Each of us … in our own way, does the best we can - the best we are capable of at a given time under a given set of circumstances. And each of us begins each day with a unique construct of both mind and body … no two of us are the same - and yet, in many ways, most of us strive for the same thing - to better ourselves, our circumstances and raise ourselves beyond what we were yesterday. Thinking plays a large part in how well we fare - as does the company we choose - but luck also, plays a large part. The opportunities are different in a small country town from those in a large city; in a country town it is harder to leverage toward financial independence through say, property development - but then again, in the big city we have a greater chance of being injured or killed in a car accident. One path, one set of circumstances takes us further from one outcome and closer to another … our choices can overcome our circumstances, but those circumstances do define how each of us will begin our journey. When someone comes to begin training at my school - I am very and fully aware that their journey to that point in time was theirs alone - and utterly unique. I cannot rightfully expect each and every student to learn the same way, at the same rate or e driven by the same motivation - each is different, each unique - and each will place a different value on what they are learning and each will judge their open progress in a different way. Ultimately, each person walks a unique path - and in most of the ways that matter - each is doing the best they can … given who they are and given the path they have walked thus far. JBW
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
We are fortunate in the extreme to live in a world, that for the most part, affords us with loads of opportunity and a relatively affluent lifestyle. it does though, come at a price. And one of the ways we 'pay' - is that we have forgotten how to 'work and toil for reward'. Everything comes so easy. We want food, we head to the supermarket - most of us don't go to the trouble of growing and cultivating it ourselves. We live in a 'I want it now - and I expect to get it now' society. This also goes to 'ranking' in martial arts culture. Many people don't see the work as the priority - and many are, in my opinion, over-focussed on getting the new belt - rather than being satisfied and fully invested in the training. Check out the famous 'marshmellow experiment' - in which kids are offered a choice between one marshmellow now, or two if they are prepared to wait just 15 minutes. You guessed it - the majority couldn't find it within themselves to wait. In one version of this famous experiment, the subjects were tracked into their adulthood - and the minority who possessed the 'will power' to wait the extra 15 minutes to get the two marshmellows, were far and away happier and more successful than their counterparts who opted for instant gratification. So it seems, that those who overcome their craving for instant gratification - and swap 'short term gain' for 'long term better-gain' - seem to do well in the game of life. This idea can be applied to so many aspects of our lives ... and, in my opinion, it is skill we can work at and develop. if you are 20-30 years old - and you can forego the short-term pleasure of spending 100% of your earnings - and can put away just 10% of that money and invest it - you will be a millionaire several times over by the time you are 50. And that's just one slice of the pie - developing some will-power affords us many an opportunity to do better in the long run. Please 'google' the marshmellow experiment if you have not heard of it ... I hope you take this important lesson on-board. JBW
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
The art of prioritisation is one that is well worth cultivating.
If you want to build a strong competitive game on the mat – you are best off starting by prioritizing your ‘plan of action’ in each position. When it comes to the crunch – those who act immediately and decisively when a given situation arises, usually do much better than those who do not. The construction on a good ‘game plan’ begins with ‘ordering’ or ‘prioritizing’ the possible actions or paths (read: techniques) we could execute in any given situation.
This is very much in contrast to ‘free-flow’ roiling – wherein we do not want to prioritize but rather react and experiment with different (even novel) reactions to events as they arise.
Neither approach is better than the other – they both offer different pay-offs. Prioritizing (developing a very specific game-plan) builds ‘depth’ and ‘intent’ – whereas Free-flow reacting develops ‘breadth’ and ‘adaptability’.
In life away from the mat – again, both approaches provide benefits. Free-flow living builds character, adaptability; an understanding of the bigger picture – but prioritizing allows us to get things done – to achieve – to build wealth – to hit goals.
And again – it is a blending of the two approaches – a balance of both, that achieves the best results of all.
Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Innovation is naturally driven by necessity and circumstance, and our capacity for creativity seems boundless; but it is when we are cut loose from the confines of familiarity that we can truly tap into our innovative potential. Becoming more innovative is more about familiarising ourselves with risk, and less about staying with the tried and true.
