Monday, November 23, 2015

Sometimes we need to listen ...

Sometimes we need to ignore advice and other times we need to listen - knowing when to do what; now that is the trick!
Ramping up my rehab program this week ... been undertaking a great walk in the local hills (introduced to me by friend Craig) for the last three days. Yesterdays time: 1 hour 15 mins - today's: 1 hour 2 mins - tomorrow will try to go sub 60 mins! Steady-state cardio for the next three weeks - then back into Tabata (anaerobic protocols). Need to chill a little whilst post-op healing takes hold - hard though, excited to be on the mat this week; excited to be heading to New Zealand on friday; excited about makeover my Academy is getting whilst I am away ... challenging to be chilled. JBW

Friday, November 20, 2015

Authenticity ...

My lifelong friend Simon Buttonshaw dropped in today - he brought of his many journals to assist in a sharing of where he has been the last 12 months. For over a decade now - each and every day - he has written a page and painted a picture of that captured, in beautiful detail, the living of his life - much of it in the south of France some also here in Australia. Each day, each picture, represents a unique slice of life - for this is how artists see the world - in slices, in moments, and every single moment supplies us with an opportunity to see things from a new perspective. It was such a privilege for me to leaf through his journal ... and as we did so, we talked about the importance of process, about the value of authenticity, about how we have lived our lives. But that word - authenticity - came up again and again. For it is easy to see, we live in a world of 'polished contrivances' - in a world where immediate gratification and indulgent self-importance have become the 'norm'. In walking the 'authentic path' we open ourselves to criticism, to envy, to ridicule, to embarrassment, etc ... it is indeed a 'path less travelled' but one replete with reward and discovery. - JBW

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Failure of Words ...

A very large part of how we communicate ... how we connect to one another, is through the use of words ... this is a wonderful contrivance of humanity, although disappointingly, it also fails miserably on many occasions.
I have written close to 1000  blogs as of now, and have read every comment on those blogs/posts - and although, as I write, I am very clear on what I am tying to convey, I am still amazed at how frequently what I have written is misinterpreted. 

Words alone don’t do the trick. They go a long way but fall short of complete communication. On the mat, things are easier, we have words but we also have the kinaesthetic and visual elements in play - we can feel and see what is happening. How many friendships have gone off the rails due to miscommunication? How many learning opportunities wasted - for the same reason? How many wars waged? Etc. Words are important, perhaps the greatest achievement of human technology … but actions, now they are another thing entirely. Ponder one of my favourite latin quotes … Acta non verbal’ … Actions rather than words. JBW

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Fools Gold

‘BJJ is all about technique’ - says the Instructor with the syringe still dripping in his locker. Sadly, drug use (or should I say - cowardly cheating) is rampant, not only in the AFL - but in many other pursuits - even lifestyle-pursuits like BJJ.
BJJ, for me at least - as I hark from the old-school - is about a way to live - about healthy lifestyle - about respecting our body and our mind - what it is not about - is pumping unhealthy steroids and the like into ourselves to boost our flailing ego’s and get an edge on the mat. These practises go against everything that BJJ is all about … instead, choose the work, choose the struggle - steer clear of short-cuts and unhealthy choices. And seriously, it is how we live our lives - how we can extract the most joy out of living - how we can help others along the way … these things are more important than taking drugs so we can get a competitive/combative edge of our peers … seriously?? Rather … live a strong, pure, healthy, productive and generous life …


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Shapers ...

Each of us is shaped.
Through the course of our lives, most of us are exposed to hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of other human beings - each one adding something to the incredible mosaic that underpins who we are.
Our parents are the first to leave their mark upon us - along with our siblings; and so we are ‘roughed out’ and given shape enough to make our way into the world. It is then, as we walk among others, we begin to take a pro-active role in choosing those we spend our time with. Sometimes by chance, others times by choice, we meet people who have a deep, profound and lasting effect on who we are; on how we see the world, on how we distinguish ourselves from others.
In my own case, I can think of many people who have left their mark on me; who contributed significantly to the person I am today … but only a small few who shifted my world view; whose influence was profound and dramatic. I have just recently re-connected with someone who influenced me in my early twenties; someone who inspired, educated and amazed me at every turn. I feel so privileged to have spent so much time in his company; I can ‘feel’ , more than ‘remember’ , how strongly I wanted to be like him, when I grew up. This particular person came to visit me when I was in hospital last week; and I came to the realisation that perhaps my early ‘aspirations’ had actually come to pass … his wife (a beautiful and highly talented human being) commented that we were like two peas in a pod - I have to admit, unknowingly, she had given me one of the best compliments I have ever had.  For those of us who have the privilege of meeting and spending time with such ‘shapers’ - take the time to let them know how meaningful they are to you. Life is short - stuff gets in the way. But such people ‘deserve’ to know. 

