Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Hope is NOT a strategy ...

Got a problem? Remember this ... HOPE is NOT a strategy. Just get to work ... one step at a time; one small step at a time; just work your way forward; inching progress is the key - motion equals headway! Work the problem ... and always remember the smallest action is STILL action! JBW

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Thinking our way forward ...

Consciousness is a funny thing. We usually don’t give it to much thought - (pun) - but it is, nevertheless, central to who/what we are. As conscious beings, we use the laws of physics, understanding of language, rules of economics, etc to carve our life into something that gives us a sense of joy, achievement, well-being, etc. 
The things we do, the things we attend to to and such invisible actions like thinking, pondering, questioning (answering) are all things that help nurture and shape this thing we call consciousness, on a daily basis. 

We will all agree that good diet helps define the body you have - good friends help define our place in the world - well … good thinking helps define the way our consciousness operates. Think clean - think often - think broadly - and think deeply. - JBW

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Wonderment ...

Wonderment was the fuel that drove us as children. It is what drives us in adulthood also … the trick is to look closely enough at things that we actually see the wonder that is eve-present. We are surrounded by wondrous things .. but we also live in a world where we are very easily distracted from looking to closely at any one thing. There is so very much information coming at us that it is very easy to allow our attention pulled this way and that. When we cultivate a childlike wonder for something - we step onto a path of discovery. Wonderment is the key to maintaining an open mind … I am sure I am in a state of complete wonderment, when this pic was snapped of me sitting on the beach as a baby ... JBW

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Re-visiting ...

When you first visit a new place - you pretty quickly get the rough idea - the general layout … but generally, we wouldn’t, after only one brief visit, deem ourselves an expert on that place. To claim expertise, would require numerous visits, a willingness to ‘delve deep’ and walk the back-alleyways, so to speak.

Well, the same goes for BJJ technique. When we are introduced to a technique or concept for the first time, we can hardly call ourselves ‘expert’. That takes numerous ‘learnings’ - years perhaps, of practising that technique and seeing how it dovetails into and connects with other techniques. A very good, and simple habit to develop, is the habit of ‘re-visiting’ those techniques we think we already know well. Each re-visitation will unearth some new nuance. rev-visit often … JBW

Monday, September 28, 2015

Discovery and Invention ...

Discovery and invention is undertaken by those who would not be put off by failure. As someone once said to me ‘ the first one through the door is always bloodied’. To discover requires that we embrace a certain sense of dissatisfaction - and sally forth to do something about it. This path, though not for everyone, is one that has been trodden by humankind, for a very, very long time. You may be bloodied … but the struggle is very often worth the reward. JBW

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rejuvenation ...

What rejuvenates you? For each of us, it is something different. For me, the most rejuvenating experience is a trek into the wilderness. I have done a lot of this over the past three decades … including many trips to the remote Kimberley’s, the headwaters of many of new Zealand’s backcountry rivers, the outer reaches of Mongolia, some remote drop-offs to some uninhabited islands in the pacific, island hopping by canoe off the northernmost tip of Australia, dozens of trips into the moonscape of the central plateau of Tasmania; ten days of adventure in uncharted Arnhem-land; off-trail hiking in the Sierra Nevada’s in Southern California … just to name a few. 
I love being out there - with everything I need on my back - up close and personal with pristine nature at it’s finest. A detox, if you like - from the fast-paced, ultra-convenient, technology-driven world we inhabit on a daily basis. 
What rejuvenates you?


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Beyond our means ...

I was chatting with Rigan Machado about this today …
Personally, I am one for pushing the envelope - I always have been. I have made many a rash decision in my lifetime; sometimes it all worked out well; other times, I paid a large price. So perhaps, I am unqualified to offer the following advice … but here it goes: very often, it is well to work within our capabilities - particularly if there are very bad consequences for not doing so. Be easy on ourselves - start out a new exercise regime in a way that is sustainable - same goes for a new eating pattern - same goes for taking up running, etc.

Living beyond our means to the point where we find ourselves struggling under an unmanageable amount of credit-card debt is another example of how easy it is for life to go ‘pear-shaped’ simply because we didn’t fully appreciate certain ‘limits’. To quote a famous Clint Eastwood line “A man should know his limitations” … so agin, although I am unqualified to offer that advice myself … I think it is worth pondering.  - JBW

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The road to Black Belt ...