Ideas spread if they have survival value. In this sense, they are subject to evolutionary forces in a similar way to living things. Good ideas survive and propagate, bad ideas die a natural death. Ideas that other people have about us, also spread and propagate. What ideas these are, depends much on how we go about our work and how we live our lives. Building a solid reputation begins with making small promises and living up to them. JBW
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
We shouldn’t let our ground game be defined by say, our half-guard … any more than we should let the larger aspect of who we are be defined by our bank account balance, the car we drive, etc.
If our whole ground game is based on half-guard - and we lose that position, we may find ourselves left wanting …
If our whole life is about the business of making money - and we lose that money, we may find we have nothing left to live for.
But if our whole life is about having fun - and we never spend a thought on our financial future, we may wake up one day and find we have no means to do the things we want to do.
As in all things - what we need is balance.
Having said that though - I do believe in 'going deep', 'drilling down', and 'staying focussed' ... it's just that I don't believe it is healthy to do that forever and allow that one thing to define who we are. We should be like the meerkat ... drill down, go deep ... but come up and take a look around every now and then, and get some perspective.
For those of us who see our martial arts practice as a metaphor for life … we should be able to accept that a single-minded narrow-focus on one thing, can often leave us ‘wanting’ in other areas. We are, at the end of the day, defined by the ‘totality’ of who we are - and not about that ‘awesome-one-thing’ that may or may not set us apart … JBW
Monday, March 17, 2014
Have you ever renovated one room of a house? You turn that room from a three-star bathroom to a five-star bathroom … but then what happens? In the end, you realise something … you realise that you can no longer live with your three-star lounge room. So you renovate that - to match your bathroom. Next thing you know … you have renovated your whole house. I suspect that this is something that women intuitively know … and the (often unsuspecting) husband wakes up one day in a fully renovated house, wondering how it all happened; after all, his wife only asked him to renovate the bathroom - the rest had been his decision ... right?
And so it is with our BJJ game … when we deepen our understanding of one technique, when we really pull it part, analyse and even improve it … we begin to sow the seeds of discontent with regards to how we view the rest of our game/arsenal. And so - over time - we raised the bar and improve ourselves. This is one of the outcomes I try to achieve in teaching the seminars (and classes) I run; I try to deepen everyone’s understanding of the given subject matter … hoping that in doing so, everyone will re-consider, re-analyse and re-think their understanding of everything else they know. If you learn to cook a world-class soufflé - chances are that you will re-look at how you cook up your morning porridge. JBW
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Consider how we might navigate from one location to another - either in a city or in the wilderness:
Certainly, we might have an end-point (an outcome) in mind … but we do not dwell or remain focussed on that as we push forward - instead, we break the ‘journey’ up into a series of small (more manageable) legs. Our focus remains directly on the ground beneath our feet - on those steps immediately in front of us … and so we overcome the innumerable little (and sometimes big) obstacles that hinder our progress.
Maintaining Lazer-focus on making small headway is one the real secrets to getting stuff done. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be easily pulled ‘off mission’ - we shouldn’t lose focus on that part of the pathway that lies immediately before us.
In BJJ, for example - if you want to execute your favourite Spiderguard Sweep - you don’t place your focus on the sweep itself - or even on the outcome … rather, you place all of your attention on getting that first grip on the sleeve - understand the strategies and movements you might need to employ to get that done - and then, your foot goes on the bicep - and then - you attend the the next step in the series of small battles that will ultimately lead to the sweep or attack you want to execute. Maintaining focus and clarity on each of the many steps you need to make to get the job done - is the real secret to the success that the very best enjoy. Use this strategy to grow great tomato plants, to build yourself a home or to send a rocket to the moon. You need to know where you are going - for sure - but you need to get ‘super clarity’ on each of the steps necessary top get you there. Lazer focus! JBW
Thursday, March 06, 2014
Monday, February 24, 2014
‘Think - and so it shall be’ - ‘visualise and the universe will manifest it for you’ … these big ‘secrets’, in my view - are fine examples of the kind of new-age hogwash that people not only swallow in ever-growing portions but they often may handsomely for the privilege of doing so.
