28 Mar 2017

Review: JiuJitsu.Net



Summary
Jiujitsu.net is the online subscription learning site owned by black belt Dan Lukehart. It currently comprises over 600 videos with around 20-30 added monthly. Lukehart teaches most of the techniques but there are also a small number of guest instructors, such as Paulo and Joao Miyao.

There are two major selling points with jiujitsu.net: narrated competition footage analysis and the flow chart style open ended learning system.

Lukehart is possibly among the best at analyzing competition footage. His teaching style is also highly concept driven and much of the content on jiujitsu.net places emphasis on positions, transitions and flow with very little emphasis on submissions. If you enjoy both those facets to learning BJJ, then this site is well worth your time.

Information
Website: jiujitsu.net 
Cost: $25 per month / $199 year
Number of videos: 600+
Ease of joining: One month trial period, then options to join monthly or yearly
Ease of unsubscribing: A cancel my account link appears in the settings
Downloadable content/offline viewing: N/A
Discussion forum/customer interaction: None, though the Facebook page is reasonably active

Disclosures: I was asked by Dan to contribute artwork for an unrelated project of his, in exchange I asked for subscription access to this website.

Lukehart demonstrating half guard technique

Introduction 
I first came across Dan Lukehart when I watched a live broadcast of an IBJJF event online (I think it was the Pans or maybe the Worlds many years back?) At the time, I did not know who the commentator was, yet despite commenting all on his own I was immediately impressed by the deep knowledge and insight to describe, predict and analyse the jiu jitsu I was watching all in real time.

Fast forward a couple years and our paths crossed when Dan messaged me about some artwork he wanted to use and I thought instead of regular payment, he could exchange art for access to his subscription BJJ site jiujitsu.net. Given how much I admired his commentating work, I had high hopes his own fully fledged tutorial website would be equally informative. And I was not wrong, it’s very different and brilliant, but there are notable caveats. Read on for my full review:-

Site navigation and layout 
The website’s opening dashboard presents a clean and fairly simple layout. There is an introduction clip, a colour-coded circular navigation panel and a side bar showing a series of clips in progression. There is also a curious looking interactive 'mind map'. Clicking on it reveals a chain of technique options that flow from the preceding technique or position. It’s cute and quite useful as a tool to see in a very visual manner, how positions flow out of a central base like a network. There is something similar on the Grapplers Guide website (known as Grappleflows) though it is a bit simpler in appearance. [A review of Grapplers Guide will be coming soon.]

Jiujitsu.net dashboard
Everything initially seems straightforward and simple, until you begin clicking on videos and trying to find something you want. Many other tuition sites present a long list of techniques and positions and it’s up to you to click on things you like. This is fine and logical enough, but if you have a site such as MG In Action, with tens of thousands of clips, it can be a daunting prospect, especially for a novice grappler.

What’s different here is that after viewing one clip, you can then progress in a variety of different ways. You can either explore the position in more detail (each successive clip delving into the technique further) or you can explore how the position can branch out to other positions. And that’s where the three control panels come into play. You can move on to the next clip by via the side bar (the options can be to either specialize or to progress). But another way to move on from the clip you just watched is to use the circular navigation tool or the interactive mind map.

At first, the navigation seems confusing and you might think there isn’t much content to see because sometimes clicking one thing might not work as you expected, but that’s not actually the case. There is a very large amount of content but in order to get the best out of jiujitsu.net you have to conform with the open ended structure.

Lukehart is a firm believer in seeing and learning jiu jitsu as networks of positions, each with options that stem one from the other. Once you understand and accept this way of looking at things, then navigating the site becomes far more intuitive. In fact such is his emphasis on positions and transitions that you’ll find very few videos that show submissions. 

The way to navigate the website takes a little patience in order to get the best out of it, but if all you are after is to catch up on the most recent stuff, then there is a tab where you can see the Latest Updates. Often, it is the easiest way to notice a technique or in fact an entire section that you might otherwise have missed because it is normally hidden within the nav system.

