Saturday, August 01, 2015

Impression or Detail ...

My teaching style is one that leans heavily in favour of detail and nuance … but that is because of who am, where I am in my life and my natural love of ‘process’ and ‘problem solving’. I have good friends though, who take a very different approach - they are more about ‘concept’ and explain things in an ‘impressionistic’ sort of way. Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses … and of course, the ideal is that we experience both ways of looking at something new. If all that mattered was detail then we would all stick with photography and ignore artists like Monet. Sometimes it’s good to start with one approach and finish with the other … or visa versa. For example - get the ‘bones’ of a technique or idea sketched out - if you like what you see/feel - then begin fleshing it out, adding detail and understanding. JBW

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Things tough right now? Just wait … time passes. Everything going perfectly for you? Just wait … time passes. Time is passing - whether or not we want it to. Stuck under side control - an hour into the future, you won’t be. Stuck in a job you can’t stand - a year into the future, you won’t be.
Struggling through that tough workout? Just wait for a bit … time passes; with each and every breath!
In failing to realise that time is passing - we may fail to plan for a future that will no doubt arrive. In failing to recognise that time is passing we may mistakenly think that the way things are right now will be that way forever. Time pass … each and very bend of the river offers new possibility. - JBW

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Noticing our Improvements

You do not have to win a world title to feel the joy of success. Success comes in small packages as well as large. In fact, I think one of the real secrets to living happy is to find joy in the small successes and moments that we enjoy each and every day. We don't have to tap our training partner out every time, to experience success on the mat. We should see success in executing that new sweep we learned, one more time; we should see success in being able to stave off our partners attack for a minute longer than we did last week; we should see success in just stepping onto the mat and raising a sweat, regardless of our performance compared to others. Success is about moving forward; it's about the value we place on 'moments' ... often times such moments remain invisible to others ... but that doesn't matter. Both on the mat and off the mat in the game of life - success isn't measured by bank account balance, by what kind of car you drive by the kind of clothes you wear or by where you spend your vacations ... it's much more about the amount of joy, fulfilment and happiness you can wring out of each waking day ... as I write this I am reminded of a book I read in school - A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - a vivid account of a prisoners day in a Siberian Prison. At the end of the day, the books central character deemed the day a very good one - after all, he managed to acquire half a sausage and a piece of bread to enjoy as he lay in his bed at days end ... it's all relative my friends; it's all relative. Seek out the small joys ... JBW

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Become a 'Learning-Machine' ...

I began my serious martial arts journey once I left Australian shores and began to search abroad; primarily, at first, in Asia. In those early days, I didn’t understand the Indonesian, Thai, Japanese or Indian languages, etc; and so I had to train myself to ‘look’ and ‘think’. For all intents and purposes, I may as well have been deaf. My very first learning epiphany came when I worked out how to spot the best practitioner in the class and do a comparative analysis that would reveal what he was doing that the others were not doing. This was the first real skill I developed; and it still serves me very well today. 

And so, I realised very early on, that exceptional outcomes in performance were usually the result of someone doing exceptional things. I became determined to develop my skill at spotting what these exceptional things were; and then of course, trying to replicate them myself. I quickly learned that if I did the same sorts of things that everyone else was doing, I could only expect the same sorts of results that they were getting. If I wanted exceptional results, I had to do those things that the exceptional people did. That sounds easy to do; but in fact, it was not. Looking, very, very carefully at the small (let’s say ‘almost invisible’) things that the exceptional martial artists were doing, opened my eyes to this little-understood secret – the secret of detailed-modelling. 

It is not enough to just ‘model’ the successful behaviours of other people; the real trick is to understand those behaviours and take ownership of them. 


Thursday, July 09, 2015

Chaotically Diverse ...

People are indeed chaotically diverse … although this can cause frustration at time, it is also what makes humans so unique and wonderful. if we look at much of the animal world, choose a species and the individual members of that species outwardly seem very much the same - they often look the same and usually act in the same ways in the same kinds of situations. Humans though, are extraordinarily diverse, in how they look, how they act, how they live, how they think and and how they respond in different kinds of situations. I love it. I am reminded, when I travel, of just how different we all are. It is so very easy to become agitated when others do not think or behave liker we do … but it’s wonderful to remember, that these countless differences between us, is exactly what makes us the interesting, creative and extraordinary species that we are. JBW

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Consistency ...