Guiding someone on their journey from white to black belt - particularly in the art of BJJ - is a serious and challenging undertaking. It is the furthest thing from a stroll in the park; it is not for everyone - that's for certain; but it is so very worthwhile on many, many levels.
I feel privileged to have been afforded the opportunity to bring so many along that path to date; some have chosen me for that task; others have had me thrust upon them through the association of their own instructors; but I have always done my best and taken the responsibility very seriously. A Black Belt bestowed, is done so in recognition of a transformation; and a many-faceted transformation at that. The journey from white to black (in my opinion) is all about a shifting from one state to another - a shift from ignorance to understanding, from confusion to clarity of thought, from shallow to deep, from narrow to wide, etc. As professor Rigan Machado points out; the Black Belt is never awarded for a great understanding of two or three techniques, and the ability to apply them successfully in competition; it is about so much more than that; it is about the forging of a complete martial artist and a well-rounded and balanced human being. I want my own Black Belts to bring value to the world and to the people that interact with them; I want them to be better human beings than they were before they began their journey. As my friend Dave Meyer has said, 'you don't just 'get' a black belt; you 'become' one'. This becoming takes time; at least with me; often, quite a long time. This is a privileged journey; one that is replete with surprise, discovery, challenge and fulfilment. JBW

Monday, September 07, 2015

Nature's Whisper ...

Nature knows. Spring has begun - at least here in the antipodes. Look carefully and you'l notice flowers and plants starting to bud. Animals (in nature) are also shaking off the lethargy of winter and are showing signs of increased activity. And as we are also part of nature, we too feel the subtle whisper of a call to action. Spring always marks the beginning of and increase in training activity for many people; those who obey 'nature's whisper' get an early start to 'summer fitness' and an upsurge in skill before the calendar year comes to an end. Now is the time; just pay attention to those subtle 'whispers' and get underway with a commitment to training. Our annual Gathering (underway this weekend in Melbourne) is the perfect excuse to be a part of something bigger than ourselves; an opportunity to shake off the winter doldrums and get underway for a summer pay-off. new Year's resolutions are made in the summer but they best one's, the one's that work, are conceived of, in Springtime. Pay heed to nature's whisper. - JBW

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Kudos ...

Congratulations - or more accurately .. kudos, to all those stalwarts who have achieved rank in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This is not an art for those inclined to quit at the first sign of discomfort; it is not an art for those unwilling to fail; it is not an art for those who need their ego’s stroked .. it is challenging, uncomfortable at times, and humbling. It is difficult, yes … but rewarding in the extreme. So kudos to all those who have found the inner-strength to hang in there; I applaud your efforts. We all come with a back-story; a reason for stepping onto the mat - we are not all ‘natural fighters’ - we each come with their own reasons, own inner-demons, own frailties … I applaud the stick-at-it-ness that each of you needed to find to may headway in this most challenging of martial arts. You are all awesome! JBW

Friday, September 04, 2015

My Secret Fuel ...

Enthusiasm is my secret fuel - well that and a good dose of curiosity. I cannot help but be enthusiastic about my so-called ‘work’. I love martial arts training - I love the complexity that an art like BJJ offers - I love how it fires my mind and allows me to look at everything I know in a new and exciting light. I am also an intenseIy curious person; I simply need to know. I love enthusiastic people - I admire passion - enthusiasm and curiosity are the bedrock of excellence. - JBW

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Sharing for Growth ...

Growth requires a certain amount of risk-taking; and that can be scary stuff, even for the most hardened of us. The key is to surround yourself with great friends - friends who will back you, catch you if you fall, encourage you in the face of failure. Surround yourself with people like this and you will embrace risk more readily; and that in turn, will see you prevail in the game of life. There are also times when we need a support just in case ‘life’ throws us a curve-ball; stuff happens (good and bad) - and sometimes happens randomly, due to no fault or decision of ours; sometimes, people just need a little help! We cannot thrive alone … we need other; each of us has the potential not only to help ourselves but to help others when they are just unable to do so themselves.  - JBW

Monday, August 31, 2015

Lame Advice ...

I have heard lots of advice over the course of my life - but when I think back as to how much of it really, really, helped … the answer is somewhat disappointing. 
I think there is a need to make a very important distinction when talking about ‘advice’ - and it is this: there is a very big difference between telling someone what they should do - and how they should do it. Case in point: AVOID WINDSCREEN DAMAGE (a common Australian road sign) - well, to the bright-spark that came up with that one, I say ‘NO *#**#!!# KIDDING!’ I know I should want to avoid windscreen damage - that goes without saying - what the sign should perhaps convey is this … HOW TO ACHIEVE THE AVOIDANCE OF WINDSCREEN DAMAGE … in other words SLOW DOWN!

Here’s some other less-than-effective advice - BE HAPPY, BE HEALTHY, PUT HIM BACK IN THE GUARD, PASS HIS GUARD … no kidding! I would much, much rather hear HOW to achieve those things … I already know, like all of us, these are things I want to do. I am trying to weave this philosophy into all of my teaching these past few couple of years - and am getting better and faster results. There is a monumental difference between the WHAT and the HOW … JBW

Friday, August 28, 2015

Together ...

