Thursday, February 21, 2019

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Looking but not seeing


We look at others and tend think their lives are absent of drama and difficulty. We look at how others perform and think they don’t have the problems that we have ourselves. To be envious of another’s success is the sign of an insecure human being. But to be envious of a ‘mirage’ - is surely just a sign of stupidity.

It is a common mistake to compare apples with oranges. We look but often  fail to see. 

Most people have struggles of some kind in the lives, their relationships, their finances, their health - and yes, their BJJ Game. The struggle, though, is where the pay-off lies. In dealing with the struggle, in solving the problems, we become more adept; not only at BJJ - but at the living of life itself.

Can’t even read my own writing without the use of glasses …

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

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Freedom …


Freedom to think. Freedom to learn. Freedom to make choices. Freedom to speak our minds. Freedom to succeed. Freedom to screw up. Freedom to love. Freedom to live our lives … 

Like air and water - here in Australia at least, we often take this most precious thing, for granted. We are very, very fortunate … and we live in wonderful times. 

Gratitude for the wonder and circumstances of our existence  - a good way to kick off the day.

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Beginnings I dislike …


“With all due respect …”
This almost always means precisely the opposite.

“Honestly? …”
Well, of course you idiot. What? You usually tell untruths?

“95% of all …”
Stats are funny things. Misquoted, miss-used and made up much of the time.

“Trust me …”
Trust, in my experience, can only ever be earned. And it begins by making small promises and keeping them. When someone asks for it … yikes!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

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Balancing the equation …


This is regarding the math of life.
I have long had this idea …. I shall try to reduce it to it’s simplest form here … 

In words: We need to balance the equation.

I am completely astounded at times, by the clearly obvious fact that some people live and act a certain way and yet they expect to achieve an outcome that should not (by any reasonable standard) be achievable by living and acting that way. Eg: someone wants to be financially independent, but they spend more than they actually earn. Or someone who wants to lose weight but they eat cakes all day and do no exercise. It’s just weird! It’s all basic math. I suck at math - but it’s still quite obvious to me.

There are two sides to this equation - on one side we have what we do (the left side) - and on the other side we have what we want/expect (the right side). These things need to balance out. 

Do less on the left side (what we do) and we will need to subtract from the right side (what we want) - or we will feel disappointment/frustration.

Do more on the left side and we can raise our expectations on the right side.

We could also change the values of the right side first - we could lower the value of the right side - and therefore we need to do less on the left side. Or we could lift the value of the right side and either also lift the value of the left side or again, feel disappointment/frustration.

I have been known to ask the following: “You are doing what? And expecting what outcome?” I have long wondered as to why some people find it difficult to understand this basic life equation. I doubt I have explained it clearly enough here - it seems to sit more clearly in the mind than it does in writing. Perhaps this is why so many seem to struggle with it. 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

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A little change in perspective can mean a huge change in understanding …


When I was a young child my father pointed to a solitary house on a hill and asked me what colour it was. I replied that it was obviously white. He told me that it was surely white, on the side that I could see, but I couldn’t be certain it was white on all four sides - so he made me run up there and check it out. That was my very first lesson in ‘getting a different perspective’ and a brief foray onto the landscape of deduction and reasoning.

I always try to look at things from as many angles/perspectives as I can … in an effort to get the fullest possible picture. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

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The influence of others …

We can spend a lot of time with some people yet still find ourselves relatively uninfluenced by them. Conversely, we can meet someone, even briefly, and find ourselves strongly influenced for the rest of our lives.
I have read books that have made little to no impression - and yet I have read a single sentence that has changed the course of my thinking. Again - quality over quantity - every time!
Here’s a sequence I shot of Rigan Machado and Helio Gracie - circa: 1987.

Monday, February 04, 2019

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Deliberate Practise … the habit of the outlier.


Deliberate practise is the anti-thesis of ‘rote’ practise. it requires mindfulness, self assessment, adjustment, analysis and laser-sharp focus. 
It is more about quality than quantity.

When we practise deliberately, we de-construct the thing we are trying to understand. We break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. We turn these pieces this way and that, trying to see how each piece works and how it relates to the other pieces.

For me, each practise session is an opportunity to re-calibrate and deepen our understanding - and so in a way, is an opportunity for re-invention. The thing may be the same (the technique, the piece of music, the recipe, etc) but we, after each session are a different observer …. more qualified than the observer we were at last practise. Think about this!

‘Practise makes perfect’ - is a silly statement. It doesn’t not! rather, ‘practise makes permanent’ … but is this what we really want?

‘Rote practise’ is comfortable and requires little effort … mindful practise on the other hand, takes us into a more uncomfortable landscape, where we gain new perspectives, deeper understanding and novel appreciation. It’s a different animal.

