Wednesday, September 30, 2009
By the time you read this, I will have returned, all being well, to the routines of my usual life. But right now, as I write this blog, I am actually in-transit, on one of my ‘time-out excursions’ far from the trappings of civilization.
I try to take one or two time-out trips each year. For me they an opportunity to gather my thoughts, let my collection of small injuries heal somewhat and commune with the world in a non-technological way (except for the act of writing up this blog). I enjoy remote places; I always have. I have hiked in the Himalayas, I have trekked across the vast green Mongolian steppe; walked the remote Arnhem Land escarpment, climbed over the southern Alps in New Zealand and swam up pristine rivers and through hidden gorges; I have limped across deserts, stalked through lush green jungles and camped out on desert islands. Remote places have star-filled skies; they are blanketed, at times in deep quiet; they remind me of who we are, as a species and allow for a better perspective and view of our place on this spinning globe.
As I write this blog, I watch the sun sink into the sea on an island in remote New Caledonia. Thoughts of my family run through my mind, as do thoughts of my school and my students. Each of us presents ourselves to the wider world in a certain way; but we all know there is far more to each of us than that which we hold up for public view. We have the face we present to our family, the face we present to our co-workers, the face we present to our employer or employees; etc – but at the end of the day, we are left with just our inner self – that aspect of us that rises to the surface when we are not under scrutiny or in the company of others. I think it is healthy practice to draw our various countenances closer in to the truth of who we are, so we act and behave with greater congruence and more in harmony with who we really are. Each of us, in any number of subtle ways, compromises, acquiesces, bends, gives, takes, pushes, forces and toils to make comfortable and workable lives for ourselves within our families, our work environments and our social networks – and at each and every interaction with another human being, we open ourselves up to the possibility of adding yet another layer of make-up to the face we present to the world. A part of the reason I like to get away and take my time-outs each year is that they provide me with the opportunity to discard some of the excess ‘build up’ and clean the inner-house so to speak. My guess is that most people spend quite a lot of energy conforming and presenting themselves to the world in the ways they think they should present themselves. This, no doubt, consumes a lot of energy and eventually starts to ‘weigh heavy’. I think many people turn to drugs and alcohol as a convenient means of shedding some of the excess weight they are constantly carrying around, if even only for a few hours. I myself, turn to the wilds …
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I am leaving early in the morning for ten days. I will be un-contactable for the next 10 or 11 days - and so, no posts. I have a had a great time the past few days with my good friend Rigan - life is good. With the competition over, I have done about 3/4 of my years work - so it's a lot more relaxed for me from now till years end.
I have never been very big on planning - and have only had to develop organizational skills out of necessity to accomodate my training and workload. I have pretty much always lived for the NOW - and I urge everyone to consider how little time we all have here on this spinning marble. None of us know how much time we have here, but it goes without saying that we all should strive to relish each and every moment of each day we have. Living for the weekend is not a way to live - living for the end of year holidays is my idea of 'hell on earth'. We should apply some of our mind to the future - as it has a way of arriving - but that should not stop us from wringing every drop of juice out of each and every day we have. Sta well everyone - all being well - I'll be back here in 11 days or so.
Monday, September 14, 2009
The term genius is a convenient label for the rather inconvenient collection of people who fall to the far right of the bell curve in any number of traits/skill sets. In my youth, much to my dismay, I underwent deep IQ testing and was found to fall into the 145+ group – consequently, I was thrust into a special class where we had to learn three languages, and do high math. The languages were never a problem for me – but the math was just puzzlement, disguised in maze of confusion … I just never got it. Eventually, my family moved, and thankfully I was transferred to a school that didn’t have a special class – and my life became significantly less stressful. All of that was a long time ago – and since then the way we think of intelligence has changed significantly (and in my humble opinion, for the better).
It is commonly understood now that there are many different types of intelligence. Some people are far to right on the bell curve with things like body-kinaesthetic intelligence, others excel at interpersonal relationships, others at verbal-linguistic, some at mathematical concepts, others at spatial-visual skills – perhaps we can even extend the idea to the realms of the spiritual and include things like, the ability to be happy, etc. The bottom line is that we now know that people excel in an amazing variety of ways; some people do better than average at business, others at relationships, some at problem-solving and others till at high math or physical skills. In days gone by, when we lived in tribal societies, everyone knew the best man (or woman) for the job – if you wanted to run down a gazelle, then Fred was your man, you needed to cure the snake-bite then Henrietta was your woman; need to make fire, go get Joe … and so on. No-one was expected to excel in all areas – individual people gravitated toward their strengths and most people had something that the could do better than most. We see this on the mat all the time; different students have different strengths, different weaknesses and therefore, different types of games. Extending this idea beyond the confines of the mat, it is perhaps worthwhile considering what each of our strengths are – in the shorter-term applying these strengths to the way in which we interact with the world – and in the longer term, how we can improve our weaknesses. It is very easy to focus on the former and put-off or ignore the latter. The trouble with a strong and well-0defined game on the mat, is that it can become difficult to put it aside and develop other areas of the game that are not so strong. And the same goes for life – strength or genius in one area often walks hand in hand with a serious deficit in another area. Great at business but bad at relationships? Gifted with BJJ but bad at stand-up? Amazing with math but bad at organizing your day? Such is the trouble with genius …
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Well ... the competition is now over and we are in recovery mode.
