Thursday, November 22, 2018

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Attention ....


Where we place our attention determines what we think about. What we spend our time thinking about colours our decision-making. In turn, our decisions direct our pathway forward in life. Carve out a better life by being selective as to where you point your attention.

Spend some of the time - pointing your attention toward something that is improving your life and/or the lives of others. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

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Deconstruction 101 …

I am a big believer in deconstructing ideas, concepts and techniques - not only to deepen my understanding of them, but to better design an optimal way to transfer this understanding to others.
There are a number of ways we can go about deconstructing a technique, sequence or pathway in Jitsu. One very effective way is to start where we wish to end up (the finish) then back-track our way out of that finish, to positions we usually find ourselves in.
So - start in the centre of the maze - and backtrack our way out to the entrance. Worked in primary school - world on the mat - and works in the larger landscape of our lives.
- Start with the end - works backwards to the start
- breaking it down
- understanding all the elements
- stitching it back together
- identifying the failure points
- understanding the sequence and timing
- lightly pressure-testing
- heavily pressure-testing
- adding on to construct sequences
- troubleshooting to find solutions to counters

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

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Beware the Vampire ...


I am sure you all know someone who is overly narcissistic … but this character trait is fairly harmless in and of itself. That sort of person might be shallow, but they don’t necessarily present a threat. 

Another, more dangerous kind of narcissist though, is the kind that exploits others at every possible opportunity. This kind of predator falls into my ‘vampire’ category.

This is the kind of person who usually only calls when they need something from you. 
The kind of person who over-reacts to any challenge to their honour, integrity, etc.
They often have financial challenges, as they squander their earnings in keeping up appearances.
The narcissistic exploiter will ‘move on’ without a second thought if either, a resource has dried up or they have been ‘found out. 
They are often very, very charming; for them, ‘charm’ is a ‘verb’ rather than an ‘adjective’ - it is a tool they wield with an expert touch.
The narcissistic exploiter is also an expert at convincing others to their point of view.
And when things go badly, they are equally adept at convincing themselves that they are the ‘victim’ and that others are to blame when a relationship unravels. 

A large part of the self-defence concept is to learn to spot threats in the environment. It is ironic, in some sense, that the martial arts landscape, where people go to learn how to defend themselves, is also inhabited by certain types of people who can do us harm. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

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Danger in the Streets …


We learn self defence to improve or chances of prevailing, should we be assaulted out there, in the world.

We can though, be assaulted in a variety of ways - to name a few:
  • an announced or obvious physical threat 
  • mob violence
  • an ambush 
  • a deceptive threat (a mugging or con)
  • bullying or intimidation (school and workplace)
  • attack by vampire (this one is very common). I refer here to those people who ‘exploit’ us; sometimes this can be far more devastating than the effects of actual physical assault.
Knowing a little about how these different types of threats (and others) manifest in the world, leaves us a little more prepared when (or if) we find ourselves on the receiving end. The art of self defence - encompasses a large and varied landscape.

Monday, November 12, 2018

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Talk to that Doorman …


When we look, we do tend to see (seek and ye shall find). Again, something my father taught me. I’ll give you the exact example that he gave me.

Say, you want to build a new BBQ; and, seemingly coincidentally, you start seeing bricks everywhere - or you buy yourself a new car, and again, you begin seeing that same model everywhere. 

Of course, these things were always ‘there’ - but it wasn’t until we assigned value/importance to them, that we began to ‘see’ them.

In sort, our brain acts as a kind of bouncer - and does an excellent job and keeping non-essential information out; it is, in a way, the ultimate ‘door-man’.

So when we assign value/importance to say, a goal; then we suddenly start spotting the things we need to make that goal a reality.

So seek - or even better ‘think’ and ye shall find. Get control of that Doorman. Let him know what to let in and what to keep out. This is a powerful truth.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

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Micro-positions …


How many positions are there in BJJ? Answer: an infinite amount. 

