Monday, September 25, 2017


Whats the math on …

When I went to school, I always found math difficult. My dad used to try to explain it to me - it was easy for him - but my mind struggled. 

Later in life though, I saw the math in many things. It’s strange how we all develop in different areas, at different stages of our lives. Some of us have to ‘experience’ before understanding - others are adept at learning by rote - others still come to things effortlessly at certain times - for inexplicable reasons. 

There is math at the foundation of all things. I wonder if the math teachers I knew - are aware of this fact? Perhaps.

We look around and geometry in everything … the rectangular shape of the screen you are looking at now - the concentric circles formed as we drop a pebble in the pond - the 90 degree spin as we transition to an armbar from the mount …

Numbers not only play a role … they are elegant, and wonderful. Imagine a world in which we did not see numbers … hard, if not impossible to do. 

Embracing the math of life … requires an excursion down the rabbit-hole ….

Sunday, September 17, 2017


By design ...

I think of the design-process as a kind of predictive instrument. When I designed my home for example, I was in a way, trying to predict how I was going to live - which way I was going to turn when I came downstairs in the morning, etc. In designing a class, I am predicting how i want that class to unfold. I imagine how I want the end-result to be - and then reverse engineer back through a design-process that will gives me what outcome I want. 

In an effort to design our lives - we can predict - mentally wind time backward a bit - and jump-start design-engine into life. This has worked for me at least - in loads of areas. 

I think design - along with ‘organisational models’ should be taught in school - as basic subjects. Math, chemistry and physics are interesting - but design and organisational skills gets stuff done. - JBW

Monday, August 28, 2017


Speculation …

Every time we make a decision in life, we are speculating. Decisions are in a way, speculative choices. Speculation is a bet on the future; on how we think the future might unfold. Throughout the course of my life, I have been accused of being too speculative - of taking too many risks - of wandering too far from the beaten path (thanks in part to some unusual people who understood the value and learning that lies beyond the well-trodden path). Taking risks, as it turns out, is something that we can ‘normalise’ pretty quickly; and doing so, open ourselves up to possibility and adventure …

Friday, August 25, 2017


Fight IQ - LIFE IQ

Ever since I was 17 years old, I instinctively understood that a holistic approach to martial arts training was the way of the future. A balanced blend of kicking, striking, clinch work, takedown, ground control and submissions has always appealed to me. I have to admit though, I was not only drawn to this wholistic approach because of it’s obvious efficacy - but rather for a much simpler and somewhat obvious reason … it was more ‘interesting’, more exciting, there was much more to learn, more to sample, more to keep me interested and motivated. In short, I abhored boredom.

I believe in the power of congruence. I want to approach my martial arts training the same way I approach the bigger puzzle that we call ‘life’. In life, I want to know a lot about a few things but also a little about a lot of things. This approach allows us to make better decisions and to be highly adaptable - but again, it also keeps us from becoming bored. 

A driving fundamental of why human beings are so successful on the planet is our ability to adapt. Our diversity, our ability to re-create how we interact with the environment, is what makes us special. So to not embrace this fundamental on a personal level, would be in my view, a wasted opportunity.

Read something you would not normally read, watch a movie you might not ordinarily watch, talk to someone you might not ordinarily talk to; travel, learn, experiment, broaden your outlook; learn another language, eat something you’ve never eaten before … this is living life beyond the scope of the ordinary. 

Be a renaissance man - or woman.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Choices ...

Consequences continually unfold - as a result of both action or inaction. Choosing not to act, is of course, in itself an action off sorts. Making choices is integral to being alive - a bold life unfolds from the habit of making bold choices. Sometimes - frightening choices. - JBW

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Looking Good and Going Nowhere - Embrace the Wobble.

This is one of my favourites. I heard it from author, Robert Kiyosaki some 30 years ago. I am actually quite surprised at how much he said, that stuck with me. he was an excellent instructor/communicator! One of the best!