I like reducing complex concepts down to a single explanatory paragraph … it makes it easier for my mind to digest. Sometimes I like to reduce the paragraph down to a single sentence … less complexity but easier to swallow in a few seconds. The next obvious ‘contraction’ from this idea is to get to a ‘single’ word … such contractions are very handy to carry around - I love their ‘portability’. 

Here’s a great word … ‘CONSISTENCY’. Consistency of effort (over time) achieves results in almost any endeavour by almost anybody. But here is the part many do not like … ‘over time’ … in this world of ‘immediate gratification’ … slogans like ‘Consistent effort - over time’ … do not have mass appeal. But I love it … I’m into it … I urge you to take this idea on board. JBW

Monday, June 29, 2015

The filter that blinds ...

I learned this a long time ago … and I consider it a ‘truth’. Our mind does a wonderful job of filtering out all the information that is of no immediate use to us. In other word - it filters out ‘most’ of the available information. Luckily this is the case - otherwise we would be bombarded and overloaded on a sensory level. So it is a good thing in a way.
This though, is the important part … we need to identify and clarify - in our own minds - what IS actually important to us; and then, and only then, will our ‘wonderful filter’ allow us to ‘see’ the pieces of the puzzle we need to bring our desires/goals into ‘reality’. 
We decide we want to build a BBQ - and it’s amazing how we suddenly (serendipitously) start seeing bricks everywhere we go. We buy a new car - and suddenly we start seeing the same model at every intersection … 

This is NOT the universe ‘manifesting’ what we need … the bricks, the cars, were always there … they were just unimportant and therefore went ‘unnoticed’ until we assigned importance to them. What is it you want? What is important to you? get the picture … see the pieces. - JBW

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Get ahead of the Curve

In the antipodes at least, we are over 'winter's hump'. Each day now, is a little longer than the last. A couple of months and spring will be upon us. In winter, I don't think it's the drop in temperature so much, that puts a certain percentage of people off training; I think it's the fact that they have arrived home from work and when it comes time to leave again for training - it's dark outside. Most people seem more motivated to do stuff during daylight hours; with night-time being relegated to staying cosy, eating an evening meal, watching some TV, then hitting the sack. When it's still light outside it occurs to most people that there is still 'time' to fit in some extra activity ... ie: training. That middle month of winter is hardest; when the light fades not long after our working day ends. Spring, usually heralds a big upswing in activity; and by the start of summer, many people make the decision to 'get fit' for summer ... and so many schools enjoy big increases in attendance as we hit october/november. But I recommend this ... GET AHEAD OF THE CURVE. Get going now - in winter, whilst the others are still in hibernation. By summertime, nice gains will be realised ... and you'll be way ahead of the pack. - JBW

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Comfort seduces ...

Most of us don’t naturally like to feel uncomfortable; we don’t like to look silly, make mistakes or mess up in front of others … but this is exactly how progress and learning is done. it is so easy, so tempting to remain in a ‘state of comfort’ - no risk, no pain, everything just stays the same. There is nothing wrong with that ‘state’ - it’s just that you cannot live there and expect anything amazing to happen. growth, progress and extra-ordinary success requires risk, pain, discomfort and a willingness to fail. Comfort seduces - but in the end, offers very little. JBW

Monday, June 22, 2015

Talent ... JBW

As a professional instructor with over three decades of experience; I can say with a high degree of certainty that ‘innate talent’ is both ‘rare’ and ‘over-rated’. I met hundreds of people who have thought they were far more talented than what they actually were; I have seen many hundreds of people, who having no natural talent to speak of, became highly talented over the course of their training. Personally, I don’t rate so-called ‘natural talent’ very highly. I have come across quite a few people who seemed imbued with natural athleticism and an ability to learn quickly and effectively but many, many (perhaps the majority) of them didn’t have the ‘stick-at-it-ness’ that is a prerequisite for true success. 

Many so-called ‘naturals’ seem to be very enthusiastic in the early learning stages; and as long as their skill-acquisition is on a steep upward trend they are fine; when things ‘plateau out’ though, or they hit a ‘rough patch’ they fall away or begin looking for the next thing they can apply their ‘natural talent’ to. Rather than natural talent – as a professional instructor, I much prefer dogged adherence to the training regime. Give me someone with a strong work ethic and determination over someone with ‘natural talent’ any day! - JBW

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dropping Baggage ...