I have had this conversation with Rigan Machado several times - and I always found it interesting.

Everyone knows and appreciates that positional control is key when it comes to BJJ. And we tend to think of the main - PRIMARY - positions (Mount, Side Control, Closed Guard, Open Guard, Back Control, etc) 

But then we have what we might call - SECONDARY - positions (Knee-ride, Headlock Control, Spider-Guard, etc)

So if we were to expand this idea a little, we would quickly realise that we have many -TERTIARY - positions (maybe things like Ashi Garami, Chin-strap Sprawl, Twister, etc)

And eventually down the rabbit-hole we go - every step in the transition from one position to another could be deemed a micro-position in it’s own right. And he (or she who masters the most positions, wins most of the contests. It’s a simple idea - but one that I must admit, eluded me for quite some time. I hope it helps.

Here working on some micro-positions with the most excellent Caio Terra - some serious - some not as much …

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

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The ‘Karate-fication’ of BJJ …



Had to happen I guess … 
What I call the ‘karate-fication’ of BJJ - is an effort (by a certain few) to reduce the complexity and inherently challenging nature of the art to a ‘collection of techniques’. Those that take this approach are in many ways a counter-point to those trying to improve and develop the art through the rigours of pressure-testing and competition.
BJJ, certainly includes thousands of techniques - but these are woven together in a myriad of ways and are entangled with one another in endless variations. There are concepts and principles at work that can only be uncovered only through in-depth analysis and attention to nuance - also in play is a never-ending ‘arms race’ that evolves between move and counter-move - one that continually redefines the landscape on almost a daily basis.
BJJ is a changing and evolving animal .. one that cannot be truly and accurately depicted by a two-dimensional drawing on a piece of paper or frozen in a moment in time. It will simply not stand still long enough to be ‘karate-fied’ … it’s inherently annoying that way! And thank goodness, it is.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

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Structure … gleaning order from chaos.


I like organising stuff. Well, maybe it’s not so much that I LIKE it, but it is my natural inclination to do so.

So when I took up BJJ - it didn’t take long to notice that there were a very, very large number of jig-saw pieces to this particular puzzle. 

Very often, students are introduced to this piece, then that piece, with very little structure or planning going into how it all fits together. Then, after some time, we begin to see relationships between some for the pieces, and we begin to build sequences/pathways and eventually, ‘games’.  This is though, more often an organic rather than a deliberate and structured process.

One of the most fun projects for me - is to choose a given BJJ topic - and begin to collate, then order every thing I know about that topic into a structured an ordered design. 

I’ve done it with dozens of topics to date … and I get a lot of satisfaction from the challenge of doing so. I usually begin with the ‘seed’ idea for each topic - and then ‘branch out’ into entries, variations, applications and trouble-shooting, for example. 

Today, the ‘lions-share’ of the seminars that I teach, follow this pattern. I pick a topic - teach the basics of it - in a highly calculated order … and then build on that foundation (again, in a specific order). For me, structure and design are integral to the delivery of information in a way that saves people from having to re-invent the wheel or spend too much time down dead-end pathways. ‘Structure’ is one way we can shape order from chaos.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

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Learning flows outward.


The eternal student … being a student is about exploration - discovery - acceptance - struggle and of course … learning. When I was in school, I found learning to be a tedious thing … because I was asked to learn about things I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in. As an adult, I love learning … partly because I am better at it (have had some practise) but mostly because I get to choose what I learn. 

Learning flows outward.  What I mean here is that once we engage in the act of learning - with focus, passion, etc - then we automatically (and effortlessly) develop learning (knowledge-acquiring) skills - that we can direct at other areas/topics that can help us (and others) in life.

Knowledge-acquiring skills (learning skills) go the the very heart of what it means to be alive. Learning how to learn - should be the first lesson we learn.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

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The case for impulsivity …


I am impulsive. I always have been.
Back when I was much younger though, my impulsivity sometimes got me into trouble. I acted, far too often, without thinking. Now though, I feel in many ways, that my impulsivity serves me well. Impulsivity, is perhaps the counterpoint to over-procrastination.