He was all about being okay with making mistakes. We all learn like heat-seeking missiles, he said. We launch in a random direction, and make a series of ever-decreasing adjustments, until we home in on the target/goal. The missile keeps asking ‘hotter or colder’ and adjusts accordingly. We need to embrace the information to zero in on what we want. 

When a kid learns to ride a bike, the are okay with wobbling, falling off, crashing into things, etc. They adjust very quickly, and are soon riding down mountain trails. 

When I went to school, mistakes were discouraged. we were only rewarded for ‘wins’ - not ‘losses’ -= and so many of us developed an aversion to losing/experimenting, etc. yikes! Luckily for me, I quickly ‘recovered’ when I left school - and learned to embrace the /losing/falling/failing side of the learning equation. 

It’s easy to  keep ’looking good’ - to stay well within our limitations - to limit our ‘wobbles’ - it’s just that in playing that way, we won’t get anywhere. hence the saying - Looking Good and Going Nowhere!

Embrace the wobble! - JBW

Tuesday, August 08, 2017


Change ... and Choice.

When I started BJJ - there was no internet!
When the first UFC kicked off - people didn’t know what a website was! By the time the 10th UFC was aired - we still hadn’t heard of e-mail!
Things have changed, evolved and morphed at a rapidly increasing rate over the past two decades. The ability to adapt, and keep up (even get ahead of) changes in the world around us, becomes more and more relevant every day. I have talked to people who have started a four year course at University, only to realise, as they neared the end of their course, that the filed was no longer relevant! Yikes!
In many ways, it’s as if we are all running in a marathon … it takes effort just to keep up with the pack; let alone get out in front … that requires something special.
Personally, I like a rapidly changing environment … I feel I am up for it. To thrive in that kind of environment is both stimulating and challenging - but it does take energy and at times, an effort of will.
But after any race - we need rest. And I do believe very strongly in the importance of rest and rejuvenation. For me that takes the form of watching a movie, reading a book, getting out in the wilds and doing some hiking with a pack on my back, etc.
Wishing everyone a great week ahead … do something different this week. read something you wouldn’t normally read - watch a movie you would normally think of watching - try a new technique on the mat - eat a new kind of food - have a chat with someone you don’t know - get yourself a digital wallet and buy a part of a Bitcoin! Change happens ... we can ignore it - adapt to it - even revel in it. Those are our choices. - JBW

Monday, August 07, 2017


The problem with Soda Pop

So very often in life, Shiny Objects pull us off-mission.
We set out to do something, spot some other thing out of the corner of our eye, become distracted from our original intention (sometimes permanently so) … and wonder why we are not making progress.

Now I am not one obsessed with ‘goals’ and the acquisition of such … but I do, tend to ‘see things through’ once I have started. If we want to get something done, and it is important to us to get that thing done … we should resist the pull and allure of random ’shiny objects. 

Shiny Objects Distract Again … Plans on Pause. The problem with Soda Pop.

Thursday, August 03, 2017


Average Joe

The famous, the wealthy, the elite … or the common man all have much in common. 
They each have only 24 hours in their day. The can pretty much all eat healthy food. They all have a roof over their head. In short, there are more similarities than differences between between an extraordinarily wealthy person and a person who earns an average wage. 

Happiness is happiness, for the rich or average like. Both the rich and the average can choose to be healthy, they can both read the same books, watch the same tv shows, sleep in similar beds. 

Many average people bemoan the wealthy and spend time wishing they had access to wealth … when in reality, most of the great things we can experience in life are available to most of us. 

Warren Buffet (worlds greatest investor) still drives the same car he has 20 years ago; lives in an average house in an average neighbourhood and by all accounts, buys breakfast at Mcdonalds most mornings. He dresses in normal clothes and speaks like an average man. he is, by all outward appearances, very average in his appetites … he just likes (and excels) at a particular kind of game that makes him a lot of money (the business game)

Tuesday, August 01, 2017


Understand where the danger is! And don’t be there!

