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ADCC Needs Analysis

No Gi Submission Grappling ADCC Competition Needs Analysis

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a combat sport, predicated on grappling exchanges in order to either score positional advantage over your opponent or to submit your opponent. To enable this different scoring systems are in place depending on the organisations rule set, points are rewarded for positional advantages (takedowns, sweeps, guard passes and dominant control positions), advantages are rewarded for partially completed techniques or transitions (IBJJF, 2021). The submission however is the ultimate goal of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition in every rule set. There are three major competition rule sets, the IBJJF world championships, the ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) championships and a sub only/super fight rule set. Each variation of competition has a different criterion for rule sets, time limits and strategy, within this need’s analysis both IBJJF and ADCC competitions will be discussed as competitors will usually be competing in both within a yearly competition calendar. The ADCC championships will be the main goal of the periodised strength and conditioning program therefore extra attention will be given to the need’s analysis of this facet of competition. This will require additional research into other grappling arts such as wrestling due to the added emphasis of wrestling within the ADCC rule set, thus far little research has looked at this rule set within the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

ADCC competition was invented to create a platform in order for all grappling style to compete against each other, judo, sambo, wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu styles etc. The competition is dominated by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes; therefore, it is reasonable to look into the characteristics needed to excel in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu along with some of the other grappling sports. The biggest considerations from the differing rule sets are the ADCC competitions scoring system, which includes added emphasis on wrestling heavy techniques (via a combination of positive scoring and negative scoring for pulling guard) and additional leg entanglements (heel hooks) (ADCC 2021). Until recent times heel hooks have only been allowed in ADCC competition however in 2021 heel hook are now included in IBJJF competition. It’s also important to state ADCC competition is no-gi without a kimono, IBJJF competition has both no-gi and gi categories, this changes strategy and techniques used.

In competition, athletes are categorised by sex, age, body mass, belt rank or via a qualification process (ADCC trials/ADCC championships). These categories influence the duration of the match, adult male competitors in the black belt division compete for up to 10 minutes per match (IBJJF), the ADCC trials matches are 6 minutes (with 3 minutes overtime) and the finals being 8 minutes (with 4 minutes overtime). The ADCC championships once qualified consist of 10-minute matches with 5 minutes overtime and the finals are 20-minute matches with 10 minutes overtime (ADCC, 2021).

Due to the variations of the above, it can make planning and periodising a difficult process for the strength and conditioning coach. This makes it important to distinguish the different energy systems (ATP-CP, glycolytic and oxidative) and physical attributes (muscular strength, power, flexibility, endurance) which underpin success at the elite level of the sport (Andreato, 2021). It is also essential to look at the common injuries of the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and sub variants of grappling sports in order to establish a robust competitor and possibly mitigate future injuries. There is also the consideration of body type, weight classes and weight cutting strategies for competition especially considering both competitions have differing weight class boundaries.

Based on non-academic literature/ breakdowns of statistics within ADCC competition and IBJJF competition we can draw certain conclusions, based on time motion analysis and application of techniques (biomechanics of movement patterns) in order to create a specific needs analysis for ADCC competition. Data from IBJJF competition (BJJ Heroes) and ADCC competition (BJJ Heroes) shows a substantial difference in takedowns completed per match 14% to 41%. Another consideration is the movement patterns used to execute takedowns within the given rule sets, withing the IBJJF rule set, single legs (20%), guard pulls (21%) and ankle picks (10%) account for the majority of takedowns along with a small array of judo techniques. In ADCC competition without the kimono/gi and grips, the double leg and single leg are the highest percentage takedowns (24%, 24%), along with wrestling style body locks (13%) and an array of wrestling techniques (BJJ Heroes).