We have, in my view, perhaps too much choice available to us - in many areas of our lives. Too many breakfast cereals, too many houses to choose from, to many superannuation funds to invest in, too many health-care providers, cars, sound systems, etc.

Having to decide between so many options - often leads us to be paralysed - and ironically, we can ending up choosing nothing. 

Too much choice also offers up much more opportunity for regret afterward - did we doin the right thing; would that other car have been better? Etc.

With more choice we also personally, become more personally responsible for our level of satisfaction/happiness. 

So, what I once called ‘impulsivity’ - I now call ‘pulling the trigger’. I choose - I do it quickly. I live happily with the result. Just saying!

Monday, October 22, 2018

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The Ultimate BJJ project …


The Pareto principle: 80% of our results come from 20% of our effort - in many things. (originally this was to do with land ownership - 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population) Since then though, it has been applied to lots of things - sales, exercise, etc. So we might try to apply this to BJJ - perhaps 80% of our success on the mat comes from only 20% of the techniques we learn or are exposed. to. 

So, one interesting project would be to identify what these techniques - or ‘mini-games’ are … and become competent at those before doing anything else. Great for those who are time-poor.

I have used this 80/20 principle in almost all other aspects of my life - and have done so for a very long time. I never knew it was called the Pareto Principle - I just called it ‘trimming there fat. - ie: cutting our all the stuff/effort that doesn’t add effectively to the outcome. 

That is why I hot the ‘Tabata-protocol’ three times a week - instead of hours in the gym … I get it all done in 30 minutes. I ‘cut to the chase’ - no fluff - trim the fat - and do the bits that give me the best results with the smallest investment in time. 

Food for thought.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

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The merciless friend …


I am that merciless friend. The one you need when you need to hear what I really think - and not what I think you want me to think.

We all need a merciless friend (or two). Personally, I would rather be told an unpleasant truth - than be told a pleasant fabrication. 

We owe each other honesty.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

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Expectations …


What If I asked you to draw a face in exactly 5 seconds? What would it look like? Compare that to the one you could draw if given a minute. Better right? Then another again, but you have 30 minutes. Would that be better than your first? How much better? 

This is exactly the type of progression you can expect when first being introduced to a new technique. Accept it … do the progression, enjoy the improvements at each and every  step of the way. Expecting ownership and understanding of a technique or idea at first pass - is like expecting to be able to draw a detailed sketch of a face in 5 seconds. Not going to happen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

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People Matching ...

Many of you will, no doubt, find this post not to your taste/liking. But in the hope that it may get, even only a few thinking … I shall continue …
To find the right partner in life, simply follow this recipe: one part who you are (because this determines the kind of person you’ll attract) - and one part luck (did you turn left or right at that corner, on that day).
I have come to realise that people are a good (or bad) ‘fit’ for each other (on a sliding scale) - across a range of criteria. if you are a perfect fit - but only in one or two criteria - you may find things a bit of a struggle. If almost every box gets a tick however - you have found marital bliss.
Speaking of my own experience with my most-beautiful wifey: I am attracted to her voice - her ‘heart’ - her physical being - to her scent - to the way she moves - to the way she looks - to the way she interacts with others - to the way she thinks - to the way she cares - to her uber-affectionate nature - to the way she mothers our child - to her touch and much much more.
I know I am extraordinarily lucky … to have met her and somehow convinced her, that I was a worthwhile life-partner.
I think luck plays a part. It determines ‘if, where and when’ our paths cross. And if we are very, very lucky - our paths cross with someone who ticks so many of our boxes that we cannot help but fall in love with them - for the rest of our lives. And that kind of love - grows and intensifies over time. This is at least, my experience.
When you see someone who ticks dozens of your ‘own boxes’ - do your very best to spend time with them - and then nature will take it’s course.
But the only advice I can offer, is this … you will become vastly more ‘lucky’ by making sure you put yourself in the right kind of environment to meet such a person. If you are spending all of your time in one certain kind of environment - then you are limiting your chances greatly … ask yourself - where are you spending your time?
I still cannot fathom how fortunate I was myself. I can only wish the same for others … it’s somewhat of a rarity I think.
No apology for the soppiness of this post. I speak from my heart in my posts - and will continue to do so. Life is too short to do otherwise.
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I think that Contrast is absolutely necessary for happiness …


