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. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

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Things that cost nothing …. but make a huge difference:


I had the opportunity to teach group of young man and women a few weeks ago, who were facing various challenges in their lives. We did two weeks of training and whilst I was delivering some fundamental self defence and BJJ training - I also took the opportunity to talk about and try to instil a number of habits/behaviours that would greatly improve their chances of enjoying more success in their respective lives. Sharing a few here …. 

  • Be on time - every time
  • Pay attention - body language and eye contact
  • Build trust by making small promises and keep them
  • Everything is a process - step by step is the way
  • Do extra work - a little more than everyone else
  • Please and thank you - show appreciation
  • Be eminently coachable 
  • Value your time and the time of others - it’s all you really have
  • Hope is nice - but when the lion is chasing you, run - take action
  • Seek out those you would like to emulate - seek mentors
These things do not require special gifts, talent or cost money. So they are things that are potentially within the reach of everyone - and they can make a huge difference in how our lives unfold. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

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BJJ for Self Defence? LOL!


I think of the Self Defence component of BJJ as I would, the skin of a rice pudding. It’s there - sure - but the real good stuff is underneath. Besides, I am not going to spend a lifetime of training and study for just the ‘skin of the pudding’. 

Okay, hold it down. I know this may cause a raised eyebrow or two … but hear me out …
People who say, ‘we teach BJJ for Self Defence’  - and who sincerely believe this to be the case - may well find out that they run out of steam/motivation, etc - at some point. Or perhaps they are the kind of person who just doesn’t want to do the work required to develop a deep understanding of the ever-evolving puzzle that is the art of BJJ. To keep up with developments, to drill deeply into a wide variety of topics - requires a lot of time, dedication and effort. Self Defence remains only at the surface of the art; no ‘continual development’ or ‘deep water exploration’ required. It’s the foam of the latte - not the latte itself.

I started out training in BJJ for self defence - this can be likened to doing my first paper-run for money - by now though (one would hope) my reasons for working are hardly for the pay-cheque alone. My reasons have evolved; and so they should. The reason we might start dating someone, may well because we like how they look - but this alone would hardly sustain us for a life-long relationship - there has to be more. Right?

BJJ for Self Defence? Sure - but that is only the initial ‘hook’. After that, our reasons and motivations should evolve/develop. But this requires effort, work and commitment. 

Final thought - I am sure Warren Buffet’s motivation for getting his first job was to  make a few bucks so he could buy something. But is that still his motivation? Hardly!!!

Monday, August 27, 2018

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Notice the Mack Truck …


This was something taught to me some thirty years ago - we know the path we are on, isn’t the optimal one when we get smashed by a ‘Mack Truck’. A ‘Mack Truck’ is a ‘bad life event’ - and when we get smacked by one, we need to sit up and take notice. If we keep getting smashed by ‘Mack Trucks’ - this is a clear indicator that we may be on the wrong path. 

Sometimes we get a small smack upside of the head - other times we are hit by a vespa - but when the ‘Mack Truck’ hits - if we survive, we should most definitely change course. 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

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Shaping our Efforts


When we ‘shape’ our efforts we get more precise results. When we settle for ‘general effort’, we can expect very general sorts of results. Shaping our efforts requires that we ‘hone in’ - it requires that we point our attention toward the small details. 
A rough carving, is of course, the first step - then we carve out more detail - and finally we attend to polishing and the very ‘fine’ work. And so it can be with anything that is important to us. Shaping our efforts is like the shift from strategic to tactical. I have learned this on the mat - but now I find it to be something  woven throughout my life.

Counter to Single leg I sent up messing around with my friend Gil Melendez. He never saw the old 'Hidden Bottle' set-up - both strategy and tactics in action. - JBW

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

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Why do standards mean so much to me?


When I was a teenager, I studied TKD, Karate and Olympic Wrestling.  Before I had finished highschooI though, I had become somewhat disillusioned in the more traditional martial arts systems as an effective means of self defence; so when I finished year 12 (in 1974) I embarked on an overseas training apprenticeship that has never really ended. 

I trained extensively throughout Asia for over a decade - culminating in the winning of a World Championship in 1982. After this I continued my obsession with training in a broad range of martial arts and eventually (found a way to ‘eek’ myself a living by launching Australia’s Martial Arts Magazine - Blitz. 