Rigan held some fantastic seminars today in Melbourne, and the feedback has been absolutely great. Frank Monea presided over a school-owners meeting afterward and offered up an inspiring talk about building great school culture. Thanks Frank, what a great end to a great weekend.
Everyone I have spoken to throughout the day of the comp has told me it was the best run tournament they have ever seen. Thanks everyone, I appreciate your kind feedback.
The prize-packs were the best yet, the cash bonuses for the black belt division place-getters was very much appreciated and the whole event, wound up by just after 6pm - and that was with just over 325 competitors. Awesome. Rigan Machado commented that he absolutely loves coming out for the comp - and really looks forward to it every year.
I need to attend to my inbox now - there are dozens of e-mails from people showing their appreciation of the day, and I need to get back to them all.
I'll have the results posted up on the News page in a day or two.
Friday, September 11, 2009
I's rather drink fruit juice than alcohol - so don't take this the wrong way: but, HERE'S TO A GREAT DAY for all those attending our Asia Pacific Championships in Melbourne. I picked up Rigan Machado from the airport this morning, and he is pumped for the competition. The last of the entries for the comp came in tonight (326 total) - and I have since finalized the draw and the various times that each division will kick off. I'd like to wish everyone a great day - compete well - make a few new friends and have fun. I'll see you all there.
For any logging on to this blog on saturday morning - the divisions will kick off as follows:
All JUNIORS: 11am (Mats 1-4)
Male White Belt
Under 60 KG: MAT 2 @ 3:45pm
60-70 KG: MAT 2 @ 1:45pm
70-80 KG: MAT 3 @ 1:45pm
80-90 KG: MAT 4 @ 1:15pm
90-100 KG: MAT 1 @ 3:00pm
100 + KG: MAT 3 @ 4:15pm
Female White Belt
Under 60 KG: MAT 1 @ 2:15pm
60-70 KG: MAT 1 @ 1:15pm
Open White Belt: MAT 1 @ 4:00pm
Female Blue Belt
Under 70 KG: MAT 1 @ 1:45pm
Open Blue Belt: MAT 1 @ 1:00pm
Male Blue Belt
60-70KG: MAT 4 @ 12 noon
70-80 KG: MAT 2 @ 12:30pm
80-90 KG: MAT 4 @ 12:45pm
90-100 KG: MAT 3 @ 12:45pm
100+ KG: MAT 1 @ 12:45pm
Male Purple Belt
60-70 KG: MAT 2 @ 11:00am
70-80 KG: MAT 3 @ 12:00 noon
80-90 KG: MAT 2 @ 11:00am
90-100 KG: MAT 2 @ 12:00 noon
100+ KG: MAT 1 @ 12:15pm
Men’s Brown Belt:
Under 85 KG: MAT 1 @ 11:30am
Brown Open: MAT 1 @ 11:00am
Under 85 KG: MAT 4 @ 11:00am
Black Open: MAT 3 @ 11:00am
JBW: Sept 11 - 2009
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
In my household right now, it's COUNTDOWN time. Our Asia-Pacific Championships are this weekend and we have loads of work to do. My wife Melissa is an absolute powerhouse - she seriously does the work of five men. She has been an absolute demon with regard to our place-getter prize-packs .. we have cash prizes for the two Black Belt Divisions, plus shoes, for EVERY placegetter, as well as clothing, Gi's and other stuff - her office is jam-packed with Showbags! I am not allowed in there. Apparently, there is a system in place ... one that I am incapable of understanding.
We have more than 320 odd entries as of today - so (even in this economic 'downturn') we have surpassed last years numbers. We have better mats this year and a better mat-officials system. We will employ the use of mat-marshalls to facilitate the minimization of any down-time on the mats - if all goes well, our competition will wind up by 5pm. This is our goal, leaving people plenty of time to socialize and chow down before Rigan Machado's seminars the next morning.
On another note - we have 12 BLACK BELTS competing! This is far and away our best ever attendance by the Black Belts! it's shaping up to be an very exciting day. As of this evening, our cash prizes for the six Black Belt place-getters come to more than $2000. The monies will be distributed as follows: 1st Place: $600, 2nd Place: $300 and 3rd place: $200 for both Black Belt divisions - with the weight break at over and under 85kg.
