Should Slams be Legal?

#TrueTalkTuesdays 112

I believe they should, as they will force your technique to be better

Play the video in full screen to see all the action.

There is a viral clip going around from the High Rollerz BJJ even that passed over the weekend. In it, a gentleman by the IG handle @the_blaccmutant got caught in an arm bar courtesy of his opponent Mike Kee, and decided to use Mike like a kettlebell and snatch him straight over his head.


Yes, it was an amazing feat of strength. You can hear the crowd gasp, and as we all know, what comes up must come down. But the how is important, as you can see in the video, it appears that Mr. Mutant doesn’t slam him but rather “shook” him off.

A slam would mean that the opponent was “driven into the ground”, which means the slammer would be falling on top or driving his weight into the slam. As you can see in the video, Mr. Mutant remains completely upright and around the 4 second mark you can see the shake.

Unfortunately for Mike, he still landed hard on his head and from what I understood the match ended there. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.

Many people think all forms of slamming should be illegal as it’s too dangerous. I think that as a blanket statement that is false.

There are two main categories to consider here when we talk about slamming: escapable and unescapable.

An unescapable slam is one where the person being slammed has no way of preventing the slam from happening. This would be a suplex, reverse body lift, or some either throw where the victim is off the ground and has no way of escaping.

Usually, these slams are not particularly dangerous, unless there is a “spiking” – where the slammer purposely controls the slam to put the victim on his head. Spiking of an unescapable slam illegal in every promotion I know of.

An escapable slam is one where the victim of the slam can escape by releasing their hold. Usually this is a submission hold, a guard, or some position the victim feels is strong and doesn’t want to let go.

Usually, the victim has made some key errors to lose control of their position and allow their opponent to take them airborne. Even so, most tournaments do not allow slamming in this situation as well – except ADCC, which even allows spiking during submission attempts.

I agree with this stance. If we banned techniques simply because they were dangerous, we wouldn’t have a sport to compete in, lol! Everything we do is dangerous.

It’s like how people banned leg locks for a long time, and that resulted in a population that was more in danger of getting leg locked – not less.

I feel the same with escapable slams. I have never been slammed in my life, because I either do not let my opponent’s lift me, or if they did, I release right away. It’s really not difficult to release a submission. Sure it sucks, but its your fault you didn’t control the position properly.

I am a realist, and I believe ultimately my martial arts training reflects nearly exactly what I would do in a self defense situation. So training for “no rules” environments makes your game much more fundamentally sound.

Training for the possibility of being slammed improves your technique – as you don’t have a rule to protect you for having bad technique.

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!

  • I completely agree. It’s widely accepted that you fight the way you train.

  • Patrick Polson says:

    I started training at Relson Gracie’s in the mid 1990’s, and one of the first things he taught us was how to breakfall if we were picked up and slammed from closed guard. Wasn’t slamming to escape subs legal at bjj tournaments for a while until someone got a broken neck?

    • I’m unsure of the rule changes regarding slams for BJJ tournaments. I was around for one rule change regarding NAGA and toe holds. My student at the time, Enrico Cocco, was competing in a NAGA Orlando back in 2001.

      He must have been around 13 at the time, and caught his opponent in a toe hold. The kid didn’t want to tap, and Enrico proceeded to finish the hold and unfortunately broke the kids foot.

      After that, toe holds and twisting leg locks became illegal for kids in NAGA’s. So I would venture your guess is probably correct.

  • I recall a tournament that you or your brother put on where heavyweight Roger Neff slammed his opponent and both ended up KO’d but because the opponent woke up first and got out from under Neff the opponent was awarded the victory. You and I disagree on whether finger breaking should be legal, but I think your rationale for why slams should be allowed also applies to finger breaking. You say, “Usually, the victim has made some key errors to lose control of their position and allow their opponent to take them airborne.” You could just as well say, “Usually, the victim has made some key errors to lose control of their position and allow his opponent to grab his finger.” If you don’t train to avoid finger attacks, you will be more likely to be caught by such attacks. I think we can agree that all KOs (not TKOs) cause some degree of permanent injury and the severity of damage from twisted fingers generally is less than what one can get from a slam. I’m not saying slams shouldn’t be allowed, but can you tell me why slams should be allowed while attacking fingers should not?

    • Yes, that was a moment I won’t forget. Actually, Roger Neff was the first to wake up, and Leon took a long time (a very scary amount of time) to wake up. Fortunately, neither had any lasting damage. Also, neither was awarded a victory and it was declared a draw.

      Regarding finger manipulations, I don’t agree with your argument. First off, there wouldn’t be any key errors you would make to allow yourself to get finger locked. Breaking a finger doesn’t require great positioning, simply being able to grab the finger is really all it takes.

      Furthermore, the fact that the damage from breaking a finger isn’t that severe doesn’t make it safer. Rather, it makes it much more likely that participants would allow a finger to be broken and continue fighting. I have broken fingers several times during combat and didn’t even flinch. Just look at any gi grappler and you will see they already get their fingers broken many times without finger locks. Adding finger locks will make that situation worse.

      Finally, adding finger locks doesn’t really add significant “technique” to your game. Just imagining fighting with finger locks allowed, I don’t see any real changes to my fight strategy. The only times I would see you would be exposed would probably be during submission attempts. For example, going for a rear naked choke with a seat belt grip, your opponent if he manages to pry a finger loose will have to dislocate or break a finger. Nothing I could really do about that besides what we already do, keep our grips tight.

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