A few years after doing so, I sought out the most difficult martial art on the planet in which to earn a Black Belt …. this was back in 1986; and that art, as you all know, was (and is) Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. After 10 years of highly challenging training, I was awarded my Black Belt in 1997. 

In the twenty (plus) years since, it has been my personal mission (shared with my awesome wife Melissa) to help others also find the value and sense of self-worth that I have, through the study and practise of martial arts.

On my journey, I have met some truly wonderful people and some that I have also found ‘wanting’; I have met the very best of parents, and thankfully (on only two rare occasions) the worst of parents. I have met champions, movie-stars, philanthropists, philosophers, poets, artists, professional modern-day warriors and a plethora of other journeymen (and women). Some have inspired - others have left me scratching my head.

I have seen humanity in it’s full spectrum; and in so doing, I have come to understand a few things - one of the most important being that the highest value, our sense of achievement and our sense of self-worth is intricately and inseparably 

tethered to effort. 

Wishing upon all of you - the same joy and sense of fulfilment I have found (thus-far) in the struggle

Monday, August 20, 2018

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The headlong rush toward mediocrity …


How long has it been since man has stepped on the surface of the moon? 50 years? I imagine there are economical and other reasons - but it does make me wonder if the human race has made a shift - from rugged and driven adventurer to ‘something else’.

People are more ‘protected’ today - they are wrapped in cotton wool - people are very ‘easily offended’ - ‘bent out of shape’ - sometimes even, by mere differences of opinion. Whatever happened to ‘sticks and stones’? 

In the western world - we have made huge gains, yes - but we also have, in my view, lost something of our hard ‘edge’. 

Someone the other day reminded me that many of our grand-parents went to war at the age of 17-18. They slept in the snow - and made life-death decisions - as teenagers. Now I am not saying this is a good thing - far from it - I am just saying this - humans are made of harder stuff than what many of us may realise. We rise from challenge … not from being pampered.

Perhaps this is part of the great appeal of BJJ ... something inside us knows this; and strives toward challenge.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

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The differences between us ….


The differences between us are what makes life interesting. Different cultures, foods, languages, arts and beliefs are what makes people an interesting species. 

Yes, different thinking and beliefs also give us war and conflict but it is also those differences that make our lives wondrous. 

Different ‘games’ makes the mat more interesting than it otherwise would be; when travelling, one of the things I like to do is to try different foods; different  cultures offer us different perspectives and allow us opportunity to challenge our own beliefs and points of view.

I like to look for both the similarities between people that seem different - and somewhat paradoxically, the differences between people who seem similar. We are all unique …. the more we look, the more we see. What creatures we are! 

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Beyond Basecamp …


When we first arrive at Basecamp - we are the ‘newbie’, the acolyte, the apprentice. In time that changes, as other newbies arrive. We, in turn, become mentors to a degree. We help the newbies with the ‘lay of the land’ - and suddenly we realise that the newbies are looking to us for direction, for guidance, for help.

We no longer just climb upward, we do our best to pull others up with us. The summit, no longer seems so far away. And then, when conditions are right, on the right day, with the right mindset, having done our apprenticeship, we give it a shot. With a little luck and considerable planning and experience under our belt - we do it. 

Standing on the top of Everest, we reflect on the journey we have made thus-far. We reflect on how it all began. That first, simple, achievable step - and how really, anyone, virtually anyone, could have done the same. But did they?

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Living at Basecamp …


So now we’re at Basecamp. We are hanging out with those like-minded people who share, at least in part, some of our dream. Spending time with those who have ‘been there’, those who have done it, offers us an invaluable insight into ‘what it takes’ without having to undergo so much ‘trial and error’ ourselves. These people become our mentors. 

Rubbing shoulders with people who have made it that far, dramatically improves the chances that we will eventually make it ourselves. When we realise that ‘it’ can be done - and those who have done it aren’t all that different from ourselves, we become much more motivated; we cannot help but take yet another step forward. ’It’, the thing we want, becomes attainable.

In time, life at Basecamp becomes ‘normal’. This is our new ‘normal’. And we can never be the same again.

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