This is a fundamental concept that is often overlooked. I remember being on the receiving end of this lesson, early in my BJJ development. My coach stood back, three or four paces from me and asked if I thought he could knock me out from there; I replied ‘no!’ He then asked me to clinch him tightly and asked again ‘can I knock you out now?’; I replied ‘no!’. He then asked me where he would need to be to have the best chance of knocking me out; I stood a couple of feet away from him and said ‘Around here’. He looked at me, smiled his little smile and said … ‘Don’t be there!’

Knowing where not to be, is as important as knowing where we should be. This works on and off the mat. There are basic things we just shouldn’t do - don’t play with lions, don’t pick up snakes, don’t swim in a raging river, don’t spend more than we earn and live on credit cards … yet weirdly, there are plenty of people who still do these things. They usually pay a high price for their stupid choices. Darwinian forces are, thankfully, there to sort things out for the rest of us. 

Basics people … basics!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


The distinctions between Saving, Investment and Speculation ... in life

Something I have struggled with - but have come to understand over time - is how to make distinctions between these three things:
  • investing
  • saving
  • speculating
Not only in a fiscal sense - but in other areas of my life as well.

These are all very different things … although there is some overlap; perhaps enough overlap that it becomes very easy to conflate all three into one one ‘murky’ concept. For the larger part of my life I saw no meaningful difference between these things; nowadays, I see a little more clearly; and am hoping to share it with any of you who are ready …

Investing is about putting something up (time/money) in order to produce a return in the future. We invest time in learning a new technique, a new language, etc - in the knowledge that we will be able to ‘use’ it in the future. 
Investing is ultimately about ‘producing something’ that was not there before.

Saving is about putting something to one side for future use. When we do this in a fiscal sense, we hope to do so in a way where we at least keep abreast with inflation. Saving is about ‘setting aside’; about delaying gratification; about consolidation, in some sense. 
Saving is ultimately about ‘preserving’. 

Speculating is about taking risks; ideally risks that we can manage. This is more about seeking an ‘above average’ return … but doing so in an environment/area where there is also a real possibility of suffering an ‘above average’ loss. The rule of thumb is simple here; only speculate with what you can afford to lose - whether it be time/money/whatever. 

Speculating is ultimately about ‘educated gambling’.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Throwing a wide net ...

I like reading, listening to podcasts, watching videos/programs, listening to a wide range of other people’s views and then trying to tidy it all up into a view that I am happy to hold - at least until I am convinced otherwise (in fact, often hoping that I am). This goes to the heart of what learning is all about; we gather as much information as we can, and then make assessments, arrive at conclusions and form opinions about the world we live in. - JBW

Monday, July 17, 2017


Talking and thinking ...

When people are speaking, they are basically thinking out loud. When we listen to someone bluster and rant; or grunt and deride - we get an insight into the way they think. When we listen to someone describe a carefully considered opinion, we get an insight into the way they think. We utter and mutter and in so doing, we reveal our thinking.

Talking is (to a large degree) just thinking out loud. Getting our thoughts and opinions in order pays dividends over time; the clearer we are with our thinking, the better we become at communicating with others.

As we all crystallise our opinions on things and polish the lens through which we view the world, we can begin to improve our ability to express our thinking and our views to others. Through reading, debate, conversation, life-experience, travel and study we become better at articulating our world view and in so doing, we become better positioned to make our own contributions on the landscapes we inhabit. - JBW

Sunday, July 16, 2017


The spark ...

From my childhood

An over-reaction perhaps … but in response to being bullied for a couple of years as a child, I looked to martial arts training as a solution. Back then, there were very few training opportunities available to me - so my father (who really knew his way around a fight) taught me what would later serve as a fairly solid foundation for my life’s pursuit.

Comic-books, rather than video games, were the thing back then. I, like most kids, has a large collection. I was endlessly fascinated by the ads I saw therein; they promised all kinds of wonderment … and at the time, were a kind of inspiration for how I would later on, design my life.