Habits are formed through practise. And habits need changing and modifying as we grow and develop. One of the best ways to do this, is to engage our and, apply ‘critical’ and ‘analytical’ thinking to what we do. This is not an ordinary path.

Monday, January 28, 2019

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Fluency is often confused with truth …


Something I have realised is that the more fluent we become in something, the more difficult it is to adopt a new view on how that thing should be done. It is difficult to jump out of a track you have walked in, so very comfortably, for so long. 

One of the things to love about children - is that we just can’t keep them on the well-worn track no matter how hard we try. Little tackers … jumping everywhere. Perfect!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

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The less we know - the more we think we know ...


THE FIRST RULE OF THE DUNNING-KRUGER CLUB IS YOU DON’T KNOW YOU’RE A MEMBER OF THE DUNNING-KRUGER CLUB”

The older I get, the less I realise I know. Oh to be young, when I was certain I knew everything. Nyet …

Friday, January 25, 2019

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The Key to Innovation …


I was very fortunate as a youngster, in that my father always encouraged my natural tendency for innovation. 

But how to do this? How do we become more innovative? Questions I have thought about over the years …. and today, I would have to say that practicing a little intellectual humility might be the most important step to take on this most-awesome quest.

Intellectual humility is being open to the (likely) possibility that we don’t know everything about a given subject. Further, we might even (on occasion) be called upon to admit that what we believe about a thing, might actually be wrong. Yikes.

By opening up to the, very real, possibility that we don’t know everything there is to know about a thing - we create opportunities to see that thing in a new light. This, get’s us out of our ‘thought rut’ - we begin to build more and more ‘outside of the box’ perspectives … which leads to innovation.

It al begins with a simple mix of intellectual humility and curiosity.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

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Pet Dislikes … 'WOO WOO'


There are a few things that, I must admit, really get under my skin.
Bullying, for example  … can’t stand it! But even more than that, I hate - the ‘woo woo’ spewer.

The ‘woo woo’ spewer is a particularly beguiling sort of charlatan, who tries to pull the wool over the eyes of the innocent and ignorant with a confusing mix of science and new-age hippy bullshit (collectively known as pseudo-science). Disclaimer: I am sure many of these types actually kind of believe in their own nonsense (when you cannot think critically, that’s what sometimes happens). 

You can locate this strange bird by the peculiar sounds it makes, whilst trying to collect it’s followers in the deep and dark forest of the inter-webs … you will know it by it’s curious sentence structures, often containing words like - quantum, energy, vibration, spiritual, actualisation, enlightenment, rejuvenation, evolving consciousness, mindfulness, destiny, essence, entanglement, particles, chakras, etc.

Although these words are in fact, real words; the ridiculous word-salad delivered up by the ‘woo woo’ specialist, usually has little to no meaning at all. The relationship between the quantum world and the macro (actual life) world is meaningless (physics changes when we apply it to the world of objects larger than an atom) … yet, the ‘woo woo’ man (or woman) will not be dissuaded by such trivialities (for they are probably operating on a different frequency). Yikes.

But, for your daily dose of new-age woo-woo-ism, I offer this - a ‘Bullshit Generator’. It’s fun … try it. Hit that ‘Re-ionise Electrons’ button - and see it in action for yourself. Hit it again - the woo woo is strong in this one.

PS: if you want to hear my thoughts on chakra’s - here they are: I killed mine, baked it in the oven, and ate it with a side serving of fava beans and sriracha-glazed brussel sprouts.


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

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Myth # 3: Think, Believe, Achieve.

Once again, this is a wonky one. People think whacky things, they then come to believe even wackier things … and then, achieve what?
Also, there is this … we need to take action for things to actually happen. The universe will not serve up your dreams on a platter, just because you have read ‘the Secret’ (just threw up in my mouth).
Action is what is required if we want to design our place in the world. As I am fond of saying - ‘If you’re being chased by a lion - pray, imagine and hope by all means … but do so whilst running!’

Monday, January 21, 2019

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Myth #2: If I Go to School - If I work Hard - I will Succeed.


Certainly in my own experience of the world thus-far - I have not seen this to be the case.

I have seen many people go to school then university, get a degree and then find themselves in fierce competition with a lot of other people (also with degrees) all vying for a limited number of jobs. And often, doing so, with a load of ‘university debt’ weighing them down. It can be a struggle.

I have seen countless people, working hard, working long hours, sometimes in more than one job, struggling to make ends meet; yet there is no doubt whatsoever, that they were ‘working hard’.

Do not think the rules of yesteryear automatically apply today. Industriousness is important - but without focussing that industriousness - without ‘shaping’ our efforts, all we get is a lot of splashing around; we can still easily find ourselves drowning. 

Success comes to those who intelligently shape their efforts. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

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They Don't Care ... they have their own dramas!


