Sunday, 1 February 2015

Medals vs. Prize Money

I was thinking about this actually the other day, and that's about the idea of prize money vs. medals in Jiu-Jitsu. When I use the term 'prize money' I mean winning a cash prize for either winning a competition or placing on the podium. I mean is it really important for big competitions to offer cash prizes?

Before we diverge into both sides of this, I'd first like to share what competitions and events offer prize money and how much each of them offers.

IBJJF Pro League
  • First place - $5000
  • Second place - $1000
Abu Dhabi World Pro
  • First place - $30,000 (absolute), $8000 (weight)
  • Second place - $3000 (same for both absolute & weight)
  • Third place - $1500 (same for both absolute & weight)
  • First place - $40,000 (absolute), $10,000 (weight)
  • Second place - $10,000 (absolute), $5000 (weight)
  • Third place - $5000 (absolute), $3000 (weight)
  • Fourth Place - $1000 (same for both absolute & weight)
  • Super Fight - $40,000 (winner), $10,000 (loser) 

A total of $100,000 is divided between 14 competitors. I assume the higher you are up the card, the more money you will receive. I'm not aware if any bonuses are given if a submission is achieved.

Copa Podio

Copa Podio does not release any information in regards to how much each of its competitors is paid. It has been assumed that the winner gets $10,000.

Grapplers Quest

First place - $3000
Second place - $1000

Obviously, there are other competitions which offer prize money, but they are much smaller and less well known. The six listed above are the most major ones. 

I guess the main problem is that the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) does not offer prize money in the World Championships, nor any other of its major competitions (Pan Ams, Europeans, and Brazilian Nationals). But should they? Does it really matter?

Years ago, BJJ was famous for losing some of its major stars to MMA, mostly based on the terms of there was no money in Jiu-Jitsu. You dedicate your entire life to the sport, you go through all the bad times, all the hard training, and finally you achieve the pinnacle of our sport; becoming a World Champion and all you get for your hard work is a medal. Back then there was really no money in Jiu-Jitsu. 

Today, that is a completely different story. Athletes today have big time sponsors who are willing to support them in order to accomplish their dreams. There are lots of Gi companies out there which give their athletes free clothes and training equipment, will pay for competition fees etc. A company which seems to be quite popular among elite grapplers and even some world class lower belts these days is the clothing company, RVCA. This company is one of the main sponsors of the Mendes brothers, and invested money in order for them to start an academy, The Art of Jiu-Jitsu (AoJ). Recently, the major sports company, Adidas, is starting to get involved in BJJ.

It doesn't even end there. Lots of big name competitors have instructionals, and online training programs such as MG in Action, Estima in Action, All Galvao, Keenan Online, Mendes Bros Online etc. And recently you have been seeing major supplement companies such as Gaspari Nutrition and MusclePharm sponsoring a few athletes, and I'm sure more will soon jump on the band wagon. 

Obviously, only the top competitors in the world will mostly get these. But that is not always the case. You are increasingly seeing more purple and brown belts making a living from Jiu-Jitsu. Some of these even conduct seminars around the world and even have their own instructionals. 

Then again you also have your academy. This is most probably the main source of income for major BJJ athletes and people who are simply just an instructor. 

Right, let’s not start to get too far off topic here. I assume most of you who make Jiu-Jitsu your life did not do it for the money, right? Obviously, money is nice, but I assume you either made Jiu-Jitsu your life to one day become a world champion or to open your own academy or both. You did it because you love the art and wanted to dedicate your life to it, it has changed your life and you want to pass that on to others and improve people’s lives. I guess that is what Jiu-Jitsu is all about.

If you dedicate your life to one day become a world champion, and you finally reach that goal, will a cash prize make it anymore sweet? I can't answer that for everybody, but I suppose it wouldn't really matter but it would be nice. What you have striven for is the title. For the next year to be considered ‘the man’, and being known as a world champion. 

I guess the money is just a bonus along with the title because the gold medal is what usually anybody ever cares about. So, does it even matter about cash prizes? I think it does in the aspect of Jiu-Jitsu being seen as a true professional sport. Realistically, lots of big competitions need to attract major sponsors and offer a good amount of prize money to its competitors. 

In short, the IBJJF needs to put prize money for at least the winners of the black belt divisions in their major competitions. As Jiu-Jitsu becomes ever more popular, it will be more necessary every year which passes. If they don't do it now, it will only be a matter of time before they will. 

This concludes this article. I hope you guys enjoyed, and if you have anything you want to say, please feel free to make a comment. 

Before you go, I recently made a Facebook page. I'd appreciate it if you could LIKE the page. 

Catch you later,



  1. I'm not sure what I think about prize money. On the one hand, yes, it would be good to see the sport be viewed as a more "professional" one, but on the other hand there are a lot of amateur sports that are well-respected and that are doing OK. The athletes get support from their NGB, local authorities and sporting organizations because their sport is an amateur one.

    Could that be another option? Right now, BJJ is stuck in limbo - we even have competing organizations trying to get recognized as an NGB. I think sorting that out is as important as worrying about prize money right now.

  2. $15,000 in Black Belt Absolute in Marianas Open in Guam, April 16 2016.

    $10K to the winner.

    Defending Champion: Keenan Cornelius

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