Jiu-jitsu blending into everyday life

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Having started training again these past couple of weeks, two significant knowledge bombs were dropped by My instructor Robbie Singh and the great Master Pedro Sauer, who came down to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Burwood for an AMA seminar. Both BJJ Philosophies that can be readily applied to life and all its aspects. I thought they should be shared with the wider community outside of Jiu-Jitsu.

The first being “What’s hard today, will become easier tomorrow” – Master Pedro Sauer. This really struck a chord with me and my partner as we were participating in some more advanced movements at the seminar. We were both having difficulty in performing some of the techniques being taught, but we were constantly reminded by Sauer of the above. Whatever we were finding difficult at the present moment, would become easier over time. Of course, this is something that should be applied to everything in life. When starting something new, Archery, Blacksmithing, BJJ, a new position at work, etc. it is always tough at first, only with practice and exposure to it will it become easier. I myself sometimes forget that I cannot be great at everything on the first try, I must learn to love the process of failing, failing and failing again until succeeding. I think this is a big part of life, I am only just starting the journey, like a lot of others. I have seen a lot of people come into class or start something new and give up or stop showing up due to them not succeeding right away. Now, naturally sometimes, giving up on a failing business or relationship is necessary. I know I have, there has been just too much risk or toxicity to continue. There is a balance, of not giving up, but knowing when to drop the effort. However, people sometimes confuse the pain that will eventuate in them growing as the toxic pain of, let’s say, a bad relationship.  Learning this balance is something that can be only gained through experience. I have given up on a lot of things that, had I pushed through the suffering, I would have grown. So, understand that slow improvements are better than none. Which, leads on to Robbie’s comment below.

“Small movements are necessary to get to the position you want to be in.”

When performing the super base of the headlock escape 2, you have to place your shoulder into the opponents back under the shoulder blade. Often you don’t get the position on the first try since the distance you have to cover can be either too big for one solid movement, or too uncomfortable for both yourself and your partner. Since you are in a position to take your time, the small movements are advised. Once again, applying the principle to life you can take your time in most things, sometimes it is important to jump at opportunities, however, it can be more beneficial to make micro improvements. You don’t become a blue belt in a day like you don’t become a millionaire overnight. Things take time and constant effort. Together I think that both of these can be used through life, knowing that things that are difficult today will become easier tomorrow with constant small improvements.

Thank you to both of the men above for their wisdom, I continue to love learning Jiu-jitsu not just for the physical aspects but equally the mental and philosophical sides too. Good to be back training again.

Thanks for reading. I’ll see you on the mats.

-Carlos

Success Patterns Can Be Found in All Things

If some of you have been following me recently you will know that I have started up archery after getting a compound bow for my birthday. And with starting something new I will usually draw on other experiences and what I can relate it too. This characteristic is something all of us do, whether we consciously do it or not. When we find patterns we create our own models from these patterns, that could be found through exploration or from learning it from an outside source. Why do we look for patterns to add to our model? Well simply for survival, maybe we can cover that in another post. But, in this case, I’m about to talk about. It’s for the sake of becoming better at something new.

So, shooting a projectile with a string attached to a stick is something very new to me. I never made my own bow as a kid, nor have I shot a rifle or firearm before. Growing up in the suburbs of Melbourne the closest thing to a rifle I had was nerf guns. Not exactly high tech. So, I really don’t know what I’m doing, I have a small understanding of it. Pull the arrow back and let it go, but as green as you can get. So, I go in for my first lesson (down at Aim Archery Moorabbin), get taught the basics, finger placement, how to aim, the arc trajectory of a recurve bow (also known as tradition bow), anchor points, range safety, etc. If you do make the way down to the range George is a great teacher, spends his time with you and really gets you to improve over the session.