The rest of my night will be spent calculating fight times - so competitors can easily check on the noticeboards we will have up, which mat they will be fighting on and at what times ... this makes it a way easier day for everyone.
Oh - a final note to any competitors reading this blog on friday ... the higher ranks will be fighting first - starting with the Black Belts! White belts will be on toward the end of the day. So get ready ...
It's back to work for me now - then I'll catch a few hours sleep before heading to the airport to collect Rigan ...
Best wishes all,
Sunday, September 06, 2009
To understand BJJ, you need to understand the biomechanics, the leverage and the physics of the game. This is not a quick process, and that is why the journey from white to black belt is not a quick one and not for everyone – but it is, most definitely, one worth traveling.
I studied biomechanics and anatomy for a year at university, and although I learned to put names to muscles, bones, etc – I learned very little of applied biomechanics. My understanding of biomechanics came form years of BJJ practice on the mat.
I urge anyone who wants to eventually earn their Black Belt in BJJ, to commit to the development of a deep understanding of how the technical processes work. Begin simply, just pick one move, one finish, or better still, one good sweep; work it until you can count on it. Study it as you go; develop an understanding of which levers you are working, and in what order; begin to unravel the technique, taking it apart until you can re-build it under pressure – or perhaps even find a way to improve it. Eventually, like anything else, when you have undergone this process with one technique, you will find it slightly easier to do with the next … and so on, until the process itself becomes effortless. You need to be able to take something apart and fully understand it before you can consistently improve it. This work is not hard, in fact, it should be exciting and illuminating. Just pick a sweep, any sweep …
Thursday, September 03, 2009
The next ten days are going to be good - each one better than the next.
My workload is ramping up as our annual competition - THE ASIA PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS - looms closer. Rigan Machado is winging his way out here from LA to be on hand for the comp and offer up some BJJ-training gems the day after. We love having Rigan here - it's always a fun week.
The competition is also a lot of fun. It's the only comp I run each year and is in-house only, for the members of our association - BJJ AUSTRALASIA. I have been asked many times to run either an open tournament, or a no-gi tournament - but for now, I have decided to leave those tasks to others. I enjoy this one because of the atmosphere of complete solidarity that pervades the whole thing. Competitors do their thing - but walk off the mat together and more often than not, head to the warm-up mat and share ideas on what unfolded during their match. No bad language - no unruly behaviour and no bad sportsmanship. It's like a huge BJJ annual Picnic!
The day after the comp is always the same routine - Rigan Machado conducts a seminar for white belts, followed by another for higher grades. Both are always hugely interesting and usually packed full of Rigan's latest thoughts on building a great BJJ game.
The same day also provides an opportunity for the various school-owners to get together and discuss better ways to improve their schools, and the service they offer to their students - last year, the school-owners meeting provided a huge swag of ideas that have flowed on to the students during the past 12 months. This year - bigger and better ideas are in the making.
My wife Melissa has done an amazing job running around and chasing up sponsorship. For the first time ever, we are offering some cash prize-money for the place-getters of the Black Belt division: $1000, $500 & $250 for 1st, 2nd & 3rd place respectively. Just a little bonus to help fund their travel and training - and show our appreciation for what they have achieved. GLOBE INTERNATIONAL is also providing shoes for every PLACE-GETTER IN THE COMPETITION!! And we have a truckload of other great sponsors, who together, are contributing to this years GATHERING, including:
JOLS MARTIAL ARTS SUPPLIES
Gotta run - lessons to teach - entry forms to collate - emails to answer.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
For myself, this year has been a tough one for injuries … a lower back drama being the latest in a very annoying series. It has postponed my initiation into the world of Kettlebell Training and continues to hamper my efforts on the mat. I have to say though, despite the unbroken string of injuries, I still feel extraordinarily fortunate to be alive and being able to do what I do for a living.
A quick look around and it doesn’t take long to see that the little day-to-day dramas that we suffer don’t compare to what the larger population of the world has to deal with. Anyone affluent enough to be reading this blog, no doubt has a warm bed to sleep in, a fridge and pantry full of food and obviously, a computer with which to virtually travel the world at will. How fortunate we all are …
The paths of our lives come with speed-bumps built in; for me, the speed-bumps are injuries, for others, they are weekly bills or relationship hassles or acne or hair-troubles … but seriously, these small hassles are nothing compared to starvation, poverty or life-threatening illness. If you are reading this blog you are among the most fortunate of people to have ever lived; you probably have access to health-care, food , shelter and a host of luxuries that the larger population can barely dream about. My point – you have enough lee-way and ‘fat’ in your life, that you can afford to take a few risks. Even of it all goes wrong, you are still better off than almost any person who has ever lived. Risk a little – live a lot – be grateful that your parents survived (and probably prospered) long enough to have bought you into this world. You not only have the best seat in the house – you have a place on the team. Get out and play.