Monday, March 12, 2018


Be micro-ambitious

Small steps - small goals - small improvements. One of our greatest weaknesses is that we tend not to notice small gains and improvements we make - and so we give up - when all the while, we were actually making progress. 

Thursday, March 08, 2018


Art - Starry Starry Fight

Trying to define what constitutes ‘art’ is potentially a lengthy, convoluted, even volatile discussion … but one definitely worth having - preferably on a stormy day, in an armchair, in front of an open fire with friends (or enemies).
Irrespective of how you personally, define it … I think it is up to others to bestow the title (of artist) - and not ourselves. When I think of art - I think of exploration - and exploration and development of the self through practise and expression. Some forms of art are perceived by others as valuable and some forms (and expressions) are not … but ultimately, I think we might all agree - it can be a deeply personal journey. Whether others approve or disapprove, is not all that important. - JBW

Wednesday, March 07, 2018


Circumstances ....

We are all trying to improve our personal circumstances.
But focussing on those circumstances is not the way - instead, improve ourselves. Then circumstances will change.
Study, learn, think, re-invent, improve, seek out like-minded people. Cut the trash, the nay-sayers and the envious loose.  One life people - make it count. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Make those count. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018


Safety Net …

n the world of the trapeze artists, the safety net allows them to push the envelope and try new tricks; with no fear of dying if it all goes wrong.
Take the safety net away - and the behaviour and learning curve would change dramatically.

In business, a safety net my be a wealthy benefactor who can come to your rescue if your idea goes wrong.

On the social landscape, your safety net might be a small circle of friends who you can confide in and rely on.

There are many kinds of safety nets - but they all have one function in common - they allow us to push the envelope - to test our limits - to try without needing to overly worry about the consequences of failure.

In BJJ - our safety net can - in a broader sense, relate to the presiding culture on the mat. But in a more tactical sense, it is built on our ability to be comfortable in ‘bad’ situations. Our ability to be comfortable in bad situations, or further, our ability to ‘turn the tables’ or escape from bad situations, is our ‘safety net’. The more confident we are in such abilities, the more likely we are to take risks and attack when conditions are less than ideal.

Safety nets - allow us the luxury of taking risks. And risk-taking leads to new discoveries and learning.

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Non Conformity and Critical Thinking

I think I swallowed a non-conformist ‘seed’ when I was a child.
I learned the Alphabet backward (Z,Y,X,W,V ...) not forward.
I wore a cord jacket to school and not my blazer.
I kicked and punched but then took the fight to the ground.
I travelled east when the east was running west.

There is struggle in non-conformity but there is also discovery and a sense of adventure. 

My father was an autodidact, in that he was able to learn, and learn very well, without the need for formal instruction; at the age of 14 he finished 12 grade and in that year he bested all the teachers in his school at chess - playing 10 different games at the same time. He was highly intelligent and carved out a great life for himself and our family. However,  I only recently learned, he ran away from seminary college (yep) as a 17 year old - bought a leather jacket and a vincent motorbike - and rode north in search of his individuality. That’s when he met my mum - and began to find his niche in the world. It is clear where my non-conformist tendencies come from.

I don’t mind conforming though, if I get a positive outcome - and nor should anyone else. There are circumstances though, that arise from time to time, that cry out for us to stand up, to make noise - to take another view. Something my father told me was this - “If you want to be like everyone else, do what they do - if you don’t then don’t”. Critical thinking.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Work Ethic …

I have both the means and the ‘age’ to retire right now. yikes! Why don’t I?
Well, mainly, I love what I do. There are tough days, sure. There are injuries to contend with (impinged shoulder and hairline rib fracture this last week) - travel - airports - and stuff that is annoying …. but the benefits far out-weigh the inconveniences. So there’s that. But …

The main reason is that I have cultivated, over the years , a work ethic that makes it now somewhat difficult to say ‘no’. And I am perfectly okay with that .. because in part, it defines who I am.

‘Work ethic’ … means deciding and committing; not caving into momentary feelings. If you want to get stuff done … you’ll need this in your bag of tricks.

Sunday, February 18, 2018


Solve this ...

Why is my advanced class replete with people who have trained for ten years or more? What keeps people into BJJ for such a long time? I think I know ....