However, you won’t improve if you don’t listen and be the student. Here is one pattern that I have noticed in my performance when starting new things. If I am listening and really paying attention to what is being taught, then I will improve at a higher rate. For instance, when I was learning Spanish at university I never really paid attention, I would either be chatting with friends or on my phone. This is no way to learn something, if you want to perform and advance you have to be willing to learn. So, be open to criticism, correct your form, and try again. Someone else can’t learn it for you. When you are a good student, often the teacher will be more attentive to you, I saw this with a kid at high school, He would show interest and ask a lot of questions, he would often get a lot more attention from the teacher. Not because the teacher hated every other student, it’s just that they found the easiest mind to teach.

Anchor points are a big part of archery, especially if you want to get consistent results. Anchor points, are reference points that you use when at full draw for proper sight alignment. The most common points archer’s use and string touching the tip of the nose, the webbing between the thumb and pointer finger and a kisser button (a small loop on the string that meets the corner of the lip.) They allow you to pull the bow back, find your points, sight the target and release. Nevertheless, they will not work if you aren’t consistent with the placement of them. Which, is another pattern I have noticed for the relative success of the task or subject you are learning. Consistency will produce results, either good or bad. If you are consistently setting on your anchor points, your arrow will fly true, then it is only a matter of adjusting your sight. If your anchor points are changing constantly then you will get consistently poor results. Of course, the other part of consistency is to practice.

Often when shooting, I can sometimes throw myself off, either I get a bit too big headed after nailing the bull’s eye and punch (to stuff up) my next shot or I focus on the mistake of the previous shot and punch it again. My most recent lesson has produced a bit of wisdom from George, after two bad shots in a row, I was a bit annoyed with myself and expressed it with George, he told me, “You can only focus on the arrow you have nocked (arrow currently ready to shoot).” And this is something that carries into other disciplines, BJJ, you can only focus on the current technique or position and the escapes, sweeps, and submissions possible. Like in blacksmithing, for better results, focus on each hit, one at a time, each heat.

Just some thoughts and patterns I have noticed and experienced in multiple disciplines, that can be applied to all aspects of life, career, study, gym, martial arts, relationships, whatever else you can think of. If you want to learn quickly and get better results sooner, then try to find similarities between how you have succeeded in past pursuits and apply what you have learned there to your new career, hobby or passion. And a quote from the great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi.

If you know the Way broadly, you will see it in everything.”

Cya on the mats!

Carlos

Change and Growth

I have written about change before. Relating change and how often we fear it and how to combat the fear by coming up with our worst-case scenario and then deconstructing it. Fear-setting as described by Tim Ferris. I pretty much wanted to share with people something I had found to be useful. However, this post will be more personal as I will recount how I have been able to utilize change and take on the challenge of loving change.

Like I have said before change is inevitable, life is always constantly changing. You may hear news of a family member having their first child, you may hear an old acquaintance just passed away, you may have been fired from your job, your sister or brother may have just started playing gigs with their band. All of these things are changes, some the people have little to zero say in them, other times they have all the power in their hands to make the decision to change. However, in both cases, It is still up to the individual on how they perceive their current reality. Take for instance the person who just lost their job, they have multiple options on how they react and the ultimate decision they take. They could turn to the bottle and begin the downward spiral into depression, or they could use the lack of a job as a sign to look into other careers. Ultimately it is up to them what path they take. This in itself is the scariest part of change, knowing that no one else can make the choice for you, which is why often to avoid the decision people tend to walk the wrong path. Not because they chose it, but because they didn’t choose to take a different one.

In change, this is where we can find growth. Growth does not come from sitting idle, it comes from overcoming obstacles. Through my teen years, I did not understand this fully, I didn’t understand that being idle and sitting on the bus of life, so to speak, will not allow me to grow or where I want to be in life. The bus will take me to a destination that I may not necessarily like, to the wrong side of town that I will be more likely to drown in than to flourish. My dad often used this bus analogy to explain life, if you don’t like the bus your on, get off and get on the one you want, you may even have to go back to a previous destination to get to the one you do want to go to. Once I realized that a science degree was not for me, I got off that bus and worked for a bit, then I went back to school and have now arrived at a destination that I like a fair bit better.

I strongly believe that the times that we grow the most are in times of challenge and change. One, you can use those hurdles as an example that you can overcome the trials now before you, and two, that you can use them as stepping stones to take on more of life. Of course, you are not the only one overcoming things, and people before you have already overcome your current challenge. A big part of my growth has been seeking out people who have already walked the path I want to walk down and talking to, listening or reading about them, and see how I could incorporate the knowledge gained to my own experiences. If you find the task of choosing the first/next person you read about, my advice is: pick the two you want to read about the most, flip a coin, if you don’t like the outcome initially pick the other.

What do I do when my life changes and I don’t like the new situation I’m in? From my experience, it depends on the situation. When I was having tests done to see if they could find more tumors, the only thing I could control was my attitude toward everything. I would make my best effort to always smile while in hospital, always try to either make someone laugh or laugh at my circumstances. The key was making the situation a positive one. After all, I wouldn’t have a say in the results, the only thing I could have a say in was to go through with the precautionary surgery. In terms of not enjoying my new job initially, I once again took control of how I perceived the situation, I looked at the good things and found a way to make it enjoyable. So, overall, I would say, that no matter the situation you find yourself in. Find something in it to make it enjoyable or rewarding, focus on the small positives that you may find and amplify them. You can control the perspective you use to look at the world. My recommendation, choose the positive one.

Thanks for reading.

Cya on the mats.

~Carlos

Why the change?

I have recently changed the name of the site to carlosygoa.com since I felt that readnroll.blog limited me in what I could and could not post about, I am in no way shape or form moving away from what I have been doing. This is just an update about the change. I Hope that you all understand.

Thanks

Carlos

Learn through teaching?

One of my favorite parts about doing Jiu-jitsu is the fact that I am able to help people learn. Since I have moved up in the white belt world to a four stripe I am finding it easier to teach people that are just starting out. It brings me great joy when someone gets the technique, when the light bulb goes off and you can see it in their face when they understand it. It is addictive.

Part of the challenge that I enjoy is that everyone learns differently, everyone needs different methods of teaching. It makes me think about how to explain what to do, where do they want their weight to be, what they should do with their foot, how should they grip, why they do all the above. As my instructor Robbie says, you learn more through teaching. Teaching forces you to understand more of the material, to remember little details more accurately and how to apply it more effectively. When you know that you will be teaching someone you instinctively listen, watch, and focus more on the material that is being taught.

While teaching you can witness the other person’s own problem-solving at work, and you can firsthand experience how your knowledge goes when they try to complete the movement. When they struggle with a part of the technique and ask a question you must be able to recall the information and explain it to them in clear and concise manner, meaning that you must be ready for any question that may arise. So, knowing what to do and how to explain it well is a must.

Of course, there will be times when you don’t know the answer, this is when I feel I learn the most, I don’t try to come up with an explanation. I ask my instructor. Last week I ran into this very situation, my training partner had much shorter arms than mine and was struggling to get grips on my arm for a kimura. I had never been in that situation, so I asked for Robbie’s help. He explained that my partner had to get his shoulder deeper under my arm to be able to grip my wrist. I now understood that when faced in a similar situation, I would be able to use the new-found knowledge.

Being forced to understand the content and to teach it makes you grow, so don’t neglect teaching, you might not know as much as you think. A little quote from Phil Collins (cos why not)

“In learning, you will teach, and in teaching, you will learn.”

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

BJJ parallels in Blacksmithing?

Over the weekend I started the second module of a blacksmithing course, and throughout the day I noted some striking parallels between blacksmithing and BJJ. Blacksmithing is the art of moving and shaping metal into forms that you want it to take. The metal has a mind of its own and often wants to do its own thing. Much like in BJJ how you want to move and control your opponent into positions and then submissions.

When I looked around at the other students there I felt like they had already started their work and were moving ahead of me rapidly, but I remembered from the first module that blacksmithing is not a race. Go at your own pace and not worry about what others are doing. Keep working and you will have a finished product. Like you must keep training and eventually you will move up to the next belt. BJJ is not a sprint.

