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BJJ.Org merges with OnTheMat.Com

    Tue, 2006-09-05 00:56 — Don Geddis

    The time has come for a transition for the web site BJJ.Org.

    The time has come for a transition for the web site BJJ.Org.

    In 1993, Royce Gracie opened the eyes of the martial arts world (outside of Brazil) to the importance of groundfighting. I began training in the Gracie family's Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 1994. My web site for BJJ originally began a decade ago, on January 15, 1996, under the URL http://gracie.stanford.edu/. On October 1, 1997 I gave the site its own domain, and http://bjj.org/ went live.

    In those days, it was hard to find any BJJ instructors in the US (much less elsewhere in the world outside of Brazil). There was a small collection of qualified folks teaching in Los Angeles, but other than that you were lucky if your town had a club run by a blue belt, much less some real black belt available to teach personally.

    In the late-1990's, BJJ.Org had a useful niche on the web. Besides interviews and articles with BJJ teachers and fighters, I collected addresses of BJJ academies, belt ranks and lineages of students and instructors, and had a large set of online BJJ techniques with photos and videos. When BJJ was hard to find, many people found that a useful service. Of course, there were a number of academy-specific web sites, but as a place for the art of BJJ as a whole (and in the English language), the BJJ.Org web site had a niche.

    The world has changed. Most large US cities (and many international ones) have a BJJ black belt or two teaching there. A school run by a blue belt as the highest rank is rarely an acceptable thing any more in the US. The number of instructors has grown, and the number of students training in the art has exploded.

    At the same time, my time and energy has remained constant. BJJ.Org was never a commercial site, never made any money, and never had any staff. It wasn't affiliated with one of the official federations, supported by dues. It was just something I put together as a hobby, since I enjoyed the sport, and knew a bit about web sites.

    The combination of my fixed amount of time, with the explosive growth of the art, meant that updates to BJJ.Org have been getting farther and farther behind. (This isn't news to anyone who has tried to update their rank on the site in the last year. Allow me to apologize to all of you.) Worse, I had such a head start with the data I had collected in the past, that there wasn't even really a vacuum that some other site could try to fill in. Instead, it was the worst of both worlds: an established, long-lived web site (and ranked highly in the search engines), with enough data to appear authoritative; yet without updates being processed regularly, it was getting more and more out of date. Rather than being a boon to the BJJ community, as in the early days, it was becoming more of liability.

    I spent a long time trying to think of possible solutions. I could just shut the site down, which would be sad, but perhaps someone else would decide to fill the hole that appeared suddenly in the community. I could automate all the data and submissions; but then you run into the problem of a few bad apples out there and lots of spam. (A deliberately erroneous site isn't much better from an out-of-date one.) I could attempt to turn it into a commercial site of some kind, where the income (from ads, or DVDs, etc.) would allow me to afford paid staff to keep the data up to date. None of these options sounded ideal.

    And then I was contacted by Gumby, from OnTheMat.com, with a suggestion that we merge our two sites. After talking through the possibilities with Gumby, this seemed like an ideal arrangement for both our sites, and for the BJJ community as a whole:

    * Onthemat.com is a commercial site, with the resources and staff to put energy into maintaining things.

    * They cover MMA and submission grappling also, but have strong roots in the BJJ community.

    * They were already developing a belt database and school database, with both automated submissions and also manual quality control.

    * BJJ.Org was already hosted on their servers, as when I had bandwidth issues some time ago, they immediately stepped up and offered free website hosting and bandwidth for bjj.org; without their volunteer help, BJJ.Org would have already been offline long ago.

    * And finally, I knew Scotty and Gumby (the founders of onthemat.com) from a long time ago, as we all started as BJJ white belts at Ralph Gracie's academy in Mountain View.

    It is with pleasure that I thus announce the merger of BJJ.Org and OnTheMat.com. It is a "merger" only in the sense that this was not a financial transaction, but instead one of trust and responsibility. But the future going forward is clear: They have downloaded all the content from bjj.org, and found a home for it somewhere in onthemat.com. They have their own belt and school databases (with automated submissions!), but have populated it with the data I've collected for a decade. From now on, however, all the future work and credit belongs to them. I may be involved for occasional "special projects", but on the whole they are taking over the whole site, and by extension the trust from the community.

    I hope the BJJ community has enjoyed the last decade of BJJ.Org. Best of luck to the new, bigger, OnTheMat.com!

    Sincerely,

    Don Geddis
    webmaster@bjj.org
    September 5, 2006

    Note:

    The Academy Database can now be found here:

    http://onthemat.com/school_database.php

    The Belt Database can be found here:

    http://onthemat.com/belts_database.php

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