High level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitors display a mesomorphic somatotype with low body fat percentages 7-16% (Andreato, 2021, Øvretveit K, 2019). In American college wrestling the average percentage bodyfat of competitors also sits around similar values 6%-12.8% (Kordi et al, 2012). Other studies based upon international wrestling also demonstrate a mesomorphic somatotype along with bodyfat levels ranges from 8-19% (Sterkowicz & Zarow, 2007; Igbokwe, 1991). These physical characteristics of low percentage bodyfat/ a higher proportion of fat free mass are valuable in a weight class driven sport such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wrestling and can have favourable performance outcomes in particular anaerobic power (Bayraktar & Haluk, 2017).

Maximum muscular strength and power are important components for completing, takedowns, scrambles, sweeps and submission attempts (Andreato, 2021). To evaluate dynamic muscle strength Andreato (2021) used the bench press and squat, amassing a 1RM of 1.27-1.48/kg in the bench press and 1.20-1.38/kg in the squat. Without the emphasis on takedown, literature from IBJJF competition is useful but fails to show the demands of ADCC competition, similar testing procedures within elite East German wrestler’s give’s a different picture. Bench press 1RM of 1.77-1.0/kg and a squat of 3.13-1.58/kg shows a much greater demand for lower body dynamic strength to complete wrestling-based techniques (Podlivaev as cited by Curby, 2010).

High level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitors have been shown to have a counter movement jump of 34-41cm (Andreato, 2021). Comparatively the male US national team freestyle wrestlers averaged 60cm (Utter et al, 2002). Callan et al (2000) research of elite Greco Roman wrestlers resulted in an average of 56.70cm-66.10cm. As previously stated with specific rule set (ADCC), proposed standards would be based upon the wrestling requirements, not the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu data.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has a reliance of grip fighting, including gripping the opponent’s kimono (not relevant in ADCC competition) however different grip and ties are used to set up technique execution. Elite and experienced practitioners have greater grip endurance than non-elite practitioners (Andreato, 2017). This research implies that competitors are competing in the kimono which may require a certain special strength in gripping, there are many different grips available to be taken in the Kimono (pistol, sleeve, collar, lapel etc). García-Pallarés (2011) research on predicting Olympic wrestlers’ success also indicates that grip strength is a determining factor between elite and non-elite competitors, which indicates although different grips are taken between grappling with and without a kimono, grip strength and grip strength endurance is still a relevant factor.

Flexibility is an important characteristic for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, flexibility is an important attribute to be able to execute specific techniques during matches (Andreato, 2017). However, within freestyle wrestling, flexibility may be a discriminating factor between elite and lower levels wrestlers (Yoon, 2002). The sit and reach test is the standardised measure of flexibility used within literature which does not give a complete picture of an athletes flexibility and mobility, more research is needed to make recommendations on flexibility within Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wrestling, in particular specific joints ranges of motion, style of grappling and preferred technique applications will have an effect on the athletes flexibility requirements in order to be successful in completion of such techniques.

Match demands of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu require intermittent repeated efforts ranging from 6:1 to 13:1 work to rest ratios, although these blocks of work were split between 2-5s of high intensity action and 20-30s of low intensity action. These demands placed on a competitor generate a moderate to high reliance on the glycolytic pathway (Andreato, 2021). Da Silva (2004) also determined that BJJ matches require an anaerobic energy pathway to produce ATP. Aerobic markers of performance for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitors sits at 43-49ml/kg (Andreato, 2021). Wrestling performance when matches were of 9 minutes duration considered 60-70ml/kg desirable when recruiting elite wrestlers (Sharratt, Taylor & Song, 1984). Since changing from 9-minute matches to 2 rounds of 3 minutes expectations have differed with elite wrestlers between 50.3ml/kg and 62.4ml/kg (Horswill 1992).

The match demands of ADCC competition differ depending on stage of entry and stage of tournament with finals matches lasting up to 20 minutes. Therefore, not only development of the anaerobic system but also development of the aerobic system is essential. The rational for a well-developed aerobic system, ties with the amounts of high intensity work being completed within a working block (2-5s high intensity action, 20-30 low intensity action) across 120s of effort (Andreato, 2021). Not only helping with recovery between high intensity efforts within a match, a well-developed aerobic system will also aid greater recovery between matches in the resynthesis of energy substates and removal of metabolites (Andreato, 2021).