I do believe in ‘thinking’ - I do believe in the benefits of day-dreaming’ - but I also know this simple truth: if you want something to happen, you need to take action! If a lion is chasing you - pray by all means - visualise if you must - but do so whilst running!
The so-called law of attraction is, like the concept of goal visualisation - is very widely misunderstood. When we identify something that we want, and it gains ‘meaning’ in our mind - our brain scouts our environment for any thing/events/situation that might help us achieve our desire. Simple as that. It’s the same kind of deal when you buy a new car (say a jeep) … then suddenly, you see Jeeps everywhere - of course they were always there, they were just never personally important to you before, The universe didn’t have anything to do with it … it certainly didn’t manifest them for you - your brain switched onto ‘seek and solve’ mode. Seek and solve … that’s the real secret! Yikes! JBW
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
In many ways this relates to the old 100 points idea. It goes like this ... each of us has, at our mental disposal, 100 points to spend. Any time we are taking those first wobbly steps in learning a new skill or creating a new routine, we need the lions share of our 100 points to get the job done ... leaving few points left over for attending other tasks. of course, once we have laid down those tracks and embodied the new skill-set or routine ... then we get a lot of those points back and are able to use them to attend to other things.
Remember when we first drove a car, we needed to direct all of our attention to the task at hand, leaving nothing left over for other stuff ... once we have acquired experience though, we get our points back and are able to drive and still attend to other things - some good, like what's going on in our immediate driving environment - pr less good, like talking on the phone and thinking about other things.
New techniques - need embedding; new skills need repetition ... new habits need practice so that we get those valuable points back and can use them elsewhere - over and over - to somewhat define how we live in the world. JBW
Thursday, February 06, 2014
MY DEFINITION OF STRATEGY: The art of Achieving desired outcomes with maximum efficiency. Often, this requires thinking outside of the box … but always, it does require ‘thinking’. Strategy can also be viewed as the means by which we get what we want with minimal conflict. Conflict is the most basic way to get what you want - ‘I want that apple - you want the same apple - we fight for it’ … strategy would provide a scenario where you decided you no longer wanted the apple - or even better, you decided it would be a good idea to give it to me - no conflict. If both parties ‘get what they want’ - that is good strategy at work. But before you can create or decide on a strategy to achieve the outcomes you want - you need to do a very important thing: decide on what it is you want. Only when you are totally clear on what you want can you begin to shape a strategy to ‘get there’. Having no clarity of purpose - or clear sense of desired outcomes - inevitably ensures that we settle for whatever ‘random outcomes’ pop up as a result of our efforts (or lack of efforts). Outcomes happen - with infinite frequency - but are they the outcomes we want? JBW
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
All great ideas - (martial arts systems/themes) - begin with a single idea. This idea - if it is a good one - may survive the test of time and become part of the tapestry of art and history. If it’s a bad one - it will probably fail and fade into obscurity - only to be ‘rediscovered’ (and re-discarded) but countless others as time does it’s thing. But those truly great ideas … they become the bedrock upon which future ideas are laid - and thus our world is constructed.
These ‘foundational’ ideas function like a kernel that inevitably grows into something bigger. And once it has grown, it is very easy to lose sight of the that kernel - and start focussing on only that which has ‘grown/blossomed’ from it. Digging deep and re-discovering that original ‘kernel’ of an idea is a very rewarding process - one that can re-affirm direction and deepen understanding. I am sure that most people who have developed expertise and understanding have at some point realised this to be a truth. I encourage everyone to ‘re-connect’ with that kernel of truth that lies beneath the thing that is important to you.