Simon Buttonshaw - you are a man apart. Thank you for being you. Much love -  JBW

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Seed of Success ...

Each of us wants to live a successful life .... But this can mean very different things for different people. Very often, people mistake 'wealth' for success ... an easy mistake to make, given the capitalistic bent of the society that most of us inhabit. To me though, success is much, much more about happiness ... Happiness, Challenge, Joy, Satisfaction, Tranquility of Mind, etc. I chase those things that afford me those feelings. Each of us has an equal opportunity to be happy, to be successful in that way ... in the only way, that really matters, in my opinion. JBW

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Inspiration ...

Most of us are inspired at some time or other ... by events, by other people, by books, movies, etc. Inspiration ... derived from the concept of 'an injection of spirit' is a powerful force that can shape and direct us over the course of our lives. We are moved by inspirational people or inspirational acts ... we are directed by it ... in a way, inspiration serves as a kind of a compass. JBW

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Dancing in the rain ....

A very strange (and upsetting) week for me .. so I’ll continue to share my feelings in the hope others might benefit … 

I have always defined myself by how I have responded to those things life has thrown at me - and never by what has happened to me. This week though, I have had a glimpse of how it must feel for people to define themselves by what has happened to them. We cannot though, allow ourselves to slip into that river … the current is both strong and directional. NO - we should never define ourselves by things that ‘happen’ to us - particularly if those ‘happening’ were not due to choices we make. Everyone of us has had to deal with their share of hardship/misfortune, etc - but this is just like ‘weather’ … and always remember; we can still dance in the rain! Best wishes all - JBW

Monday, October 26, 2015

Passing Knowledge ....

Why are we here?
This is one of the classic philosophical questions.
Well, according to the precepts of evolutionary biology, the answer is simple - we are here to pass on our genes - to have children, who inherit our genetic traits - and in turn pass their genetic traits on to their children. The same goes for all life-forms; but to what end? That is another question - one I’ll leave for others to comment on.

But here’s a thought … something that I have come to appreciate over the past 10-15 years or so … we are also here to pass on ideas. We pass on our genes though our children - but each of us also has the potential to pass on our ideas, our thoughts, our knowledge, to countless others; to hundreds, to thousands, to tens of thousands of people. In the overall scheme of things, I feel this is a powerful analogue to the biological reason for our existence; and it is a large part of the reason, that I am so very passionate about teaching (to the extent that I can) as many people as I am able to reach. Every single one of us, has the same potential to pass on what we know to others … a reason to become the very best teachers we can, for future generations. And this alone, is reason enough, to put everything we can into developing our teaching capabilities … it’s absolutely unacceptable to me, that we content ourselves with just going through the motions. teaching, to me, is a big part of what life is all about. JBW

Sunday, October 25, 2015

All roads lead to Rome .... a BJJ concept.

Here’s a concept I have loved for a very long time. My BJJ Instructor, Rigan Machado, took this particular approach in teaching me … I will now share it with you.
Take any technique or position - let’s say - the Crucifix, for example - no matter how many ‘finishes’ we can apply from the Crucifix position, we can apply none of them if we cannot get to the Crucifix position in the first place. So the trick is this; at the beginning of our Crucifix journey - we need to keep our focus on developing as many ways to get to the Crucifix position as we can - from passing, from the Guard, from the turtle, from head to head, etc. The more ways we can get to the Crucifix position, the more opportunities we will have to apply our preferred finish. This is what I call the ‘all roads leads to Rome’ approach. 

