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

5-takeaways: Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

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I know the title is a bit ‘extreme’ (sorry had to), however, the book lives up to the words on the front cover. The authors Willink and Babin are former US Navy SEALS that lead the most highly decorated task units in one of the most violent and deadliest battlefields in Iraq. A notable operator that served under them was Chris Kyle whose life story during and after the war was made into a movie, “American Sniper”. In Ramadi, Iraq Willink and Babin learned that a vital part of the success or failure on the battlefield was – at every level – leadership. Once they returned home they would go into SEAL leadership training as instructors, where they would further develop their ideas on leadership. With a lot of things learned and how leadership can bring about the success on the battlefield, the authors launched a company that specializes in teaching leadership principles to businesses and organizations. With a plethora of testing their principles in the business world and experience in the field, Willink and Babin have put together a great book that I have drawn a lot of knowledge from. Here are my takeaways from Extreme Ownership.

  1. Take Ownership and be Responsible.

I used to think that I took ownership, I realized while reading this book that I was terribly wrong. I would blame a lot of my aggression and the outcome of certain aspects of my environment on other people. When I started to own my mistakes and not blame others for things in my control I noticed a greater shift in my confidence and my ability to focus in on the task at hand. I wouldn’t let myself blame outside influences or other people for my situation. I used to blame my dad for my habitual procrastination, that inhibited my performance at school and university. Now looking back on it this was just a way for me to excuse my laziness. Willink recounts one operation that had gone pear-shaped, two elements were heavily engaged, however, not with the enemy but with each other.

“At that moment, it all became clear. In the chaos and confusion, somehow a rogue element of Iraqi soldiers had strayed outside the boundaries to which they had been confined and attempted to enter the building occupied by our SEAL sniper team.” – Jocko Willink

This situation is not uncommon during times of war, and fratricide is one of the worst things that can happen in war. Now, most people would say, “it’s clearly the Iraqi’s fault, they should’ve stayed in the boundary.” However, when Willink was putting a debrief together for his Commanding Officer(CO), Command Master Chief(CMC) and an investigating officer, even though many individuals made serious mistakes. What transpired during the debrief was as the leader of the operation, Willink took full responsibility for the outcome, as he puts it, he was the senior man and as the commander, he is ultimately responsible for every action that takes place on the battlefield.

In taking ownership and responsibility for the blue-on-blue, Willink actually increased the trust his CO and CMC had in him. I think a lot of people think the opposite will happen if they take ownership, that others will see them as failures or weak for owning up to a mistake. More often than not, trust is gained by speaking the truth and being responsible for yourself and your situation.

  1. Prioritize and Execute.

Babin describes a hairy situation he and his team found themselves in. An identified IED(improvised explosive device) threat that they had rigged to blow, out on an unsheltered rooftop, with a man down who had fallen 20-feet. Babin had to tackle multiple problems at once, if you have read my review on The One Thing, by Gary Keller then you would know that multitasking is a great way to decrease the chance of success. Babin knows that he has to keep calm and not become overwhelmed and risk failing at all the challenges in front of him. By focusing on the most important thing at one given time, he could effectively get his team out without casualties and calmly move through each obstacle.

“Even the most competent of leaders can be overwhelmed if they try to tackle multiple problems or a number of tasks simultaneously. The team will likely fail at each of those tasks. Instead, leaders must determine the highest priority task and execute. When overwhelmed, fall back upon this principle: Prioritize and Execute.” – Lief Babin

  1. Decentralized Command.

“Pushing the decision making down to the subordinate, frontline leaders within the task unit was critical to our success. This Decentralized Command structure allowed me, as commander, to maintain focus on the bigger picture: coordinate friendly assets and monitor enemy activity. Were I to get embroiled in the details of a tactical problem, there would be no one else to fill my role and manage the strategic mission.” – Jocko Willink

This is one of the most useful of the principles in business, as it means the more senior leaders can concentrate on the bigger picture elements or facets of the business while lower-level managers can deal with the more detailed things. I have found that I do things better when I am given a task and left to figure out how to take on the challenge. The manager trusts me enough to not hover over me and tell me what to do. On the flip side, however, if I had someone telling me how to take it on, I then find it hard to overcome a problem that both myself and my micromanager did not foresee as I am not thinking like them and would feel more obliged to ask them for help. If I am trusted to come up with a solution, then I know that I can take on the challenge and as long as I can explain my process to them I don’t need to bother them until the task is completed.