One of life’s greatest luxuries is that of being in a place where you don’t care if other people judge you harshly. Living in such a place frees us up to admit our flaws, admit our weaknesses, experiment and fail … opening the way forward for improvement and discovery.

The fact that we care so much about what others think of us - is perhaps one of the greatest obstacles to creativity, innovation, discovery and learning.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

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Creative potential …


We all have it. But potential doesn’t always translate to actuality.
It is difficult to teach. It doesn’t follow a straight path - it isn’t learned step-by-step.

Being creative is more, in my opinion, about not caring about outcomes than it is about getting tasks done. Experimentation is about risk-taking, about trial-and-error, about heading off in strange and unfamiliar tangents. And that is perhaps, why it is not for everyone. 

Think about it; the majority of people like to ‘follow’ - they like to stick to ‘proven pathways’ - and for very good reason; survival. If others have gone before us - and not died - then by following in their footsteps, we improve our own chances of living longer. This makes a lot of sense from an evolutionary standpoint - but it just doesn’t cut it on the ‘creative landscape’. 

Here’s a pic of two friends of mine who are both naturally intensely curious  people … both are highly creative and have carved their own paths through life. David Meyer and Gilbert Melendez

Monday, January 14, 2019

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That’s not a Heel-hook …

Heelhooks, or more specifically, the position known as Ashi Garami (leg entanglement) have been around for a long time; a very long time. 
Of course, the are all-the-rage right now and because of the rise and rise of the no-gi and submission-only competition landscape, they have seen a wonderful resurgence.

I learned 90% of what I know about Ashi Garami, it’s various manifestations and the relationship they have with various finishes (heel-hooks, foot-locks, toe-holds and leg bars) back in the early to mid 90’s. At that time, the Machado brothers, who I was training with (and still do of course) were trying to actively feed their penchant for competition in North America; but with very few BJJ competitions available, they had to compete in wrestling, Judo and Sambo. 

The Russian art of Sambo, enjoys a rule-set that allows full use of leg, foot and ankle locks, and so my own practise of the Ashi Garami position, came as a benefit of the Machado brothers training for that style of competition.

My own instructor, Professor Rigan Machado, just insisted that I keep passing the guard, before I attempted attacks on the legs, so that I wouldn’t become leg-attack-obsessed to the point where my guard passing would suffer. His thinking was simple - if you don’t pass the guard because you keep falling back for, or back-stepping to leg attacks, then you never get to side control - or mount, or knee ride, or back-control for that matter - in other words, the price for no longer passing the Guard was too high. So he constructed his simple rule - pass first - then hit Ashi Garami. Seemed to work for me. Then later of course, as a Black Belt I was introduced to many more setups, transitions, etc - and depend my understanding of the world of leg/foot attacks.

But that was then, and this is now … as the wheel has turned, and the Ashi Garami position has since a resurgence in popularity, I am keen to stay abreast of the newest developments that have occurred over the past few years. I have done some work to this effect, and am keen do more in 2019! 

Dusting off may old notes on Kani Basami and Ashi Garami … interesting timesHeelhooks, or more specifically, the position known as Ashi Garami (leg entanglement) have been around for a long time; a very long time. 
Of course, the are all-the-rage right now and because of the rise and rise of the no-gi and submission-only competition landscape, they have seen a wonderful resurgence.

I learned 90% of what I know about Ashi Garami, it’s various manifestations and the relationship they have with various finishes (heel-hooks, foot-locks, toe-holds and leg bars) back in the early to mid 90’s. At that time, the Machado brothers, who I was training with (and still do of course) were trying to actively feed their penchant for competition in North America; but with very few BJJ competitions available, they had to compete in wrestling, Judo and Sambo. 

The Russian art of Sambo, enjoys a rule-set that allows full use of leg, foot and ankle locks, and so my own practise of the Ashi Garami position, came as a benefit of the Machado brothers training for that style of competition.

My own instructor, Professor Rigan Machado, just insisted that I keep passing the guard, before I attempted attacks on the legs, so that I wouldn’t become leg-attack-obsessed to the point where my guard passing would suffer. His thinking was simple - if you don’t pass the guard because you keep falling back for, or back-stepping to leg attacks, then you never get to side control - or mount, or knee ride, or back-control for that matter - in other words, the price for no longer passing the Guard was too high. So he constructed his simple rule - pass first - then hit Ashi Garami. Seemed to work for me. Then later of course, as a Black Belt I was introduced to many more setups, transitions, etc - and depend my understanding of the world of leg/foot attacks.

But that was then, and this is now … as the wheel has turned, and the Ashi Garami position has since a resurgence in popularity, I am keen to stay abreast of the newest developments that have occurred over the past few years. I have done some work to this effect, and am keen do more in 2019! 
Dusting off may old notes on Kani Basami and Ashi Garami … interesting times!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

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Starving in a banquet …


So very much information at our disposal - yet who has the time to sift through it all and arrive at a concise overview, let alone a conclusive opinion.

