Saturday, May 23, 2015

Not statues ...

In our own way most of us are doing the best we can.

We each are driven by different motivational forces, at different times of our lives . We are not set in stone - we are not un-changing - we are not all alike - rather, we are an amazing collection of unique individuals, each replete with our own fears, dreams, wants and hopes. Many of us do though, share certain underlying interests, thoughts and values … and in coming together in an effort to further and express these things, we build bonds and friendships, some of which can last a lifetime. JBW

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Drop it ...

Serious martial arts training is really about the pursuit of excellence. The pursuit of excellence come, of course, with a price-tag attached .... it requires that we rid ourselves of a few things ... that we drop a little 'precious baggage' ...
To 'rise above', we need to rid ourselves of an easy acceptance of mediocrity. Walking away from the 'good enough to get by' mindset, is not easy, but it does, I can assure you, become a habit that easily flows across many aspects of our daily lives. As we cultivate a habit of being organized in our thinking and paying more and more attention to the details of our actions/thoughts, etc - we move away from the ordinary. 
We also need to drop the subtly corrosive habit (that many people seem to acquire through the course of their lives) of being envious of others ... personally, I have never experienced this feeling; I have always been in admiration of others who achieve and succeed, even when I have been down and out and living in a cardboard box ... but when I look around, I see 'envy' is a living cancer in many people's lives. it destroys friendships; wastes so much energy and divides society at every level. 
The pursuit of excellence also requires that we are open to the re-invention of ourselves each and  every day; this is not as easy as it sounds; but growth and metamorphosis demands exactly this! Children are usually adept at most of these behaviors - until parenting, the school system and social pressure kicks it out of them. Childlike wonderment, curiosity and desire of exploration are keystones to learning and the pursuit of excellence. It's not worth waiting for a better time to embrace some of these concepts ... there is no better time - than right now! JBW

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

One Mind - two ideas ...

Sometimes, life (and the mat) requires us to be adaptable. Flexibility in our thinking, allows us to see opportunities that we may otherwise not have seen. 
On the flip side; life (and the mat) requires that we forge ahead with intent; remain focussed on a particular goal, and get the job done, regardless! Someone driven by serious intent, is a force to be reckoned with. 
Consider this though - both (seemingly opposing strategies) have the advantages but they also come with a price-tag: forever adapting/changing - often leaves us with no direction/purpose … and we can wake up one day and realise we have achieved very little. On the other hand, too much focus on a single goal, and we can bypass opportunities/goals that are perhaps better than our original goal.

The real trick - and it is not necessarily easy - is to embody both mindsets - at any given moment. As Miyamoto Musashi wrote - Rat’s Head - Oxes’s Neck. Consider this carefully.  - JBW

Monday, May 04, 2015

Re-post: tactical discrimination

We have all heard the expression - 'don't discriminate' - but seriously, this kind of thinking is what binds people to mediocrity, what leads people to obesity, etc. Not discriminating when it comes to who we spend time with is just like not discriminating between the different kinds of things we can eat; like not discriminating between the different kinds of martial arts we could practise; like not discriminating between different approaches to exercise; between different investments to make; between cars to drive, houses to live in, movies to watch, books to read, etc, etc. Discriminating in regards to the kind of people we want to spend our precious time with may be the most useful kind of discriminating we can do; being selective in this regard can dramatically effect the way our life unfolds. We do discriminate, all of us - and we do so at every turn - but think on this ... do we discriminate where it really, really counts?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Struggle ...

Everyone struggles. If not now, then previously. If not before now, then perhaps in the future. Struggle is just a part of life. The trick is to prevail - to thrive - to be happy. 

But usually, ‘struggle’ is just a part of going about the business of living … when we walk up a steep hill, we might be struggling, but that doesn’t mean that life is bad. I make a distinction between ‘struggle’ and ‘real suffering’. Sometimes, life is a pleasant cruise, most times it requires some effort (struggle) - and at other times, we might find ourselves besieged by life-threatening pressures of one kind or another; but ‘struggle’ is ‘life’. It seems some people find it difficult to make the distinction between the struggle of daily life and ‘life-threatening’ situations. Such people might fly into a tirade because you didn’t take off as fast as they would have liked at the traffic lights … or their flight was delayed … or their toast was burnt. These things are petty annoyances - at best; perspective is something that most of us could do with a good healthy dose of on a regular basis. Embrace the struggle - struggle, after all, is what happens just before we experience success! JBW

Monday, April 27, 2015

Training Habits ...