It’s funny, almost comical (pun right there) how certain things inspire and motivate us. I have always felt that inspiration comes first - and everything else follows. We ‘reality-making’ beings … everything starts with a thought, an internal whim … a spark of the imagination. - JBW

Sunday, June 11, 2017


Collateral Benefit …

I have long been interested in the concept of collateral benefit.
This is the idea that even though I might choose to do something for personal reasons - if others stand to directly benefit from my choices and actions - then I have a very strong indicator that I am on a successful path.

I understand on a visceral level that this is ‘deep principle’ at work. In fact, I use the collateral benefit structure to ‘test’ my own decisions about doing things in my own life. 
‘Does this helps others?’ - YES/NO
‘Do I want to do this?’ - YES/NO
Yes/yes … and and the way forward is clear.

The bee collects the pollen - and in doing so, effects cross-pollination between plants. Yes/Yes. And so the world works. - JBW

Friday, June 09, 2017



It isn’t so important to talk about integrity - just be a person of your word. it isn’t so important to talk about loyalty - just be loyal. It isn’t so important to talk about being generous - just be kind. Talk is easy - our actions define who we really are. 

Imagine your married and your spouse keeps telling you how loyal he or she is - yikes - that would be worrisome! Humans are creatures of action … and oft times, our chatter and verbiage let’s us down.

One of my very favourite sayings - from a book entitled ARMOR by John Steakley - is as follows: ‘You are what you do when it counts’. The protagonist in the book is called Felix; the inspiration behind the naming of my boy. A great read about fear, taming instinct and becoming. One of the messages of the story, is that it doesn’t so much matter what you feel or say - ultimately it is what you do that really matters - and especially, what you do, when under pressure, highly inconvenienced or when your actions actually ‘cost’ you. 

We are defined by our actions … words are important, yes - but actions leave footprints and have real effect on the world.

  • JBW

Thursday, June 08, 2017


Durability ...

Durability is a good trait - a useful trait for life - and one that can make the difference between us ‘folding’ under pressure or ’pushing through’. Durability, can be both a physical durability and also, a thing of the mind. Mental durability is perhaps, the more important of the two.

There are all kinds of mental durability - we might have the kind of durability that allows us to more easily process criticism than others - we may have the kind of durability that equips us to push through hardship when others might throw in the towel - we  might have a durability of memory, allowing us to recall things and lessons we have learned a long time ago - we might posses the kind of mental durability that us to perform the mental gymnastics needed to solve certain kinds of problems, etc.

Durability is something we can hone and develop. Physical durability to easy to acquire … strength and conditioning training allows us to make big gains in this area; mental durability is more tricky as their are so many flavours available to us. The approach though, to the acquisition of durability is almost always the same - we expose ourselves, little by little, to the challenging thing … and over time, our mental faculties adapt and we become more durable. 

Increasing our exposure to stress - of various kinds - can greatly increase our durability. Our minds don’t like stress, in the same way that our physical; bodies don’t like physical stress … it is not the stress though, that is good, it is our response to that stress that makes us stronger and more durable. Durability - the invisible Superpower. 


Tuesday, June 06, 2017


Another Bedrock Misunderstanding ...

The Universe is my friend: The universe, like nature, is not your friend - it doesn’t care if you live well or die horribly - the universe is not a conscious entity. We can think warm and fuzzy thoughts about nature and how we should live in harmony with it but an earthquake or a lion will both still dispatch us in short order. Instead sending your thoughts out into the universe in the hope that something wonderful will happen, just plan and take action - that’s how actual stuff gets done. - JBW

Thursday, June 01, 2017


A little about a lot ...

Specialisation can unearth insight and deep understanding - but specialisation to the exclusion of everything else can lead to lost opportunity and an inability to adapt. Besides, when we specialise in something - extra effort invested in that particular area will probably only yield incremental returns - whereas investing our effort in areas we know littler to nothing about, will likely yield a huge return for time invested. Know a little about a lot ... be a Jack of all Trades, if you will. Be a well-rounded, adaptable and knowledge-hungry being. After all, your time is being spent -= whether you like it or not.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


The beautification of the functional

Functionality, whilst important, is not everything. if we ‘settle’ for just those functional aspects of a thing - we will find ourselves ‘settling’ pretty early on, in our exploration of that thing. Whilst functionality is central to the concept of survival and evolution - it still, in many ways, leaves us wanting.

