What are weight divisions and how does this system work?
When it comes to Brazilian jiu jitsu competitions, we all enjoy geting into the mats to roll and see who is the best, but as a contest, there are some rules to follow in order to make the fights fair for everyone.
For example, as a white belt practitioner, you wouldn’t want to be matched against any of the purple belts, as it’d be supposed that you’d get steamrolled during that round.
The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation uses a weight class system to separate the competitors divisions, besides from belt ranks and age categories in order to make the competition fair for everyone.
These weight divisions separate fighters according to weight limits, and the fighters need to attend and pass the weight check prior to their first match of the day in order to compete; if the fighter misses the target weight they are assigned to, they simply are not allowed to get into the mats.
BJJ weight class general information:
When it comes to the weight categories that are used in most tournaments, they are often filtered between the type of competition that is being attended, this is quite simple though, as these types are just whether you are going to wear a Gi, or fight in No-Gi uniform (rash guard and shorts).
Talking about the Official IBJJF Weight Classes, when it comes to Gi Competitions, the weight limit is a little higher in each division than the ones you see in No Gi competition, and this is due to the federation asking the fighter to generally weigh in while wearing their Gi on the scale.
Bjj competitors who are actively competing in IBJJF events know that they have to prepare differently for Gi and no gi competitions, even though other adcc championships, events like grappling industries, grappling X, NAGA and multiple others may have slightly different rules when it comes to bjj weight classes.
Are IBJJF weight classes the same for all the different tournaments?
When it comes to tournaments, the IBJJF rules are pretty much set and applied the same in every bjj competition they regulate, which means that you keep a copy of the chart with the contents, ibjjf weight classes have not changed in multiple years, and are set up both in Kilos and Pounds, so there is no excuse to miss the weight limit.
There are some distinctions in how the weight classes are applied though, as the regular chart will have multiple different weights according to the age group.
You can see that the Male and Female bjj weight classes are different, for obvious reasons, but you can also notice that the weights are also different when it comes to juvenile male and juvenile female classes.
When it comes to adults masters, the ibjjf weight classes that apply for male and female adults should apply accordingly; both for Juveniles and adults, the classes are separated in 10 groups:
- Light Feather
- Medium or Middle
- Medium Heavy or Middle Heavy
- Super Heavy
- Ultra Heavy
- Open class
The Open class is a special case, as it is an open weight division in which you do not have to weigh in to compete, and is usually the most interesting class in bjj competitions.
When it comes to IBJJF, in order to enter the Open class, you need to get to the podium in your weight class in order to be allowed to register, and this makes the bracket exciting as you could see the gi rooster class champion facing the heavy runner-up, or a mix and match of multiple talented bjj fighters.
When it comes to Black Belts, you can directly register into the open class, regardless of the results of the regular weight divisions; the same can be done at any level on an Abu Dhabi Combat Club or NAGA Competition.
Kids IBJJF Weight Classes
This are the classes that one should really keep an eye on, as each weight class for kids is filtered between both their age and size, and with ibjjf weight classes separating them in age groups each year from ages 4 to 15, you need to make sure you signed them to the correct weight division or if they belong on a different weight class.
To make it easy to all Jiu Jitsu parents, here is a list of the ibjjf weight classes for kids (gi only):
Males Juvenile Gi & No-Gi Weight Classes
When it comes to the male juvenile weight classes, all the regular rules apply as expected, where the juvenile no gi weight classes have their target weight slightly lighter than the juvenile gi weights.
They are also split in two age groups, Juvenile 1 (between 16 and 17 y/old), and Juvenile 2 (between 17 and 18 y/old) when it comes to no gi brackets.
There is simply not too much to worry about, and the official weight classes (in pounds) go as follows, having the juvenile no-gi weights on the Left side, and the Gi weights on the right.:
- Rooster: J1: 103 lbs – J2: 114 lbs – Gi 118 lbs
- Light Feather: J1: 114 lbs – J2: 125 lbs – Gi 129 lbs
- Feather: J1: 125 lbs – J2: 136 lbs – Gi 141.6 lbs
- Light: J1: 136 lbs – J2: 147 lbs – Gi 152.6 lbs
- Medium or Middle: J1: 147 lbs – J2: 158 lbs – Gi 163.6 lbs
- Medium Heavy or Middle Heavy: J1: 158 lbs – J2: 169 lbs – Gi 175 lbs
- Heavy: J1: 169 lbs – J2: 180 lbs – Gi 186 lbs
- Super Heavy: J1: 180 lbs – J2: 191 lbs – Gi 197 lbs
- Ultra Heavy: No Maximum
Female Juvenile Gi & No-Gi IBJJF Weight Classes
When it comes to the Female Juvenile weight classes, things are quite similar to the male counterpart, except for the fact that their Juvenile 1 and 2 divisions do NOT have different weight limits. It has to be noted that for female competition, the Ultra Heavy weight class is not considered, and Super heavy becomes the class with no weight limits.
