Ontario Legalizes Amateur Grappling and Pankration Tournaments; BJJ Remains Illegal

Update November 30, 2017– I contacted Ontario’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport for clarification about what rules the designated PSO is allowed to use when overseeing grappling and pankration contests.  In a somewhat baffling reply the Ministry is taking the position that BJJ is not ‘grappling’ and remains illegal in Ontario despite this recent development.  Here is their reply:

The Ministry has recognized Ontario Grappling Association (OGA) for the sports of grappling and pankration. OGA must use the appropriate rules as outlined by their International Federation, United World Wrestling.

For more information related to this, please see below:  
Pankration – https://unitedworldwrestling.org/governance/regulations-pankration
Grappling – https://unitedworldwrestling.org/governance/regulations-grappling

The Ministry views Brazilian Jui-Jitsu as a different sport and will remain illegal until an organization meets all the requirements in the Sport Recognition Policy.


Earlier this year the Ontario government exercised their powers under section 83 of Canada’s Criminal Code by having amateur combat sports organized by Provincially recognized sporting organizations (PSO’s).

At the time the Government set out the following list of amateur combative sports that could be legal so long as a PSO was designated to regulate them:

  • boxing
  • grappling
  • jiu jitsu
  • judo
  • karate
  • kickboxing
  • muay thai
  • pankration
  • taekwondo
  • wrestling
  • wushu

The Government did not recognize any PSO for grappling or pankration at the time they passed Order in Council 1087/2017.

That has now changed.  Earlier this month the Province designated the Ontario Grappling Association (“OGA”) as the PSO for Pankration and Grappling.

Although the Government website does not yet note this designation I have confirmed with Ontario’s Ministry of  Tourism, Culture and Sport that this is the case with a representative advising as follows:

Hi Erik,

Yes, recently the Ministry provided recognition to Ontario Grappling Association for the sport of Grappling and Pankration.  We are in the process of asking our communications branch to update our website.

The OGA has also published the below self explanatory approval letter




















It is worth remembering that Ontario has taken the position that combative sports that are not overseen by the desiganged PSO violate the Criminal Code.  This position is legally questionable when it comes to grappling contests but the official line is this – Amateur Grappling tournaments are now legal in Ontario so long as they are overseen by the designated PSO (with the noted exception wrestling contests to be held by a school or a university where permission is required from the applicable school or university athletic association or its affiliate“) .  In other words the Government has created a monopoly for the sport.  Contests outside of this model may still be open to Criminal charges.



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