Content quality and teaching style
Every section on the site opens with Dan discussing the concept behind the position. This is vital viewing whether beginner or expert since most videos will link off from a prior one. Dan’s immense skill is his ability to break down jiu jitsu techniques and communicate them in an easy to understand format. Not surprising given his educator background.

If you haven't seen any of his YouTube clips (via his TrumpetDan account or BreaJiuJitsu account) then this clip gives you an idea of what his teaching style is like:-


Each video lasts on average of around two minutes. Rather than offer a long monologue, he breaks down the techniques so users have ample opportunity to either specialize in the same family of techniques or explore the different places it could lead to (eg by clicking the ‘try another way’ button). For those who are very short on time, there is even an option to view a briefer edit for each clip. Along the side panel, you can also view a thumbnail preview of other clips. I also liked the little pop-up option that sometimes appeared asking if you would like to view common problems. Finally, there is often the option to view the same thing mirrored, which I suppose helps if you prefer left sided over right or vice versa. It all adds up to content that is aimed at helping the viewer see things with as much clarity as possible.

Pop up option asking viewer to see common problems

I watched this site via my desktop computer with a decent connection speed so did not notice any lag or delay with videos or page refresh. The videos are not 4K but they are more than adequate and could be considered more or less HD quality. There isn’t however a facility to view content offline or download videos. There also is no specific app for smartphones, however the site does modify its appearance when viewed via a phone browser and it still does the job perfectly fine, including the interactive dashboard.

JiuJitsu.net as viewed from my iPhone
I am informed that currently there are around 6-700 videos on the site but that number also includes all the edited versions and alt views. New content is added each week. It is not as much content as many of the other big subscription BJJ sites but the emphasis with jiujitsu.net is very much based on curating self made videos that follow its teaching ethos. But currently, there are large holes in the available content. For example, I couldn't find anything on the standard x-guard, although there is a section on the reverse x-guard c/o guest instructor Gianni Grippo plus other x-guard variants. As an aside, the search function is actually very good, as soon as you type in the technique, a box pops up to show you all the options to select from:

Search function is very good but does expose the holes in some common technique areas

Also notable is the distinct lack of submissions. There are also no drilling, warmup, conditioning or other related training videos. The content here is 100% all related to technique and position…and it is gi only. There are no specific ‘nogi’ videos. That being said, most of the concept based techniques are applicable to both (obviously apart from gi gripping techniques like spider guard or lapel guard).

I wouldn't let the technique holes put you off, I'm sure they will be added. What is there is so very well taught that it alone will be of massive assistance to students at all levels. There is however a second compelling selling point to JiuJitsu.net: Dan's competition analysis videos...



Competition analysis
Lukehart excels at breaking down techniques used by elite BJJ players and the inclusion of such videos is one of the biggest attractions to using this site. He chooses a select portion of an elite level match, plays it real time, pauses, slows down, rewinds or whatever means necessary to point out the movements and techniques used. These analysis videos are used specifically to illustrate the preceding instructional video. Watching instructional clips followed by competition breakdown footage is I have discovered, a valuable learning tool.

The clip above was taken from his Facebook page and shows his own students. It gives you an idea of the way Lukehart breaks down match footage. Within the website itself, there are hundreds of analysis clips taken showing performances by elite black belts at major tournaments.

Conclusions
I sort of already knew what to expect when I asked to join the site. I wanted access to an instructor who was highly adept at breaking down and analyzing comp footage and also one who can break down jiujitsu in terms of concepts and positional flow. This is exactly what I got and it is very high quality instruction. But you have to know how to find it.

Once you get used to all the bells and whistles, the actual organisation of the website is very intuitive. The opening concept explanations are some of the best I've encountered in BJJ and although not very in-depth, there is enough content to keep me interested.

When I am researching a major technique or position, I'll usually come to this website first, mainly so I can hear Lukehart's conceptual intros and to watch the competition analysis footage. I will then cross reference this with other instructional content I have. As part of my BJJ instructional viewing habits, JiuJitsu.net has definitely helped give me  a deeper and better understanding of the game. For the novice student or even the more experienced player, it's a useful resource, one that would be best utilised when combined with other instructionals plus your own on the mat training.



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