I have thought this for some time now. We need to experience hunger, to fully appreciate a nice meal. We need to experience what it’s like to struggle financially, to give meaning to having a full bank account. We need to experience hard work, to fully enjoy a weekend off. 

If every day was a feast - and every car we drove was a lambo - in a month or two - we would be bored to our core! 

Want to taste the best drink you have ever had? Easy - go without water for three days. Then a glass from the tap - it will top anything you’ve ever had. Contrast. Contrast imbues things with value … and allows us to feel accomplishment and joy. If every day was the same, with your every wish come true - you would be looking for a way out soon enough. Such a scenario is my vision of hell! 

We need contrast!

Thursday, October 04, 2018

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Acceptance - or Push Forward?

Just watched season 5 of ‘Alone’ - the series tells the story of 10 people get dropped off in the wilds; no food, limited equipment; and whoever lasts the longest wins the prize. Easy peasy.
What’s interesting to me though - is that even though they each have access to pretty much the same resources … the way they set up their ‘lives’, varies tremendously. Some just put up with the basic tarp they are all given - some build log cabins, clay ovens, bows & arrows, fish-traps, etc.
I do know this, in a wilderness-survival situation, having lots of small goals/tasks to keep you focussed and trying to improve your lot, makes for a much better day-to-day experience. In a non-survival situation - perhaps it is not all that different.
Improving our lot - seems to be at the heart of what it takes to be human.
PS: Spoiler alert: The person who won the contest was the person, who probably caught the least amount of for - but the one thing he had, above and beyond everyone else, was a ‘super positive’ and ‘up-beat’ attitude. The youngest competitor on the show! Mind-set is everything!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

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Zeroing in on Value ...

Look closely at the things we do … and ask ourselves, ‘what is the value here?’ Why are we trading our time for this thing we are doing (whatever it is)?

Very often we trade our time to derive an income so we can fund our lives. In other instances, we trade it for something that gives us a sense of achievement. Sometimes we swap out time to validate a belief system we might hold; or to seek the approval (or even the adoration - yikes) of others. Sometimes it is to reach a milestone on the way to some place we want to get to. Sometimes, though, and this is the main point, we might not be fully clear on why we do the things we do because our reasons for doing them may have changed or evolved over the course of our lives.

So it’s good to ask, ‘what are we trading our time for now? And why? Knowing what value we want to extract from the trade is a good thing - because knowing might allow us to refine and modify our choices and thereby steer ourselves more precisely toward the things we want from life.

Monday, October 01, 2018

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Emergent Moments …


Our learning and development does not follow a steady trajectory.
We learn and evolve in fits and starts! We coast - we go side-ways - sometimes we fall back - then we lurch forward again. At least this is how it has been for me. learning is often about persistence … continually ‘lurching’ forward!

So, this of course, begs an elemental question: what kinds of things or types of situations, trigger our big ‘learning’ moments? What keeps us lurching forward? 

Does ‘luck’ play a role. Absolutely. Sometimes it’s just luck/timing - that sees us take a certain path. (big discussion possible here) But one thing I have noticed is this - when we connect up with the right people - our the number of our emergent learning opportunities increase. Once again, it comes back to that age-old chestnut - ‘who are you hanging with?’

Sunday, September 30, 2018

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Do the math ...


Do you realise the odds against you being alive?

