IBJJF, on September 1st – 3rd, will host the massive World Master Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Las Vegas. This year over 5000 competitors have registered for a chance to win it all and take home the gold.
Many IBJJF World Champions
To the surprise of many people outside the sport, the term ‘world champion’ in grappling is something you will hear a lot. This is a result of a multitude of different federations hosting their own versions of world championships around the world, compounded by the fact that there are world championships for both Gi and No-Gi, various weight classes, belt rankings, and age groups.
When looking at a world championship title or gold medal, most people are referring to the IBJJF World Championship hosted once a year. This particular tournament has been running since 1996, when it was first introduced in Brazil, and is widely considered the most important and valuable title on an athlete’s grappling resume…. That said, ONE Championship may have something to say about that soon with their vision for the “Superbowl of Grappling.”
Titles at Worlds are earned among competitors from blue to black belt, and up to 18 men and women at each belt level are crowned world champions in their respective divisions, which, as you can tell, adds up to a lot of world champions.
It is an event to remember if you haven’t seen the IBJJF World Championship. It was just held on June 1st – 5th at the Walter Pyramid (CSULB), in Long Beach, CA, and is not linked to the World Master Championship scheduled for Nov 1-3 in Las Vegas.
The term “Master” for IBJJF purposes is comparable to “Senior.” The standard divisions, such as at the World Championships, are open to all competitors regardless of their age and are called “adult,” which begins at 18 years of age and goes up from there. However, older competitors often wish to compete against age-appropriate opponents for several reasons, and so age divisions for athletes of 30-year-old and over exist to fill this need.
These “Master” divisions are called master 1, master 2, and so on, separated by equal five-year age gaps– hence the event’s World Master Championships. Only competitors of 30-year-old and above are permitted to register at the event.
For example, master 1 is for competitors aged 30-34, master 2 for 35-39, and so on, all the way up to master 7 for those over 60. This said, a grappler is not only limited to competing in the division of their current age: They can move down the masters divisions and compete against younger opponents, and often grapplers will choose to do this. They just can’t, of course, move up a Masters division for obvious reasons, and that would be a cheap move anyways.
Don’t be confused
Often a gold medal at the World Master Championship is confused with winning the World Championship, but that is not the case, and it’s necessary to make the distinction between the two as they are not the same. The World Championship is nearly unanimously considered the toughest and most prestigious grappling tournament to win in the world to date, and the honor of becoming a true world champion is reserved for only an elite few within the top Percentile.
However, this does not mean the World Master Championship is a cakewalk tournament where participation medals are given, not at all! Many elite grapplers who have reached the minimum age requirement choose to enter. The black belt divisions are often chocked full of many notable champions of previous years who wish to stay active and still compete at a very high level. Many world champions such as Joao Miyao and Paulo Miyao, Roberto “Cyborg”, Alexandro Ceconi, Fredson Paixao, Cassio Werneck, Omar Salum, and many others, not to mention standouts such as Eduardo Telles, Gregor Gracie, Clark Gracie, Maria Malyjasiak, and the iconic Wellington Megaton Dias have all competed at Masters Worlds.
Both tournaments are first-class and feature amazing, world-class competitors. It’s just wise to know the difference as so many federations and tournaments exist in the grappling world, so you can be informed and choose the right grappling path you want to take.
Stay training and check back here for more grappling insights every day.