Rules and Divisions

About Sub Only

Submission Only is not a new concept. It involves no time limit, referee decisions, modified rules, and the possibility of draws. These elements have been tested in open invite tournaments, achieving significant success with the help of Eddie Bravo nearly ten years ago. Utilizing the EBI Overtime concept with age and skill level adjustments, Submission Challenge has hosted over 100 events across the United States, welcoming competitors aged 4 to 74.

Why Choose Sub Only?

  • Excitement and Fun: Each match is vibrant, engaging, and friggin awesome; offering a positive experience for everyone.
  • Innovative Rules: EBI Rules have transformed Submission Only competitions, proving to be the superior ruleset. Submission Challenge continues to lead the way in pioneering these rules for open invite competitions.

Ways to Win a Match:

  • Submission: Achieve a submission victory within regulation time.
  • Overtime: Win by submission, fastest submission time, or quickest escape time.
  • Disqualification: Win due to opponent’s disqualification.
  • Forfeiture: Win if the opponent forfeits the match.

Regulation Match Time Limits:

  • Adults: White Belts - 6 minutes; Blue Belts and above - 8 minutes.
  • Teens: All skill levels - 5 minutes.
  • Youth: All skill levels - 4 minutes; Novice Rules - 2-minute rounds Learn more here.


Overtime Rules

Overtime immediately follows a draw at the end of regulation time, without a break unless required by the referee. Failure to commence overtime results in disqualification. Competitors choose from designated 'Dead Zones'—the Back or Spiderweb—to attack or defend. Each competitor gets one opportunity to secure a submission during their attack phase in overtime.

Starting Positions for Overtime: Based on aggression and submission-focused strategies during the match, the referee will assign the initial offensive or defensive position to the competitors.


Overtime Starting Positions

1. Back Control with Seatbelt Grip


  • Position: Competitors start in a seated back control position, upright with both hooks and a seat belt grip.
  • Preparation: The opponent may have their hands in place on the seatbelt grip and chin tucked before the referee starts the round.
  • Note: A body triangle may only be applied after the round begins.

Visual depiction of the starting position in Back Control with Seatbelt Grip.

2. Spiderweb (Arm Bar Position)


  • Position: Each competitor must have arms hooked from the crook of the elbow to the crook of the opponent's elbow.
  • Defense: The opponent defending the position may have their arms in any defense configuration they desire.

Visual depiction of the starting position in Spiderweb or Arm Bar Position.

Submission Shootout in Overtime:

  • Competitors aim to submit or escape as quickly as possible.
  • Each has a chance to submit from a chosen dead zone or escape from the opponent’s choice.
  • Match Win Conditions:
    • Submission within the single OT round in regulation matches.
    • Up to 3 overtime rounds in finals for 1st and 2nd place.
    • Fastest combined escape time determines the winner if both competitors escape.

Overtime Specifics:

  • For competitors under 8 years old, only BACK CONTROL is allowed in overtime.
  • Overtime Rules for Kids: No standing submissions for competitors under 13. Neck cranks are illegal, including "Can Openers." Twisters are permitted from Blue Belt level and up.

The Get Down Rule:

  • Activated after 2 minutes of inactivity, defined by lack of takedown or submission attempts.
  • A coin toss determines the top/bottom position, promoting action towards a submission:
    • 1st Get Down: Butterfly guard with double underhooks.
    • 2nd Get Down: Mount position.
  • The match resumes with the goal of achieving a submission.

Youth Novice Division Rules (4 - 12 Years):

  • Positional Shootout: The first to achieve Mount or Back Control wins; control must be maintained for 5 seconds.
  • Rounds: Best out of 3, each 2 minutes long.
  • Overtime: Back Control only; the fastest escape wins after one round.

Note to Parents:

  • Referees prioritize safety, stopping matches if a submission attempt poses a risk of injury.

Weight Classes and Age Ranges:

  • Weight Classes: Listed from 39 lbs and under up to 236 lbs and above.
  • Age Ranges: Youth (4-6 yrs, 7-8 yrs, 9-10 yrs, 11-12 yrs), Teens (13-15 yrs, 16-17 yrs), Adults (18+ yrs), Masters (30-34 yrs, 35-39 yrs), Directors (40-44 yrs, 45-49 yrs), Executive (50-54 yrs, 55+ yrs).

Skill Levels:

  • Adult Divisions (No-Gi and Gi): Novice, White Belt, Blue Belt, Purple Belt, Brown Belt, Black Belt.
  • Youth/Teen Divisions (No-Gi and Gi): Novice, White Belt, Gray Belt, Yellow Belt, Orange Belt, Green/Blue Belt.
  • Absolute Divisions (All Skill Levels, All Weight Classes): White, Blue, Purple, Brown, and Black Belts.

This format prioritizes clear sections and straightforward descriptions to ensure that participants can easily understand the rules and structure of the competition.