The subject of the ‘BJJ Federation’ has been on my mind since the end of 2008 with the introduction of the BJJFP and JJFCN (Philippines & China respectively). With this new representative body comes interest over how this will affect the scene. So from the time of their announcement, I’ve done my best to get in touch with the powers that be to find the answers. The most responsive has been Stephen Kamphuis, director of the BJJFP, a Fabricio Martin’s black-belt and head instructor at KMA fitness ‘Team Fabricio’. The organizer of some the largest tournaments in Asia outside of Japan, Mr. Kamphuis has been very open about what the federation looks to accomplish in the short and long-term.
• Competitions will be officially recognized by the IBJJF and will endorse National titles.
• Belt levels, Schools and Instructors will be identified and recognized to ensure authenticity
and promote the integrity of its participants.
• Having been recognized by the federation, competing internationally will become easier as your rank/school will already be authenticated.
• As a unified body the community will have a voice on the international level and greater access to sponsorship and public awareness.
• Training of officials, supporting-staff and unification of tournament rules.
• Centralized co-ordination of the sport, websites, news and results…and sponsorship for competitions which help lower the organizational costs and could provide more prices/awards to competitors.
Below are a few questions I sent to Mr. Kamphuis and his response. I’ve added some additional questions after the first set of replies to further explain on each topic.
1. How many levels does the IBJJF recognize and what are the powers of each?
IBJJF and CBJJF are the head Federations and run the sport on all Levels. Each of the other Federations are in place to promote, organize and propagate the sport at the local level. We would be the smallest Federation in this group.
1.1 As the smallest federation what are some of the responsibilities we must meet? Is there any quota to the number of registered competitors, schools and black-belts?
No, this is a medium term process we have this year to set up the systems whcih are issuing: ID cards, compiling grades per registration cards and registering schools.
2. What are the requirements for a team to be recognized by the federation? black-belt instructor?
Each team should be under a Black belt, whose own lineage can be traced back to the Arts Founders. Black belts need to be issued by 2nd Degree Black belts and above only.
2.1 For teams that do not have a black-belt instructor, what are their options? Does this situation force would-be competitors to switch teams/schools in order to compete? Would there be any program to have a blanket school to include students that do not have a head black-belt instructor?
The instructor teaching does not need to be a black-belt but the school itself and the teacher should have an affiliation to a black-belt. Otherwise, who can recognize grades and on whose behalf are they made. You could have situations where people start to grading themselves. Basically it identitifies authentic BJJ schools otherwise anyone can call themselves a BJJ instructor. This protects the sport and ensures that students who have worked hard for their grades are recognized and are protected. There have been situations where students enroll thinking that their instructor who is wearing a black-belt, find out later he is not really a BJJ black-belt.
3. How does this effect teams outside of PH coming to compete?
We welcome all competitors. There are no restrictions for players to compete in the Philippines.
3.1 Since the scene and federation is still growing, there is no restriction for competitors outside of the Philippines to compete. But in the case that one would like to compete in Japan or the US, they would need to have authentication by the IBJJF and or it’s partnering groups?
Yes, BJJFP is recognized and affiliated to IBJJF.
4. Does the card give access to other major tournaments in Japan or US?
BJJFP ( Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation of the Philippines ) can issue ID cards to its members which are accredited to IBJJF and the other Federations, this will ensure the ranks and teams from the Philippines are recognized.
4.1 Understanding that such an organization needs financial support, what does it cost to the school & to its students to be a member? I know in Japan there is issue between the JJFJ & BJJFJ where one is free and the other is not. How do we balance this concern to discourage the splitting of the community and the formation of multiple federations/associations?
There are three federations in Japan. The small fee that we charge which is about $10 USD and the limited number who take up the card in reality do not support the operational costs of a federation or the associated costs that go into website development and maintenance, competition equipment, poseters, banners, refs, shirts, etc. Basically it barely covers the cost to issue an ID card. In Japan, only one federation is recognized by IBJJF
What we are looking for is recognition and endorsement from IBJJF which we have for the competitions held here such as the Pan Asians, The Philippine Open, the National Championships (which determine national Champions), protection of the sport and recognition of the schools, students and their grades in the Philippines.
Once a federation is in place you do not have to go to an IBJJF comp from say the Philippineas and try to prove your grade or have to affiliate to another school, the process is already in place. If you look at it from the IBJJF perspective it is much easier to work with a federation than a group of individuals, any changes ro rules, grades and reff training programs can be implemented for and on their behalf.
I want to thank Mr. Kamphuis for taking the time to answer our questions at BJJ-ASIA. I hope this starts some healthy dialogue for those that are interested in knowing more and how they can take part in the positive growth of BJJ in the Philippines and SEA as a whole. -Luke