If ever I make it to Egypt - one of the rings I would like to do is to visit a famous tomb at Beni Hassan, where there are some beautiful wrestling scenes carved into the rock faces … depicting techniques such as ‘arm drag’ - ‘snatch single’, ‘two on one arm control’, ‘underhook’, etc. If I am privileged to stand in front of that stone relief, I can guarantee that my mind will take me back in time, and wonder at those ancient souls who worked those techniques, who sweated in practise, who tested and developed those very same techniques that we all enjoy today. And I will wonder still, at who before they, first tried those ideas - that person or persons who struggled, who prevailed and shaped that kernel of an idea that has survived and blossomed through the centuries - to be still employed (and enjoyed) by we who walk the path they walked.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Inertia - is like quicksand to the living of our lives … and ‘getting going’ - taking that first small step - can often be the most difficult step in a large - even complicated process. Over the years, in talking to many hundreds of people at the very beginning of their martial arts practise, I have learned that in most cases, they have pondered for many months, sometimes, even years, before something kicked them into a state of action and they came to my school and actually began their training. We tend to plan for and ponder on things a long time before we take action - if in fact, we ever do. It seems a part of human nature to consider, consider some more, weigh up the reasons for and against taking action … ponder further, consult with others, over-consult … and then ‘sleep on it’ … before we pull the trigger. I think tendency is what holds so many of us back from doing the things we want to do and achieving the things we would like to achieve. I know a few people who don’t seem more intelligent than everyone else - in fact, in some cases, they seem less intelligent (in the way we tend to measure such things) - but they achieve a great deal. I know many highly intelligent people - who measure and weigh - older and consider - and at the end of the day - don’t get anything done. There are many kinds (faces/facets) of intelligence … and I think one of them is the ability to ‘take action’ or pull the trigger. This trait can make all the difference in survival situations - but also it can make a difference in how early you buy that house, commit to that girl (or guy), start on that fitness regime, etc.
So ‘swing away’ … you’ll probably ’strike out’ more than most - but you’ll also hit more ‘home runs’. Remember: Inertia is the enemy. JBW
Thursday, January 09, 2014
We live in an age where we not only want it all ‘NOW … but we expect to get it. Get it now, pay for it later. A far cry from the yesterday’s world, where if you wanted something, you worked, earned, saved and when you had enough, you bought. Those were times where ‘instant gratification’ was not the law of the land.
On the martial arts landscape, some of these same forces are at work. There are a lot of instructors in operation, who just haven’t done the work. You can usually identify them through their slogans - ‘we don’t believe in belts’ - ‘we’re more of an MMA school’ - we do a bit of everything’ - I’ve had a lot of instructors’ (often their reply when questioned on their lineage) - ‘we’re more about the street’ … etc.
Now there’s nothing wrong with coming up with new ideas, and trying to develop better, more streamlined and more effective approaches to training - but this usually only amounts to something, if built upon some kind of solid foundation.
As I look around, it seems that a naive indulgence of personal expression has in many places, replaced the disciplined study of fundamentals … fundamentals that would ultimately provide a foundation for ongoing development (and yes, experimentation). There is a large difference between taking shortcuts and ‘streamlining’. JBW
Monday, January 06, 2014
'The future will come - plan for it'
'Big picture first - afterward, details'
'Ordinary actions bring ordinary results'
'See all points of view - and then decide'
'Work your weakness - then your strengths'
'Complain if you like - but no-one will listen'
'Spread your retirement out over the course of your lifetime'
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
I am not necessarily referring to those people we spend most of our time with - (often co-workers, clients or such) - but those people who we share 'meaningful' time with; it might only be an hour or two a week - or even only a few times a year - or less - that we spend in their company - but time spent well, with the right kind of people can, perhaps more than anything else, determine how our future unfolds ahead of us.
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. 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?
The new year is upon us ... in most ways, it is just like any other date on the Roman calendar ... but it does represent - if only in a traditional or convenient sense - an opportunity to think ahead; to ask ourselves in what ways do we want our life to unfold that differ from those shaped by the way we lived in the last 12 months. We should all perhaps consider more carefully, who we spend meaningful time with, who we connect with, who we let into (or shed from) our lives ...