Sp rather than one road into the crucifix position and eight or ten finishes from there - it is better value to develop eight or ten roads into the Crucifix and a single finish. Of course, over time, it is natural to develop more finishes from there - but these will be of little to no use if we cannot even get there. All roads lead to Rome … JBW

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Precision ...

Paying attention to detail - perhaps the most fundamental ingredient of achieving extra-ordinary results in almost any endeavour - is something that we should all aspire to. 
Being ‘precise’, giving attention to ‘minutia’, embracing ‘nuance’ - these are all hallmarks of those who ‘rise above’. Precision-thinking leads to precision action. Most of us are probably attuned to this idea in at least one aspect of our lives - apply that to those other aspects where we want to achieve above-average results. We wouldn’t accept a ‘good enough to get by’ attitude from a heart surgeon or a pilot, etc … so why should we accept that mediocrity in our own lives - in those things that, really, really matter to us? JBW

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Teaching tricks ...

I am often asked about various teaching/coaching methodologies - especially by other coaches, etc ... and it is very difficult, if not impossible to reduce my thoughts on that vast and deep subject to a four or five minute timeframe. Putting that to the side however, I do think there is perhaps one vital thread that should run through almost any teaching approach, and it is this ... passion! If we are there for the notoriety or fame - for the money - for the adoration of the students - then our teaching career will no doubt be short-lived and filled with frustration. If however, we are there because we are genuinely excited by what we do, and we passionately want to share our experience and perspectives with others - if our focus remains resolutely pointed at helping others improve - then ultimately, we cannot fail. We are, after all, student and teacher alike, there because we share a common interest. A passionate and resolute desire to help others improve, in my view, lies at the very heart of what it means to be a teacher. JBW

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A little help ...

We can get by with a little help from our friends … so said the Beatles! When we give a little help to our friends - it makes their lives a little easier and our lives all the richer for being able to help someone else.

In helping others though - I no longer expect the favour to be necessarily returned; I used to think that this is how it all worked - but I have been very wrong on more than one occasion. Some people see a helping hand as a sign of weakness; and will try to take advantage of you whenever they can … this has happened to me more than once. I was shocked at the time - and have quietly distanced myself from such people since … but there is a lesson here - and it is simple … be okay with helping others but don’t expect reciprocation; if it does happen … then you know you have found a real friend … but just don’t expect it. My great pal David Meyer once said ‘giving is giving - helping is helping - it’s not business, it’s not a trade. Expect nothing in return.’ Something to that effect anyways … he’s smart guy; a very moral person. Once we have tended to our own garden .. we can help others with theirs. JBW

Monday, October 12, 2015


Motivation is temporary. Habits are what really count. It’s easy to fall off-mission; too easy. Most of use fall off-mission with surprising regularity - we fall off our ‘diet’ - our ‘exercise regime’ - our ‘training regime’ - our ‘savings plan’, etc. We all know this …
So - when we are ‘off routine’ - it can be a good idea to do a ‘hard re-set’; a kick-start of our routine - but how?

For myself, it requires a re-visioning of the ‘track’ I want to be on - and then an application of ‘will’ to step onto and stay on, that track at a chosen moment in time. Hard to do - for me at least - but once on track again, it becomes easier, day-by-day. Within a few days - no extraordinary effort is required. Hard re-sets - are just that … hard. But with practise, they too, like any other skill - can become something we can do … when we need to. JBW

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Together ...

The culture I am trying to establish on my mat goes a significant step beyond mere co-operation. This is my goal ... No-one is there for themselves; rather, they are there for everyone else. So; if we have 20 people on the mat - you come in and make it 21 ... but you are not there for yourself; you are there to help everyone else. The good news though is this; even though you are not there for yourself - 20 other people are in fact, there for you! This idea only works if everyone is on-board with the idea. Something to work towards for the betterment of everyone there ... an ideal if you like. JBW

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Hope is NOT a strategy ...

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

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Thinking our way forward ...

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

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

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Wonderment ...

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Re-visiting ...

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

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

Monday, September 28, 2015

Discovery and Invention ...

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

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rejuvenation ...

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


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Beyond our means ...

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

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

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The road to Black Belt ...

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

Monday, September 07, 2015

Nature's Whisper ...

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

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Kudos ...

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