can result in points being awarded to the opponent or even disqualification in severe cases.

Types of Penalties – Penalties in BJJ competitions typically fall into the following categories:

  • Stalling: Failing to engage or attempting to run down the clock without making any efforts to progress or improve position. This includes avoiding grips, disengaging, or excessively defensive behavior.
  • Illegal Techniques: Performing prohibited moves at certain belt levels or age groups. This might consist of heel hooks, slams, or certain types of neck cranks.
  • Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Any behavior deemed disrespectful or against the spirit of competition, such as verbal abuse, unnecessary roughness, or intentional fouls.
  • Technical Fouls: Minor infractions like gripping inside sleeves or pant legs, using illegal grips, or committing minor rule violations.

Consequences of Penalties – Penalties can have various consequences:

  • Points to the Opponent: Minor penalties might result in the opponent being awarded points.
  • Warnings: Competitors may receive warnings before more severe penalties are applied.
  • Disqualification: Severe or repeated infractions can lead to disqualification from the match or the entire competition.

Strategic Implications

Understanding advantages and penalties is essential for competitors to strategize effectively. Here are some key points:

  • Aggressiveness Pays Off: Actively seeking submissions, takedowns, and positional advancements can earn advantages, providing an edge in close matches.
  • Avoiding Penalties: Competitors must be aware of the rules and avoid actions that could result in penalties, as these can quickly turn the tide of a match.
  • Using Penalties Strategically: Knowing when an opponent is stalling or committing infractions allows competitors to alert referees and potentially gain points or advantages.



Advantages and penalties are integral parts of BJJ competitions, influencing the strategies and outcomes of matches. By understanding how these elements work, competitors can better prepare for their matches, and spectators can gain deeper insight into the tactical aspects of the sport. In our next blog, we’ll explore other critical elements of BJJ competition to further enhance your understanding and appreciation of this dynamic martial art. Stay tuned!