Discriminate - and prevail .... in life.
I wish all of you the very best beginning to the new year ...
Monday, December 16, 2013
Thursday, December 12, 2013
The idea of living (and acting) in the NOW … has been around for a long time now (no pun intended) … but has been much popularised by religions like Buddhism and authors like Eckhart Tolle. There is a lot of merit in living in the NOW … particularly in view of the fact that our much evolved cerebral cortex loves pulling us into the past (that no longer exists) and propelling us into the future (a future that may or may not eventuate). People worry about things that have happened long ago and worry more still about things that may or may not eventuate … this tendency, separates us from the animal kingdom, allows us to invent things, improve technologically and learn from past mistakes - but it does pull us away from the joys to be experienced by living in the now. So that’s it … in a nutshell … except for one thing ….
I don’t want to live only in the NOW … I want to invest 10% of my mind/my thinking/my energy in planning for tomorrow … just in case it turns up! And it has so far, on many, many occasions! So just as I would recommend that people invest 10% of everything they earn to secure their financial independence - I would also recommend we invest 10% of our thinking in planning for tomorrow.
To bring it to the mat - certainly, stay largely in the NOW … don’t dwell on what has just happened, stay focussed on what is happening right NOW … on a second by second basis. BUT, I also have some part of my mind working on thinking about what ‘may’ happen, where things ‘may’ end up a few seconds into the future. So if things don’t go my way … I am just that little bit more prepared.
Live in the NOW … yes … but invest some small part of your thinking for the future. Even squirrels have worked this out … and they have a brain the size of a peanut. No disrespect intended Squirrels. JBW
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
I learned this lesson over three decades ago; and it has served me well ver since. I use it in teaching, in learning and in living …
AT FIRST: When I encounter something new/alien/different - whether it be a cultural thing, an idea or a technique … I find a way to connect/tie/relate it to something that I am already familiar with.
LATER ON: I go the other way - once the new/alien/different thing is more familiar, I start looking for those aspects of it that are different/alien … I find a way to wring our or extract what makes it unique.
In teaching - I try to deliver new ideas to students in a way that makes them appear ‘slightly familiar’ - once they take a basic level of ownership - I switch focus to what makes that new idea ‘unique’ - in and of it’s own category.
When I met my wife - I was attracted by those things we had in common - but as the decades have gone by, I find myself more attracted by those things about her that are different.
I hope you find this useful … I have myself, on countless occasions.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Begin by making sure you have all of the necessary ingredients. First - we blend them together, slowly, and in the right order. We need to go-slow - and make sure each step of the process is as perfect as it can be. Then slowly - we repeat, repeat and repeat again - until it feels natural.
Then, and only then, do we ramp up the pace. Once it is all smooth (fast) - we are ready for the final step. Finish by adding ‘pressure’.
Job done. JBW
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
To be a complete BJJ fighter - you can’t JUST have a Guard - you need the rest of the package as well … passing, top-game, takedown game, defence, etc.
To be a complete martial artist - you can’t JUST have a grappling game - you need the rest of the package as well … striking, defines, multiple opponent strategies, weapons, etc.
To be a complete person - you can’t JUST have at the fighting game - you need the rest of the package as well … a place to live, good nutrition, financial fitness, adventure, passion, purpose, love, etc ...You can’t JUST …
Monday, November 04, 2013
Eg: eskimo's have hundreds of words to describe 'snow' ... they are experts at 'snow'
Here are some fundamental distinctions we should all make - early on in our lives ...
The distinction between discomfort and injury ...
The distinction between fact and opinion ...
The distinction 'broad' and 'deep' ...
Hey ... I'm starving ... seriously? No .. you're just hungry. There are people out there who are actually 'starving' ... they make a huge distinction between those two states. We all know what a single leg takedown is ... right? But to an expert at 'singles' - there are many, many different approaches/methods/set-ups/finishes ... it is a vast subject.
