Saturday, July 21, 2018


Secret Steps ...

Step-by-step, process-driven instruction, is the way I have always attended to teaching. The technical analysis of a technique, ultimately reveals that as long as the process is understood, then it may be ‘repeatable’ by others, regardless of attributes or talent. Breaking a technique down into it’s component parts builds understanding. One move - becomes - two - then four - then eight as we thin-slice our way to understanding. 

Sunday, July 08, 2018


Simple Leverage - Leveraging Laterally and Leveraging in another Sandbox

A bit on the art of leverage … as I see it.
Most people, martial artists included have a basic understanding of how simple leverage works. We move a lot with a little by applying force to the end of a lever. Simple leverage.

By ‘leveraging laterally’ I mean we can learn to apply an understanding of leverage we have learned with one technique to similar techniques or the same technique in a different situation. This is the way we deepen our understanding of leverage and begin to make habitual use of it.

Leveraging in another sandbox, in my view, is the very best kind of leverage. When we understand how something works and we peel back the obvious layers and get the the underlying principles that make that thing work, we can perhaps apply those things we have learned in completely different areas of our lives. Weirdly, to me, not everyone seems to naturally understand this.

An example: We might, over time, realise that we can better escape ‘side control’ by trying to improve our situation via a series of small/incremental gains rather than pinning our hopes on one ’big’ move.
Then, when we want to lose some weight, we attack the problem one kilo at a time; by making a lot of small changes in our lifestyle/habits, rather than pinning our hopes on a single ‘magical’ diet. Or perhaps we find ourselves in ‘bad’ debt; so we apply the same thinking again, and make a lot of small changes in our spending habits, save a little every week, invest those savings, and over time, acrue enough to make our debt disappear. 

I can think of dozens of other examples of how we can ‘leverage’ what we learn on the mat, into other aspects of our lives. To me, this is what understanding leverage, should be all about. 

Wednesday, July 04, 2018


Scissor Takedown (Kani Basami)

Illegal - dangerous - fraught with peril? Well, illegal in the IBJJF rule-set but nevertheless, a highly effective concept that is very closely associated with the development of Inside Ashi Garami (aka: the saddle, honey hole, etc). Basically it is ‘back-stepping’ albeit on a vertical plane. 

I was first introduced to this takedown in  1979 - in Indonesia, of all places, and I used it to great effect in sparring. I don’t ever recall someone being injured by it … and I must have executed it 50 to 100 times in sparring - and usually, on concrete or dirt, never mats!

Kani Basami = Crab Claw = Scissor Takedown = Vertical Backstep.

Saturday, June 30, 2018


The Secret ...

Here’s the secret - and although it’s a simple one, it is one that has nevertheless eluded many. The secret is this - get yourself to training. If you wait until you are fit enough, ready enough, for the weather to be just right, for your schedule to free up or for your friend to be convinced to start with you …. you may find yourself waiting forever.
If you are already training - then try extracting more value from your time training. Do those few extra reps, that extra roll, put yourself in bad position, start a training diary, try to get an extra training session in each week. 
The secrets are simple - make a start whether the time is perfect or not - and extract the maximum value from each session you attend; never just go through the ‘motions’. Your time is valuable beyond measure.

Thursday, June 28, 2018



Self defence is a concept that plays a pivotal role in why many people begin martial arts training. But we do need to consider the different ways in which we might need to defend ourselves in life. We are often attacked in ways other than just the physical.

Unfair dismissal from the workplace for example … you should know your rights and know how to take action should the need arise. There are very strong laws in place for your protection.

People trying to shut down your right to free speech … again, it’s good to be clear on your rights and obligations in this area. You have a legal right to an honest opinion; no-one has the right to bully you into keeping your opinions to yourself. Just don’t be malicious. Tell it like it is.

Financial pressures … we need to shore up our abilities to deal with this. Financial pressures can put a lot of stress on people and families - learning how to be fiscally responsible is a very important life skill. Have a plan, stick to a budget - don’t spend more than you earn.

And of course we have physical assault … this speaks for itself. The laws are there of course, but they may do you little good at the moment you are being physically assaulted. Learning to defend ourselves from physical harm is a worthy life-skill that also affords other benefits, such as confidence, socialisation, better communication, etc. Plus it may keep you alive.

Defence of the self is a large topic … one that embedded in human behaviour since time immemorial.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Inconsequential things …

We all have the same amount of hours in the day. We all spend our energy on those things that we deem to be important. We all, spend too much time, on those things that are essentially inconsequential. In my view, one of the tenets of wisdom is to recognise this and make the necessary adjustments.

