ADCC Rules vs IBJJF: How are they different?

ADCC rules are known for being different from IBJJF and pushing the action in unique ways.

We looked at the IBJJF rules in How do the Points Work in Bjj? That is my best condensed take on the game. They have a detailed 52 page rule book that is in a state of constant yearly revision in response to the discussion of events from the previous year. Although it is a long read, I recommend it for the more serious competitors. You can find it here:

ADCC has a five page rule book. You can find it here:

ADCC allows more submissions.

While IBJJF doesn’t allow neck cranks, ADCC allows the Can Opener and the Twister. No other neck cranks, specifically the Full Nelson.

IBJJF only allows reaping and heel hooks at Adult Nogi Brown and Black Belt. ADCC allows all leg locks and entanglements. They also allow shoes, which is a cleanliness issue in my opinion.


IBJJF has no slam regulation on the takedown, but you are responsible for your opponent’s safe return to the mat if you find yourself holding them. I personally believe that we tend to practice how we play. Nobody in the gym is going to train with you if you are putting their health at risk.

ADCC allows slams out of locked submissions only. Interestingly, it is quite difficult to slam out of a leglock.

The Buggy Choke is an innovation of recent years. The slam is a possibility unique to ADCC.

ADCC has no points in the first half.

They will have penalties in the first half. Notably, pulling guard is a penalty. Instead, they allow you to fight for the takedown and end up in turtle then go back to guard with no penalties.

Lack of combativeness in IBJJF is 20 seconds of deliberate inaction in any position besides Mount or Back. A second penalty brings an advantage for the opponent. A third two points, and a fourth is the end of the match.

Lack of combativeness in ADCC is up to the discretion of the officials. The referee is expected to communicate with the judges, and regularly make eye contact to ensure proper communication. They give action calls that are not penalties. Then they give warning calls. Two warning calls results in a penalty. I could not find a result for any number of penalties besides having more penalties.

An interesting strategy that is often discussed is that an athlete will deliberately be in a specific position to score points at the moment they begin.

Ok, the points are a bit complicated when they start.

Takedowns in ADCC are not awarded for forcing an opponent’s into turtle, but for putting the athlete’s butt on the ground for three seconds. I feel this makes taking poor shots and landing turtled the lowest risk way to get to the ground in absence of a guard pull.

A Clean Takedown into side control is four points in ADCC. This will change the action in favor of throws. However, a takedown (2) to a guard pass (3) is still worth more than a four point takedown.

A Sweep in ADCC doesn’t have to be from guard. You can get sweep points from bottom Side Control.

A Clean Sweep is like the Takedown, landing in Side Control. So you can be in bottom Side Control when points begin, and Clean Sweep into top Side Control for four. Interesting…

A Guard Pass is still worth three in ADCC. But if you pass to Mount or Knee on Belly, you only get the pass points. In IBJJF, a pass to Knee on Belly is 5 and a pass to Mount is 7. This is an example of specific movements that are heavily rewarded in one ruleset but not the other.

Knee on Belly

In IBJJF, Knee on Belly requires the head side knee to be off the ground.

In ADCC, they don’t care about the free knee. But the knee on the belly must be in the center of the belly.


In ADCC, Mount is only worth two. Both knees must be on the ground to get points. Also, backwards Mount is still two. Both arms can also be trapped under the legs and points are awarded.

From the IBJJF rulebook. We are clearly more likely to see this position developed in ADCC.


The Back is three points in ADCC. The main difference is that you get points for a figure 4 bodylock.

It is also noted that you can cede control of a point bearing position and return after three seconds to score again. This is like wrestling where you can cut your opponent and take them down again, except with control positions.

In conclusion…

I personally feel that the IBJJF rules are the best for everyday training purposes. ADCC leaves a lot in the hands of the judges and referee’s feelings. It’s still fairly unclear exactly what is happening in many instances, and I expect to see more precise development in coming years.

The reaping rule is not popular in all circles, but I’m glad they draw the line in a safe place. We will work on the higher risk leglocks with trusted training partners at appropriate times. There is a time and place to work these skills, but most people with day jobs don’t need that level of risk. If reaping isn’t an issue, neck cranks and slams should take the rest of the adults with responsibilities out.

I personally disagree with the reasoning for going back on an old rule is wise. I don’t believe that getting to know a surgeon is a part of learning Jiu Jitsu. Pro league, maybe. The cost/ benefit must add up.

I am glad to see a little variance in rule sets. This gives us more perspective on what we are doing. There will be small differences that enlighten us to new possibilities. This also gives us actual events to study the more violent aspects of our art, and the drama will attract more eyes on it. Some dude asks about slams, we have actual matches to study. I fully expect to see ADCC continue to build. A few will make decent money doing it. But it will also likely become a sub category of MMA. People who do it will be a small fraction of people who train Bjj. The vast majority of us are adults with responsibilities.

%d bloggers like this: