Thursday, August 30, 2007
The day after the comp we are running our special seminars at Dominance Academy in Richmond. Rigan will be teaching higher grades between 10am and 12;30pm - and then white belts from 12:30 onwards. this promises to be another exciting and fun day for all. We have some strong teams are coming from Perth and New Zealand. This is a great effort and one we all appreciate. Certainly I do!
Quite a few visitors are staying for several days after, to join in training at my school in Geelong. All the students are looking forward to this. The mat will be excessively packed - but the great comraderie and fun learning atmoshere more than makes up for it.
So see you all there. The countdown is on.
Train well, train safe.
Monday, August 27, 2007
For all martial artists who are at all interested in the combative applications of the arts they study, I would have to recommend Geoff Thompson's 'Watch my Back' - as compulsory reading. Ask anyone who has read it. This is real stuff - Geoff's account of the lessons he has learned from a decade of working the doors at the roughest pub in one of the roughest towns in the UK, is simply a MUST READ!
As my friend in Perth said to me on the weekend - Geoff Thompson was the first martial artist of renown, to admit that he felt real fear. And it's how Geoff deals with that fear and the strategies he has developed as a result of understanding the mechanics of fear, that makes this an absolute best seller.
Please, read it! One of the best books I have ever read.
Go check it out at Geoff's Site
Simple answer: If I have left people thinking more clearly or differently about the subject matter that was presented, I have done my job well. I love getting people thinking. To me this is one of the most important cornerstones of the martial arts instructors job. Sure, we all love to learn new ways to get submissions or put together better combinations, but getting people thinking and improving their understanding of the universal principles at work when we do these things - that's what is ultimately, the most important thing.
In the martial arts industry, THINKING, can be pretty thin on the ground. But THINKING, is what drives us forward and upward. THINKING raises the bar.
Having students understand how techniques evolve and why they evolve, allows them to better contribute to that process themselves. Having students understand the bio-mechanics and physics that underpin the techniques they do, allows them to make improvements on those techniques and better aply other, similar techniques. The process of UNDERSTANDING, on my mat, begins the day I teach them their first lesson. I don't believe in waiting until people are at an advanced level before I start them on their teaching apprenticeship - that begins on the same day as their first lesson. Helping people to be better THINKERS is to enable and empower them, beyond the boundaries of the mat.
THINKING is fun, THINKING is good - but THINKING requires discipline and practice just like any other skill.
Train Safe - Train Smart.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
The next morning, I flew back to Melbourne, spent 3 hours at the airport (yuck) before getting on a plane to Adelaide. Last night I took a class for a small group of Blue belts, headed up by Darren Cartwright and Matty Jones. Sorry about the hole in the wall Mat! Again, dinner followed - and a local chinese place. Good food, good converstaion. Six hours sleep later, I am here at Adelaide airport, waiting for my flight to Perth.
Today's a big day, with my good friend Steve Stevenson hosting the first seminar, followed by a session at Paul Marsdens place, then finishing off with a stand-up clinic at Mike Holmes school. The I shall sleep, sleep, sleep.
Tomorrow, Adam Metcalf will be hosting a morning session at his amazingly professional school, followed by a lunchtime session at Troy Flugge's - always fun. The flight back on sunday evening will see me home at midnight - ready for a new week on monday.
I love the mat - I loathe the airports.
What we need is a flying mat.
My flight is being called - gotta run.
Train smart - train safe.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
A few days later, I was just leaving the Gajamadah market on the main street in Denpasar when a mocking voice called ‘orang asin’ – ‘foreigner’. I turned and saw several Javanese leaning against the low concrete wall that sided the bridge that spanned the local river/sewer. I didn’t recognize any of them; I didn’t need to. The Javanese criminal element ran in packs. Their main strengths were in surprise and numbers; pretty much the same tactic the AMPI group had used.
One of them; a leering, pocked-face prick was sitting on the low wall of the bridge, showing me his yellow teeth. He slowly ran his fingers in a cutting action across his throat, then pointed at me. I’d seen this shit before. But not days fresh after having one of my friends beheaded in his own home. Engine on!
I don’t know how many of them there were; it didn’t matter. This was a public place. They probably wouldn’t pull their weapons. The fall from the bridge to the concrete culvert/sewer below was probably about twenty five or thirty feet. The last time I saw that smiling prick, he was hovering momentarily in space, doubled over from the side-kick I sunk into his chest. His smile was gone; but he did remind me of one of those cartoon figures that kind of pause for a second or two with a weird expression before gravity does it’s thing and pulls them to their fate. I don’t know what his fate was, and I wasn’t hanging around to find out. But a ten meter fall, backwards off that bridge onto the concrete below, cannot have been that much fun. If he’s fallen into the sewer, it wouldn’t have been any better either.'
