Friday, April 12, 2013

Artechoke in a Can: Why I Share Jiu-Jitsu Classes for Free

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you have probably noticed me promoting a series called "Artechoke in a Can." Artechoke in a Can is the online version of my weekly no-gi class at Steel City Martial Arts in Pittsburgh, PA. This week's lesson is on arm drags.

The content that I am now making public started as an experiment. After a couple of years of teaching a no-gi class once a week, I decided that I liked to teach in modules, lessons that connect and build from class to class so that I can explore one position or technique or topic in greater depth than is possible in a single class.

As I started to transition to the module format, I realized that some of my students, while they enjoyed the depth, were frequently frustrated by the approach for two reasons: since I only taught once a week, it was sometimes difficult to remember what we covered 7 days ago, and since every class built on the previous class, missing a class in the middle made it particularly difficult to get caught up and to enjoy the subsequent lessons. At the same time, the students that did make it to every class really enjoyed the way the classes connected to each other.

So how can you cater to both audiences? That audience that can make it to every class and the audience that might miss a class here and there because life demands them to?

Make the content available outside of class.

So, with the help of my students, I started filming each class and uploading the videos with some descriptive copy to a class blog. After a few months, some students at our more distant affiliate schools were using the blog, and students that had no connection to our school whatsoever were using the material as well. At that point, after some long discussions with trusted friends, I decided to make the material public to contribute in my own small way to the growth of jiu-jitsu thought.

I am a purple belt teaching purple belt level material, this is true, and I don't claim that my instruction rivals that of any black belt. However, I know that I learned a lot from non-black belts when I was new to jiu-jitsu, and I still do. Matt "Aesopian" Kirtley was a blue belt when I discovered his blog. David Levy-Booth (of the Jiu-Jitsu Lab) is a purple belt--albeit a very advanced one--and I've learned a great deal from him as well.

My jiu-jitsu has grown because of people like Aesopian and like David, people who love jiu-jitsu and genuinely enjoy sharing what they've learned with others. In my mind, it's not fair to take and not to give back. It's like taking fruit from a tree: because others were willing to share their jiu-jitsu with me, I was able to plant a jiu-jitsu tree of my own. Hoarding that fruit, even if it's not black belt fruit, feels wrong.

If one person benefits from Artechoke in a Can, all of the work will have been worth it.

Learn more about Artéchoke Media by clicking here.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! I look forward to checking that out. Personally I wouldn't feel comfortable sharing videos of my teaching until I get to black, which is why I stick to text.

    However, like you I've also learned plenty from non-black belts too (I take regular privates with a fellow purple belt, which has been extremely helpful). Indeed, your own video on Marcelo's back maintenance strategy was really handy. ;)