We improve, we make headway, we learn … all with the help of our family, out friends, our team-mates .. but sometimes, also with the help of those who would harm us. We cannot do much on our own. At least, this has been my experience. The students make the teacher; the collective mind-set of the five people we spend the most time with, shapes the pathway that each of us takes in life; those who attack us, develop our defence, those who challenge our thinking force us to develop more robust world-view. Alone … we are as a canoe in a desert. - JBW

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Letting Time Pass ...

Sometimes, the best thing to do, is to wait …
This is very counter-intuitive to people of action; nevertheless, often, allowing time to pass, is the best course to take …
Rolling this morning, working butterfly guard, I secure on overbook control on my partner - his far hand was posted (at some distance) - - I waited, holding the position for maybe five seconds, then as he moved his hand - I secured it and completed the sweep. A little waiting, cinched the deal.
These last few days have seen the Chinese stock market in free fall - one penguin fell of the iceberg and all the other penguins must have thought he was onto something, and so followed suit. The Australian stock market also plummeted - and thousands of people are lamenting the huge loss to the value of their life savings … but again, in this instance, I am inclined to wait … a few months and it will be all back where it was before that drunken penguin fell of the iceberg. Time passing cures many things.
Someone does us wrong and our instinct urges us to embark on a course of retaliation … but let a little time pass; and their wrongdoing takes on a little more perspective - there are a million wrongs in the world today, perhaps that inflicted on us doesn’t actually rate that highly. Time passing gives perspective. - JBW

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Stuff we need to do before getting to the stuff we want to do ...

As Miyomoto Musashi wrote … ‘timing is everything’. 
Most often, there is stuff we NEED to do before getting to the stuff we really WANT to do. In other words, there is timing and process to almost everything. 

The need for immediate gratification is one of the most toxic forces at work in today’s society. In fact, a very powerful study known as the Marshmellow Experiment, indicates very convincingly, that only about twenty percent of us, who have the ability to endure short term inconvenience for long-term gain, are almost guaranteed of living a happy, joyful and financially successful life. 

It is no different in martial arts training; those willing to endure the hard-yards, in lieu of fast-tracking their way through the ranks, are almost certain to place real value/worth on their Black Belt when they finally do earn/become it. 

There is a ‘time’ for everything … JBW

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Once we start down the road of comparing ourselves to others - we are setting ourselves up for an unhappy experience. There will always be others more successful than ourselves at some facet of life ... so the exercise of comparison always defaults to a feeling of inadequacy in some shape or form - so I am very weary of it.
There is also that type of person that 'compares' and then resents those who do better ... although 'sad'; it is undeniably a very, very common human trait. Consider this quote from ancient Greek philosopher Thucydides ...
“Mankind are tolerant of the praises of others as long as each hearer thinks that he can do as well or nearly as well himself, but, when the speaker rises above him, jealousy is aroused and he begins to be incredulous.”
Someone wise once told me the same thing - but in simpler form: "people don't mind you being successful as long as you're not more successful than they are" ... at the time - I didn't beleive him ...
Of course - not all 'comparisons' are toxic ... comparing methodologies, processes, etc - is a very powerful learning tool - one that I employ all the time.
It's just wise practise to know the difference between 'healthy comparison' and 'toxic comparison' ... certainly, we all need to look to others for inspiration - I have always been so inclined. - JBW

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Jigsaw Key ...

If we get to see the picture on the front of the box that the Jigsaw Puzzle comes in - the job of solving it is made all that much easier. No box … then the process becomes way more challenging.

Unfortunately, for the majority of us learning BJJ - we are all trying to collect the pieces of the puzzle (techniques/concepts) and then we try to figure out how they relate to one another (over time). As a professional coach, I am always trying to clump/group things together in meaningful way - a way that makes sense from the very outset … thereby shortcutting the puzzling process. Eg: a clarification on of the relationship between Single Leg, High-C and Double Leg - is most definitely worth doing, before spending too much time on any of those techniques (individually). That way we can and appreciate the over-lapping elements common to all of those ‘shots’ .. so as we develop our skill with one, we are also laying a foundation to improve the others. I will talk more about this idea in the near future. Seeing the ‘front of the box’ - is very helpful - rather than seeing each piece as an isolated and individual element. - JBW

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Drilling Deep ...

Exploration is can be about ‘ranging far’, exploring new ground, checking out what’s over the hill … or it can be about ‘drilling deep’, covering the ground you think you know well
, in much, much more detail.
I love both ideas. But I must say, drilling deep has become more and more my personal preference. 
After I got my Black Belt, my coach Rigan Machado suggested that I begin my BJJ training all over again .. and look, with my new ‘Black Belt brain’, at each and every technique I thought I knew. What a great way to set me along the path of ‘nuance’ and ‘detail’. I owe Rigan a huge debt …

After I got my Black Belt, he started me off, next lesson with the basic ‘upa’ (bridging escape from mount) and pointed out details I (apparently) had missed over ten years of training … yikes. And so I re-began my journey … for the second time and I began ‘drilling deep’ on each and every technique - both familiar and unfamiliar from that moment forward.  There may be new stuff to see over that hill - for sure - but there is also plenty to be unearthed right here, under our very noses. - JBW

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Losing your way ...