When working on metal, you must wait for the metal to get to a substantial heat before hitting it, then once it cools and is not at an optimal working-heat, back into the forge it goes. Like in blacksmithing, you must be patient in BJJ. Do not strike the metal when it is at a low heat, do not force the opponent into submissions. Wait for the right heat and then you can work on it, be patient for the opportunity for the submission or pass. You may establish side control but then you must, so to speak, put them back in the forge and wait for the right moment to strike.

Learning new techniques in BJJ is always awesome, however, when going over the things that you already know and you start to pick up little subtleties, that can be more rewarding. For instance, when doing low armlock from the guard, cupping the person’s neck before coming around and framing the neck to pass off to your leg, something small I only picked up recently. The same goes for blacksmithing, learning new things is awesome, but when you notice something that you didn’t before, that’s something I really enjoy.

If you want to get better at something you have to keep practicing. This is something that applies to everything, I just want to point it out. The more you do something the better you get at it, I have noticed that my jiu-jitsu has gotten better, and my ability to understand concepts. From having no experience to understanding the basics. The same goes for blacksmithing, having made simple shapes at the start and now having a better understanding of the basic concepts I have made more complex shapes. It all comes with experience, just another lesson to learn that if you want to be good at something the best thing to do is to start doing it, and then not stop doing it.

What do you want to become great at?

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See you on the mats.

What makes BJJ different?

Having now been training for almost two months I feel as though I am no longer the new guy, many new faces have commenced their BJJ journey in the time from here to now. I try my best to welcome them as I was welcomed and be a friendly face to spot out. It is amazing seeing the range of people and body types come into training, from some old boys and a lot more women than I would have thought. Short to tall, stick thin to the odd beer belly. It is very different from other martial arts. Where there are mostly men, mostly somewhat athletic builds, the odd person that breaks the mold. So, I have been thinking, what makes Jiu-jitsu so different? Why are people attracted to the martial art?

  1. The simple complexity.

Jiu-jitsu is actually quite complex (as I am finding out); however, the complex is made simple in its teaching. The complexity of body weight, positional control, timing, leverage, physics, and biology. All can be taught, through drilling and rolling. Through drilling you are taught via your instructor, rolling you are taught from your experiences. Both are needed for overall development. However, drilling is where you learn the complexities, the little nuances. Where you should have your body weight, over your heals, through your opponent, on your hands. When you should use certain techniques, pass, continue to control or submit. Rolling is where you learn if you should let something go to either reset or move on to another submission or a better position. The joy in learning comes from the challenge of the complexities, even though the concepts are simple. Worst case scenario (if it ends up on the ground), get into a dominant position, control and submit. Best case, walk away.

  1. It just works.

Having come from other martial arts that are focused on striking, Jiu-jitsu is very different. In a fight where anything can happen, you can know the fanciest kick and you could still get clipped by someone with little to no experience. Whereas with Jiu-jitsu, in the worst case, an attacker on top of you throwing punches, you do have a chance. Trap and roll, get into mount, control and finish the fight. From the get-go, you can see that it works, you can feel that it works. When you are drilling and slowly getting the concepts, you can understand that if you are untrained and get into a difficult position you are pretty much fucked. I have a strong belief that knowing how to defend yourself is a skill everyone must learn, and everyone should dabble in all aspects of a fight, however, if I only had one skill in a fight, it would be Jiu-jits. I was showing one of my friends the effectiveness of it recently, he was a bit hesitant, but I convinced him to at least let me show him that he should learn a little bit of jiu-jitsu. I told him that in Jiu-jitsu you are still able to finish a fight even off your back, to demonstrate this I used him as the attacker, and in less than 30 seconds I put him in a triangle, to which he was very impressed with the effectiveness of BJJ. It was at that moment when I thought about if he had actually been an attacker and had I not known any Jiu-jitsu, he would have easily done a lot of damage.