Remember when you picked up a yo-yo for the first time ... or tried to solve a rubix cube ... or tried to ride a skateboard? While it was challenging you remained interested ... but once you got the basic idea; and the mechanics of it became familiar to you, the challenge went away and you lost interest. This is because the landscape of the thing was unchanging ... it was a static problem; one that offered challenge at first, then satisfaction as you solved the problem; and then, boredom began to set in ... and finally you probably wandered off in search of another problem to solve.

With BJJ, every day, the mat will throw up new and intruiging  problems for you to solve. Even as you make great progress and become more and more skilled, so do others and they create new and interesting problems for you to solve. The landscape is not static - it is ever-evolving. 

Imagine waking up every day in a new world; a world where you had new and interesting problems you had to solve in order to prevail and stay alive. Call such a situation frightening, if you must, but boring it would certainly not be. Welcome to the BJJ landscape ... it is the perfect world for problem solvers. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Intersections …

We each have our own unique and special lives …. each have our own challenges, our own joys, our plans, our circle of friends, our own particular set of circumstances. 

It is though, at the overlapping, where the interesting stuff happens … where life happens. Those particular aspects of our lives that we share with others, is often where the real growth and change occurs. 

Put one person on an island - they may or may not survive. Put a bunch of people on an island - and we get culture, art and science. We each have the opportunity to bring something to the landscape … together, we bring magic to an otherwise hostile environment.

Sunday, February 11, 2018


What I want for my students …

I may be over-stepping; but I do admit to wanting more for my students that that which they may have come looking for at my Academy. 

I want them to lead them to a deeper understanding of BJJ than I have myself. I want them to have joyful and happy relationships in their lives. I want them to be financially successful. I want them prevail in difficult times. I want them to be healthy, to be excited about their lives, to be adept at living a full and meaningful life. 

In my Academy, the study and practise of the art, is in many ways a metaphor for how to live our lives. Sadly, such is not the case in many other schools. 

The term Academy, is originally derived from the word Hekademia, which was a place in Greece sacred to the goddess Athena - the goddess of wisdom. It has since come to refer to a place of learning, where presumably, wisdom is also acquired. 

I have never aspired to running a martial arts club - a gym - or a hang-out for a disrespectful cadre of fighters … my preference is to hold to the original idea … an Academy; where ideas take hold and lives are shaped for the better.
  • JBW

Thursday, February 08, 2018


How do we stack up?

How we stack up (against others) in society - does, in many ways, determine how we feel about ourselves. This is both a truth - and at the same time, a tragedy.

For billions of years, countless groups of animals have lived in tribal hierarchies; including humans …. and all are hardwired to do their best to ‘rise’ within the boundaries of their respective environments. 

Humans though, are unique in the animal kingdom, in that we have the ability to transcend our ‘instincts’; to transcend our suffering; to conceptualise the abstract; to express complex things in simple ways - so surely, surely, we can understand this - we each have the capacity to feel great about ourselves, without comparing ourselves to others. 

Monday, February 05, 2018


Character …

We don’t build character in the arm-chair - we build character in the mud. We build character, fortitude and grit, during the tough times. Tough times are like resistance training for our ‘character’. 
Our reaction to adversity is what makes us stronger, more resilient and more able to deal with future adversity. Embrace the suck. - JBW

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Risk and Investment

A life without risk - is hardly a life worth having. 
Standing up and taking our first few steps as a toddler - was a ‘risky’ thing to do … but the pay-off was awesome. We suddenly saw the world from two or three times the height - than we did while we were still crawling around on the ground. We covered distance more rapidly. Plus - it was fun!

Not taking a risk is in fact, a risk in itself. Think about it. We are in fact, evolved/built for survival in a risky world.

Risk is also closely related to investment - and visa versa. And when I say ‘investment’ - I am not just talking about investment from a ‘financial’ perspective … 

Everything we do can be seen as an investment. The most precious thing we have - is ‘time’ - (millionaire and pauper alike) and when we spend it, we are ‘investing’ in ourselves. I have said it before, and I will never stop saying it - the best investment we can make, is the investment we make in ourselves. Be there! Invest fully. Wring the most you can out of the time you are spending - on whatever it is you are doing. When we are just ‘going through the motions’ - we are trading our time for, essentially, no return. 