Sunday, June 24, 2018


Just do as little bit …

Just take a single step …
Just lose a single kilo …
Just save $100 …
Just read one page …
Just do five pushups …

Doing just a little, is infinitely better than doing nothing. We achieve things by taking that small initial step - and then repeating, etc. Having an ‘all or nothing’ mindset serves only to shackle us; I used to have this mindset myself - and it really held me back. Just do a little - it often leads to a lot!

Saturday, June 23, 2018


Giving Back …

My father once told me “you can’t look after anyone else until you first get your own house in order” - and again, I was told by author and investor Robert Kiyosaki, “you can help more people out of the back of a Mercedes than you can out of the back of your beat-up volkswagen”. I didn’t get either at the time … but I do understand a little better now.
When we are struggling to keep our own heads above water, it is indeed difficult (for me anyways) to attend to the helping of others - and even if we could, we might well not have the means to do so. Being able to get our own house in order is perhaps also a sign that our advice might well be worth listening to by others who might find themselves struggling.
Here’s the thing though - helping others ‘rise’, ‘prevail’, ‘overcome’ or ‘become better versions of themselves’ - is reward in and of itself. We are individuals, to be sure (sounding a little Irish there) - but we are people/human beings - having more in common with one another than we have perhaps, differences.
I myself have been ‘helped’ by others, given a ‘boost up’ at a time when it counted. Affording someone a little time, a kind word, some piece of advice or some other thing that helps them on their way, is a very human thing to do. The world becomes a slightly better place for being this way. And, like any other skill/character trait, we need to practise this a little … before it becomes part of who we are.
I like something my great friend Dave Meyer told me once - his original martial arts instructor (Sensei Jack Seki) told him that by studying the martial arts and combining that study with the development of good character, makes the world a slightly safer place for people to live in. I love that.


Time will go by whether you want it to or not. Barring accident or illness (for my younger readers) - you will one day wake up as a 30, 40, 50, 60 year old. You can be that older version of yourself with or without a BJJ Black Belt; with or without financial resources; with or without the memories of having done that trip, having climbed that mountain, having written that book … either way, you will (barring accident or illness) wake up as a 30,40,50,60 year old. If you want to wake up that day, with that stuff done … commit now! Time is passing either way.
Pic: Commitment in action - 'wedding' and 'head kick'.

Ten Basics …

Gain trust by making small promises and keeping them.
Embrace the day but do a little planning for the future.
Venturing broad gives you context and perspective.
Relationships shouldn’t be based on ‘hard work’.
Industriousness often trumps intelligence.
Pay attention to whatever you are doing.
Drilling down gives you understanding.
Most great achievements take time.
Be careful who you spend time with.
Small steps will get you there.

Letting Go …

It is a common human frailty - one I have been guilty of myself - to refuse to ‘let go’ of some perceived insult or injury to our person/reputation/character, etc.

I have though, since learned, to let go of ‘toxic feelings’ that have arisen from something that is now ‘downstream’ from where I am currently ’splashing around’. 

The problem with ‘holding on’ to drama is that it prevents us from full appreciating the ‘now’. Living in the ‘future’ or living in the ‘past’ both prevent us from enjoying our lives right ‘now - but if I had to choose between one of these two extremes, I would choose the ‘future’. And I would do so for a simple reason, the future is something I have a say in creating - the past is irrecoverable - it is done; we cannot change it. Don’t spent a moment dwelling in the past … it’s about ‘now’ and the many ‘future nows’ will have. 

Learning to ‘let go’ - is one of the keys to unlocking a better future and a much more excellent ‘now’. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018


The Ruffian Way …

  • Take threats seriously - even if they are weak
  • Keep your word - there is real worth in that
  • Pull the trigger when needed - don’t endlessly ponder
  • Embrace difficulty - that’s how we build strength
  • Be first - but expect to be bloodied
  • Start with your gut - end with your mind

Monday, May 07, 2018


Detail, Delivery & Design

A question I am often asked (post seminars) is how I come up with my particular coaching/teaching approach? Here’s the answer I most often give …

As an instructor, the choice of the techniques that I decide to teach is of course important, in terms of it’s relevance to the student or class  - but it is only a part of the equation; the delivery, the detail and the design of the class are equally important.

