Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Woke up! Great start!
As usual, I stepped onto my home-mat at 9:00 am and began my usual three private classes. I enjoy these sessions – as much as do my students. It is a chance for me to try out a new teaching technique or new training idea - always fun.
It’s 11:15am – I am all done with my private classes. My wife makes me a small snack – we chat for a bit and then head of to the pool at 12 noon. 25 laps later – I switch off my waterproof MP3 player, take a shower and we head back home. It’s always tough trying to keep up with Melissa in the pool – she is a gun swimmer!
At home she makes some lunch while I attend to the half dozen odd e-mails that have arrived since clearing out my inbox at 8:30 this morning. We eat lunch while watching a bit of TV – I multi-task by sketching out my seminar plans for this weekend (I am heading interstate for Friday and Saturday – running four sessions).
Mide afternoon, time to head out and pick up my boy Felix from school. Feed him a snack and see him off to training (in the kids class with Melissa). I stay home and complete a few tasks online – sign a book order that came in - package it and drop it into Melissa’s out-tray. Another quick snack, and it’s time to pack my own bag for training. Just time to sit down and rite this blog before I head out to teach the two evening classes at my school. Tonight I have novice BJJ and advanced MMA. Fun classes!
Melissa will beat me home, cook dinner (she’s a great cook – and does the work of five men) and prepare Felix for bed. I’ll be home by 8:20pm –when I’ll have a chance to say goodnight to Felix, then sit down and answer a couple more e-mails before tucking into dinner and chatting with my wife.
Time for a couple of hours of relaxing before hitting the sack and repeating the same routine tomorrow; another day in the office – another great day!
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Weaving order from the chaos of the fight experience is something that brings me joy and pleasure. Having my students participate in this ‘ordering’ process is something that I have found to be hugely beneficial to their learning experience.
Providing a means for the student to take a greater level of ownership of the learning experience not only makes my task as a teacher more enjoyable – it also produces a marked improvement in the desired outcomes of the class. There are a number of different teaching strategies that I have come up with to more fully engage the students in the learning experience.
One of my most powerful tools is my concept of ‘running the checklist’. The checklist is a road-map for the given technique or drill; providing the student with a concise and well-ordered pathway from the beginning to the end of a technique or drill. The checklist refers to the series of steps the student must take to negotiate this pathway. The words we use to describe each of these steps should ideally be short and descriptive (mono-syllabic if possible). I may well begin by describing the technique with as much use of language as is needed – but I will quickly reduce back to the use of monosyllabic descriptions of each stage of the technique – in other words, I start with my thorough description to build agreement and understanding but shrink back to my checklist as quickly as is feasible.
In having my students ‘run’ the checklist as part of their learning process, they get to tap into the sense of joy and flow that I myself experience as the designer of the class or teaching model. The student also experience a sense of early achievement as they successfully run the checklist and take ownership of the material.
Running the checklist also keeps the student involved in the process of the technique – it keeps them ‘in the moment’ and helps prevent them from making the very common mistake of over-focussing on the ‘goal’ or ‘end phase’ of the task. Staying in the ‘now’ – being ‘present’ at every step of the process – provides not only a better result, but a better level of ownership for the aspiring coach/instructor.
If the checklist is well-constructed, the instructor/trainer can keep the class moving through the process at the ‘speed of life’. Overuse of descriptive verbage during instruction can result in a hardwiring of the ‘pauses’ between each stage of the technique or drill. A well-constructed checklist will keep things moving at good speed and the students will more easily develop flow and continuity during the state of action.
Finally, the construction of a good checklist will make it more likely that the technique or drill will be reproduced more accurately at a later date when it is passed on or re-delivered by a third party. To develop the skill for constructing a viable checklist takes practice and work but it is very definitely a skill worth mastering. It will take your understanding, sense of ownership and ability to pass on what you have learned to others – to a whole new level.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I arrived home today - after a big weekend.
This trip was a hectic one; but catching up with a few old friends made it very worthwhile. Seeing my good friend Chuck Norris and his brother Aaron on the weekend was a bonus. Aaron is a fellow flyfisherman and after listening to a few of my fishing stories, he may come out early next year and join me for a trip into New Zealand's backcountry.
I also caught up with Renzo Gracie who I met back in the late 80's. he came out and stayed with me for a bit in 1990, here in Geelong. he is a great guy - and now has one of the most succesfull martial arts schools in the USA. Here he is messing around with my boy, Felix! We also caught up with old friend and legendary martial artist, Benny 'the jet' Urquidez - one of the world's most renowned kickboxing pioneers. Melissa and I trained together in the original Jet Centre back nearly twenty years ago. it was great to catch up with him once again.