Nope! No! Nyet! Yeh-Na!

Sunday, January 28, 2018


Nothing new here …

Take a close look at this ancient Cambodian stone relief. Once we realise that the protagonist has secured not only a back-choke on his adversary - but also a body-triangle - it might well occur to us that much of what we consider to be ‘new’ and ‘cutting edge’ on the martial arts and BJJ landscape - has perhaps been done before … invented, forgotten re-invented, re-forgotten … many, many times. Train Hard - Train Smart - Stay Humble. - JBW

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Friend or Foe …

This is how you recognise a real friend … you find yourself in need of help, it’s inconvenient for them to give it, but they do so anyways.

Foes are a little more difficult to spot - because they can come in a variety of disguises - but ultimately, these are the one’s that are trying to do you harm. 

Someone who doesn’t like you but isn’t trying to do you harm - isn’t a foe. They’re just someone who doesn’t like you. And that’s ok.

There is a monumental difference between, say a bear, walking 100 metres from you, looking at you sideways and walking on … and a bear that is charging you with the intent to do you harm. 

True friends are one of life’s rarities … and although I have been duped on more than one occasion, I feel I am among the most fortunate of men, for having some wonderful, reliable and selfless friends. They inspire me.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Facing up …

It is healthy - liberating even - to face up to our weaknesses and frailties. I have, very often in my own life, been a serial denier. I denied I was a tad ‘anti-social’ - I denied that I needed to be fiscally responsible - I denied that I was overly selfish on occasion … but seriously … once we own up to these (and other) frailties (for that’s what they are) we can better manage them - or even do something about them. Central, to the idea of being authentic, is that we take ownership of not only our strengths - but of our weaknesses. - JBW

Monday, January 22, 2018


Compare ...

 We are all good at comparisons ... we are natural at it; and inclined toward doing it. The thing though, is this - compare yourself to last years version of YOURSELF - and not to others.
That's the healthier thing to do. And then ... make small improvements. Move away from the un-useful aspects of last years model (of ourselves) - and toward a more idealised model of ourselves. After all - we know ourselves intimately - and so the comparisons we make - should (if we are honest with ourselves) - be very accurate - and highly detailed. - JBW

Thursday, January 18, 2018


Ritualistic Combat

When engage in the competitive environment, we do so to reap the benefits - but we need to do so in a way where we inflict and receive the least amount of actual/real damage. That way we keep doing it - and  everyone benefits. So … look after each other. We need training partners to do what we do. Alternatively ….

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


the Grind …

We all have parts of our work we like, parts we love and perhaps some other parts we don’t like so much. 

Who cares! Suck it up! We need to take the grind with the glory. Everyone wants the ‘fairy story’ - what we get though is part fairy story, part real story and sometimes, part nightmare. Not everything is in our control. 

My own experience has taught me that we can often start by accepting the grind - for some kind of pay-off; then we learn to like the grind - then we learn to love the grind - and finally, we just don’t see the grind all. it’s all just moments; each paving the way for the next, leading us into our future. 

Previous generations were way, way better at embracing the grind than most people nowadays. There is a whole generation being raised with a sense of entitlement. Yikes. As Clint Eastwood said in his great movie ‘Unforgiven’ - ‘Deserve has got nothin’ to do with it’! Love that. - JBW

Thursday, January 11, 2018


Celebrate the Different

One of my favourite quotes - from german philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer - "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." - and Ghandi said a similar thing - "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win".

I recall when I was trying my best to cobbled together 'stand-up', takedowns and groundwork back in the early 80's ... to be it was self-evident but the martial arts community did not agree. Howe times change.

The majority of people like their world-view 'set in stone' - most people will reflexively argue for the world-view - and most people don't like things coming out of left field. As the prodginy of a long line of ancestors who abhorred risk ... it seems we have a reflexive distrust of anything 'new'.

I applaud and celebrate the outlier ... these are the people make changes in the world.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


What can you Bring?