Just like the male juvenile approach, we placed the female juvenile no gi weights on the left, with the Gi classes on the right:
- Rooster: No-gi 94 lbs – Gi 98 lbs
- Light Feather: No-Gi 103 lbs – Gi 106.6 lbs
- Feather: No-gi 111.3 lbs – Gi 116 lbs
- Light: J1: No-gi : 120.6 lbs – Gi 125 lbs
- Medium or Middle: J1: No-gi 129 lbs – Gi 133.6 lbs
- Medium Heavy or Middle Heavy: No-gi 138 lbs – Gi 143.6 lbs
- Heavy: J1: No-gi 147 lbs – Gi 152 lbs
- Super Heavy: No Maximum
IBJJF Male Adults and Masters Gi & No-Gi Weight Classes
Here things become less complicated, as the Adult weight classes and the Adult masters weight classes are applied the same, so if you ,as an example, are looking for the Male Masters no gi light feather weight class, all you have to do is look at the adults chart to know the master classes limit.
Following the same pattern, the weights on the left side are the ones for adults and adults masters no gi classes, with the gi weights placed on the right.
- Rooster: No-gi 122.6 lbs – Gi 127 lbs
- Light Feather: No-Gi 136 lbs – Gi 141.6 lbs
- Feather: No-Gi 149 lbs – Gi 154.6 lbs
- Light: No-gi 162.6 lbs – Gi 168 lbs
- Medium or Middle: No-gi 175.6 lbs – Gi 181.6 lbs
- Medium Heavy or Middle Heavy: No-gi 188.6 lbs – Gi 195 lbs
- Heavy: No-gi 202 lbs – Gi 208 lbs
- Super Heavy: No-gi 215 lbs – Gi 222 lbs
- Ultra Heavy: No Maximum
IBJJF Female Adults and Masters Gi & No Gi Weight Classes
The female weight classes work the same as the male classes, with the adults masters limits being the same as the regular adults, but just like juvenile classes, the Ultra heavy weight class doesn’t apply, making the Super Heavy weight class the one with no maximum limit. Women compete both in the gi, and in no-gi.
For this one last list, we keep the same process, placing weight class limits for the female adults and adults masters no gi limits on the left, and the gi limits on the right.
- Rooster: No-gi 103 lbs – Gi 107 lbs
- Light Feather: No-Gi 114 lbs – Gi 118 lbs
- Feather: No-Gi 125 lbs – Gi 129 lbs
- Light: No-gi 136 lbs – Gi 141.6 lbs
- Medium or Middle: No-gi 147 lbs – Gi 152.6 lbs
- Medium Heavy or Middle Heavy: No-gi 158 lbs – Gi 163.6 lbs
- Heavy: No-gi 169 lbs – Gi 175 lbs
- Super Heavy: No Maximum
Weigh in with Gi or without?
When it comes to the weigh in, you have to be aware that most tournaments will clarify if you will be required to wear your gi on the scale or not.
For example, any ibjjf gi tournaments will require you to wear your gi for the weight in.
The next two paragraphs are directly taken from the IBJJF website, regarding both Gi and No Gi:
Before his/her first fight, the athlete will check his/her weight with the Gi. There is only one opportunity to check the weight. If the competitor does not make his/her weight, they will be immediately disqualified. Please make sure that you are in the correct weight division. You can not change divisions, if you do not make your designated division. No changes will be accepted in the tournament day, no refund.
Before his/her first fight, the athlete will check his/her weight with the No Gi uniform. There is only one opportunity to check the weight. If the competitor does not make his/her weight, they will be immediately disqualified. Please make sure that you are in the correct weight division. You can not change divisions, if you do not make your designated division. No changes will be accepted in the tournament day, no refund.
How Do Weigh-Ins Work for IBJJF Tournaments?
It is quite simple, whether you have to check with the gi on or without it, on every competition you have to arrive and see if you are on the right weight before you hit the mats.
From prior experience, I can give you a simple run through the IBJJF weight check process.