Connecting meaningfully with people is a big part of what life is all about. Many of our meetings occur through happenstance, through work, through the interests, sports and passions we share … some of these meetings mature into strong and positive relationships - others are kind of neutral in nature and some may even prove to be toxic. Learning to shed ourselves of the unhealthy relationships is an important part of becoming happier in life. Like attracts like … usually. As we get older, if we live correctly we gain wisdom and we learn to become more discerning in who we have in our lives. We should be discerning about a lot of things; how we spend our time, what we eat, how we live and perhaps, above all … who we spend our time with. Lose the baggage … make room for better people; and a better life. The sands of time, stop for no-one … JBW

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Family ...

My long-time friend David Meyer is visiting from San Francisco this week; great times ahead. Dave and I have shared a lot of wonderful experiences (a lot of tough times as well) … and it was in fact, my privilege to give him his first BJJ lesson when I was a purple belt helping teach for the Machado’s in LA. He came in one stormy night (yep) … the Machado’s couldn’t make class due to local flooding and as I was the highest graded student - I took the class. Dave, already a 4th degree black belt in Danzan Ryu Jiu Jitsu - joined in … we became instant friends and have shared many an adventure since. For many, I am guessing, ‘family’ is all about blood-relations, etc … for me though, it is really about the connections I have made with certain people on life’s journey. I consider David family - in (at least for me) the truest sense of the word. I can rely on him and he on I. A few years back my eldest son was stabbed through the heart and nearly died (several times) - two days after the incident - my doorbell rang - and who was standing there… David. Unannounced - at a moments notice, he had dropped everything and got on a plane. No real surprise - family. - JBW

Monday, June 15, 2015

The right question ...

When we meet someone - we can ask several questions:

How can this person benefit us? Alternatively, we could ask, how we, can benefit that person? I think the best relationships are forged, when both parties ask the latter question? - JBW

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Work Ethic ...

Talented people - I have seen them come and go by the score; as a consequence I don’t rate so-called ‘natural talent’ very highly. What I do rate highly - is strong ‘work ethic’. 

I was never very fussy about what I needed to do to make ends meet; I have been a garbage man (great job btw) - a deckhand for a fisherman, a labourer, a factory worker, etc - I did what needed to be done at the time. This work-ethic, nurtured by my parents, has served me very well with my training. ‘Work ethic’ is something each of us can choose do embrace - we don’t need to be born with it; we don’t need anyone else to give it to us … we can just choose to ‘get the job done’ - no matter how difficult or unappealing. I rate a strong work ethic as one of the most important traits to develop to achieve success in life - no matter how you care to define it. JBW

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Not minding that it hurts ...

My favourite scene from the old classic ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ … 

In the movie, Lawrence puts a lit match out with a squeeze of his fingers - and when one of his fellow officers attempts to repeat the feat - he yelps and exclaims … ‘that hurts!’
‘Of course it hurts’ replies Lawrence. 
‘Well, then, what’s the trick?’ asks the officer.
To which, Lawrence replies ‘The trick William Potter - is not minding that it hurts.’

When people state that you need to be super fit and ‘talented’ to train hard … I am always reminded of that particular scene. Training is hard for everyone; training is never easy; even for the ‘fit’ and ‘talented’ .. it’s just that the experienced and competent have a ‘trick’ - they don’t ‘mind’ that it’s difficult! - JBW

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

I hear what you're saying ... but I just can't relate ...

I know hear what you're saying, but I just can’t relate …
This is something I have experienced many times in my life. I have wanted to learn something, or have asked for advice on something from someone who had succeeded where I had not … and then something very uncomfortable would happen - they would ‘answer’ me. Very, very often, the advice they gave me - although undoubtedly good advice - was advice that I just couldn’t relate to. And the reason I couldn’t relate was because they were usually advising me from a place that was so far removed from my own experience that I just couldn’t relate.
Imagine this - a rock-climber telling you what to do from a place twenty or thirty ‘moves’ away from your current position. Difficult - frustratingly so! 