Something strange that I have noticed … perhaps it is also obvious to most everyone else … I remain uncertain - but here it is …

If someone is taller or shorter than us … we don’t begrudge them; if they posses lungs with greater or lesser capacity than ours own … we couldn’t care a hoot; if someone has bigger or smaller ears … no big deal … however …

If someone demonstrates a greater intelligence … i.e: a more organised brain or more creative mind … things sometimes unfold a little differently.

Perhaps we should keep the following in mind; we are all more and less successful/adaptable in different ways … we are perhaps all intelligent in subtely different ways. 

I don’t think we should worry too much about others being stronger, weaker, shorter, taller, darker, lighter, etc. instead, judge (if we must) on what others bring to the table. What do they contribute to the world, for their being in it? 

Sunday, January 07, 2018


A rudder through life …

Sometimes the ocean is a dead-flat calm. Sometimes it’s choppy. And sometimes, the waves take us high and other times they take us low. We have little control of the ‘vertical’ interruptions that take place on our travels …

Our rudder though, keeps us constantly moving in a certain direction, in spite of those wonderful ’peaks’ or dismal ’troughs’.

Our rudder keeps us moving in a certain direction. We built it with the habits we form. We maintain it by re-enforcing those good habits and scraping off the ones that push us off course. 

My own rudder was forged from materials gathered on a special landscape. See you all there this week … the journey continues, as always, in 2018! 

Saturday, December 23, 2017



Life involves risk - there is no denying that.
We take a risk when we drive a car, when we cross the road, when we play sport or begin a relationship. Risk is a part of life.
However ... Smart people calculate carefully before taking risks. 

All of us come from a long, unbroken line of risk-adverse ancestors. The majority of our ancestors were not up for taking risks - particularly unnecessary risks - if they had been, most would have been killed or would have died before they had the chance to procreate - and we wouldn’t be here. Risk it for the biskit ... sure - but think it through first. Darwinian forces are real things.

Live an adventurous life by all means - but manage the risks when you can.

Saturday, December 16, 2017


Meaningful Training

I want my training to mean something.
In life - we have a choice - everything we do is meaningless … alternatively, everything we do really matters. 

Choose the first - and you are freed from responsibility. But the price is that you live a meaningless life.

Choose the latter and you realise you are paying a price for every decision - and there are consequences - both good and bad. But, you live a meaningful life.

I choose the meaningful journey. My training is very meaningful to me … I extract great value from it. I love trying to solve the puzzles, I love the way it re-orients my thinking, I love seeing new things from new angles, I love designing and constructing more powerful teaching models that help others have a more powerful and meaningful learning experience, I love pulling things apart to better understand how they work, I love the discovery, the challenge - and I really love the way that the discoveries we make on one landscape can be used in many other aspects of our lives. I thrive on that!

Yes - I choose the meaningful journey.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


Re-calibrating Habits

The habits that served us last year may well no longer serve in the present. I have certain habits that served me well 30 years ago, but right now, are not as useful as they may seem. The habits of childhood, may not serve us well  as teenagers. The habits of the teenager may not serve us well as young adults. The habits of adulthood may not serve us well as we mature (gracefully). Habits need re-calibrating as our lives develop and change. - JBW

Sunday, December 10, 2017



As my life evolved through my 40’s and 50’s, I began to find many effective ways to transpose the skills and understanding I had developed through training, in other areas of my life. I was pretty easily able to use many strategies I had come to understand in training to square away many other ‘bothersome’ aspects of my life – things that were mostly tiresome and uninteresting to me (eg: becoming financially independent, growing organic produce inn my backyard, designing and building my house, etc). 

So with relatively little effort, I designed my life using strategic thinking that I had developed through training; which was a boon, as it allowed me to stay mostly focused on the things I loved doing. 

The reasons that I now have for continuing my efforts on the martial path are vastly different from those that drove me as a teenager or young adult. 
I am now interested in guiding other people toward similar experiences. 

I feel I have enough life-experience, both on and off of the martial arts landscape, that I can confidently assist others in the their own journey’s of ‘becoming’ more capable and joyful human beings. 

Of course, the martial arts and non-martial arts aspects of my life have become somewhat entangled; and it is difficult, if not impossible to separate them out; nor would I want to if I could; for they are both woven into a tapestry of discovery, strategy, exploration and play. - JBW

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