It has has been my experience, on hundreds of occasions, that when I take a look at something I am already familiar with but from a new angle or perspective - it’s at those times, I make the greatest gains - and reap the most benefit.

Arriving at the ‘optimal’ way of thinking about something - is a kind of magical moment. Understand though, there are always a number of ways we can think about any subject - but there will be ‘one way’ that will kind of make everything fall into place for us … at least, this is my own experience. 

On the mat - I pick a topic (butterfly guard, half guard, spider guard, kimura, back-taking, ashi garami, triangle chokes, etc, bubble-defence, re-guarding, etc) … I then look at all the main applications of that topic I know - and then I un-puzzle it and try to create a ‘seed’ or ‘core’ (foundational) class for it - and then I look at the rest of the puzzle and try to organise it into an optimally palatable order. Hope that makes sense … a lot of people ask me how i set up my approach - and this is the basis of it. 
Best wishes and good luck.

Saturday, May 05, 2018


Inherited teaching style vs Developed teaching style

The hard truth is this - most ‘teachers’ teach, the way they were taught. Perhaps they had wonderful teachers, whose teaching-styles were worth emulating - perhaps not; but in the same way that we all strive to make improvements in the thing we are studying (martial arts, architecture, medicine, etc ) we might also strive to improve the methods by which we impart that art to others. 

There are the simply mechanical aspects of teaching; things like, communication - room control - class design - breakdown and analysis - motivation, etc …. but there are also the more ephemeral aspects of passing on information to others; very, very human things like wonderment, engagement, curiosity, joy, etc. 

It is a wonderful cake we bake - when we coax others toward a deeper understanding and appreciation of a thing that has mean’t so much to us. teaching is a duty - but it is also a privilege.

Friday, May 04, 2018


That Magnificent Scuffle

What keeps me on the mat has in fact, got very little to do with self defence. It is much more about the ever-evolving complexity of the art; about the endless assortment of problems coming down the pipeline each and every day we train. 

What keeps me on the mat is the desire to become a better, more capable and more adaptive learner; to develop a deeper appreciation of complex problem-solving; for the pure challenge of it; and the opportunity to develop mental and physical robustness. 

The landscape inhabited by grapplers is an ever-changing and extraordinarily challenging one. The very fact that we willingly choose to step onto it, is testament to the human desire for self development. May all of you reap such rewards from the Magnificent Scuffle, as do I.

Sunday, April 29, 2018


My five keys ...

Take two people - spending same time on the mat - receiving same coaching - yet they get very different outcomes. On the mat - so too in life. 

I think there are five great keys that go to underpinning great outcomes - again, both on the mat and in life. Here they are:

Industriousness: this would be the keystone, in my view. Some people get way, way more done in a given amount of time, than others. A super-key to achieving stuff.

Attention to Detail: Very important if you want to excel; if you want to go beyond the ordinary. This is a real game-changer. Good enough to get by - is the philosophy of the those who embrace mediocrity. 

Disagreeableness: A little disagreeableness is how new things are discovered. Challenging the status quo is how all discoveries begin. Adhering to traditional thinking patterns condemns us to the same ol’ same ol’.

Intelligence: The possession of above-average intelligence helps a lot with problem-solving, organisation, etc. This can super-charge success - but only if we are industrious. I also know some very smart people, who get nothing done!

Passion: This is like fuel to a fire. it keeps us going; it keeps us in the game long enough, to learn the things we need to learn, to make real progress. 

I hope some of my readers take these keys to heart - I offer them up out of a genuine desire to see others extract the most joy and fulfilment from life, that is humanly possible. Authentic living …. is joyful living. - JBW

Thursday, April 26, 2018


Each day exists forever - make it count.

My father was a very smart man … he was fascinated with the subject of ‘time’. He thought that moments in time were ‘always present’ and that they lasted forever - and we (as conscious beings) were experiencing all of them at all times. Interestingly, he thought that ‘imagination’ was the act of remembering a possible future. Because he thought of time in this way (permanent moments always happening) - he thought it vital that we attend to each day is if it was valuable beyond measure (as it is). Food for thought. 

Monday, April 23, 2018


People with these habits get way, way more done than those who don’t ...

I am often asked by people, how I did this or that thing - how to do overseas travel, how to get enough money to not need to worry about it, how to get a BJJ black belt, how to catch a ten pound trout, how to plan a wilderness adventure, how to write a book, build a house, and on and on ...