Losing our way; both on and off the mat … is not only normal, it is a part of life. You only lose your way, when you are exploring, trying new things, walking new ground. It’s okay to lose your way … it’s all a part of pushing boundaries. Remember, you’ll only ever be lost temporarily, and then you’ll find your way back to your ‘groove’ … or maybe even … make a new ‘groove’. 

Remember the saying ‘not all those who wander - are lost’. Exploration requires a willingness to step away from the familiar path. JBW

Friday, August 14, 2015

Getting back on track ...

This is something not often spoken about … but I feel it is one of the most powerful and transformative traits we can develop. 
We all fall ‘off mission’ from time to time - some with regularity bordering on routine - we fall off our eating pattern, away from our training routine, off this or that good habit …. and that’s okay, because ‘life’ often get’s in the way … we get a cold and miss out on a few nights or a few weeks of training - we have a party and find ourselves scoffing down platefuls of cake … etc - but that’s not necessarily a deal-breaker … outrĂ© ability to ‘get back on track’ will see us to ‘rights’ in short order. 

Develop the powerful habit of getting back ‘on mission’ - and you will lead a better, healthier and more joy-filled life. - JBW

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chipping Away ...

Chipping away ... is how progress is made. We all love a 'big windfall', or a 'steep up-curve in learning' - but the real gains are made, not in the short term, but 'over time'. Got a minor injury ... go to training, feeling comfy on that couch and it's raining outside ... go to training; tired after a long, hard day ... go to training. Chipping away is how progress is made. JBW

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


First you - then them - then everyone.

A friend of mine, Frank, and I were chatting about this idea today. When we first come to martial arts, it is often from a desire to better ourselves … to learn skills, to become fitter, to become more confident and self-assured. Once we have reaped those important benefits - then what? Ideally, we would then try to effect similar improvements in the lives of those close to us - namely our family and inner-circle of friends; we would want to improve their lives as well as our own. After that … the next obvious step is that we try to bring some meaningful and positive change to the wide world. If asked ‘is the world a better place for us having lived in it?’ - we would hope the answer resound in the affirmative. Firstly ourselves - then our family - and the everyone else. Martial arts practise should drive us in such directions. - JBW

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


It’s easy to spout off slogans full of words like, integrity, honour, respect, loyalty, etc … but in my, nearly six decades on  this spinning globe, I have come to realise that there are few people who really, truly, live by the words they so effortlessly utter. There are many who will smile to your face; call you dear friend, but be white-anting away behind your back. There are many who offer help despite having other, more sinister intentions in their hearts. many of us will be fooled through the course of our lives, sometimes, more than once … but don’t ever become overly cynical because the world is also inhabited by people of sincerity and generous heart; usually such people don’t make a big noise about their ‘integrity, their respect of others or their honour … they are just there when it really counts. Such people make life worth living … they are the invisible angels who inspire those who know who they are, to better their own footprint in the world. Over time, each of us will come to learn, who’s who in the zoo … JBW

Monday, August 10, 2015

Your unfolding life ... excerpt from Rogue Black Belt: book 3

'Life unfolds in a myriad of ways. The process of the unfolding is sometimes a product of design but more often than not it is the manifestation of our reaction to circumstance. This is not a good, nor a bad thing, it just is. Sometimes we get to paddle, sometimes we are caught in the current, and our ability to adapt to the circumstance in many ways dictates how our lives turn out.


So, despite the lack of a life-strategy, things began to unfold for us in a way that seemed almost divinely planned.

I have a strong suspicion that this is the way life unfolds for many people who are driven by passion and purpose. Most such people that I know, don’t sit down and plan their futures; they don’t formulate task flow charts and strategise about their business plans late into the night; they simply move forward with something they love doing, solve problems as they occur and seize opportunities as the arise. Such people are fuelled by passion and a sense of purpose that, for the most part, makes their work seem like play and their lives seem like an unfolding adventure.

The thing about living with passion and purpose is that is becomes almost impossible to do anything other than gain a certain kind of momentum. In fact, more often than not, when we live this way, the sense of momentum becomes normal for us. When things unfold rapidly, in a direction that seems to have nothing but upside, we tend to become used to it; to the point sometimes that we lose sight of the fact that life has bumps and hiccups laying in wait for even the most fortunate or intelligent of us. It is easy to be lulled into thinking that great is good and good is normal and normal is totally unsatisfactory. I am not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing I am just saying that it is so.'