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What is a Walkover in BJJ? – NAGA Fighter

November 8, 2023
What is a walkover in BJJ

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is an increasingly popular form of martial arts. Because it focuses on ground fighting and submissions, people of all backgrounds can train in BJJ. That means people of all ages are beginning to practice and compete in BJJ tournaments. To be successful, you need to know the rules, including the strict circumstances and criteria under which you can win a competition.

There are four ways to win a BJJ match. These include:

  • Submission
  • Points or Advantages / Penalties
  • Disqualification
  • Walkover

That last method sometimes makes newcomers scratch their heads and ask, “What exactly is a walkover?” A walkover is a generic term used that describes when someone is in a bracket and typically is either injured or does not show up on time or at all to a competition. Whether it’s because a competitor is injured, sick, or for another reason, a walkover is considered a win, not a bye.

The difference between no-show and a walkover

A no-show is the action, while a BJJ walkover is the result. When someone wins a match this way, the tournament will officially announce the victory as “Winner by Walkover.” The match result and win criteria will be entered into the official record on Smoothcomp, the software used to organize competitions and track results. If you win by walkover, you will progress to the next stage of the bracket.

Top reasons to do a walkover

Most BJJ practitioners prefer to win (or lose) by fighting instead of via a walkover. However, usually, a walkover only occurs in BJJ because of a few specific conditions, including:

Injury or Illness

BJJ is physically demanding, and even though practitioners try to be safe and careful, there is always the risk of getting hurt. If you are already sick or injured before a match, it is often in your best interest to choose not to fight. Losing by walkover is preferable to worsening your condition by competing through an injury or sickness.

Did not come to the tournament or pulled out early

For whatever reason, if a competitor fails to show up to a fight in a tournament, they will lose by walkover. Alternatively, it is normal for BJJ athletes to enter multiple divisions in a tournament and then only elect to fight in one or two. Because BJJ is so tiring and hard on the body, competitors often choose one or two divisions to compete in and then drop out of the others. In this case, their scheduled opponents in the divisions they dropped out of would win the match by walkover.

Coin Flip

A walkover can be part of a BJJ team’s strategy to win a tournament. It is common for teammates to enter the same division and compete to earn a place in the final. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has an unspoken rule that teammates do not fight each other. In an instance where two teammates both reach the final, they may sometimes flip a coin to determine a winner. The loser of the coin flip allows the other to win the match by walkover.

Disqualification earlier in the tournament

In rare cases where a BJJ competitor was disqualified during an earlier stage in a tournament, they won’t be able to fight in any more matches. If they were enrolled in different divisions, their other opponents win those matches by walkover.

What to do if your opponent approaches you with a walkover

If you’re new to BJJ and have never experienced a walkover, you might wonder how it works. For example, let’s say you’re waiting for a match to begin, and your opponent has to drop out because they are sick. In that instance, the communication typically goes to the referee or the tournament organizer, who will declare it a victory by walkover.

If there is enough time, sometimes the bracket is redrawn so that no one gets a lopsided advantage. Sometimes, a BJJ competitor can win multiple matches in a row by walkover, which means they move ahead in the tournament without fighting. When redrawing a bracket, event organizers will always try to make sure it is fair for all involved. 

If you find yourself in a situation like this, the best thing you can do is be respectful, call over a judge, and let the tournament organizers handle the situation.