Sharing Technique: What Is “Stealing” In Jiu-Jitsu?

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest”

-Benjamin Franklin

In today’s internet-heavy world, many jiu-jitsu practitioners are turning to “Professor” YouTube in order to supplement their training or to find new ways to execute a technique. This leads to many old-school instructors becoming more secretive with their techniques that they share believing that they have some magic technique that only they possess and others must pay them to obtain via private lesson or seminar, and in some cases that might be true. However, in today’s day and age it is very rare that you’d come across someone who completely invented some new technique that no one has ever done before. There is no such thing as stealing jiu-jitsu technique, and this is why:

You paid for the technique when you paid for the seminar. If Brown Belt Bob pays to go to Jiu-Jitsu Star Fred’s seminar, learns a new detail that helps him set up an armbar from mount, and then brings that home to his academy to teach his students or makes a video of himself performing the move for reference, this is not considered stealing. Jiu-Jitsu Star Fred wouldn’t be justified in telling Brown Belt Bob he can’t disseminate that information however he pleases. Why? Because Brown Belt Bob paid for that knowledge by paying for the seminar. What he does with that information is entirely up to him at that point. The move has been taught to you, but does that mean you’re never to teach it to someone else or use the move? Unlikely.

You most likely won’t be communicating every detail the same way. Because Brown Belt Bob is teaching, or recording, his interpretation of the technique, he most likely isn’t relaying all the information word for word because he hasn’t fully understood the technique yet and is most likely going to miss a few key details. As Bob starts playing with the technique more, he will come up with new ways to execute the technique that work for him and then teach his students the same technique in principle, but with different details to get from point A to point B.

One or two techniques by themselves are not unique enough to be considered “stolen.” When you’re copying an entire series of technique and repeating the instruction verbatim, however, no one would fault you for considering that “stealing.”

Social media helps spread techniques faster than ever. This is obvious, yet there are instructors out there that ignore these platforms as a way to share technique and market themselves. There are thousands of different YouTube channels and Instagram pages that focus solely on technique. People trying to supplement their technique turn to these channels to try and learn a new way to execute their favorite technique. This is also an excellent opportunity to share ideas, get feedback from a wider audience, and help improve as a whole.

Chances are the technique has been done before. With the exception of a handful of elite athletes, there is a pretty high chance that this technique has been done before by someone else. When learning jiu-jitsu, we are essentially “stealing” from someone else because we are learning a technique that has been done before. When you attend classes every week and learn technique from your instructor and then go teach the technique to another student or try to help a lower belt by walking them through the exact same steps, you’re “stealing” from your instructor. But in all honesty, are you really?

There are people that are just trying to make a living doing what they love, but there’s a reason they say there isn’t any money in jiu-jitsu. If you’re limiting people sharing technique they learned at your seminar for fear that others won’t attend your seminars in the future, then maybe reevaluate how you teach or the time spend actually teaching. People aren’t going to a seminar in hopes of finding the silver bullet that will completely change their game. They’re going to a seminar to learn from you and maybe take home a few details that can help them add more to their game. If you think social media is taking away from you and your brand, maybe try to embrace social media to network and expand your brand. You don’t necessarily have to show high level jiu-jitsu in all your instructional videos — you could put all the free content as fundamental technique, then add a plug that you’re available for seminars or private lessons.

At the end of the day there is no such thing as stealing technique in jiu-jitsu, and if someone wants to create supplemental material or bring new technique back to the academy for their students, no one has the right to limit their ability to do so.


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