I am glad to be home though - and with my family once again. And I am very much looking forward to getting back on the mat with my students this week. More to come ...
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Flew into Vegas again from San Fransisco yesterday afternoon. I hit the mat with a few Blue Belt candidates for an evaluation and testing before hitting the pillow for the night. Today I ran a huge class of UFAF Black Belts through six hours of MMA training.
I had the privilege and honour of being engaged to design the new third degree Black Belt requirements for UFAF – and the final touches were put on this work this week. The end result is a condensed, easily transmittable and highly effective MMA-based syllabus. All Black Belts are to be provided with a manual for reference (loads of pics and detailed descriptions of techniques and training drills – along with a logging section for rep-accountability) and accompanying I-POD movie files for those more visually inclined. I am very happy with the way it has turned out.
The day was spent running everyone through the material in good detail. I also placed a fair amount of emphasis on the underlying teaching methodologies to aid in dissemination throughout the organization - a long but fruitful day.
It's just hitting midnight and I am still up - busy converting several dozen video clips that I took earlier this evening to be supplied (tomorrow) to all of the Black Belts as IPOD video files t assist in their ownership of the new material. I need to convert the large vid clips down to smaller files so they can be burn't to a singe Cd - I do not foresee much sleep tonight.
A bit more work tomorrow, followed by the formal UFAF dinner and award ceremonies – unfortunately I don’t even own a suit – but I think I have built up some ‘forgiveness credits’ with everyone there over the years – so it’s jeans and shirt one more time …. uncouth Australian!
I’ll be heading back home on Sunday night … although I have had a great time meeting up with my many good friends here – I do miss my family and students; looking forward to being back home for a bit.
I've included a pic of one of todays lessons - and another of myself and legendary Chip Wright - one of America's best point contact fighters - a truly great martial artist. Back to work ...
Best wishes all,
Thursday, July 16, 2009
It was nice to have a day off in San Fransisco with y mate Dave. An easy day - I slept in after a good nights sleep - we had a late breakfast, took in a movie and then headed over to Berkeley to give a lesson to MMA legend, Jake Shields (see pic). I started out by running Jake through a series of training drills designed to better connect up his newly developed kicking skills with some strong double, single and high-c shoots' - we finished off with some work from the butterfly guard and an attack series from the Mount. Jake's an excellent athlete and a quick study - a pleasure t train.
After a relatively early dinner of sushi - Dave and I parted company until the morning when we head to the airort to fly back to Vegas to start working with Chuck Norris's Black Belts.
Time for one more blog before I get on my flight back to Australia ..
Monday, July 13, 2009
After saying goodbye to my family in vegas, David and I boarded a flight for Seattle. He wasn't feeling well, and was starting to shiver and cough as the flight took off. By the time we landed in Seattle, David was really sick. We were picked up (at midnight) by Black Belt student and good friend Brian Johnson. In my efforts to see David out of the airport, I left one of my bags on the luggage conveyor - the first of several hiccups ...
We installed ourselves at Brian's apartment - and hoped for a better start the next morning.
David deteriorated badly through the night, by next morning he was delirious and lapsing into unconciousness. We had Brian take him to the hospital, where he was treated with an intravenous drip. I then headed out to Kirkland to teach seminar at our friend Korbett's school. See attached pic of Andy Wilson (MKG Martial Arts), Korbett Miller (Millers Martial Arts), myself and Brian Johnson (Northwest BJJ).
After the seminar, we headed back to Brian's partner's house (the lovely Stacy Thrailkill) - where David had to be re-installed. He was still in a delerious state.
Next day, David still bedridden, Brian, Mike (a student of his) and I, headed out early to make the three hour drive up into Canada to run another seminar for Perry Bateson. Our troubles began at the Canadian/USA border. Border Guards asked us to step out of the car and head indoors for a 'short' interview. We were summarily interrogated for over an hour, seriously delaying our trip. Finally, and seemingly reluctantly, they allowed us into Canada.
Twenty minutes into Canada, we ran into some serious traffic problems. People were out of their cars, throwing frisbees - not a good sign. We turned to the faithful GPS, found an alternate route and continued on our merry way. The new route took us to a river crossing that was facilitated by a ferry service - we joined the queue as the twenty odd cars in front of us drove onto the ferry - you may have guessed by now - the car in front of us made it on, but we were stopped. Full ferry!