  1. The underlying culture of the art.

Jiu-jitsu as a martial art has one of the best cultures, one that is welcoming, positive, ego-free, so fun you want to do and learn more. Obviously, this will change from place to place. However, you can see the laid-back attitude, the happy go lucky smiles, and family orientated values that originate with the Gracie family which have spread on to their students. I have not met any of the Gracie’s yet, but you can see it in videos and media, which is so appealing to many people, especially those that are timid and shy. It is amazing seeing people grow, even though I have only been training for a small amount of time, I have witnessed many transformations. At our academy, two brothers started a few months ago, and just this week they both received their first stipe. When they started they were very shy, but when they got their stripes, you couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces. They have also come out of their shells, even if only a little bit, it is still some form of growth. The culture allows for people to grow, it isn’t one of put-downs and shaming, it’s one of congratulations and constructive tips.

  1. The many lessons and skills that can be gained from it.

The usual skills that can be gained from other martial arts like discipline, controlling one’s emotions, improved self-esteem, work ethic, etc.  are all apart of Jiu-jitsu. However, I believe that Jiu-jitsu has more to offer, skills and life lessons that are applicable all throughout one’s life. Being humble and removing your ego is one of the life lessons that many should learn, training BJJ you are constantly put into compromised positions, since that you must be the feed for your partner when drilling. You have to remove your ego and let them practice a triangle or a Rear naked choke, obviously, if you let your ego get in the way, you won’t have a partner. One of the biggest ones that I have learned recently, is to let go and trade up. Can’t complete the Kimura, take the back. Can’t get the triangle, double ankle sweep. This can be applied in life, can’t get the promotion, leave and find a different company. Girlfriend leaves you, use the time to hang out with friends and family. You can always see the positive in each situation, it’s all about perspective.

  1. Your body size, strength, flexibility does not matter.

Seeing the range of people and body types are proof that you don’t have to be of a certain type of person or athletic ability. Even when I have watched competitions there are many different styles and body types. Jiu-jitsu accommodates for all. Seeing as BJJ was designed for the weaker and smaller person, its able to be performed by anyone. I would recommend it as the first martial art to learn to anyone wanting to learn self-defense, it is practical and having some knowledge is better than no knowledge.

These points I have made are only the surface of the martial art, I hope to gain more understanding of Jiu-jitsu and learn more about what it has to offer not just to me but to others. It is a challenging sport, but the hardest thing, like in many cases, is to start. Jiu-jitsu has really opened up a lot of things for me, and to be honest, the only trouble that I have with it is that I didn’t start it sooner. So, if you think you would like to learn it, then learn it, look up an academy, call up, come down. Walking through the doors is the hardest thing, but get in the car and do it.

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See you on the mats.

Podcast 001 – Robbie Singh

This originally wasn’t going to be a podcast of sorts, but it went so well that I thought may as well release the interview. Robbie works as a Senior Behavioral Analysist, specializing in working with children with autism, teaching and giving them skills to improve their lives and to allow them to become more independent. and is an instructor at Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Burwood, he has a black belt under 3rd Degree Black Belt Professor David Krstic. We cover:

  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu vs Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
  • How he got into Jiu-Jitsu.
  • The difference between most martial arts and Jiu-Jitsu, the effectiveness of each against more athletic or stronger opponents.
  • How Jiu-Jitsu has not only helped him lose weight but also changed his mentality.
  • How JJ checks your ego.
  • The common mistakes he sees students do.
  • His role models that have helped shape his life.
  • The humble beginnings of his family.
  • His connection with Rener Gracie and the contagious (R)energy he brings.
  • His ‘a-ha’ realization of the effectiveness of Jiu-Jitsu.
  • His long-term goals for the club and himself.
  • Turning negative events into positive outcomes.
  • The importance of culture in clubs.
  • Increasing awareness of Jiu-Jitsu to Australia.
  • Books he read before using Gracie University to learn techniques and the Gracie philosophy.
  • His favourite techniques, to show when demonstrating, to use and most used.
  • Not listening to negativity and learning to listen to constructive criticism.
  • Loving Jiu-jitsu even when you are getting submitted.
  • The mindset change once you start jiu-jitsu. And the contagious positive effects of it.
  • Getting parents down to the academy, and how his mum was his first women empowered student.
  • The effect of advertising the culture of the club on social media.
  • And a little gift from Robbie to the listeners.

