An Open Letter to the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Community!

Please allow this letter to serve as an explanation of why The Good Fight has decided to change from

a point-based jiu-jitsu format to a submission-only tournament format.

Brief History:

At the time of this writing, it has been over 5 years since The Good Fight hosted it's first jiu-jitsu tournament.

My goal from the very beginning was to make this tournament a competitor's tournament.

As a former jiu-jitsu competitor and school owner I knew what frustrated competitors most. Competitors, by their very nature, are all basically the same when it comes to what we want from a competition.

What I Figured All Competitors Wanted Out of a Tournament:

  • to start and end on time and not have to wait around ALL day to compete.
  • to be rightly recognized for our hard training efforts and treated with courtesy and respect.
  • receive awards that displayed professionalism and would serve as lasting memories of our accomplishment and hard work.
  • to receive a second shot at a match in case we totally blow it the first match.
  • a fair shot at winning.

For the most part, we've succeeded at the first 4 things mentioned above. This isn't just my opinion. This is based on feedback and comments over the past 5 years, and comes from competitors and instructors alike who've consistently commented on how well we run our events.

We can get things going and keep things moving. As a matter of fact, we were willing to put up or shut up; and even offered a money back guarantee on our finish times. To date, we've only had 6 competitors we've had to refund because of not finishing on time. Wow! What other tournament circuit does that?

Our staff is courteous, friendly, and always willing to help out by going the extra mile.

We've tried to look at our mistakes and errors and correct them, or make the necessary changes and/or adjustments for the next show.

Our medals are top shelf! Hands down THE best in the industry; this is how one competitor commented. I hated working my tail off for a tournament and then receiving a chincy medal that looked like it came from the Dollar General Store.

The 2nd match guarantee was a big hit, especially for white belts experiencing their first couple of tournaments. I remember being a white belt and totally blowing my first match and just hoping I'd get a 2nd shot at competing again. So, I was more than happy to give to Good Fight competitors what I've always wanted as a former competitor.

But, a fair shot a winning. This is really the part I've struggled with A LOT; especially over the past year. I honestly wanted to give the competitors the fairest shot at winning, but I just didn't feel I was. This ultimately became the most frustrating part of running a jiu-jitsu tournament for me.

Ref Decisions Instead of Competitor Decisions:

Here's how I see it: competitors train 3-5 times a week for 3 months to get ready for a tournament. They watch their diets each and every day to make sure they make weight on tournament day. They re-arrange their family and/or work schedule so that they can make it to the tournament. They spend time and money on travel expenses. They arrive at the tournament early to get ready for their 1st match.

Here's what could happen: There is a good change that one of the following senarios listed below has happened to you. So please take the time to read on, and you be the judge. If one of these situations has happened to you how did you feel?

Competitor A: is rightfully frustrated; he took his opponent down in the beginning of the match; the ref didn't give him the 2 points; he was looking the other way when it happened; how do we know? Competitor A has it on video and is showing it to us after the match. Clearly a ref mistake.

Competitor B: fights to the end of a match ending in a 2-2 tie; with no overtime and equal advantage the ref awards the win to competitor B's opponent; both guys are now frustrated; one didn't want to win that way; the other didn't want to lose that way.

Competitor C: at the start of his match his opponent jumps guard; competitor C loses his balance; both competitors fall to the ground; the ref saw it as a slam and DQ's competitor C, another fight decided by a  referee who honestly wants both competitors to be safe. But the fact remains. This is a squirrelly way to win or lose a match. (By the way, when you read our new rules you'll see how we handle 'jumping guard' vs. 'pulling guard'. I think you'll like it very much.)

Competitor D: shoots in for a double leg takedown; ref doesn't give 2 points; instead he gives 1 advantage point; he thought he saw stoppage of forward motion with his opponent pulling guard; competitor D's opponent scores 2 advantage points on the ground during the match; match ends 0-0 (with 2-1 advantage against Competitor D); after reviewing the video the referee sees it again and recognizes his mistake; but it's too late, the call has already been made and the match is over.

So, because of situations like the ones I've mentioned above; The Good Fight wants the competitor to decide the outcome of his match through a submission only format, not the referee through a point-based format.

The Good Fight wants to put more control in the competitors hands and less control in the refs hands.

Reinventing the Wheel:

In the beginning, we knew we weren't going to reinvent the wheel. So we sought out to create the best tournament experience for the competitor.

What we have found is that all the "sportification" of jiu-jitsu did, was lose sight of what we all fell in love with when we started training in this great martial art.

You see, everyone of us may have different training goals. Some may compete a lot, some a little and some not at all. But ALL of started jiu-jitsu because of it's self-defense effectiveness.

  • Yes, we lost weight in the process.
  • Yes, we got in better shape as well.
  • Yes, we made some new friends.
  • Yes, it served as a great stress reliever.  

But ALL of us should be able to agree that it was the effectiveness of the art that was most attractive.

A Walk Down Memory Lane:

Just like you I remember my first exposure to jiu-jitsu. In 1997 I walked into Maxercise on 7th & Chestnut in Philadelphia, PA. The instructor, who was 'only' a purple belt, offered me and my friend a free lesson. My friend, who was also my instructor in karate, was a multiple time karate champion, as was I. So we thought this free lesson was going to be us teaching them a thing or two.

That ended up being the furthest thing from the truth. Here's what happened: I couldn't get away from a basic standing lapel grip, nor could I escape the mount position. My instructor, being an ex-wrestler, thought he would fair better than me. He didn't and was defeated just as I was.

So, we made the next best mistake we could and said: "It would be different if we started from the feet!" With that the 'purple' belt instructor called over his 140 lb 'blue' belt student. He proceeded to take me down and choke me within 2 minutes. Why I asked to go again is still a mystery to me to this day. I guess I thought it was a fluke. After all, how could this skinny, little blue belt defeat me: a 2-time national karate champion! Well he did beat me again, and just as easily.

With that, we both looked at the instructor and said: "We would like to sign up now!"

It was one of the best investments I've made. And what sealed the deal for me what the shear effectiveness of the art.

Finally, I'd like to leave you with this quote which refocuses and embodies what the submission only format change is all about:

"I see a need for a revolutionary process for jiu-jitsu, a return to its essence as a style of self defense.
I want to bring back the concept of effectiveness rather than advantage points and little stalling points"
-Rickson Gracie.

This couldn't spell out what we were missing any clearer! The new goal of The Good Fight is to do exactly this. Create a tournament circuit in which the best jiu-jitsu has the best chance to win by submission only. No points, no advantages and no referee decisions!

So with ALL of this being said, we are excited to officially announce The Good Fight is now a submission only jiu-jitsu tournament starting with our March 15, 2014 tournament. The Good Fight will feature it's brand new submission only tournament format.

Please take the time to review the rules and we look forward to seeing you all at our next event. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me directly.


Jimmy Fortunato

Owner/The Good Fight Tournament LLC