Last night my sleep was interrupted b y smart TV’s automatically switching on (poltergeist style) several times throughout the night - in an effort to update their firmware. needless to say, today I googled the problem - ad have since turned off that lovely feature! But … to my point …

After that crappy night, not helped by overloading too heavily on my super-special secret potato and egg salad last night - I really didn’t feel like hitting my tabata workout this morning. But a mixture of sucking it up - and the fact that a few friends of mine slid by to join me - I went along and completed the 40 rounds of grind! This is just one of those times where buddying-up on the challenge, gets the job done. if you haven’t done so already - get yourself a training buddy - a diet buddy - an investment buddy - etc. it’s great to have someone there pushing you to stay on-mission at those times where you just feel like hitting the bench. JBW

Thursday, April 23, 2015

From the Centre outwards ...

Sometimes, to solve a puzzle, it can be worth starting from the end-point and working backward. Ask ourselves, what would, the solution look like? Then find a pathway from that point, back to where we are now … kind of reverse-engineering it! This is a great strategy for working out new pathways to old ‘finishes’ on the mat. Start with the ‘finish’ you like, then ‘back away’ from it along different pathways, to find new ‘starting points’. Many of us would have used this idea as kids - you might remember starting from the centre of one of those maze-puzzles, and working your way backward to the entrance - job done!  JBW

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Overnight Success ....

Most people love the idea of the Overnight Success - but more commonly than not, things just don’t unfold that way. it is easy for us to be stuck in ‘Spoilt Kid Mode’ - and when I think of this, the image of that precocious little girl in the movie Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, comes to mind - I WANT IT NOW!!! Big gains - sudden successes - instant mastery are all wonderful possibilities - the problem though, is this - we often discount the value and weight of small (sometimes almost unnoticed) successes … and it is these successes that ultimately make the real difference - over time. 
On the mat, we might not hit that choke, armlock or sweep we’ve been trying to work on - but we might, for example, get to first base and secure the grips we need to make it happen; this, in and of itself, is a victory. We should acknowledge these ‘small victories’ because they lead to larger victories in the long run. I remember when I sold my first book - I loved the idea that I made $8 profit while I slept … nothing to write home about, maybe … but over time, it all added up. Five thousand books later - there was a deposit for a rental property - and then time did it’s thing … small start, big outcome. 
When I began fly-fishing - I started in the tiny Otway streams near where I live and was happy if I caught a single 6 inch trout. But thousands of casts down the track, practising in those tiny streams, gave me the skill I needed to land double figure fish since.

So if you’re looking to lose a little weight or get a little stronger or fitter, you don’t need to look for big outcomes. Small gains … lead to big outcomes. Congratulate yourself as you make them. JBW

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Building a Game ...

What does ‘building a game’ mean? And how do we go about it?
Let’s think of another famous game - one replete with strategy and beauty … the game of chess. As with most games, we know it’s a ‘game’ because we have u=an ultimate goal - a purpose - in chess, the purpose is to vanquish the opponent’s King. On the surface, it seems simple - but the truth is that there is an almost infinite number of ways the game can unfold before this happens - therein lies the complexity. It is the same with BJJ … although there are many more ways to ‘finish’ than there are in chess … so I would imagine the ‘math’ on how many ways the game could unfold become hugely larger than those involved in the ‘chess’ game.

The main point to think about though, is this … to make a ‘game’, you need to decide on a ‘goal’ - or a finish. Once you decide on that (crucifix, triangle, arm bar, omoplata, clock choke, etc) then you try to uncover as many ways to ‘get there’ as you possibly can. In other words, ‘all roads lead to the outcome you want’. Of course, your partner has plenty to say about this … and that’s where the fun begins. But to build a ‘game’, start by deciding on how you ant it to end - i.e.: your version of ‘vanquishing the king’ - and then set about trying to get to that position from as many places/situations as you can. Stick with it - until you are good at it - at this point, you might want to continue building/developing/deepening that same game - or you might want to choose a different finish - and begin on another game. Endless complexity. JBW

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Problems are annoying - but Puzzles are fun ...

Let me repeat that; problems are annoying but puzzles are fun. And problems can be looked at in just this way - as puzzles. We all love games - or at least we used to when we were kids. We liked to solve puzzles, we loved to work things out - to peer inside and see how things worked. We poked the world to see what happened - stuff did happen; some good stuff and some bad stuff; but we all learned from the experience.
We are, in essence, problem-solvers. This is what BJJ is all about; it throws problems at us, each and every time we step onto the mat. It is challenging, sure; but we work stuff out. the more we solve problems, the more adept at problem solving we become. 