We finally arrived at Perry's school and hour and a quarter late. Neverthless, after apologies, I ran a three hour seminar that everyone seemed to enjoy. The drive home was easy - and ironically, the border-crossing back into the USA was nothing more than a 'hello' and a friendly smile - easy!
We arrived back at Stacy's place to a home-cooked meal - thanks Stacy!!! We gulped it down while watching UFC 100. A nice end to a long and 'bumpy' day.
This morning, with David slowly on the mend, I headed to Brian's mat. After spending an hour with Brian, Korbett and Andy, I taught a three hour seminar to around 30 of Brian's students. What a great bunch! If you are ever in Seattle, and into BJJ, head to Brian's school. BTW - he is the world no-gi silver medallist - and three-time winner of Grapplers Quest - has not been scored on in his last 14 matches and won all by submission. And that is only a small snapshot of his resume - he is a great competitor - and more importantly to me - a great friend!
Another home-cooked meal tonight, freed me up to do the last minute touch-ups on Chuck Norris's 3rd degree Black Belt Curriculum - a fairly large task. I have just e-mailed the document off for printing in time for next friday's training session in vegas where I will be taking his black belts through the entire program.
Time for some sleep - and a check-up on David. I'm hoping he will be fit for travel back to San Fransisco tomorrow - as was our plan. We may yet have to stay here - not a scary prospect, considering Brian and Stacy's heartwarming hospitality.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
On any good mat, it soon becomes clear what each of our strengths and weaknesses are. It becomes obvious because our weaknesses betray us and we pay the price of tapping. Our strengths are also obvious because they become self-evident by allowing us to succeed and better control the fight. In life outside of the mat – our strengths may be evident but our weaknesses are often far less apparent.
In life, our weaknesses, those things we are not so good at, can be very easily overlooked. They are sometimes, brought to our attention by friends and loved ones, but on many other occasions, they are not … our friends and loved ones can far more easily ‘let it slide’ and we therefore continue on our merry way, in blissful ignorance. On the mat, we would have tapped – but in life, we often fail to modify our ‘game’ and make the same mistakes, again and again.
Just like on game on the mat, it takes courage to re-invent our game off the mat. It’s almost always far less traumatic to keep doing what we are doing – and stay in the well-understood confines of our personal comfort zones. It takes care and courage to have honest talks with our friends and family in a way that exposes our or their weaknesses. But this is all a part of what constitutes ‘closeness’ when it comes to family or friends – the ability to ‘open up’ and expose personal weakness. In doing so, we open ourselves to the possibility of growth. But just like on the mat – this process is not for everyone – we have to be able to take the ‘bad’ with the ‘good’ – as each of us are replete with both strength and weakness.
Re-invention is a process – it can often be a bit of a roller coaster ride; and like a roller coaster ride – it can be scary at the outset – but you always feel beter for having done it.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 09, 2009
The Las Vegas Martial Arts Supershow has come to an end - and what a crazy three days.
My good friend Dave Meyer and I (along with my wife Melissa and boy Felix) have been up early each day, manning our booth/mat.
A few snippets:
- End of first day, we attended the conventions evening event which featured speaker/motivator Tony Robbins. it was an interesting two hours - for sure. Am glad we did it; although a little too EVANGELICAL for my liking, with the masterful Robbins yelling 'give me a YES' every two minutes and the audience responding with complete delight. The funniest moment of the evening was when Robbins had the 2000 strong audience repeating one of his mantra's - "WE ARE LEADERS - WE WILL NOT FOLLOW!' - which was obviously quite ironic - but the funny part was when my nine year old boy pointed this put by saying - 'Dad, Americans are weird - because they ARE all FOLLOWING!' A dozen people around us hear the comment - but fortunately they were all nice and saw the funny side of it. Personally I hope they got his point - David commented succinctly, saying 'Flawless logic!' and gave Felix a pat on the head. It was a good night though and Robbins did have some interesting things to say before he hit the sales pitch for his next life-changing extravaganza. He is a masterful communicator, very, very good at his job.
- Second day, sleep-deprived and still jetlagged - I manned the booth with the help of David and student Jeff Robison and taught on the mat all day. Many school owners bought my professional MMA Curriculum - so that was nice. I also made a few new friends, like the wonderful Riccardo Liborio, owner of American Top Team and legendary Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coach. I also caught up with some old friends including - Benny the Jet, Fariborz Ahzhak, Tom Callos and many others. There are hundreds of schools throughout the USA that use my BJJ curriculum and so I spent a lot of the day meeting, greeting and posing for snapshots. That evening, I ran a three hour seminar on Designing MMA Drills and Super-coaching Strategies (a huge success) so it wasn't until nearly midnight that I got a chance to sit down for a bite to eat. A long day.
