How ADCC Shaped the World of Grappling

By the time this blog post goes up I will be on my way to JFK airport on our way towards Finland for this year's ADCC tournament. This trip is very special to me for a few reasons. I am coming up on my ten year BJJ anniversary, and if it wasn’t for the 2007 ADCC held in NJ, I probably wouldn’t be training today.

Back then I had a very limited idea what submission grappling looked like, much less gi BJJ. But then I started hearing about this tournament that just took place, in Trenton of all places, so I started googling ADCC. One name kept popping up, and a few youtube searches later I came across this video

I have no idea how many times I watched this video. Over the years ADCC became my favorite tournament. There was something special about it. The premise behind it felt like Bloodsport, the VanDamme movie from the 80's: a wealthy sheikh loved the sport so much that he decided to organize a tournament with all the best fighters and pay them unheard amounts of money (for the time) to just grapple. That was incredible.

I believe the prize money aspect of the tournament is very important detail. This created an incentive to train no-gi. At the time, most (if not all) major tournaments were in the gi. So over the years it gave a reason for the gi players to shed their gi and keep their no-gi game sharp or risk losing to no-gi specialists that were starting to pop up. The tournament itself fueled innovations like Jean Jacques Machado's underhook/overhook half guard game and Marcelo Garcia using over/under seat belt control from the back instead of the double under control that had been the norm in gi jiu-jitsu.

Leg locks slowly but surely started gaining popularity through the ADCC tournament, from Marcelo’s win by heel hook over Ricco Rodriguez, to Dean Lister running through his division one foot lock at a time, or Ryan Hall putting the fear of 50/50 into people's hearts. The Danaher Death Squad showcased their skills last tournament.

Another important development was that because of their rule set, specifically -1 point for guard pulling, meant ADCC literally paid people to wrestle. Competitors like Andre Galvao and Cobrinha have found success over the years by being able to score with takedowns on the second half of their matches. It also gave a leg up to American competitors with wrestling backgrounds, whose otherwise would have the strongest aspects of their games denied by simple guard pulls. Guys like Mark Kerr, Jeff Monson, and Justin Rader have used their wrestling prowess to find the podium.

I love ADCC. Between DVD’s and live streams, I have probably watched all the matches over the years. I really looking forward to watching the tournament live for the first time. This is year
is as stacked as ever. I cannot wait watch everything unfold. If you are at the tournament and see me, please say hi!

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