Not one of your ancestors, going back millions of years (apologies to friends in Utah) - died before they managed to procreate! Think about the odds of that!
Who knows whether there is life elsewhere in the universe? My instinct tells me there must be - and lots of it - but we havn’t quite found it yet - so, for the moment, that adds to the ‘special-ness’ of human existence.
I am also quite certain that most of us have a very limited understanding of the concept of ‘time’ … I suspect that each moment we experience has a value that is very much beyond our understanding.
Bottom line … you are unique and special! Each and every one of you … so do the best you can to extractive most value you can, from your most-wonderful existence.
A poem I wrote some thirty years ago ....
'Nothing
more nothing
the candle sputters
endless nothing
But oh what joy
what magic
in that briefest
of flickerings'
- JBW

Saturday, September 29, 2018

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The Lone Voice


Big things have can have small beginnings.
That first drop of rain is easy to overlook.
I have very clear recollections of my early attempts at bringing BJJ to the attention of the Australian martial arts community. I was already five or six years into my Jiu Jitsu training, and had written numerous articles, hosted several seminars, etc ... before the UFC kicked off and people started taking notice. 

Being the ‘lone voice’ can, ironically, be an empowering thing. Even if no-one is listening, we can remain focussed, we can dig ‘deep’, we can discover, question, answer and broaden our understanding of the position we believe in. 

Hi hen, when the time is right … we attract the attention of like-minded people - and that, right there, is how a movement is born.

My great friend David Meyer, is a prime example of someone starting out as a lone voice on the animal rights landscape - and now heads the largest animal adoption network in the world … adoptapet.com. A lone voice … is exactly how great things begin.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

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The Power of Pruning …


Two springs ago I planted two grapevine - barely small twigs at that time. So it was hard for me today, to do what needed to be done, and prune the (now 2 1.2 metre) vines, way back down. 

But in doing so, here’s what happens … now, all the spring energy will go into less vine and so produce better results in the long-term.

Same thing needs to be done every now and then with people. When we keep putting out energy into people who don’t deserve it - that leaves less energy available for those who do. 

Springtime is finite - energy is finite - we need to point it where it will be appreciated - only then, the magic happens.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

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Actions and Behaviour ... and life’s first rule.


The way we behave is the thing that ultimately matters .... not the colour of our skin, our body-type, our sex or our bank balance. Ideological differences are the big levers when it comes to drama and conflict - not the way we look.

The truth is, we can choose the way we behave toward others; this is something we have control over. My natural inclination has always been toward a tit-for-tat strategy ... I will invariably begin with polite and kind interaction ... and if my behaviour is reciprocated, I tend to ‘double down’ in my efforts .... if, on the other hand, my polite offerings are trodden on, again, I have always instinctively reciprocated. I’ll leave turning the other cheek to the saints of the world ... the skin of a friendly lion seems a more natural fit for me. 

My mother taught me good manners - my father taught me not to take shite - both were right. It feels very natural, and fulfilling to me, to be generous ... but alas, one also feels a certain sense of deep fulfilment from the destruction of an arsehole. And that brings me to my first rule for living ... Don’t be an arsehole. 

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

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The Extra-ordinary


Very few people are born ‘extra-ordinary’ - but we can, every single one of us, in some way, do extra-ordinary things; and thereby, live more extra-ordinary lives.
Keep you eyes peeled for extraordinary opportunities - the chance to be in the company of extraordinary people - the chance to depart from the mundane and embrace something more than just the ordinary.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

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My First Student


The first student I ever had is still with me; I see him every time I look in the mirror. I walk that student step-by-step through every learning process I can conjure up; sometimes I fail; at other times I succeed. I am as patient with that student as he must be with me. 

If forced to choose between being teacher or student, I would choose the latter. Life demands we become adept at learning - as we begin to master this most fundamental of arts, we might choose to share the how and why of it with others ... this is how teachers are born.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

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Another one from my father - concerning learning:


‘Watch what people do before you listen to what they say.’

Talk is in fact, cheap. I have long since noticed my old dad was right (as he almost always was) - there is often a disconnect between what people say they do and what they actually do. 

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