- Third day, more of the same. I was engrossed in teaching on the mat when suddenly something heavy and Brazilian leap't onto my back. After dislodging my stealthy opponent and engaging him, I realized it was my long time friend Renzo Gracie. I first met him back in Brazil in '87, when Rigan and Jean Jacques Machado were co-owners of Gracie Barra. it was so nice to catch up with him for a bit - he is a wonderful guy and a great ambassador for Jiu Jitsu. He invited me out to teach some classes at his academy in New York - one of the most successful schools in America. I must do that someday; I really like Renzo! Finally, the show came to an end. SO farewells were made and I headed out to dinner with family and a couple of friends. Tomorrow, sadly, Melissa and Felix head back to LA and onward to Melbourne, while I head north to Seattle and Vancouver for more seminars before coming back to Vegas next week to take all of Chuck Norris's Black Belts through their new 3rd degree black belt syllabus.
Time to get some sleep - and catch up on some e-mails. Stay well all - back for more soon.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Arrived in Los Angeles - leapt off the plane - out of the airport to be picked up by my long time martial arts friend Dick Treanor. We headed to West Hollywood to pick up my wife and son fro Rigan Machado's house - bug hugs all round - and then a sprint to Universal Studios. We did that in three and a half hours (some kind of world record I'm sure) - then back to San Pedro (way south of LA) to drop of Melissa and Felix at Dick's place before he and I drove onward to the Huntington Beach Krav Maga centre. Caught up with Beau Durocher, another long time friend, who runs the school - and hit the mat for three hours of training. See the embedded vid clip for a glimpse of some of the action. What a fantastic group they were to train - congrats Beau for establishing such a wonderful culture on your mat. I hope to get back there again next year.
Back home around 11pm - four hours sleep - then up to write this blog before waking everyone up for the trip back to the airport where the journey continues to Vegas.
Be well - all!
Back home around 11pm - four hours sleep - then up to write this blog before waking everyone up for the trip back to the airport where the journey continues to Vegas.
Be well - all!
Friday, July 03, 2009
I am sitting here in Melbourne airport waiting for my flight to Loas Angeles. Today it is a pleasant wait as I have met up with Melbourne martial artists and good friends Frank Monea and Marcia Beselas , who is also heading over to the Supershow in Las Vegas. I am meeting my family in Los Angeles - they went over the day before me - and spent the day with Rigan MAchado at Disneyland. I'll arrive in 15 hours and after an afternoon at Universal Studios, I need to head down to Long Beach to deliver a seminar at the Krav Maga centre. The beat goes on ...
Thursday, July 02, 2009
In days gone by – when communities were smaller and lives were simpler – we knew who we were and we were ‘there’ for each other. If someone needed a barn raised, then he or she could rely on the whole community to come and lend a hand. When someone else needed their own barn raised, without question, we would have packed our tools and gone to lend what assistance we could – we helped and proffered assistance to the wider community and could expect the same in return. Today we are much more solitary animals. We each earn ‘our own way’ in the world – and often ‘compete’ aggressively with each other to do so. It is less a world of co-operation and more a world of competition – are we better off? In many ways, I do not think we are.
Villages have turned into towns and towns into cities; the world is a smaller, more accessible place, yet human beings are lonelier than ever. The world over, it seems the sense of community is more and more, a thing of the past.
Each of us though, builds or constructs their own community; a community that is not necessarily comprised of the people who live in our street – as it once did – but more likely comprised of a mix of family and friends that remains unique to each and every one of us.
Perhaps, many of us yearn for a greater sense of community; perhaps this is a part of the reason we feel such kinship with our fellow martial artists on the mat. In our mutual struggle we find kinship; we share victory and defeat alike and our souls are bared – even if only for a few hours a week. The human spirit can be a solitary thing; and each of us sets up our own unique set of boundaries that we apply to the larger outside world; we let some people in and share certain portions of our lives with them; and fewer still with whom we comfortable enough to bare our inner most thoughts with. Most friendships, begin with some kind of co-operative behaviour. We give something, we get something – it works out for both parties and bonds begin to form. Co-operation always feels good. The lack of struggle affords a kind of peace in an otherwise competitive world. Together, human beings can achieve remarkable things – competition builds strength and adaptability – but co-operation builds a foundation upon which we construct lives that allow us to transcend the ‘tooth and claw’ existence that nature alone, offers.