Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Sitting here as dawn breaks, in the misty mountains of Bali.
I get up very early each morning, just before dawn as it is peaceful and the perfect time of the day for writing. I am working on finishing the third and final volume of my Rogue Black Belt series - as promnised. Hundreds of people have e-mailed me, asking when it will be done, and so my dawn starts!
I hope to get three quarters of it done before the end of this week; and the rest done within the first fortnight of the new year. I love writing this - going through the process of writing allows me to re-live to a certain extent, some of these experiences. And this is the perfect place to do the work. In fact, for those who have read the first two books in my series, you may recall Dewa Patra and Mardi, two of the best fighters I trained with in my early Silat days in Tampak Gangsul. Tonight I am having dinner with them both. I can't wait. Dewa Patra, as it turns out, is an important figure in Balinese politics - working directly with the governor. How life has changed for all of us.
Well, a family of monkeys has just come up to the poolside where I am staying up near Ubud. They are pulling up some of the plants alongside the pool, to get at the soft fresh roots. I doubt whether management will appreciate their antics. Still, they need to survive - as we all do; I am on their side.
Best wishes all - I shall blog one more time on new years eve.
Warm regards from the mountains,
Sunday, December 27, 2009
We are living in a world where adaptability and flexible thinking are no longer a luxury – they are almost a survival requirement. One of the problems this presents is the difficulty in reconciling the fact that to be any good at anything, to rise above the median, we need to develop a speciality. Starbucks does coffee – Marcelo Garcia does X-Guard – and through their respective specializations, they have built a name for themselves. So which is it to be – the specialist or the generalist? But is it such a prickly problem?
In my view, it’s the same problem faced by martial artists of a decade ago who were trying to decide between kickboxing and wrestling. It’s only a problem, if you only have one night to train. Nowadays we all know that serious MMA fighters not only grapple and kickbox, they almost certainly train in BJJ and have a strength and conditioning workout a couple of times a week as well.
My view is that if we are serious and passionate enough, we should embrace the concept of becoming the broad-spectrum specialist.
Further, I would take this idea beyond the confines of the mat and add other specialities to my arsenal. I want nothing less than the best possible relationship with my wife – I want to make sure my family has no financial difficulties – I want to embrace the living of life as if I only had one more day left to me – in short, I will not settle for anything less than becoming an expert in the art of growing happiness.
Complete game on the mat – complete game off the mat; a broad-spectrum specialist. Times have changed – and so have our capabilities. Have it all.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Pretty much everyone who is reading this blog - is living better than a millionaire would have been living forty years ago. A millionaire living back in the 70's, wouldn't have been driving as nice and safe a car, as most of you are driving today. A millionaire living in the 70's wouldn't have had a television or access t entertainment like you are all enjoying now. A millionaire living in the 70's wouldn't have been able to dream of owning an IPOD, having a phone with a digital camera built in, being able to buy books and other cool stuff online. A millionaire living in the 70's probably wouldn't even have access to the ease with which we can all travel internationally, as we can now.
We are all living in amazing times; we live extraordinary lives and from a historical standpoint, we have more options open to us, more choices and more opportunities than anyone who had ever lived before us. certainly, we can have no cause for complaint. So with this in mind - I wish you all the very best over the Christmas period. revel in your existence, live life to the fullest - marvel in this amazing world and amazing time we live in - love your family and friends - and stay safe through the holidays.
I'll be on and offline over the next week or so - and will do my best to blog between now and the beginning of 2010.
Warmest wishes for '09
Friday, December 18, 2009
You-tube Sensei …
Some twenty years ago, it was made clear to me that we had all shifted, many unknowingly, from the industrial age to the age of information - and what a paradigm shift that was! Many of our parents struggled with it, we are adapting into it and more than likely, our children will wonder what all the fuss was about. Nowadays people have access to information that is only limited by their ability to tap into it by making sense of the internet and it’s many faces – Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. To put it simply, there is just no excuse nowadays, for ignorance.
A quarter of a century ago, when I started Blitz Magazine (Australasia’s Leading MA publication), I did so in an effort to share my passion for the martial arts with others. I wanted to open martial artists eyes to the amazing possibilities of what lay beyond the familiarity of our shores; because quite frankly information on combative culture beyond the mainstream was extraordinarily hard to come by. Back then, there were few books, fewer magazines, and no DVD’s, no internet to speak of; I literally had to cut and paste the magazine together by hand and drive it down to the printers. Yikes!
They were challenging times indeed; particularly if you wanted to stay abreast of martial arts developments abroad. Nowadays, teenagers can readily tell you who won in the UFC and with what technique. This is a huge shift in the martial arts landscape; but like any ‘big shift’ it has both positive and negative consequences.