We all start out on wobbly legs - then we work stuff out. Next time you see a problem … try thinking of it as a puzzle. After all, you are a puzzle-solver! JBW

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Process ...

Everything is a process. One step at a time - an inch at a time - a dollar at a time - a technique at a time - a breath at a time - a day at a time - and hour at a time. The more steps in the process - the less likely we are to fall or fail. Break things down into manageable bites; rather than leaping forward in a desperate lunge. JBW

Monday, April 06, 2015

In defiance of gravity ...

Sometimes life is about defying gravity.

Sometimes life requires that we fly against the wind, that we defy reason; that we will our way forward when everything tells us otherwise. Acceptance can be a good thing, a wholesome thing … so I am told. But I need to share this … I have lived much of my life in a state of non-acceptance; and I think I will continue to do just that; until the last breath leaves my body. Defy gravity I say. Endure, rise and prevail where most others would not. For yourself; and for your loved ones. JBW

Saturday, April 04, 2015


I had a discussion with some friends the other day - about just how many snake-oil salesmen seem to be out'n about nowadays - ie: people claiming to teach 'tactical/law enforcement training solutions - but who have really just taught the odd police officer in their run-o-the-mill classes - there are people out there selling 'wealth creation' systems - yet are barely able to make ends meet themselves - there are people making all kinds of noise about 'integrity, honour, respect - but if you lift the curtain, it is plain to see that they themselves do not live in accordance with these ideals - people who are selling 'cutting edge' combative 'innovations' that they have just been taught by other people (people who they have not given credit to) - falsely creating the idea that they themselves are creative and innovative - and so on. The landscape, it seems, is literally crawling with snake-oil salesmen ... the sad thing is that good people, with good intentions are not only being misled by such individuals - but are having their time (time they can never get back) wasted and misspent. When someone is trying to sell you something - lift the curtain and see if they themselves are using their own product - with success. Just be prepared to be regularly disappointed ... JB I had a discussion with some friends the other day - about just how many snake-oil salesmen seem to be out'n about nowadays - ie: people claiming to teach 'tactical/law enforcement training solutions - but who have really just taught the odd police officer in their run-o-the-mill classes - there are people out there selling 'wealth creation' systems - yet are barely able to make ends meet themselves - there are people making all kinds of noise about 'integrity, honour, respect - but if you lift the curtain, it is plain to see that they themselves do not live in accordance with these ideals - people who are selling 'cutting edge' combative 'innovations' that they have just been taught by other people (people who they have not given credit to) - falsely creating the idea that they themselves are creative and innovative - and so on. The landscape, it seems, is literally crawling with snake-oil salesmen ... the sad thing is that good people, with good intentions are not only being misled by such individuals - but are having their time (time they can never get back) wasted and misspent. When someone is trying to sell you something - lift the curtain and see if they themselves are using their own product - with success. Just be prepared to be regularly disappointed ... JBW

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Moving Forward ...

Sometimes we can’t see step two, until we’ve taken step one. Extrapolate outward from that … and you will realise that we often cannot see the destination clearly until we are are nearly there! This all comes down to one thing … TAKING ACTION! When in doing - take a step forward. This is how discovery is done! JBW

Monday, March 30, 2015

The way forward ...

The best way forward is to keep our attention on the path we want to take rather than the one we want to avoid. I have known this my whole life - but I am still amazed at how easily my attention can still be drawn away from the more preferable outcomes to focus to those outcomes I would rather avoid. I doubt I am the only one that falls victim to this trap … the mind cannot help but run down many possible pathways that lead forward from our present … some good, some not so good, some (under special conditions) dire in the extreme; over-focussing on the latter, can be one of life’s most toxic and debilitating experiences. The future is as yet, unwritten … possibilities, all remain just that …. possibilities. JBW

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The right thing ... at the right time!

When I first began my BJJ training, the challenge I had was that my instructor lived in Brazil - and I, in Geelong. Also, at that time, I was living day-to-day and so money was always an issue. At first, I thought this was a huge disadvantage - but as it turned out, it might have been a blessing.