This principle can be hard for people to grasp, as I know in certain situations I have had to let others think and do for themselves. Being able to trust in others and let them come up with their own solutions and giving them tips when they ask for it is a massive part of how I have stopped myself trying to control the situation. When the subordinate or new student at BJJ is just starting out, I will be a bit more hands-on with them, since they haven’t got a clue to what they are doing, however, as they start to get the technique or move I back off and only give any input when needed, like if they forget a big step.

  1. Keep it Simple.

When things are simple they are easier to understand and convey, when things are simple they can change with fewer pieces to move, when things a simple they can be remembered even when in difficult or challenging situations, the list goes on. You can see, there are a few reasons to keep things simple. On the flip side, if you over complicate things, they are harder to grasp, and complexities can be misinterpreted, unless every nuance is perfect then failure is usually the outcome. For instance, one of the businesses that Babin and Willink worked with had just brought in a new bonus plan, where the workers in the warehouse would receive bonuses for how many of each unit they would assemble based on the complexity of the model. However, none of the workers knew how each unit was scored and could not understand why some weeks they would be paid more than other weeks.

After noting the complexity of the plan, the authors suggested that the manager and chief engineer simplify the plan so ‘the lowest common denominator’ could understand the process and would be able to work in more efficient manner. After creating a plan with only two parts to it, the employees were able to understand this new simplified plan, efficiency went up along with productivity and success.

“Simple: this principle isn’t limited to the battlefield. In the business world, and life, there are inherent complexities. It is critical to keep plans and communication simple. Following this rule is crucial to the success of any team in any combat, business or life.” – Jocko Willink

  1. Discipline Equals Freedom.

This has to be my favorite takeaway from this book. Three words can convey so much. I will acknowledge that it is a bit of a backwards statement. How in what world does discipline equal freedom. This would have to do with the fact that so many people relate discipline to being super strict on your diet or on workouts or the wooden spoon. So, discipline is anything but freedom. However, it is through discipline that freedom can be achieved.

If you are disciplined in what you eat, how you exercise, how you treat other, how you operate in business. For instance, in my line of work, I need to be disciplined in my methods, the mark that I setout has to be spot on, as a pre-cast panel will be fitted on my mark. If my mark is out, then the panel won’t fit and the construction will stall. Through being disciplined with my accuracy I know that the panel will fit and if questions are asked about my marks I know they are solid. It gives me the freedom to say in confidence that the panel sits there.

“But with our new, disciplined method, we could execute raids and complete our searches so quickly that we could now hit two and sometimes even three targets in a single night, all while keeping evidence separate and organized. Our freedom to operate and maneuver had increased substantially through disciplined procedures. Discipline equals freedom.” – Jocko Willink

Overall this book conveys principles and effective ways of leading in a way that you don’t often see, with the principle being used in combat and then translated to business. Not only can these principles be applied to business but life, anyone looking for a quick and easy read with lots of action but also lessons, or for anyone wanting to lead I highly recommend this book. Jocko Willink also has a podcast where he breaks down books on war and has other military vets on, for those who are not inclined to reading. This is one of my favorite passages from the book:

“Discipline starts every day when the first alarm clock goes off in the morning. I say “first alarm clock” because I have three… one electric, one battery powered, one windup. That way, there is no excuse for not getting out of bed, especially with all that rests on that decisive moment. The moment the alarm goes off is the first test; it sets the tone for the rest of the day. The test is not a complex one: when the alarm goes off, do you get up out of bed, or do you lie in comfort and fall back to sleep? If you have the discipline to get out of bed, you win – you pass the test.”

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

Link to Jocko Podcast: Here

Video of Discipline Equals Freedom: Here

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.

Top 10 habits that have changed my life

Here are 10 habits that have changed my life. My favorite would have to be either 1 or 4.

  1. Reading more

Getting back into reading was one of the best things I could’ve done. There is so much knowledge and life experience available in the pages of books. Experiences that I could learn from. My girlfriend and I are building quite the library from having only a handful to now almost 50. I try to read at least 10 pages or 20 min a day, all ways of learning something new.

  1. Journaling

I made it a point to start this year, and I have only missed a handful of days. Journaling is one of those things that I thought I would never do, however, it has been quite therapeutic. Putting thoughts on paper allows me to clear up the headspace and gives me the ability to focus on the daily goals. I have used 5-minute journaling for over a month and have not gone back. It’s an easy 5-minute task at the start and end of the day. Usually while eating breakfast and before bed.

