REFS Ring Experienced Fight Specialists

“Superior Referees and Judges are MADE, not born”

- Nelson “Doc” Hamilton





Nelson ‘DOC’ Hamilton




Los Angeles, CA


REFS is the leading authority on Mixed Martial Arts officiating.

REFS conducts and distributes research based information to elevate the standards and consistency of MMA refereeing and judging.

REFS provides Mixed Martial Arts consultation to individuals, promotional organizations, State and Native American regulatory agencies.






25+ years



since 1986



8 years

REFS' Instructional Staff is directed by of one of the most knowledgeable and experienced referees in the fight sport industry. Possessing ring experience of 20+ years, and unsurpassed dedication to the sport, why would you trust your instruction to anyone other than REFS?

Nelson "Doc" Hamilton has been an advocate, educator, instructor and practitioner of martial arts since 1973. He holds advanced ranks in both Judo and Hawaiian Kenpo.

In addition to his martial arts involvement, he stays busy as a chiropractor, specializing in sports medicine. As a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), he is a consultant to both professional and amateur athletes. Also, he is a contributing editor to Ultimate Grappling Magazine.

"Doc" has been a licensed kickboxing referee in California since 1986. He also is a licensed Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) ring official in Nevada and New Jersey. He has worked as a referee and judge for the UFC, PRIDE, KOTC, SHOOTO, WEC, Elite XC, StrikeForce, and K-1.

Based upon his knowledge of the martial arts and his reputation in that community, he was appointed on four separate occasions to serve in an advisory capacity to the California State Athletic Commission. Having served eight years as an advisor, he has been instrumental in writing and re-writing the rules governing kickboxing and MMA in California.

With the knowledge and experience derived from his involvement in the sport, and as an advisor to the state athletic commission, "Doc" realized that there existed a critical need for the formal training of MMA judges and referees. Acknowledging this fact, he created REFS in year 2000.

“There is a DISTINCT difference between being a spectator and being a JUDGE”




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“One who WANTS to, finds a WAY;

One who doesn't, finds an EXCUSE




The following glossary represents the most commonly encountered MMA terms.

They are presented alphabetically and not necessarily in any order of importance.


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

Also known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, it is a martial art developed in Brazil by the Gracie Family during the mid-20th century. Originally based on the Japanese Martial art of Judo as it existed before WW II, it has since developed into an independent system with a major emphasis on ground fighting and grappling. Striking is strictly prohibited.


Originally, it was the code of ethics followed by the Japanese samurai. Present day, it is an MMA competition for fighters in the lightweight and middleweight divisions held in Japan and promoted by Dream Stage Entertainment.


A submission technique that restricts blood flow in the Carotid Arteries resulting in a competitor either tapping-out or losing consciousness. Some of the most frequently employed chokes are the Guillotine choke, rear-naked choke, leg triangle choke, arm triangle choke, Anaconda choke.

Dream Stage Entertainment

Also referred to as DSE, it is was the parent company of both the Pride Fighting Championships and the Bushido, based in Tokyo, Japan. It was the largest MMA promotional organization internationally.


The action of hooking (grasping) and pulling the inside of an opponent’s cheek so as to control his head movement. This is illegal under the Unified Rules.

Freestyle Wrestling

An Olympic grappling sport which permits contestants to attack their opponent above and below the waist. Striking is strictly prohibited.

Gi (ghee)

The traditional uniform worn when practicing aikido; jujitsu; judo; and karate.


Techniques of throwing, locking, holding, and wrestling, as opposed to kicking and punching.

Greco Roman Wrestling

An Olympic grappling sport in which all holds are applied above the waist in an attempt to throw the opponent. Striking is strictly prohibited.

Ground and Pound

MMA term which describes the barrage of strikes delivered by the contestant who is in his opponents guard or in the mount position.


A position basic to BJJ in which one competitor lies on his back with his knees bent and legs open. If his opponent is between his legs, the opponent is in his guard. Depending upon the leg position of the fighter on his back, the guard is refereed to as being an open, closed, half, butterfly, spider, or rubber guard.


A strike with the small finger side of the fist, as if holding a hammer.


Meaning “gentle way,” it is a grappling art created by Jigoro Kano in 1882. Based on the techniques of jujitsu, judo became an Olympic event in 1964. Striking is strictly prohibited.


Judo practitioners.


Also written as jujitsu, ju-jitsu, and jujutsu. Meaning “gentle art,” a traditional Japanese self-defense that includes kicking, striking, kneeing, throwing, choking and joint locks.


Meaning “empty hand,” a striking art which originated in Okinawa and introduced into Japan in the early 20th century by Gichin Funakoshi.


Adapted from Muay Thai, it is a striking sport, which permits punches, kicks, and knee strikes.


A Japanese promotional organization that promotes MMA, and the K-1 kickboxing events worldwide. K-1kickboxing competition is restricted to heavyweights only.

Mixed Martial Arts

A general term that describes the convergence of techniques from a variety of combative sports disciplines including boxing, wrestling, judo, jujitsu, kickboxing and others. MMA techniques can be broken down into two categories, striking and grappling.


A position basic to BJJ in which a competitor gains top position and controls his opponent by sitting on top of him in the “full mount” position, or from the side of his opponent in the “side mount.”

Muay Thai

Known as Thai boxing, it is the national sport of Thailand. It is a pure striking art form in which blows are delivered with the hands, feet, knees and elbows.


An erroneous description and characterization of the sport of MMA.


A fenced enclosure in which some promotional organizations hold MMA competition.


The name of a promotional organization and competition in Japan which includes open hand strikes and grappling techniques.


Meaning “all strength” or “all power,” this is an ancient style of Greek wrestling and boxing in which kicks, throws, and joint locks were used. It was the third combative sport added to the Ancient Olympics in 648 B.C.

Passing the Guard

This is a term which describes a fighter’s attempt to escape from his opponents guard in order to secure the mount position.

Pride Fighting Championships

MMA competition for light heavyweight and heavyweight fighters held in Japan and promoted by Dream Stage Entertainment.


A wrestling technique wherein a competitor attempts to capture his opponent’s legs and take him to the ground.

Spike, Spiking

After lifting and inverting an opponent, attempting to slam him headfirst into the canvas. This is illegal under the Unified Rules.

Sport Sambo

Also known as Sombo, it is a grappling sport and self-defense originating in Russia in the 1930’s. Sambo is an acronym for “self-defense without weapons.” Striking is strictly prohibited.


A defensive wrestling technique employed to block and counter an opponents shoot.


A grappling technique which forces a contestant to “tap-out.” Techniques include chokes, and the hyperextension or over-rotation of a joint.


The physical act of tapping the opponent, the mat, or one’s self to signal a submission. When unable to physically tap-out, a submission can be vocal.

Vale Tudo

A fighting style and MMA competition held in Brazil.


The parent company for the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC). It is based in Las Vegas, Nevada and is the largest promoter in the world.

“One who is AFRAID of losing, is already DEFEATED



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