The fact that it was so difficult for me to get answers to problems that arise in my practise (not having access to my instructor - also: pre-internet, etc) mean’t that I had to ‘think’ for myself. it also mean’t that when I did get manage to get to Brazil, or Los Angeles, I placed a very great value on those things I learned on the mat - perhaps a greater value than the students who lived right there, around the corner. Consequently, when I cam home, I would practise those fundamentals (again, perhaps more than my USA-based counterparts) because that’s all I had to work on. Sometimes, the right thing, at the right time .. the right technique, the right concept or strategy .. can far outweigh, learning techniques by the ‘pound’. So too, the right word, the right piece of advice … at the right time, can make all the difference when we are struggling with adversity. This, in any case, has been my experience. JBW

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Longevity ...

Through thick and through thin … training has been there for me.
Through sickness and through health … training has been there for me.
Through poverty and through abundance … training has been there for me.
Through sadness and through joy … training has been there for me.

Through training, and the challenge, sense of discovery, attention to detail that it instils in me; I steer myself through the course of my life. My practise is not simply something I do - it defines how I greet each and every day. My practise shapes me; it gives me direction, a sense of purpose; it is as rewarding as it is challenging. The price we pay for embracing our training and making it a deep part of our life is nothing compared the the rewards we reap. Staying in touch with our child-like curiosity is key; never accept mediocrity and learn to appreciate this essential truth - we cannot improve on our own. JBW

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Action-oriented or 'Lotto-oriented'?

Luck is a word that is thrown around with more than it’s fair share of abandon. Someone once said that ‘Luck’ is what happens when opportunity meets preparedness. I kind of like that. Sure, pure luck does happen … but hoping for - or worse - relying on serendipitous windfalls to get somewhere in life - it the height of folly. I am a believer in ‘taking action’. Action gets you someplace - and that ‘motion’ may well open up even more possibilities along the way. Human beings are naturally ‘action-oriented’ beings … that is how our ancestors came to survive - even thrive - long enough to procreate and bear children. I have met my share of ‘lotto-minded’ people - usually they are the sorts of people that be-moan other people’s successes and cite ‘luckiness’ as the reason others pass them by. Society - and many of the social support systems we have in place - has made many people ‘soft’ - over -reliant on help from others - and unwilling to take action when it is called for. It is worthwhile remembering that our ancestors were (for the most part) hardy and resilient people - they were people who took action - who made things happen .. because they had to! An ‘action-oriented’ mentality or a ‘lotto-oriented’ mentality - it’s your choice to make. And it is a choice! JBW

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Curiouser and curiouser ...

As long as I can remember, I have had the habit of analysing things … 
I guess it’s a natural curiosity in me that needs to be satisfied. I remember in primary school, being asked to memorise the order of the planets in our solar system … mercury, venus, earth, mars, jupiter, etc … when I asked the teacher ‘why that order?’ … she couldn’t answer the question. I struggled to memorise them because some part of me needed to understand ‘WHY THAT ORDER’ before I could give myself permission to do it … later on, I came to understand that the order (obvious now) was determined by proximity to the sun … but the teacher had neglected to explain this to me (or didn't actually know herself) and so my ‘problem’. I was always asking ‘why?’ and if not ‘why?’, then ‘how?’. Why can that person do something but that other person cannot? Curious. Why is the alphabet constructed in the order it is? Why not another order? Curious. And so on …
Our natural curiosity is perhaps our most powerful ‘learning tool’; children are over-flowing with this quality - it is oozing our of their very pores. Often adults are just ‘too busy’ with the running of their lives to get back in touch with this childhood habit … sad! Very sad! We should remain ‘curious’ - we should nurture our ‘curiosity’ - it goes to the very heart of what it is to be a human being (in my opinion). JBW

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Wherever you are ...

One of my Laws of the Mat … is as follows:

Wherever you are is exactly where you need to be.

This is a simple but powerful idea. Think about it - no matter whether you are in ‘good’ position or ‘bad’ position - if you are there, you need to be working ‘from’ there - you need to not only ‘deal’ with it - because it represents the reality for you - but I would go further and suggest you find some ‘joy’ in being there. if you cannot do this, you are condemning yourself to only finding pleasure i rolling when you are winning/dominating. Let’s take this idea off the mat and into ‘life’ - there are many people who are experiencing happiness, say ‘on the weekend’ - this is a sad state of affairs. Wherever you are - whatever you are doing - find some joy, some simple pleasure - some learning opportunity. Life is very precious - we are all ‘experiencing’ - we are all ‘aware’ of our special existence - find happiness and luxuriate in the thought of it. Wherever you are - is exactly where you need to be. JBW 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Finding the trailhead ...