  1. Listening to/watching interesting people

Listening and watching podcasts has become a staple of my routine. I listen to a podcast while I work out, Jocko podcast has been the main voice in my ear. And when my day is winding down I try to watch the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. Both offer many different views from many different interesting people, Jocko reads military books and will provide his own view, and well, Joe is Joe and brings on a plethora of interesting and exciting people, some with views that challenge my own, others that provide motivation and some that just provide a laugh.

  1. Undertaking tasks that are challenging

I think this is one of the biggest changes I have done. I would’ve usually been fine in doing the bare minimum, I cruised through high school and most of my university. I often felt like I should do more. So, I decided to bite the bullet and take on challenging tasks, not ones that have been placed on me, but ones I have set for myself. Taking up new hobbies, different things that I would’ve otherwise never done only showed a little interest in. I have completed two blacksmithing courses, started BJJ and started this blog. It isn’t easy but I enjoy every moment of it.

  1. Waking up early

I wake up at 5 most mornings and get gym out of the way early, I feel that I can complete more during the day with those extra morning hours when most people are still asleep. Some will say I’m crazy, but then those people probably don’t want the things I want. I will say that it is not for everyone, some may find that they work better in the midnight hours and that is fine. Not everyone is wired the same, I just happen to be a morning person.

  1. Exercising daily

I have always been active, however, the past year I have really tried to get the body moving daily. At least an hour at gym or BJJ training. Studies have shown that physical activity can improve quality of life and health outcomes, like reduced chances of cardiovascular disease and improved mental-health, amongst other benefits. When I have a lot on my mind I tend to try to get out of my head and into my body, pushing weight around a room I find it somewhat therapeutic.

  1. Doing a martial art

The physical adversity that comes with martial arts is something that will test all people, be it boxing or wrestling, Muay Thai or judo. Any martial will bring challenges that help the mind and body grow. Martial arts teaches discipline through training a technique over and over, confidence in your own ability to defend yourself, helps form new friendships and teaches you to be resilient under stress. I have to say that doing any martial art will benefit anyone, however, I reckon that BJJ is the way to go for many reasons which I lay out in this article.

  1. Sorting out my finances

It’s something that not a lot of people want to think about, however, if you don’t then when you need to think about it, it’s already too late. This is something that I think all should do, or at least attempt to as it gives you a peace of mind. I personally use the barefoot investor method, which I cover here. So far having implemented it for a month together with my girlfriend we have saved a weeks worth of wages while going on a holiday and still living our lives. So, the method allows you to still live your life by allocating spending money, whilst you save for the future.

  1. Taking control of my attitude

Attitude is something that only you can control, no one has any power over what kind of attitude you have. I used to be a bit of a hot head, still can be, but I have learned that my attitude can dictate how I react to something or someone. When reading Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, I began to understand that my attitude has really helped me navigate through life’s triumphs and tribulations. Not letting something or someone get the best of you all starts with your attitude and how you choose to react to it.

  1. Fear and goal setting

I wrote about this in a previous post. I never used to do either, but with the use of both, I am able to aim at my goals and strive to reach them, whilst also working away from my fears. Effectively it means that I have to modes of motivation, something pulling me and something pushing me. When setting goals, it is important to dream of the biggest goal, so for me it is to be financially free one day, then I have a five-year goal that will help me achieve that, then a one-year to a five-year, then a six month to reach that one year, and so on until it’s the goal for today. Which will help me reach the ultimate big picture goal that I first set. I will be covering The One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan, where goal setting is talked about at length.

 

So, these are my top ten things that I have done or used that have changed my life, they might work for you they may not (5am wake-ups can be a killer…. if you hate them). If you have any questions about anything I have covered, do not hesitate to ask. What habits have changed your life?

Please like, comment, follow and share.

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?

Please like, comment, share and follow.

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

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See you on the mats.

