Thursday, April 11, 2019


One Head - One Arm … Four Chokes.

A simple recipe - one head and one arm - only two ingredients needed; but we have a number of variations on how these ingredients can be woven into some of the most commonly employed and highest percentage chokes in BJJ.

They give us the Darce, the Anaconda, the Kata Gatame and the Triangle. 

Many times I have quizzed students on the differences between them - and have received a number of answers (arm penetrates from armpit to neck, visa-versa, the spelling is different, etc)

But I am here to outline the most meaningful difference (because there are differences indeed, but most of them are, in my opinion, simply not very meaningful). The meaningful difference between the Darce, the Anaconda, the Kata Gatame and the Triangle is to have an awareness as to which part of the choking mechanism stops the opponent from escaping/resisting the choke. 

In the Darce - it is the chest; in the Anaconda it is the inside of our thigh; in the Kata Gatame it is our head or our hip (depending on the variation); in the Triangle it is the locking leg. 

Remember this - there are two main elements to most chokes: the mechanism that stops the opponent escaping/resisting/unravelling the choke - and the part of the choke that applies force to the carotid arteries/neck/wind-pipe. Being clear on these two mechanisms for each and every choke, greatly deepens our understanding of how the choke can be applied effectively in training.

Saturday, April 06, 2019


The first thing ...

The first thing that coaches and teachers need to realise is this: the value of other peoples time. 

It frustrates me when I see coaches step onto the mat without realising this most simple and important fact. Coaches who just go through the motions - and coaches who think their mere presence on the mat is worth the money that people pay to spend time with them, are worthless coaches in my view.

Each of us is the centre of our own universe. We are all important. The time that is allocated to each of us is valuable beyond measurement. Coaches need to ‘get’ that people are trading a significant amount of this valuable resource to spend time with them; students trade their time to make the money they need to pay for the class/seminar, etc - they then trade more time to travel to the training space, and then they trade more time to listen to what the coach has to say ... that there, is a load of time. 

Coaches - pay attention to the real and actual cost of the deal made for this or that student to get there in front if you. Respect that - understand that - and you’re off to a good start.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


Miyamoto Musashi - telling it like it is.

I first read Myomoto Musashi's classic treatise on strategy in the year i finished school; the year my real education began. It is perhaps, an indictment on my intelligence that it has taken some thirty years to understand it. I re-read it every couple years. Here’s another offering from this wonderful book as one of my favourites ... indicative that Musashi was doing 'science' as it should be done .... love it:

'People in the world look at things mistakenly. They think that things they do not understand must be the void. This is not the true void. It is bewilderment.'

What is not to love about that wonderful observation? JBW

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


Don’t give it weight ….

Some stuff doesn’t matter as much as we think it does. What is usually called for when we are feeling down about something - is just a little perspective. Other than in exceptional circumstances - most of us are better off than most people living at any other time in history. We have things hanging on our walls inside our houses the show us movies … houses, not mud huts. We have food. We have access to health care. And if you’re reading this - it means you have access to a virtually infinite supply of information on an infinite number of topics. Amazing. Most stuff that we think matters a lot - might not actually matter that much at all, in the grand scheme of things. Don’t give annoyances any weight! 

Monday, March 18, 2019


Teaching BJJ ....

Teaching or coaching may be a vocation but it is also a privilege. Sure, good teachers strain to to render the invisible - visible; to transmute ignorance into understanding - but they also should be aware that others have placed themselves (usually voluntarily) into their care - and with this understanding, there comes a certain responsibility. When people trade their (infinitely valuable) time, for what a teacher or coach has to offer, it is vital (IMO) that everyone fully understands the deal being entered into. As a professional teacher myself - I see it as a real privilege to be able to assist others on their way - I am deeply honoured that people feel what I have to offer is worthy of their time and attention.

Thursday, March 14, 2019


Correlation … zero

Many people mistakenly believe that if they up the intensity of their effort (in a given situation) that this automatically guarantees success.

Many people mistakenly believe that if they have a Black Belt in a martial art, that they can effectively defend themselves.

Many people mistakenly believe that if they have a lot of money in the bank, that they will be happy and fulfilled.

Many people mistakenly think that because a person talks to them and smiles at them, then that person is their loyal friend.

Often, where we think there might be a correlation - there is none. And conversely, sometimes where we think no correlation exists, there is correlation..

It is easy to think that the only benefit we get out of training BJJ is the ability control and defeat other people in physical conflict; but think of the myriad of correlations that our training can have with the wider aspects of our lives as human beings.  