Unfortunately being a rookie in the audio world the sound quality is not the best, I am open to suggestions as to how to improve the quality of the podcasts. I am also looking for others to interview. 

Shout out and thank you to Robbie for taking time out of his day to come on and share his knowledge and experiences. You can follow him at:

Facebook: Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Burwood

Instagram: Gracieburwood

Website: graciejiujitsuburwood.com.au

Please like, comment, share and follow.

See you on the mats.

I got my first stripe! So did she!

This past week I received my first stripe, my partner joined the one stripe club not long after, the first of many. It has been nice going in as much as we possibly can, and the hard work has paid off, both of us only starting just over a month ago. The journey so far has been unending fun, with taking every class as it comes and trying to make the most out of the time there, learning asking questions, getting tips from our rolling partners. It has been great seeing her grow and prosper, she listens intensely and is always asking questions, more than me, funny enough! The process of learning BJJ has been fun and you can always pick something up when you are repeating a class. I have made a few friends and using my own tips have connected with them well and have maximized my learning, asking questions and focusing on the little things. My training partners have been amazing at helping me learn and have been able to answer most of my questions when I have needed a better understanding of the move. Obviously, when they can’t, Robbie has been there to help.

Since I had a few double up classes, I was able to train and help teach my SO(significant other), it was a new experience which was fun and challenging. I want her to be the best that she can, however at times had to pull myself up on going too fast and slowing it down for her. I still need to work on being clear and concise in teaching, as I would often rush the explanation on the topic and my SO would not fully understand the move or section of the technique. Luckily, she learns in a similar way to me, which is by doing it and then drilling it, so I don’t have to change my teaching style too much. I know I have a long way to go but I thought I would give an update and put my thoughts out. Thanks for reading.

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See you on the mats.

My tips for beginners of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Thought I would share some tips that have helped me in starting out.

  • Leave your ego at the door.

This is a must, you are the littlest fish in a very large pond. If you want people to help you out, don’t be a douche bag and think you don’t need help. I assure you, you need all the help you can get. And plus, why do you want to be known as the dick new guy? So, if this is a hard thing for you to do, you might find it hard finding good training partners who will gladly answer your questions.

  • Ask questions, lots of questions.

Now you have left your ego at the door, you can feel as stupid as you please. Ask, ask and ask some more. There are always little things that you may have missed, or small tips that can be passed down to you from the more experienced students. Also in asking questions, you don’t look like a dick-know-it-all, so effectively in a roundabout way you reduce the effect of your ego.

  • Be a sponge.

Even if ask all those questions, you must still absorb the information that you will be receiving, I find it easier when the technique is performed on me, but everyone will have different ways of learning and absorbing information. So, for example you might like your partner to mirror the move and you follow along with them, or maybe you can get enough from just watching and drilling.

Adding to that, really pay attention to your coach/instructor. They have the most knowledge in the room, so pay attention to what they say and do, ask them a question if you don’t understand how they did something. If you are having trouble while drilling the move ask them for some extra help.

  • Go at your pace.

Just because you see someone else nailing the takedown or the armbar, doesn’t mean you need to match them. Most of the time you will miss key steps and little things like foot and hand placement, and you will have the chance to learn bad habits to make the technique work. If, however you get a move down quickly that’s fine to. But do not try to match someone else’s learning ability.

  • Have fun.

You don’t want training to become a chore, so have fun, crack jokes, laugh and don’t take it too seriously. Learn and prosper and help others do the same.

  • Interact with the other students.

Well you have to do this one, since you can’t train by yourself! Ask them questions, what they do, how they got into jiu-jitsu, etc. because most of the time you might find out that you share a few interests. Boom! New friend.

  • Bring a mate along!

Since sharing is caring, why not bring a friend or someone from your family. I believe Jiu-jitsu is for everyone. There is no shape or size you have to be, you don’t have to be a super athlete or a freak who is into hurting people. You can be past your prime or shy, everyone can gain something from it. Share the love of the BJJ family, because it’s too good not to share.

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See you on the mats.