The flood of information available to any who care to look, is astronomical to say the least. The benefits are fairly obvious; people can make far more informed decisions about the types of training they choose to undertake. People can see martial arts pressure-tested in a variety of environments and can therefore make decisions and form opinions less based on the theoretical and more grounded in actuality. In short, if results are what people are after, they can now more easily sort the chaff from the hay. We are less-dependant on the opinions of others and can now more easily form our own opinions and ideas. The positives are many.
All of this comes at a price though. One obvious downside to this flood of information is the fact that people can confuse entertainment with foundation-building. In the grappling world, arguably the fastest growing sector of the martial arts industry, we see teenagers learning flying armbars before they learn how to hold the mount. In other words, they are taking control and making decisions about what they want and what they need, based on very little or no experience. The instructor is playing less of a role than ever before, in their development as martial artists.
There is nothing at all we can do about this; after all, information is there for the taking and people are grabbing with both hands, as fast as they can. And perhaps this is the way it should be. But we should not lose sight of the fact that good quality instruction and professional guidance cannot be replaced by doing technique searches on You Tube. Training students to a high standard of technical excellence is an art in and of itself. The right things need to be taught to the student and taught in the right order. It may help to think of the process in terms of an artist painting a canvas. He or she begins with a blank canvas and a palette of colours and in applying the paint to the right parts of the canvas, in the right combination of colours, pressure and in the right order, something beautiful can be constructed. Someone else, starting with the same blank canvas, the same, small set of paints can fail, again and again to produce the desired result. In other words the process of producing artful results goes well beyond simple access to the right materials. And this is where the You-tube phenomenon let’s us down; it is easy, particularly for the novice, to be distracted from the fundamental training that he or she needs by the sheer flood of information that is available to anyone with an internet connection.
Please don’t misunderstand; I am absolutely, all for more information. I love how technology helps my daily life and my training. It’s just that I also understand that for every benefit that technology and the information age offers us, there are also subtle dangers that we should be aware of and always, a price to pay. Log on and do a Google search by all means – but also pay close attention to what your flesh and blood instructor has to say. A good instructor or coach can give you something that You-Tube cannot - in a word it is this - context!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
In stepping onto the mat each day - we engage in our practice and become stronger and more resilient as a result. But sometimes life and chance throws us a Real fight - just like the one that Haydn Clasby of Auckland (New Zealand) is in right now. Last Saturday, in the last round of training for the year, Haydn suffered a freak injury on the mat - breaking one of the vertebrae in his neck leaving him paralysed from the neck down. At this stage, he is prepping for surgery, during which he will have a plate put in his neck in the hope that his spinal cord may heal. The thoughts of the BJJ community downunder are with Haydn and his family - and we are hoping that the wonderful support that has been thus-far forthcoming will continue to pour in from the wider BJJ community beyond our shores.
Here is a link if you care to make a financial donation to assist Hayd and his family to fight this real fight - no matter how small, any help would be greatly appreciated: MAKE A DONATION
Here is another link to the Haydn Clasby support page on Facebook.
Best wishes everyone - and on behalf of Haydn - thank you for all your wonderful, much appreciated - and needed - support!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Today will see the final shoot of this phase of our filming project completed.
Dave Meyer and myself have been working in front of Marc Herbert's lens last weekend, through the week, and this weekend also. We have a stack of film in the can - and now we need to attend to some of the other elements of our Fightpuzzle project.
Fightpuzzle is the name we have given to our online training program. There are several online BJJ training sites out there - and we encourage you to check them all out - but we are putting our focus on several several big points of difference. Our instruction style will be very different - and we are trying to make a definite departure from a simple library of techniques format - as we all know such things are available on DVD's, Youtube, etc.
The Fightpuzzle Project will feature a very different style of instruction - and will be built on top of a rock-solid foundation of highly technical Core training. Although we are aiming to provide the highest level of supplementary training for those who are already working as or under an instructor, our project is also designed in such a way as to be able to provide complete and concise instruction to those who are remote from legitimate BJJ instruction.
We'd like to thank all of our friends who have encouraged our efforts with the project - and we can now tell you that we are hoping to be able to launch sometime around the beginning of February. We were hoping to be up by the start of 2010 - but as is often the case with such things - some of our ideas are evolving and we keep making changes for the better - but this is pushing our launch date further down the track. Don't worry though, we will make announcements when we are good to go - and we will send out e-mails to all of our friends.