Friday, August 17, 2007
Bill first walked into my school when he was a young kid, and has demonstrated an unwavering passion and commitment to training every day since. The martial arts are an integral part of Bill's life; on many levels, it defines who he is.
Well done Bill, I am proud to have been able to instruct you in the arts we have come to love so dearly. A huge congratulations to you.
John Will 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
I will self-publish a small first run for students and friends before I offer it to a mainstream publisher. Most likely it will be for sale on this site. Geoff Thompson (for those in the know) has offered to write the forward to it. I am pumped.
Here's a small excerpt from Book One - chapter Five:
A few months before my schooling was to finish I had a real setback. There was a big party at a close friends place, and I was moping around in the front yard by myself whilst most of the party was happening inside or around the back of the house. A friend of mine had just suicided and I was trying to sort out my feelings about it when four big guys walked through the front gate.
I should have figured out that something was wrong as this group were all four or five years older than most of the people at the party; but at this time of my life I was not all that street-smart. They came up and asked if they could join the party – I told them that it wasn’t my party and I would have to ask the host, I turned my back on them and began to walk toward the house – bam!
If you have ever been hit across the back of the head with a length of water-pipe, you’ll know what I mean when say ‘ouch’! I didn’t see the pipe coming at the time, though it was found in the front yard later on. Certainly, it accounted for the split in my skull, that kept me in bed for a week afterward.
I don’t remember much about what happened in the moments that followed. My memory begins with me sitting astride one of the bastards doing the concrete jackhammer routine. I did have the presence of mind though, to momentarily cease my pounding and lay one into the window that was just within reach; knowing that the sound of breaking glass would attract attention from inside the house. It worked, because within seconds it seemed, the whole house had emptied and the fight was being broken up. Then things became rather surreal.
A heaving circle had now formed with two combatants standing in the middle; me with a cracked skull that no-one knew about, and my leather-jacketed assailant standing opposite me. His other three mates had faded into the masses and so I guess it must have looked like a fair go between a teenager and a biker. The adult in charge, father of my friend, gives the guy an ultimatum ‘leave now or I am going to let John loose at you!’ My brain did a 360 inside my skull. My friends father was insane. Couldn’t he see that I had just been pounded by four guys? Didn’t he realize that I had my skull split with a length of pipe? Can’t he work out that I would really rather lie down and take a nap? Apparently not. The guy told him to ‘fuck off’; and so the next words out of my friends fathers mouth just topped the night right off – “Get him John!’
Engine on. Away again. I shot in for a double leg and slammed him down hard. Mounting on top of such a big heap of crap was difficult; my knees hardly hit the ground. I began pounding his head for the second time that evening; and the last thing I remember, was trying to get the blood that was pouring out of my skull to drip down into this bastards eyes. That’ll really fix him I thought.'
Friday, August 10, 2007
Here is an overview of the differences between the basic ranks in BJJ. It’s only a rough guide – but used in conjunction with a good curriculum and quality training, it may serve to clarify where you are and where you are heading.
White to Blue: This is FOUNDATION building time. This phase is NOT about developing your sparring/grappling game. The focus needs to be much more broad that that. If you go into competitive grappling to early, you tend to develop your strengths and avoid your weaknesses – this is natural. You DO NOT want to do this to early. Now is the time to develop a good ALL-ROUND understanding of how the basics go together. A time to develop a good understanding of all the basic positions, the relationship between these positions and the ways to affect the basic attacks and escapes from these positions. This is the time to develop an OVERALL foundation, upon which we begin to build all we will ever learn about BJJ in the future. This FOUNDATION better be good!
Blue to Purple: In a word, this phase is about COLLECTING. It ‘s about adding significantly to the foundation we have created at Blue Belt level. This is the time to collect our huge swag of techniques that can be applied from as many different positions/situations as is possible. In fact, people cannot help but do this; we naturally seek out new ‘moves’, new ‘attacks’, new ‘defences’. This information age that we live in, makes this an easy task. But I must emphasize, the better foundation we have built at Blue Belt level, the easier this task of collecting, we be. For we will not only be adding to our repetoire of techniques, but we will be significantly increasing our depth of understanding of the principles and mechanics that lay behind those techniques.