Once you arrive and check in for the competition, you will walk into the venue and see the lobby area, which usually leads into the competitors entrance.
You will see the entry and an extra scale, which is used by competitors to check their weight and make sure they are going under the limit before the official weigh in, as they only have one chance.
You can step into that scale as much as you want, just to get your nerves off or to double check that everything is right.
Close to the scale, you’ll see monitors that show who the next fighters to enter a mat are, and this is important, as you will only be allowed to weigh in when your name is showing in the monitors and before it is your turn to be on the mats, so that time frame can be quite limited.
Once it is your turn to weight in, you walk to the officials who are sitting in the entrance and show your ID, before you are asked to step into the actual scale.
If your weight checks correctly, you will be allowed to walk towards your mat area to compete, if not, you will be sent back on your way to take a seat as an spectator, or back home if you prefer.
How can I see the weight classes for my specific competition?
Most competitions share their weight charts on their internet sites in order to make them easy to find and check for all participants.
They can either be attached to the rule books or on a separate image for you to check out.
IBJJF has spread their weight charts all over, so we took the time to attach the Gi and No-Gi charts in here in order for you to easily find them.
Weighing In Before A Tournament
The weigh ins are scheduled by the organizer and the time between the weight check and competition can vary.
IBJJF does the weigh in for a competitor within half an hour from him hitting the mats for their first round, while other tournaments even schedule prior day weigh ins.
Make sure to check out the dates in case you want to get a slight advantage by cutting weight.
Just make sure you hit the scales before you get into the mats, because not being on weight and checking in BEFORE the match gets you instantly disqualified from the tournament.
Cutting weight for BJJ competitions
When it comes to most combat sports, weight cutting is a detail that a lot of fighters do to get an advantage in the fight, by rehydrating between the weigh in and the fight in order to regain the lost weight and coming in strong into the fight.
In the case of BJJ, this is a difficult thing to get done, as IBJJF gives NO time to regain weight.
In other competitions, like NAGA, for example, you can go and weight in the night before, giving you around 16 hours to regain weight between the time you step into the scale and when you walk into the mats.
This, for example, would allow somebody who cuts into the light feather division to step into the mats way closer to the weight of a natural feather competitor. It is however, not a recomended practice in BJJ, even though it is a common practice in MMA and wrestling.
How much does a BJJ Gi weigh?
As you could see in the weight charts, the weights on Gi brackets are slightly higher, and this is due to the fact that the Gi itself adds some extra weight to the scale.
Some competitors wear light gis to tournaments in order to get the edge on their weight control, but in general, the estimation is that a Gi can wear anywhere between 2 and 5 pounds.
For that same reason, IBJJF tends to have a 4.5 to 5 pounds difference between their gi and no gi limits, which means a natural weight competitor shouldn’t worry too much about not being able to hit the required weight due to the Gi being too heavy.
ADCC World Championships weight classes
The ADCC World Championships make their weight classes pretty easy to remember.
For females, there are only two divisions: Under 60 kgs and Over 60 Kgs
For Males, the weight classes go: -66kgs, -77kgs, -88kgs, -99kgs and over 99kgs; and then of course, the Absolute Class (open class).
Weight Classes in other Tournaments
Most tournaments and grappling promoters will make it easy for competitors to check the weight charts and will let them know if they use the same classes as IBJJF or their own.
It is just a matter of checking once or twice, as some tournaments have a weight class each 10 pounds, others just vary slightly from the IBJJF limits, and some few others don’t have an ultra heavy and super heavy division.
If you are a lighter competitor, you do not have to worry too much, but the heavier side guys should double check, just to know if the bracket over 190 pounds may be the no-limit bracket this time or not.
MMA weight classes are typically different (check out my post on the UFC weight classes for example)
Will I get a refund if I don’t make weight?
In the case of IBJJF regulated tournaments, they explicitely write on the rules that there is no weight class change and no refunds.
In all other tournaments, it is unlikely that you get a refund if you show up and do not make weight, but sometimes, they can place you in a higher division if you missed weight, so you can still compete and your payment is not wasted.
These is up to the consideration of the organizers though.
How to make it easier for me to hit my weight class limit?
It is a matter of knowing yourself, if you are actively training and have a good regular day to day diet, you are likely to know your natural weight for competition, and just have to worry about not binge eating or being overly lazy when a tournament is coming.
For those that are not disciplined and only fix their diet to compete, it is a good idea to start as early as you know that there is a tournament coming, so you can easily get on track and compete comfortably.