Consider cooking - whilst we could easily design and prepare a functional ‘dish’, one that fulfilled our nutritional requirements perfectly, we continue to come up with new dishes, new recipes, new ways of combining ingredients in ways that stimulate our senses. Most of us would find ourselves quickly bored if we just stopped trying to develop new approaches to cooking once we had ticked all the nutritional boxes. Human beings want something more than mere functionality.

The same applies to the martial arts. If we train for the purposes of functionality alone, we would find ourselves getting bored, in pretty short order. We know when we are looking at something that transcends functionality; it is at once impressive, beautiful and inspirational. We are driven to go further; to build on top of; to refine, to create to transcend. 

This is an aspect of art that spills over into the daily aspects of our lives. With functionality ’squared away’ - we can stand on the shoulders of Maslow (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) and each contribute in our own way to the betterment and beautification of something we love.

Saturday, May 27, 2017


Looking backward ... Looking forward

Looking backward can be instructive … i.e.: mustn’t do that ever again … or … yikes, that was great, must repeat! But the past is just that, the past … it’s downstream … and time spent there, is often time misspent.
Looking forward is very useful … planning, visualising, day-dreaming, possibility-thinking … it allows us to get stuff done. But if we spend all of our time looking forward, we might very easily miss out on reaping enjoyment from the present.
Being present is where great living is done - where most of our living is done in fact. When we are in a state of action - we are usually ‘highly present’ … perhaps that is a big part of the appeal of action-filled activities; they tether us to the present. 
Truth is … we need balance. The time-machine that is our pre-frontal cortex allows us to recall lessons and memories from the past, plan forward into the future - and enjoy the now we call present. 

I know people who are all about the present - but they have failed to plan for the future, and it has arrived … and it isn’t as pretty as they has hoped. I have known people who spend all their time moaning and dwelling on past hardships … and they have failed to uncouple from that past and are unable/unwilling to move forward and re-invent themselves. The trick - as always - is to get the balance right. Balance in all things. - JBW

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


On Leadership ...

Leaders need to understand the power of congruence. They cannot get away with saying one thing and doing another for very long. I am reminded of a favourite Latin quote ‘Acta non Verba’ …  Actions; not words! 

Leaders are constantly being assessed; and their critics are harsh and often unforgiving. The experienced leader comes to understand that the communication between people occurs on many levels; leaders are judged by the way they behave, by the way they conduct ourselves, by the way they speak, by the way they look, by the decisions they make, by the outcomes they achieve, etc. The worthiness of a leader is subject to constant scrutiny; after all, people are placing responsibility for their safety, their success, their development, etc - in a leaders hands. And so they SHOULD be scrutinised!

To be a leader is take on tremendous responsibility. Leaders need to be exceptional people; there are very few people who will think an ordinary person will take them to an extraordinary destination; as most intuitively understand that ordinary people do ordinary things, which most often, afford only ordinary results. Those seeking to leave mediocrity in their wake, instinctively seek out extraordinary leaders to help show them the way.

A large part of a leaders job is to inspire others to follow; and the ability to do so requires a harmonic balance between words and actions. To take up the mantle of leadership is to undertake a departure from the ordinary; this can be both challenging and rewarding in the extreme. Collaboration between people is how extraordinary things are accomplished - and the art of leadership brings rudder, sail, wind and navigation skills together in a way that sees everyone gets to where they want to be.

The first task of a would-be leader is to embark on a study of themselves. We cannot lead others without knowing them; and we cannot know them until we first know ourselves. At it’s core, leadership is an inward journey of self discovery; a journey replete with triumph, curiosity, understanding, sacrifice and failure. A journey no ordinary person would willingly undertake.

