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From Many Masters to Many Students: YouTube, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and communities of practice

Author:

Dale C. Spencer

University of Manitoba, CA
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Abstract

Prior to the last two decades, martial arts practice in Western countries was shrouded by secrecy and esoteric philosophies and there was very little transmission of techniques between practitioners outside of individual martial arts clubs. Techniques were passed down from one master to many students. With the increase in popularity of mixed martial arts, there has been a greater exposure to and transmission of martial arts techniques between practitioners across the globe. Now, anyone with access to television or the Internet can watch and analyze martial arts techniques. In relation to one prominent martial art, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the Internet has come to serve as the means by which practitioners transmit Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques, profess the philosophies of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and reflect on the current state of the art. Based on reflections on the last five years of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practice and analysis of video posts by martial arts practitioners and comments by viewers, this article probes the nexus between ‘offline’ communities of practice and ‘virtual’ communities of practice that are centered on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu technique acquisition. Specifically, focus is on the use of YouTube as a tool for disseminating and learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques. Drawing from theories of communities of practice and skill acquisition, this article examines how the exhibition of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques on YouTube has become integrated into practice of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu across the globe. With this mediatization of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and other martial arts, it is no longer viable to conceive of pure internet-based and offline social networks. The transmission of martial art techniques now consists of many masters and many students.

How to Cite: Spencer, D.C., (2014). From Many Masters to Many Students: YouTube, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and communities of practice. JOMEC Journal. (5), p.None. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/j.2014.10274
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Published on 01 Jun 2014.
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