Anyway - it's back to the mat for the last of this weekends shoot. I will keep everyone informed as to our progress as we near the launch date.
Best wishes all,
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
We had a great day today. After teaching a few private classes this morning, Marc Hebert, Dave Meyer and I headed into my school for a few more hours of Video work. A quick snack in the late afternoon back at home, then it was into the school once again for the evening classes. After a packed intro class (where we couldn't fit a single extra body on the mat) - we started our advanced BJJ class.
I had Dave take the advanced class through a series of mobility drills designed to improve 'BALANCE' - something that many people fail to put emphasis on. It was a fun thirty minutes. This was followed by thirty minutes of rolling before I finished up with the awarding of two new ranks. The first recipient was guest form Sydney, Fari Salievski, who received his Purple Belt. Fari is a renowned Australian martial artist, who runs a very strong school in Liverpool/Sydney. He has been working very hard of late - and has made great strides in his BJJ training. The second was awarded to our South African visitor Marc Hebert - who may well fall asleep wearing his shiny, new brown belt. Marc is a very positive force for BJJ in J-burg (Johannesburg), South Africa - I am sure his friends and students will celebrate with him upon his return. Congratulations both.
More filming tomorrow - another day, another Omoplata!
Dovetailing ... this is a basic coaching concept that I have used for a long time now. After I get a sense of a student's 'game' - either by rolling with him, watching him roll with a number of others (or a combination of both) I still need to decide what to teach him ...
Now, I could simply pick decide on a couple of techniques that he (or she) doesn't know and add them into his game ... but that would be far from the best approach. What I usually do is try to find something he does well and 'add' to it, tweak it a bit and make it better. Working on something a student is already basically familiar with is one way to ensure the technique will be rapidly adopted into his game. The if I can coach him in techniques that supplement what he is already doing, but without taking him away from his usual game - I can pretty much rest assured that he will take ownership of the new material. This concept of 'dovetailing' into the student's existing game is a powerful way to effect meaningful and effective changes in their performance levels.
More soon ...
Sunday, December 06, 2009
if you watch this short film - though fascinatng - you may come to the conclusion that we have far too much free time on our hands. In fact, the opposite is true - to construct this nice little movie - we worked late into the night, after a hard day's video shooting. It was tough - but very much worth it. I hope you like it.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Someone bring more juice!
On the mat all day yesterday, same today and again tomorrow. Dave Meyer and I are busy in front of the camera, shooting several hundred vid clips for our new site - FIGHTPUZZLE.
Marc Herbert is behind the camera (and the laptop)- and is the very best possible person for the job as he is an excellent purple belt and a great all round martial artist. We are very excited about the whole thing - it's going to be an amazing resource!
My wife Melissa is turning up with good food a couple of times throughout the day - keeping our energy levels up. But will someone please - bring me a short black!
more soon ...
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Two of my good friends arrived this morning - from opposite sides of the planet. Marc Herbert, from Johannesburg in South Africa - and David Meyer from San Fransisco in the USA. Time for lunch, a catch up, some planning of our next ten days work (24 odd hours of video shooting) and then it's off to the evening mat.
I first met Marc in Singapore, where he was assisting Rodney King conduct a Crazy Monkey (boxing) seminar a few years ago - we hit it off immediately. He is currently a good purple belt and is a leading force for BJJ in South Africa. Marc has amazing video/multi-media/web abilities - and is here to help me with a new project I am embarking on. David Meyer, I met 20 odd years ago, when he walked into the Machado mat where I was teaching one night, in Los Angeles. We have been the best of friends ever since. Good times ahead. More to follow ...
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Arrived home today. Back from the wilds of New Zealand and looking forward to thr week ahead. I have my good friend Dave Meyer arriving this wednesday morning - and another good friend - Marc Herbert beating him in from South Africa by ten hours or so. So it's airport runs and mat madness for the next week or two.
I cannot wait to get back to class tomorrow night - and once again step onto the Geelong mat. I miss teaching and working with my students - and my regular routines. Having Dave on the mat for the next few weeks will add some spice for all of us. It's going to be a blast.
Although this may interest very few - here are a couple of pics from my back-country adventure. newly hatching Canadian Goose chicks - just fighting their way out of the eggs. These little guys have to fend for themselves from day one - the mother doesn't help out at all ... and we complain about life being tough!
The other is a shot of me standing waist deep in the snow-melt, after swimming down a river chasing this trout. Had to get underwater and unhook him from beneath the overhanging bank a couple of times - a huge battle - and below freezing. Wet but happy.
Anyways - I will be getting back to my usual blogging as of now ... again, apologies for my absence ... but when the wilds call ....