ADCC competition much like international wrestling emphasis an aggressive style of wrestling and high scoring takedowns, strength, anaerobic power and anaerobic capacity are the dominant physical capacities of wrestling (Yoon, 2002). The case could be made due to the work to rest ratios of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and time of matches within ADCC competition that strength, anaerobic power, anaerobic capacity and aerobic power are pre requisites to performance. The likelihood that high scoring takedowns or techniques are completed in the 2-5s of high intensity action, is similar to the Ultimate Fighting Championships data stating that matches are won in 8-14s bursts of high intensity action (UFC PI Handbook) is where the match scoring or outcome is won or lost. Although further research is needed on ADCC competition in particular, it appears that strength, anaerobic power, anaerobic capacity and aerobic power are key performance indicators that will allow the athlete to be efficient in the decisive match winning situations of competition (2-5s of high intensity).

Andreato (2021) research suggests that bicep brachii, forearms, wrists and fingers are the most reported areas of localised muscular fatigue. The injury rate in training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and grappling sports is very high (91%), the most common types of injury found in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are sprains, strains and contusions (Andreato 2021). Within IBJJF competition the highest risk areas for injury are the shoulder, elbow and fingers (Petrisor et al, 2019). Due to the nature of ADCC competition it is also important to draw evidence from judo and wrestling’s common injury sites. Within Judo and wrestling the extremities are most likely to get injured, (shoulders and knees), of which 85% of injuries within judo occurred within standing grappling or scoring a takedown/throw and not grounded grappling which is more relevant to ADCC competitions ruleset (Pocecco et al, 2013; Pasque & Hewitt, 2000). The common injuries of the fingers across both IBJJF Brazilian Competition and judo competition can be disregarded, as they are most prevalent when aggressively grip fighting the kimono (collar, lapels, sleeves etc) (Pocecco et al, 2013), this is not possible in ADCC competition. Another consideration for ADCC competition is the allowance and higher prevalence of leg locks in particular heel hooks which attack the ankle and knee. There isn’t research on this, practical experience and data on submission finish rates would imply there would be extra cause for concern around lower limb structures in ADCC competition compared to the current BJJ literature (FlowGrappling, 2021).

The neck and brain are also key areas for concern. 25% of BJJ competitors have had a concussion within training or competition (Spano et al, 2019), the main cause of catastrophic injuries within judo and wrestling are the cervical spine and brain from both high amplitude takedowns and also emerging evidence of being chocked unconscious (Pocecco, 2013; Lee et al, 2017; Pirruccio et al, 2021). Although further research into chokes and brain damage is needed to make assertive claims. The neck is also theorized to be a fifth limb within the sport of grappling therefore neck strength/cervical strength is an important area of focus for both injury prevention and performance (Lee et al, 2017).

The majority of athletes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition cut weight for the competition (Andreato, 2021) similar to wrestling practices of competing at the lowest weight possible (Gibbs et al, 2009). There is an emphasis on losing bodyweight/bodyfat for competition but also manipulating bodyweight competition week by up to 4% to gain a deemed advantage (Andreato, 2021). ADCC weight categories are different to IBJJF weight categories. ADCC weight classes: 66kg, 77kg, 88kg, 99kg, 99kg + (ADCC). Weigh ins are on the same day as competition, similar to IBJJF weigh in protocols.

For proposed success in ADCC competition, strength, anaerobic power, anaerobic capacity, aerobic power and fat free mass are key performance indicators (KPIs). Strength and conditioning programs should be based around driving the adaptations that provide improvement in the suggested KPIs. In addition, building a robust athlete that is able to withstand the training volumes and intensities on the mat in imperative, despite the physiological requirements of the sport, the biggest determining factor of wrestling performance is years training (Jesus Garcia-Pallares, 2011). Additional focus on injury prevention around the shoulders, knees and cervical spine in particular, should aim to mitigate some injury risk and thus keep the athlete getting in the highest amount of technical skill work possible which they can consistently maintain.

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