One of the huge keys to success - in almost any venture, is the ability to identify the first step in the process - then, TAKE IT!
But how do we identify that first step?
This is how …
By asking HOW?
The ask it again, then again … until such time you arrive at a clear and achievable ‘starting point’.

This process allows us to clearly identify the beginning of the path we need to take. But you know the problem with this idea … it is so ‘simplistic’ or ‘obvious’ that is is very easily overlooked. In my view though .. it is super important. JBW

Monday, February 23, 2015


Stepping back … from whatever we find ourselves wallowing in - can be a good thing. Stepping back and getting some ‘perspective’ has helped me on countless occasions. When we are ‘neck deep’ in a problem it is very easy for the ‘problem’ to consume our whole world - when in fact, when put in perspective, it isn’t anywhere near as bad as we think.

Stepping back, getting perspective, answers both the ‘how’ and ‘why’ I started out on a ‘holistic’ approach to martial arts training some thirty years ago. By stepping back I instantly became aware of the ‘holes’ in my practice - and so I started on the task of patching them up (proto MMA approach). It is so easy for our minds to be drawn to the ‘drama’ in our lives (some people actually seem to love drama - I am not one of them) - but when we ‘step back’ and get a little perspective, it is easy to realise how fortunate we really are. There are millions of people who will go to sleep tonight without food or shelter - there are millions of people forced to watch their children suffer with the power to do nothing about it … do we really need to worry about the fact that we might lose our job in six months time? or that one of the tyres on our car is wearing out? Or about some comment on Facebook? Or some other comparatively trivial drama? Perspective! Perspective! JBW

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The example we set ...

Below is a picture of my good friend David Meyer. He is a man of rock-solid ethics - and a person who I admire a lot. The world is so much more better off for having him in it - than not.

As martial arts instructors we can cause huge effects in the world; not only do the choices we make effect our own lives but they effect the lives of hundreds or even thousands of other people. This is why I try to live and act ‘deliberately’ and ‘mindfully’; through my actions, words and choices, I impact (both knowingly and unknowingly) on many other people’s lives; and that fact should demand my attention! I know many other instructors who are also mindful of this; mindful of their ‘responsibilities’ and are constantly striving to build positive and intelligent cultures in their schools. Sadly, I also know of certain types of instructors who sit at the other end of the ‘bell-curve’, they still lead by example, just a different kind of example.

In the end it doesn’t matter how many trophies and instructor has up on his wall; it doesn’t even matter (as much as he might think it does) how well he can fight/compete, etc; what really matters is how his life unfolds as a result of his actions and choices; and perhaps even much more importantly, how the lives of his students unfold as a result of his influence. The instructor influences many people’s lives; it is how he influences those lives that will eventually earn him the respect of his peers, family and wider community or consign him to a life soon forgotten or ignored by the world at large. JBW

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Different Strokes ...

As the old saying goes … birds of a feather flock together. Like seems to attract like; and thank goodness for that. There are certain martial arts gyms out there that seem to value trash talk, bad attitude, irreverent behaviour, and the like … and although I abhor those things, I still think those particular sorts of schools provide a service; they provide a venue for the kinds of people that I myself would not want in my school. Each school has a certain culture in place - people tend to gravitate toward the school that offers the kind of culture they aspire to - or like - and, I for one, am glad of that! The only down-side is this … someone new to martial arts might have the misfortune to walk into one of those schools and make the mistake of thinking all schools are of similar vein … and then, after a bad experience or two (or three) they quit training and never venture into another school again. Not all schools are the same - not all restaurants are the same - not all fitness trainers are the same, etc. To borrow a line from an Indiana Jones movie … ‘choose wisely!’ JBW

Monday, February 16, 2015

A duty of care ...

All instructors need an imaginary time-machine. They need to be able to relate to what it’s like for a rank beginner to start out on their martial arts journey. It is so very easy for elite level instructors to forget what it is like for someone to work up the courage and walk into a martial arts school, for the very first time. 
As instructors, although we need to challenge our students, I feel we also have a duty of care to nurture them; to guide them to a place where they can see the benefits of training, accept that challenges are a part of any worthwhile endeavour and inch their way forward toward real skill-acquisition. We need to look after them; physically and emotionally. Training is completely futile, if  new students give up before they make any headway. 

People need help, guidance, assistance, nurturing … that is why they come to us in the first place. The first rule of instruction is to care about your students - their lives are not our lives; their feelings are not our feelings; they are unique beings … who have made the remarkable decision to place themselves in our care. We all need to reward their faith with the respect and attention it deserves. JBW