What's up Canada? Jiu-Jitsu ILLEGAL In Montreal, UAEJJF Event Cancelled!

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So here's a weird one for you. The provincial government in Quebec shut down the Canadian National Pro tournament just hours before it was due to take place in Montreal his past weekend, because jiu-jitsu competitions are technically ILLEGAL in the region! 

The UAEJJF Abu Dhabi World Pro qualifying event gives athletes the opportunity to win all-expenses-paid trips to the United Arab Emirates to compete at the prestigious tournament. 

But an official complaint lodged by an unknown person or persons resulted in the Montreal police shutting down the event at the Centre Pierre-Charbonneau and threatening to arrest anybody involved with the tournament -- including participants! 

The whole problem stems from the fact that combat sports are regulated by the Canadian Criminal Code. Amateur wrestling and judo are legal under the rules, but the vague legal language used in section 83(2)(a) of the Code prohibits "prize fights," defining these as "an encounter or fight with fists, hands, or feet between two persons who have met for that purpose by previous arrangement made by or for them."

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Not a prize fight. Photo: William Burkhardt

The Montreal city police (SPVM) informed the Abu Dhabi Pro Jiu-Jitsu committee that it would enforce the section to arrest any participant in the tournament. Not only that, but they also said that the Municipal Prosecutor of Montreal intended to prosecute every case in court. 

"It should be noted that the commander of the SPVM in charge of the complaint did not know that Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) was different from 'jiu-jitsu' and did not have any strikes in its matches," tournament organizers said in an official statement. 

Le sigh...

"The Canada Pro Jiu-Jitsu committee, the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation and numerous members of the Brazilian jiu-jitsu community attempted to convince the SPVM of the difference between BJJ and jiu-jitsu from the time of the complaint."

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Kind of like our faces when we found out Montreal police thought jiu-jitsu involves kicking and punching. Photo: William Burkhardt

While it's painfully obvious to you, me, and everybody else who has ever seen or trained in jiu-jitsu, it seems that the SPVM couldn't accept that a pure grappling wasn't a contest that involved kicking and punching and therefore wasn't subject to the same rules they use to regulate MMA events in the area. 

"There were vigorous efforts and resources deployed to explain that section 83 of the Canadian Criminal Code did not apply to BJJ; however, due to the tight time frame between the time of the complaint and the event, there was no time to engage with the SPVM's legal department or to proceed with other alternatives solutions," tournament organizers said. "We tried every avenue possible until there was no other alternative."

So the tournament was cancelled and athletes were told to contact the federation for refunds. 

An alternative venue is being sought by the Canada Pro Jiu-Jitsu committee for an event scheduled for March 5.

Check out the full statement from the Canada Pro Jiu-Jitsu committee 

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UPDATE, March 1: 
The championship has been rescheduled to March 5 in Ottawa, and the tournament organizers are even organizing transportation for competitors from Montreal to Otttawa on Sunday morning. 
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