We learn to problem solve, we learn to build resilience, we learn to interact with others, we learn to recognise small gains, we learn the importance of process, we learn to be fluid in our thinking, etc. it only takes imagination and thinking to realise there are many things we can take from our training into the larger landscape of our lives.  - JBW

Tuesday, March 05, 2019


Simplifying the Complex … here is one of the easiest ways you can do this as your collection of techniques and ideas continues to grow. Make the distinction between what you KNOW and what you USE.

Monday, March 04, 2019


Frequently, the best abilities escape notice

‘Saepe summa ingenia in occulto latent’ - Latin Saying: (Frequently, the best abilities escape notice)

Many of the actions and habits that distinguish the highly successful from the less so - are by definition, very difficult to see - they are very often for all intents and purposes … invisible. If they were not difficult to see - everyone else would take them up and also achieve exceptional results. The ‘not so obvious’ secret here is simply this - exceptional results come from taking exceptional action. 

So-called ‘Invisible Jiu Jitsu’ - something that several of the very experienced and truly outstanding BJJ Black Belts talk about - refers to all those ‘difficult to see’ habits and micro-actions that have ‘crept’ into the game of the highly experienced over time. These hundred little things, amount to a lot, over time - and can have a remarkable effect on performance. Perhaps I am being a little harsh when I say that describing high-talent as ‘Invisible’ is in a way, code for ‘Sorry, but I cannot explain what it is we are doing’. But I do in large part - believe this to be the case. 

It is the task of the sublime teacher - to render the invisible - visible. This is a part of what professional teachers and coaches should do - they should be constantly striving to understand what it is that the exceptional are doing (that others are not) and make this information available to their students.

I have long stood by the belief that those who are achieving exceptional and outstanding results, above and beyond the average, are simply doing things that most are not doing. These things they are doing, are by definition, difficult to see … so we must train ourselves to spot them - and when practical - emulate them. JBW

Friday, March 01, 2019


Forensics & Impressionism

My own teaching style is based on a very forensic-style approach - I like to examine all the components of a move, understand the purpose and ‘firing order’ of each part of the process - and then find the best choice of words that will successfully drive others toward the same level of understanding. My approach is very forensic and detail oriented. 

On the other end of the spectrum is what I would call an impressionistic approach. My coach Rigan Machado’s coaching style is like this. 
Think of what Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh were trying to do through their impressionist works. There is something about their creations that an explicit photograph failed to convey - with less detail than a photograph, their art, in some ways, conveyed more. 

Personally, I love both impressionism and high-detail … they both bring something different to bear on the subject matter. It is the perspective we get from both approaches that ultimately gives us true insight. JBW

Starry Starry Fight …

Monday, February 25, 2019


Curiosity and Wonder …

More ‘wonder’ and less ‘I know this’ - is what I say.
Curiosity and wonder are important. In fact, they are crucial to continued and deep learning. As I have been deeply infected by these things myself - I can only hope to transmit to others who dare come in contact with me. Patient zero …. come closer, I am highly contagious!

Sunday, February 24, 2019


Simplifying the Complex …

On the mat, such a simplification might look like this: Crucifix = Back Control done Sideways.

A large part of a teachers job is, in my own view, to sufficiently simplify the complex so that it becomes more immediately and more easily digestible for those who haven’t the time, inclination or ability to hold the idea (in it’s fullness) aloft.

Compress a complicated mess down into a more elegant form, put it in a box and tie a bow on it … this is the idea. 

In Math:
1/2 (2X-10) = 5X - (6X+9)
X-5 = 5X - 6X - 9
X-5 = -X - 9
2X = -4
X = -2

In life, we might want to own a house. But zero does not equal 10. We have to balance the equation … work = savings - then we borrow from the bank to buy that home - we then rent out the back room to re-pay the loan faster to more rapidly build equity - then we use the increased equity (over time) to convince the bank to lend us more money - we buy a second home that someone rents - we contribute the shortfall in payments ourselves, until inflation drives the rent and value of the property up. We might eventually sell that second property for a strong capital gain and use the profit to pay to the original loan on our first house. 

So, we have all of that on the left side of the equation - and home-ownership on the right side. One gets you to the other. if we take away something from the left side - we can’t expect the same result on the right. 

This, I call - the math of life.

The simplification of the complex is the fun … and the more we practise doing this, the better we become at doing so. Teaching, in my view, requires that we develop this skill. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.

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