Want expertise? Create a habit of making ever-finer distinctions between things that - at first glance - look to be the same.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
I was once asked ‘what’s in a belt?’ – I flippantly answered ‘mostly cotton’. It is though, a question worth answering with a little more consideration, as it can represent so very much, or so very little depending on the school, style, mat culture, etc. So here is my take on what it means from my particular perspective. A Black Belt represents a certain level of excellence; a departure from mediocrity, if you like. In some ways it really only denotes a commitment to a longer and deeper journey. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the Black Belt is referred to as Professor. The term Professor (literally: one who professes) refers to someone who openly professes a deep knowledge of his or her given subject. I don’t mind such a definition, as it goes directly to the heart of the matter – and that is, a Professor (Black Belt) should know his or her subject matter. Knowing the subject matter, really understanding it – is the first step in being able to teach or instruct others. I doubt you could ever find a history professor who didn’t know the basic facts surrounding ‘the battle of Hastings’ or ‘the fall of the roman empire’, etc- and so we should apply the same set of standards (in my view) to the martial arts. A BJJ professor should have some basic knowledge of a wide range of subjects, positions, guard-styles, defenses/escapes, Armbars, Kimura’s, Omoplata’s, Crucifix, leg attacks, takedowns, etc; if he or she doesn’t, they fall below a long-established standard.
A seventy year-old Black Belt might not have the physical dexterity, reflexes or fitness of a thirty year old, but he or she should most definitely make up for that deficit in terms of knowledge and understanding. And this again, goes to the heart of the matter – and that is ‘knowledge and understanding’. I have much, much more to say on the matter ... but this suffices as a start. JBW
Monday, October 21, 2013
Congruence … in many ways, is the opposite of hypocrisy.
I try to live with as much congruence as I can; I have often failed - but I always try to correct and improve the way I live in the world.
I cannot reasonable expect from others that which I do not believe in myself. The way I act and behave in one area of my life, should ideally, flow and resonate into other areas of my life. But why be congruent? What is the outcome of being incongruent - or incongruent for that matter?
When we act congruently, we come across to others as being honest, believable, trustworthy … because we are perceived as being ‘steady’, even predictable. But for me, acting congruently, or perhaps more accurately, living congruently, means I am clearer on who I am … what I am about … what I represent.
There is nothing more objectionable that someone who talks about the importance of things like honour, respect, loyalty, trustworthiness, etc … yet they behave as if they abhor these very traits. The person who talks about honour, but behaves dishonourably, demeans the idea of honour for everyone; they cheapen the meaning of the word; they devalue it’s currency.
We shouldn’t sell the idea of martial arts fitness - when we ourselves are not fit; we cannot reasonably demand that others respect us, when we have no respect for others; we shouldn’t proclaim how honourable we are, we we act ignobly when no-or else is watching.
Congruence is not an easy thing to embody in every nook and cranny of our lives; I know in my own case, and through the course of my life, I have been incongruent on many occasions … but it is something I continue to strive for and as I get older (and hopefully wiser) - my life will continue to become more and more congruent. Just like fitness, happiness and a swag of other virtues … our behaviours are more likely than not taking us toward where we want to go … or away from where we want to go? Just like walking in remote and unfamiliar areas … the best course of action is to constantly check our direction … constant course corrections … are the key to getting where you want to go! JBW
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
For me … this is what teaching is really about. It goes to, in the ways that really count, the very heart of my personal teaching style. My thoughts, like most people’s I guess, are a mix of the highly ordered and the abstract … and as I instruct myself, I take those who are willing, along for the ride. Perhaps this is why I remain as passionate now as I was a quarter of a century ago … I enjoy ‘thinking’, ‘pondering’, ‘exploring’ … after all, who doesn’t? I feel privileged that so many people are willing to share my process; teaching, in my view, is really just people sharing a journey together. The ‘Thinking out Loud’ teaching model is the antithesis of ‘teaching by rote’ … it might be a departure from the norm; but it is what keeps me afloat and moving in interesting directions. I look forward to spending time with some of you on the mat soon … JBW