November 13, 2018

#TrueTalkTuesdays 14

“Opening yourself to critique is an easy way to learn.”

So last Tuesday I dissected various rule sets, and teased I would share what I felt was a better rule set. So I am going to post it up, but before I do, it wouldn’t be a True Talk Tuesday without a message. 🙂

Two weeks ago I talked about the fear of judgement. It is one of the biggest fears people have, and one of the most debilitating. The fear of judgement prevents you from taking action. It will prevent you from taking a chance, whether it be asking someone to a date, going for your dream job, or taking a chance chasing a “crazy” goal. The possibility that someone may “judge” your decision could prevent you from ever stepping on the plate.

This is also why many people fear critique. Allowing someone to judge you could be a disaster for your ego. Who would ever volunteer themselves for such a thing?

People who want to improve themselves. It often takes an outsider’s perspective to reveal a chink in your armor that is preventing you from advancing. Being open enough to allow someone to probe your defenses and reveal a weakness takes a certain level of trust and confidence.

Ideally, you would have a critic that is an expert in the field in question, who is giving positive criticism. That is, revealing  your weaknesses and giving you suggestions on how to bolster your defenses. Negative criticism would just be telling you that are worthless and being mean-spirited. That is what many people fear – being mocked and humiliated.

So when we speak of martial arts, your coach is the ideal candidate for criticism. Ask them what you need to work on. I’m surprised how rarely people come up to me after a class and ask what they need to do to get to the next level. I think people feel that would be imposing, or feel awkward to ask their coach. Just like when I do seminars, it’s rare to have someone ask a question in front of a group – even though after a group demonstration, I usually have a bunch of questions asked in private.

It’s okay to vulnerable in your gym. These are all people who have common interests and if your gym’s culture is healthy, everyone wants everyone to get better. Especially your coach. So next time you take a class, make it a point to ask questions during technique and ask your coach if he can watch your sparring and give you advice. 🙂

My Proposed Scoring System:

Okay, so with that being said, here is what I have come up with:

Positional Scoring:

  • Take Down: 2 points
    Any technique that takes an opponent from the standing position to being on bottom (any guard, turtle, mount, etc)
  • Guard Pull: -1 point
    Whether you jump or sit doesn’t matter. Minus point only scored once opponent is engaged.
  • Escaping from bottom to standing: 1 point
    From any position where you are on bottom, if you escape up to your feet to a neutral clinch (body lock or back body lock excluded).
  • Sweep: 2 points
    Any technique that moves you from bottom position to top position
  • Passing Guard: 2 points
    Any position from on top where you are not between your opponents legs (side mount, knee on belly, mount, north south, kesa gatame, back mount with or without hooks
  • Dominant Position – Mount: 2 points
    Top player has both feet in front of his opponent’s legs, and he has feet on the ground
  • Dominant Position – Back Mount with hooks or body triangle: 2 points
    Both legs hooked over opponent’s hips, while maintaining chest to back connection.
  • Combinations:
    • Take Down passed the guard: 4 points
    • Passing guard straight into dominant position: 4 points
    • Sweep passed the guard: 4 points
  • Once you achieved a dominant position, you cannot score more points by purposely moving to an inferior position and then moving back to superior position (mount to side control to mount, or taking out your hooks from back mount and putting them back on). Only when your opponent recovers a guard, or scores a positional point (sweeps or stands up), can you score guard passing and dominant position points again.
  • All positions must be held for at least 3 seconds to score
  • Pushing opponent out of bounds: 1 point
  • Fleeing a submission by going out of bounds: if properly defending 4 points to attacker, if not DQ (for example, getting arm barred and lifting the opponent and running out of bounds)

Submission Scoring:

  • Any submission position that is dominant and forces opponent to defend that is held for a minimum of 3 seconds scores 1 submission point.
    Examples are a triangle choke where the opponent’s head and arm are trapped between the opponent’s legs, an arm bar where the opponent’s hands are locked, a knee bar where the opponent triangles his legs to escape, a guillotine choke with control of the near hip, omoplata with hip control, arm triangle, rear naked choke or short choke with both hands behind the opponent’s head, or a top side Kimura are some examples. Situations such as 50/50 or ashi garami where both players can pose a finishing threat to each other are not scored.
  • Any submission attempt that poses a finishing threat that is held for a minimum of 3 seconds scores 1 submission point.
    Examples are a straightened out arm bar, a Kimura with the arm behind the back, a triangle choke with the arm crossed and hands on the head, heel hook with the knee secured and strong grip on the heel, etc. The criteria here would be if you took a picture of the hold without context, you would assume it was finished. In most cases, you would score 2 submission points as you would get 1 point for holding the position and a second if you nearly finished it. Exceptions would be 50/50 or ashi garami, where you would not get a submission position point, but could get a near finish point.
  • Submission points are used in case of a tie score. Player with the most submission points would be deemed the winner.


  • Scratching
  • Biting
  • Striking
  • Hair pulling
  • Eye gouging
  • Intentionally spiking an opponent on their head
  • No slamming out of submissions or from the guard above the waist
  • Cursing, spitting, hand gestures, or any form of disrespecting competitors or officials
  • Small digit manipulation
    At least 4 fingers most be grabbed if controlling the hand
  • Hands most be kept away from the eyes and face
  • Except for chokes, no direct pressure to the trachea
  • Stalling – Fleeing the mat, not trying to advance positions, or disengaging from your opponent
  • Fouls will result in a warning. 2 warnings, 1 minus point on 3rd warning, 2 minus points on 4th warning, DQ on 5th warning
  • If a foul is flagrant, it can be an automatic DQ

Example Match:

  • A scores a single leg take down and lands in closed guard. 2-0
  • B locks on a tight triangle choke and has it for a good 20 seconds, but his opponent escapes and passes to side control. 2 submission points for B, 2 points for guard pass for A. 4-0, 0-2SP
  • B scrambles to his feet to neutral position. 4-1, 0-2SP
  • A pulls butterfly guard in a sweep attempt but fails and remains in guard. 3-1, 0-2SP
  • B goes to pass guard, A turtles to defend, but A ends up stuck in the turtle unable to roll out. 3-3, 0-2SP
  • B gets the hooks in with a seat belt grip. 3-5, 0-2SP
  • B crosses his ankles, and A goes for the crossed ankle lock, which B narrowly escapes after 5 seconds. 3-5, 1-2SP
  • A escapes and gets top half guard. 5-5, 1-2SP
  • A forces 50/50 and fishes for ankle locks but doesn’t have any good catches before time runs out. 5-5, 1-2SP
  • Match ends, B is the victor through submission points

I am sure there are some holes in this system, but a few thought experiments on my part and they seem to hold up for me. I tried to keep the scoring as simple and objective as possible so that two people watching the same match would get the same results.

The main problem with point system scoring is usually when two competitors stay on their feet the whole time in a boring wrestling match, where both competitors are hesitant to take a chance. A fast paced wrestling match is great, but long, drawn out hug fests are not. Especially when the only take down attempts always end up out of bounds.

This is why I think the out of bounds point is very important. No one is going to want to be pushed out of bounds and give up an easy point. So that means that even a staller is going to be forced to push back into his opponent to avoid going out of bounds. Two people moving into each other creates a lot more action – easier take downs, guard pulls, and submission opportunities.

Now if you are afraid of getting taken down, you are going to have to pull guard, but even then that is a minus point. So that means you are going to have to work off your back to make something happen. So there is always urgency from every positional change.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?

Comment with your take on this. And if you like this article, please do me a solid and share it with your friends. Thanks!

  • hI dear Professor yes i agree many thank for this important informations please can you send me on my adress e-mail!

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