Many of us find ourselves time-poor. Many people find themselves working more and more  (sometimes for less and less) and so when we are called upon to make decisions that can drastically effect our lives, it is unsurprising that many of us simply don’;t have enough information to make a decision that is both informed and actually in our self-interest.

Like voting.

I know virtually nothing of politics. Learning about it is like forcing wheatgrass down my throat. I know I should …. but fark!

An example: 
If, before the Brexit vote, some unbiassed third party (who was sufficiently smart and actually interested in the subject) could have given a basic (street-speak) overview on say, what the likely outcomes were for voting for or against … the most important pro’s and cons … then we time-poor, disinterested or sufficiently ignorant (me) people, could have perhaps offer up a somewhat more-informed vote. Not me - I am an Aussie. Just an example.

I wonder at how many other decisions people make - in a virtual information vacuum - or information avalanche - which in some ways amount to the same thing. A lot I imagine. One of the challenges of course, is finding that ‘truly unbiassed’ and yet ‘intelligent’ person/group willing to offer up an independent overview - most people have an agenda!

And … finding truly unbiassed advice, is in my own experience, one of the most difficult of life’s challenges.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

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The rarest skill that everyone should possess!


Hard to find on the landscape - but in my view, one of the most important skills that anyone should posses. Tt costs nothing, but takes effort to acquire. I try to teach all of my students this skill. This ability is one of the most important things I have given to my son Felix. My father taught me … and I am very, very grateful of that fact. So what skill is it? It is as rare as rocking horse shite! It is that rare and wonderful thing known as CRITICAL THINKING. 

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

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Digging for Diamonds ...


All the diamonds that were laying around on the surface have been snatched up. You have to dig for the rest. All great stuff requires effort. Except maybe, love. The effort imbues the thing with value.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

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'Self Improvement' or 'SELFISH IMPROVEMENT' ...

When we think ‘self improvement’ - it’s easy (and perhaps natural) to think of the ways and means that we can employ to improve our own lot in life! But surely, some part of self-improvement, should be shaped in a way that improves our ability to help and benefit others.
How we conduct ourselves in the world, speaks volumes about how we see ourselves and to what extent we value the relationships we have with others.
I know a number people who talk a good talk about ‘integrity’, ‘honour’, etc - whilst simultaneously being perfectly comfortable with things like ‘embezzling money’, ‘cheating on their wives’, ‘milking’ other people for their own selfish ends, etc. They can be hard to spot, as on the surface they often present a charming, ‘honourable’ facade; some are even seen as ’leaders’ in the community. Looking further afield from the martial arts landscape, we also see these ‘types’ (in abundance) in the political arena. these types are more about ‘selfish improvement’ rather than ‘self improvement’.
The way we act when no-one is looking; counts for a lot.
To improve ourselves and our lot, seems to be an instinctive impulse - but to do so in ways that also benefits others, might sometimes require a little reflection; a little ‘self-sacrifice’, if you can call it that.
This more precisely-shaped improvement might begin by first trying to improve our own lot, yes, but only in ways that avoid damaging other people - or the environment - the old latin motto: ’Primum non nocere’ (first, do no harm’) comes to mind. And this would seem, to me at least, to be a natural stepping stone to the next idea - which might be to only choose ways of improving ourselves that actually provide benefit to other people.
By improving our own lives, whilst simultaneously benefiting others, we embark on a path that is at once both sustainable and very satisfying. Perhaps not an easy path - but most definitely one worth leaning toward.
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Being curious about our blind spots …


It’s good to start with a simple question … ‘what am I missing here?’
I have applied this my practise of BJJ (and life) for a long time now - and having this mindset has opened up more doors than I can count.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

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Happy Christmas to one and all …


Pretty much everyone who is reading this blog - is living better than a millionaire would have been living fifty years ago. A millionaire living back in the 70's, wouldn't have been driving as nice and as safe a car, as most of you are driving today. A millionaire living in the 70's wouldn't have had a television or access to entertainment like you are all enjoying now. A millionaire living in the 70's wouldn't have been able to dream of owning an IPOD, having a phone with a digital camera built in, being able to buy books and other cool stuff online. A millionaire living in the 70's probably wouldn't even have access to the ease with which we can all travel internationally, as we can now. 

We are all living in amazing times; we live extraordinary lives and from a historical standpoint, we have more options open to us, more choices and more opportunities than anyone who had ever lived before us. certainly, we can have no cause for complaint. So with this in mind - I wish you all the very best over the Christmas period. Revel in your existence, live life to the fullest - marvel in this amazing world and amazing time we live in - love your family and friends - and stay safe through the holidays. 

I'll be on and offline over the next week or so - and will do my best to blog between now and the beginning of 2019. 

Warmest wishes for 2019!
JBW

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. 

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