Purple to Brown: This phase is about ORGANIZING! By now, you have a lot of knowledge. And that’s just like having a house full of books. If you want to e able to access this information quickly and at will, you need to have those books organized in a structured fashion. Brown belts need to go beyond the understanding of relationships between techniques – they need to build relationships between PLANS. A plan is more than just a random collection of techniques, it is a method by which those techniques are organized into sequences that go somewhere, and produce desired outcomes. This is a very personal phase of our grappling development; it’s kind of selfish because it is really very much about OUR own personal perspective.
Brown to Black: In my opinion, this is all about teaching. The Black Belt is a kind of universal qualification for teaching; yet more often than not, the new Black Belt has had little or no teaching training. As a teacher of martial arts, we need to be able to engage with other people and communicate meaningfully to them about how to best undergo their personal journeys of learning. This means so much more than just being able to demonstrate our personal ability. It means we need to be able to communicate to a student in a way that allows and facilitates their ability to move from their present state to a new and more desirable state. To do this, to enable people, to empower them to teach them understanding of the mechanics and principles that lie behind the techniques – and to do so in a way that is powerful and meaningful to the student – that is at the heart of what TEACHING is all about. Teaching training should have begun at the white belt stage of our training and should have ripened to some sort of maturity by the time we reach the level of Black Belt
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
The butterfly guard forces you to develop a greater awareness of your legs and feet - much more so than the basic closed guard. It can also be a more aggressive style of guard, in that you can really mess with your opponents balance in a lot of different ways and from a variety of angles. It is also easy to switch from the butterfly guard to various other types of guard - so there are many Exit/plan B options to take if things begin to unravel.
Here are a few tips to help develop a workable butterfly guard:
- First, develop 'sticky' hooks. This is about relaxing your leg and allowing it to bend and flex and follow the opponents 'hooked' leg. As in fishing, we need to allow the rod to bend and allow the fish to run if we are to successfully bring it to the net. Do not be stiff and overly strong - utilize the elasticity in our joints to 'stick' our hooks.
- Control the opponents arms at all times; with overhooks, underhooks or combinations of both. most of the time, the opponent disengages from our hooks by using his hands - DO NOT allow his hands to go anywhere near your legs. Control them as much as possible.
- If you are having trouble sweeping the opponent, try floating him (elevating him) first. If you 'get the elephant into space, a four year old could spin him by his tail (sorry elephant). Getting the opponent up in the air before teetering him over, can be a big help in the first year or two of developing this style of guard.
- If we are trying to sweep the opponent to the left, try moving our hip slightly to the right first; even shift a little onto our left buttock as we do so This will give us more power in the rotation of our hips during the sweep. Don't always sweep from a neutral position.
- Persist, persist, persist. One good thing about hook sweeps is that we can drive THROUGH with them. Keep lifting!
- Sweep to the diagonal corners behind us; not to the sides. This is the first mistake that newbies make. The opponent can usually post out to either side pretty easily with their feet, even if their arms are being controlled. To take them over to the corners, behind our head. Big secret!
- Against much heavier opponents, try using your actual knee-joint (placed in their abdomen) to hoist them up into the air - as opposed to your 'hook'. This puts the opponent on your 'structure' as opposed to your 'musculature'.
- Attachment is key: make sure you have 'attached' yourself strongly to your opponent, that way, where you go, he goes! This is very important.
- If he backs away, be prepared to follow him. If he stands up - come up and attack his legs; never allow him to 'separate' from you.
- Use one of your 'hooks' to push at his leg, whilst the other hooks pulls and lifts. This pushing action will 'collapse' him one one side a little bit, and also help prevent him from posting out on that leg. BIG SECRET! Pay attention to this!
Well - that will do it for now. My WIFI connection is coming to a close - gotta run. I hope this helps develop your hooking game.
Hook well - lift Hard!
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
It’s very ironic that quite often, people suffering a terminal illness have an astoundingly refreshing outlook o life. They love, treasure and relish every minute they have left. They notice the smell of spring in the air, they smell the roses, they cherish every conversation. In what way are we different from these people – we are not – we just don’t know how much time we have left. Live it all the way – live life to the fullest. Take chances, live your dreams and love like there’s no tomorrow; such is my advice.
I love the martial arts training and approach it with all the enthusiasm of a child at his first big Christmas. Kids know how to live. Train well – train hard – train today! JBW August 2007