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.'

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