Has social media and the influencer killed jiu jitsu???

Has social media and the influencer killed jiu jitsu???

Posted by Surya Sharma on

As a BJJ Brand that relies heavily on social media for advertising we have very conflicting feelings about this so thought it might make for an interesting read.
One the one hand there is no doubt that the growth of the Jiu JItsu, especially Nogi BJJ, has been greatly accelerated due to the huge reach social media has given it. On the other hand social media platforms all have their own agendas favoring certain styles of content that are not necessarily great for the Jiu Jitsu.

The good  

There is a whole ocean of BJJ technique videos and dope jiu jitsu content available free to all!
So let's start with the good. One of the biggest benefits of social media is that it has democratised our media consumption. Everyone with a cell phone now has a platform to showcase their skills, voices and opinions. Gone are the days where we are spoon fed content from a select few gatekeepers that push their own agendas.
With this Jiu Jitsu has received infinitely more eyeballs that would not have been possible without social media. Every BJJ event and new technique is pretty much available for consumption by everyone in a matter of minutes. When you combine this with the best of Jiu Jitsu it can only be good. 
As jiu jitsu is evolving and becoming more and more exciting, the increased exposure to events such as ADCC or new BJJ technique breakdowns that are now available to all, it is inevitably leading to growth across the board. Without this, I can remember a time when the only source of technique instruction was the gym, no bjj fanatics and no youtube BJJ tutorials, as you can imagine progress was slow and you were only limited to different styles you had exposure to.

The bad

Who else is tired of seeing everyone jump on the latest trending reel and seeing the same video 5000 times? 
On the flip side there is no doubt social media platforms have their own agendas. At the end of the day their goal is to keep people on the platform for as long as possible so they can serve more ads to you while you mindlessly scroll. Like it or not it is a business, the advertisers are paying and you are the product.
So what does this mean in terms of impacting Jiu JItsu. Well for one the human condition is that we are all pretty primal animals and our brains have not evolved much past cavepeople days. So naturally certain types of content trigger pretty powerful urges that keep us hooked. For example, which do you think will get more views? BJJ athletes talking sh!t and causing drama, or athletes giving a 5 minute breakdown of the intricacies of how they'd finish opponents with an outside heel hook. While the latter may be of more practical benefit helping others improve, I'd place my bets on the former to get better engagement.
While you can argue social media is not meant to be a tool to improve Jiu Jitsu instead it is just here to entertain, you can't deny the fact that social media is ingrained in the business of Jiu Jitsu and consequently has influence over the direction of the sport. Athletes rely on it to build their fanbase, BJJ brands rely on it to drive sales, and jiu jitsu gyms use it to gain exposure to potential new members. 
So the down side of this is we see unbelievably talented athletes fading into obscurity struggling to gain reach because they can't hit the algorithm. While others embrace the drama getting pushed to the forefront even if the content is not the most constructive. 

To Sum Up

Like it or not social media and influencers are not going anywhere within Jiu JItsu. While one may not personally like the style of content that the algorithms favor, we have to come to terms with the fact that this is the reality we live in and that social media is a  part of Jiu Jitsu we need to work with. So instead of getting our keyboard warrior rage on, understand the game 'is what it is'. 
Take the drama for what it is, entertainment or just noise you can choose to ignore at will. Ultimately we all hold the keys to the car, if someone does not like where things are going it would be way more constructive to make a conscious effort to consume and produce the type of content you want to see regardless of likes and shares.
Marc Sharma
Nation Athletics

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