  • JBW

Saturday, May 20, 2017


Balance ...

We need balance in our lives. Knowing a lot about something should never preclude us from knowing at least a little about a lot of things. 
Being the best at something doesn’t automatically translate into living a great life; no more than being a great pilot would mean that your were a great architect. The awesome part is this ... knowledge, nowadays, is rarely more than a few key-strokes away. Broaden ... deepen, yes ... but broaden also .... JBW

Thursday, May 11, 2017


Simplification of the complex

I have said it before, and i'll say it again now; it was the simplicity of BJJ that initially captured my attention but it as been the complexity and nuance that has kept me invested in the longer term (over three decades at the point of this offering). In short, the simplicity got me there but the complexity kept me there.

For a year or two now, my focus has shifted; I have a clearer purpose and am applying my attention toward a new project; and essentially it is this ... to simplify the complex.

There are a plethora of different themes we might attend to in our BJJ development. The ever-increasing variety of Guard-styles, the many different styles of attacks; omoplata's, the crucifix, back-taking and attacks, leg controls and attacks, kimura's & americana's, loop-chokes, the triangle family (triangles, anaconda's, darce's and kata gatame chokes), pre-clinch takedowns (shoots), post-grip takedowns (throws), escapes, guard retention concepts, the list goes on, and on, and on. We might also break the art up into it's various positions ... side control, mount, knee-ride, etc - there is certainly no shortage of projects or ways in which we might allocate our attention.

Think of any one of these aforementioned themes - and it should occur to us that each sprang from an initial idea - or 'seed' (root) concept. At one time, for example, there was a seed or fundamental half-guard, ashi-garami or triangle choke concept - to name a few examples. The seed idea of a theme is usually a very robust idea ... logically it must be so, for it to survive long enough to evolve in both complexity and nuance. 

Sometimes, the seed idea has already been beautifully and elegantly designed - I have also come to realise that in many instances, the seed idea can be improved upon or even more elegantly organised over it's original form. The process of simplification, paradoxically, is a complex one; to reduce an endlessly growing puzzle back into an easily-manageable idea or two, is largely about drawing a distinction between the core ideas of a thing and the endless variations that may blossom forth from that idea. 

Once an idea has developed to the point of producing dozens of iterations of itself, it can be very difficult to identify exactly how it began in the first place. This can make for a somewhat confusing landscape - the more elements on that landscape and the more difficult things become. Simplifying the complex … is a very interesting and worthwhile task. And so the work continues … exciting times. - JBW

Friday, May 05, 2017


An authentic life ...

Authenticity describes a harmonic balance between who we are when others are watching and who we are when we are alone.  The concept is inseparable from that of congruent living. 

Ultimately, I feel that authentic living is a liberating experience. It takes and effort of will and a lot of energy to maintain a facade that is not truly representative of who we are. Being authentic, of course, opens us up to attack and criticism, so we need to be at a place in our lives where we are okay with that. And it’s not easy to invite criticism; I for one, have never liked it. 

I now understand though, that criticism of our beliefs, ideas, opinions and actions is necessary for our development and growth as human beings. Criticism is necessary to help test these things and provide feedback that can allow us to make adjustments and improvements. 

Living in an authentic way is to breathe easy. It is to live in an open way; to be transparent; to be fully open to the acceptance of new ideas, better ways to do things, a change of world-view. Perhaps being authentic is, in a way, a kind of returning to a more childlike state. As children we were open to everything; we were natural explorers, effortless learners, etc.

In returning to such a state, with the huge benefit of experience and hindsight, we can become a sort of wise-child. Authentic living can permeate all aspects of our lives … moving into a state where we care less about what others think of us, frees up a lot of energy that we can put into bettering both ourselves and the world we inhabit. Plus, think of at the savings you make by not buying into plastic surgery, facelifts, and the myriad other ego-driven investments that people make to engender the approval of others. We have one life to live - we might as well live that life in the most liberating way we can. We should not be slaves to the opinions of others.

  • JBW

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