Take the advice, but don’t listen to them

I have recently applied for an intermission from my course, I suppose to try something different other than being a student, but not only that, to experience other things. Other jobs, places, cultures, languages, to try my hand at building something I can be proud of. By doing something that I was not told to do, rather something I wanted to do. During this process of thinking about what I should do, fear setting and talking with friends, family and work colleagues, a large portion of them have told me that I should attempt to finish my studies. “It’s only two more years, you could do that.” I can see where they are coming from, give myself better options down the track, more options for work, for career goals, more money. I understand that they all want to help, however, if I am not putting in my best work, why should I continue? If I am not giving it my all, my 100% at something I feel as though I am cheating myself. Yes, I could try to give my all, but having been “trying” last year I know myself and I would not give it this year. I would fail subjects that I would normally easily pass, I learnt from my mistakes of my first tertiary course out of high school. If I continued and failed or barely passed I would have shown that I learnt nothing from my year and a half at Monash. Do not continue with something if you cannot give your all. I am not sure if I will find the drive again from taking this year off, or if I try my hand at something else altogether. However, I know that I have zero drive as of now for studying. I will not preach something that I myself do not follow.

If you too are thinking of changing something in your life, I recommend tuning out the white noise of 99% of people that will give you their input on how you should live your life. It is your life, if you do not want to stay in something you do not enjoy or like, the simple answer is don’t. There will be a plethora of people in your life telling you that you have made the wrong decision, that you should do this or that, it’s only two years. It is surprising how little that is, in the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing. But a year is even less, if you feel that you need a year off. Take it. It is only one year, it is not like a year is going to make a big impact if you do go back to studying. Who knows, you may find something that you enjoy, even more, you may find someone that will change your life, you may experience something that you never would have experienced if you didn’t take the year off. There are pros and cons of every decision you make. If you look at each choice in the light that it is a win, then all decisions you make are wins, as long as you make some form of gain, which you will, because there are always takeaways from everything.

When I was younger, I really cared about what people said about me, what I should do and how I should do it. I would often listen to my fathers every word, now this is no fault of his and I love him all the same. I understand that he tried to guide my lost soul to something that would bring me some form of success. He knew that I could be good at whatever I wanted to be good at. However, no matter how hard he tried to lead me to what he felt was right for me, subconsciously I must’ve known that whatever it was just wasn’t for me. Many others have pointed me in directions that I felt weren’t what I truly wanted to become, even now many tell me I should do this and that. I don’t even know what I want to do, but I do know what I don’t want to do. That is enough for me to make a decision. I know that I have a lot of time to find what I want to do, and I have experienced a lot of things that have taught me, I am grateful for having the chance to do what I have. But, now having the consciousness of knowing what I don’t want to do has given me some form of guidance, not from someone else, but from myself.

Being able to drown out the noise is difficult at first, everyone making you unsure of yourself. I second guessed myself, and I am not going to blame anyone for it since it is ultimately me who makes the decision. I will say that if people are giving you second thoughts, do not listen to them. They may say that they made the same mistake you did (which doesn’t make sense because you haven’t made their mistake), but really, they don’t know you. If you find it hard, reach out to friends and family who will say yes go you, carve your own journey and path. I really do feel that anyone can follow their dreams, the current world we live in allows for it. You can do anything now with the internet, having so much information out there. If you really want to learn something or do something there is not a whole lot stopping you. I look up to people that have carved their own path, and many others have before them and others will after you.

On that, there is always someone who has done something similar to what you want to achieve. Others have walked in front of you, and if you can find them, learn from them, take as much as you can from their experiences and add their tools to your belt. Don’t feel like you can or have to go it alone, it is not only more difficult and draining, but it’s stupid. Why would you put all the pressure of learning how to do something on you, when you could learn tricks or skills that would further your progress that much smoother and quicker. I will say though that some things cannot be taught, mistakes and experiences that you have to go through and stumble on your own. The others, however, learn them. Like in BJJ, you have to sometimes have a higher belt see what you are doing incorrect and inform you of a better or more precise way to perform the technique.

Stumbling is a part of learning, BJJ, and life. To become what you envision for yourself, you have to keep correcting course and learning from your own mistakes. So, people may tell you that they have to lead you to water, but they ultimately cannot make you drink. And they are correct, your life should only be governed by you and your values, you have to tune outside noise out, and continue on the path that you want to take. Do not let people make decisions for you, because you are not them, and they are not you. Let them sort themselves out first before instructing you what to do. Use it as a chip on your shoulder to make sure that you prove them wrong, you will not make the same mistakes they made, you will succeed under your own metrics, not theirs. Who knows, by following your metrics you might find the thing you are looking for. Take the chance, make your path.

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See you on the mats.