Really great instruction requires that the person offering it has the ability to climb back down the ladder to within one or two rungs of where their student is, and advise from there. It’s one thing to make small adjustments to improve our position/situation/performance - but another entirely, to relate to ‘giant leaps’ or paradigm shifts in behaviour or thinking - even if those things are eventually exactly what we need to do. So when asking for advice - ask for incremental improvements (1st steps) not paradigm shifts - when offering advice, offer incremental steps and not paradigm leaps. Of course, this in itself, is a advice - JBW

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

On the anvil ...

Under the anvil … we are forged. 
As winter descends … I am reminded of this long-held precept. In thinking back on the gains I have made over the course of my lifetime … it occurs to me that most of them were made in ‘less than ideal’ circumstances. I learned to fly-fish with snow blowing horizontally into my face; I trained when injured - and learned to adapt; I bought a block of land that came with difficulties - difficulties that put off other buyers, but I was not to be dissuaded. I can go on and on .. but would no doubt bore my readers … needless to say, I do not let inconvenience or difficulty slow my forward progress - in fact, it is in the face of such things that real progress is made.  JBW

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Armour ...

Self Defence is an interesting concept. In thinking about what this term means an obvious question comes to mind: Defence/Protection … from what? Physical assault is something that may well occur at some time or another in our lives but for most of us, this will probably be a very rare occurrence. There are forces however, other than physical assault, than we need to defend ourselves from with regularity; things like the stresses associated with work, hurtful comments from other people, financial hardships, dietary challenges, etc. This is where our training can really pay dividends; as we develop resilience, mental fortitude, problem-solving abilities, better physical condition, stick-at-it-ness, etc. Our ongoing commitment to training forges our armour; armour that can serve us well, in everyday life. JBW

Thursday, May 28, 2015


One of the velcro patches on my travel bag has, at time, elicited some interest … it simply reads: EMBRACE THE SUCK. It’s one of my favourite’s …

At time life Sucks … for some, immeasurable;y more than for others - we need to keep things in perspective. When I hear people saying, ‘I’m starving’ or ‘It was a total nightmare!’ - pause and reflect on how ‘real’ starvation is being experienced by millions of people the world over; or how some people are actually living a ‘real’ nightmare - right now, at the this very moment … perspective!

However, in varying degrees, life does suck at time, for every single one of us. My advice - COPE! Oft times we just need to Suck up the Suck! This week, I am having very bad jet lag … wanting to sleep when I should be awake and visa versa. On top of that, Mondays Tabata session has left me sore - and I am carrying a couple of minor injuries. So, some minor Suck is in play … but to let any of that pull me ‘off mission’ - is unacceptable. In training ourselves, to Embrace the Suck - to run eagerly toward the obstacles that life puts in our way, is a great way to train ourselves for that time when we will really need our fortitude and perseverance to get through something serious.

The Suck will come - with regularity - EMBRACE IT! And learn to prevail. JBW

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Letting Go ...

A close friend will hurt you … at some time … there’s simply no getting around that.  Most reading this post will have no doubt already experienced this … but consider this:

LIFE IS SHORT. OUR TIME ALIVE IS VERY, VERY SHORT. And carrying around the hurt is more toxic than we can perhaps realise. So how to ‘put it down’? This might work for you: remember this, that friend became your friend for a reason (or many reasons) … so think of them in that light. We should allow our friends these ‘indiscretions’ - after all, they are only human … as are we ourselves. It can really help - to remember you friend in a way that puts emphasis on all the ‘nice’ things - even ‘great’ things they have done for us - prior to their ‘indiscretion’. To ‘err’ is human … to forgive divine. And BTW … very now and then it helps to take a look at ourselves to help put things in perspective. JBW

Monday, May 25, 2015

Commitment ...

Winter looms in the antipodes. 
It’s now dark by 5:30pm … when many of us should be thinking about throwing our Gi in our bag and getting ourselves to the mat. Many people struggle with consistency in training during winter … maybe this harks back to our instinct of staying indoors after dark … maybe it’s the colder temperatures … or a combination of both. But, I will say this with complete certainty …. progress is done by those who are not put off by inconvenient hurdles. In fact, that may well stand for a sound recipe for success … DO NOT BE DISSUADED! Looking forward to seeing my Winter team this week! 
Commitment - the breakfast of champions!

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