On an average day in our life, we make on average about 35,000 ‘remotely’ conscious decisions. Some of these decisions are in our grasp to influence and many are beyond our control. As humans, our decisions are influenced by multiple factors including fatigue, hunger, air quality let alone other environmental external factors such as bias and bribery.

On a daily basis in our modern society, decisions are being made everyday. We have leaders who are in charge of making decisions that influence how our society is run, how work is to be executed, how order is kept and much, much more. Presidents. Police officers. Principals. CEOs. The list goes on.

Let’s look at this scenario for some perspective.

You’re in the courtroom - the court of justice.

In this environment, there is a method of how arguments are presented and defended prior to a judge making a final decision of the defendant’s innocence or guilt. In the field of law, the ability to appeal against a verdict is available and the rights to a fair trial can be obtained. That isn’t to say there isn’t corruption in the field of law, there is corruption and possible bias in every field. There is the option to appeal and a system to the appeal process.

As a brand that is heavily involved with the jiu-jitsu world, comparisons that are made will usually have a parallel to the jiu-jitsu world. The comparison of the court room and the competition mat now has to be made. Athletes from various different camps all over the world work and invest their time into training, diet, trying to make a living, recovery and so much more to compete at the most prestigious events on the competition calendar including the Pans, the Abu Dhabi World Pro and what's considered to be the event that every serious competitor trains for : the IBJJF Worlds. There is an abundant amount of sacrifice and devotion to the sport to be able to perform at these events without other external factors affecting it.

Matches inevitably have a few different outcomes which include :

  • Win/loss by submission
  • Win/loss by points/advantage
  • Injury
  • Disqualification
  • Referee decision

Where the grey area exists is in the referee decision.

A referee that has the authority to make an instantaneous decision on the final outcome of a match that athletes have worked all year for. Hours and hours of work invested into their attempts at being champions in their events to be slapped to the side by a decision that took seconds. The referee decision itself is not an issue, but to have an ineffective appeal process that cannot change the decision or place the title with the athlete who is deserving of it is an issue.

My personal thoughts on an appropriate appeal process would be firstly to implement a comprehensive video review system like other professional sports already have in place in the NFL and NBA. Human error is not an issue if we have procedures in place to give a fair verdict of all possible outcomes. In addition, having a national representative and/or body from each country that will vote on the appeal or verdict to give a fairer representation of a match decision - imagine something that will become along the lines of the ‘UN of jiu-jitsu’.

If it really is an international federation, it should be striving to give an international representation.

Margot Ciccarelli