Designing and creating the life you want seems pretty straight-forward to me - but only if you have a couple of basic habits in place. People with these habits get way, way more done than those who don’t ... so, here they are:

Attention to detail ... this is crucial, if we want to venture beyond the ordinary. The big picture is about ‘going broad’ but details are unearthed when we drill down.

Industriousness ... this, in my view, is very often a more important ingredient than ‘intelligence’ when it comes to being successful in life. I know lots of intelligent people, who don’t get anything done.

A little disagreeability ... very important if you want to carve your own path. Acceptance of the status quo isn’t how new things are discovered, not how new paths are forged. Question everything. Think for yourself.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


Build a Banquet

\We each bring something to the table, very time we step onto the mat. An idea, an outlook, a way of moving …
Together, we build a banquet. Why are some banquets more enjoyable and interesting than others? A question worth answering. 

White belt to black belt - every one of us brings something. Make that something - worthwhile. An eager attitude, curiosity, a smile. We each bring something, whether we realise it or not.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


IN DEFENCE OF SPEECH … (a secret!)

IN DEFENCE OF SPEECH … (a secret!)

Here’s something that very few people know.
I was responsible for starting Blitz magazine (and owned it for the first ten issues) - but that’s not the ‘secret’ I want to share …
The secret I want to share is ‘why’ I was motivated to start the magazine in the first instance …

In the mid 80's, I wrote and article in AFA - the Australian Fighting Arts Magazine … which was publicly ’shot down’ by a couple of friends of the editor. When I wrote back a reply to their scathing comments - I was refused that right of reply - and my article was never published. I became so ‘incensed’, that I decided to start my own magazine, so that no-one could suppress my right to offer up an opinion.
A bit of an over-reaction perhaps - but I believe very, very strongly in the whole idea that people should be able to voice their opinions.

Bad behaviour, violence against women, social injustice, cruelty and criminal acts flourish in the absence of the voices of outrage.

When others threaten us into silence - that is the beginning of end as far as I am concerned. Art is about expression … and it is very dear to my heart.

Saturday, April 14, 2018


What goes around - comes around

Karma is code for 'consequences' - both good and bad. When we treat people with respect - do our best to help improve the lives of other people - others tend to reciprocate. This has been my experience at least. I don't believe in the supernatural (I don't begrudge others their beliefs - as long as they do no harm) - I do though, believe in reciprocity. - JBW

Thursday, April 12, 2018


Certificate of Not Losing your Shit

I am recently reminded of a quirk of human nature - some people, when besieged by the pressures of life, will not allow the stress they feel to effect others … the suck it up and interact with others pleasantly and honorably.

Another certain kind of person, when feeling pressured, bursts like an over-ripe pimple and covers anyone standing within range with a coating of toxic sludge. I have seen this happen every now and then - and must admit to always being somewhat surprised.

We all go through hard times … every one of us. It is a worthwhile endeavour to protect our fellow humans from the drama we might be experience ourselves. Lashing out at others never addresses the drama’s we might be going through - in fact, it almost always makes things worse.

I wear a small patch on my travel bag - it simply states ‘Embrace the Suck’. Another old saying I like - a little corny perhaps, but to the point: 'pressure makes diamonds' - but keep in mind, it can also make bad pancakes!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Formative Years ...

Formative years ... are, well .... formative! They are formative because we are influenced by the people we spend most of our time with - but think, this doesn't necessarily stop being the case when we become adults. In childhood, we have little or no choice - in adulthood, we do have choice. In short, once we are adults - we have no excuse. Spend time in the company of worthy people!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


Traps ...

On the mat - there are traps waiting for us. Ideally, we have the skills and abilities to overcome those traps. In life, the same situations exists … there are traps waiting for us in our future … ideally, we have prepared a little and have the skills and resources to survive them.
A small trap might be your car breaking down … a larger trap might be a bad relationship, a serious health problem, or some such thing. But traps there are … the future has a way of turning up. We should enjoy our lives and wring every drop of joy and fulfilment out of every day - but also, we should invest a little time, preparing for the traps we have not yet seen.

Thursday, March 29, 2018


Attention & respect

At the heart of it - any teacher worth anything - must want others to succeed. And succeed beautifully and grandly.
Life can be tough - it can throw plenty of shit on the most carefully planned pathways. A big part of teaching, is to spare others the pitfalls we fell into ourselves. That begins by gaining their attention - and their respect. But that begins - by first giving them attention - and showing them respect. One of the deep truths I have learned on my journey thus-far. Happy Easter to one and all. May the bunny leave you plenty of brown things ....

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