Learning Styles: Understanding how you learn.

All of us know what it’s like to start something new; to be a complete beginner and learn how to do something from scratch. Progress can be slow at times, even frustrating, but we must learn if we hope to become proficient in our chosen area. Martial Arts (Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in particular) has taught me a many great deal of things so far, including how I learn best.

When it comes to learning, the modern consensus is that no two people learn in the same way. We are all different people, so it stands to reason that we will learn differently too. Better understanding how you learn may be the edge you need to help fast track your improvement and progress.  Continue reading

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Respect: The Two-Way Street

Showing and giving respect is something we do so regularly in our social interactions with others that it’s often forgotten, only dwelling beneath the surface of our conscious. We will all have experience with both being respected and being disrespected, giving respect to someone and disrespecting someone.

We, as human beings, are naturally wired for social interactions and who & what we respect is something that has been imprinted on us by life experience. The combination of these two things creates a complex filter which we use to interact with others throughout our lives. Sometimes people desire respect where it is not given and at times it is given where it is not deserved. Respect is a two-way street which will certainly pay to understand a little bit better.

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Competition Mindset: The Do’s & Don’ts

Participating in competition provides a huge opportunity to receive some important  feedback about your Jiu-jitsu. Competing helps to sharpen the blade in a way that not even highly demanding training can; you will find out very quickly what works and what doesn’t.

More importantly, you will also learn a lot about yourself; how you deal with stress, how you deal with winning & losing and how to develop strategy & positive training habits. Competition can offer all of these things to the practitioner who adopts the correct mindset for competing. There are some Do’s & Don’ts for developing a good mindset for competition, this article will take a closer look at some of these and hopefully help you develop a mental edge going into your next competition experience.  Continue reading

The Devil is in the Detail: Paying attention to the small things and being detail oriented.

One of the most important aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the importance of details. When executing a technique, there a certain number of details you must incorporate to perform the move correctly and efficiently. Being detail oriented can make for slow progress at times, however later progression becomes accelerated as your execution of techniques (once learned) never hits a critical mass of errors that lead to the technique being applied failing.

The phrase: “The Devil is in the Detail” is profoundly true within BJJ for this reason. However, understanding and committing to a Detail Oriented approach can have major benefits for any other aspect of your life too.

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Learn Self Control or Learn to be Controlled.

I’ve talked about discipline here before, but I am a firm believer that this is the cornerstone of achieving anything worthwhile in your life. Before I started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I had no self control. I couldn’t control my temper, I was easily frustrated by tasks that I believed I should have been able to do and I would quit or give up and I was lazy.

Since then, I’ve come to realize a few things about myself and about how we should act if we want to get anywhere close to satisfaction- or success- with our lives. One of the most important things I’ve come to learn is that If you can’t learn to control yourself, you will be controlled by others. These others can be people, circumstances, bad or good situations that you find yourself in.  Continue reading

No Trying, Only Doing.

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As a big Star Wars fan, I’ve always noticed the close parallels between the protagonists of  George Lucas’ universe: The Jedi, and practitioners of the Martial Arts. Yoda, the ageing grand master and ever-wise mentor, is of particular interest to me and one of his many classic quotes will form the central idea of this post.

The stoic and philosophical nature of his character has been described by some as “mystical”, however I would argue that is less “mystical” and more “methodical”. For anyone involved in the martial arts, creative arts (or any  discipline really); I think we can all begin to glean some deep understandings from one of my favorite Yoda quotes: “Try not, do or do not. There is no Try.” Continue reading

Stay Alive: Thoughts on dealing with depression.

I recently saw a piece of writing that said “Up to this point, you’ve survived 100% of the challenges you’ve faced in you life. You’re doing pretty well so far.” 

It’s true. The fact that you’re alive to read this, despite the problems you’re facing today, means that you’ve successfully survived everything life has  thrown at you as far.

Having dealt with many teens and students suffering from acute depression post the Christchurch Earthquake, I struggled at first to find ways to make students realize that they still had things to be grateful for. They couldn’t find the way to the light. Having battled throughout my life with depression too, it really upset me that I was not able to show these students a way to overcome it.

The answer was far simpler than I thought… If you’re alive, you’re already doing far better than you thought. None of the problems you’ve encountered so far have been big enough to kill you, which means that either you’re stronger than you think or that the gravity of your problems aren’t actually as heavy as you think. 

The big problem with depression is that it’s not rational. It lurks in the deep egresses of our subconscious and crawls forward like a fog without showing itself to the person suffering from it. To overcome it, we first have to identify it, then we can consciously counter it by dwelling on what we are grateful for and what we have achieved despite it.

So, dwell on what you’re grateful for. 

If you’re reading this, it means you’re alive, so there’s one thing you can be grateful for already. 

If you’re alive, you’ve survived all the adversity you’ve already faced in your life. 

If you’re alive, it means you can still overcome any adversity that you are still yet to face too. 

Being too nice is slowing your progress.

One of the truly unique things about Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is the connections we make on the mat; after any stretch of time training at a gym, you are bound to make friends out of your training partners. You experience various challenges together, develop your skills together and, most importantly, make friends for life. I’d like to think that many of us are conscientious training partners; striving to reach our goals alongside our friends and training partners.

I was asked an interesting question recently by a friend who doesn’t train (often naive eyes can present us with new ways of looking at a question we have taken for granted.): Don’t you find it difficult sparring with your friends when you know some techniques hurt them?

My immediate response was simple: I don’t use techniques that hurt my training partners. The more I thought about this question however, the more I started to look at it from different angles… Continue reading

Being True to yourself: Thoughts on Integrity and Principles.

Plato once said “All the gold which is under or upon the earth is not enough to give in exchange for virtue.” When I think of Plato’s idea of Virtue, two things come to mind: Integrity and Principles. 

Regardless of the society we live in, the laws that govern us or any other external factors; the primary compass through which our lives are guided are our internal Principles. These Principles form the code by which we live by; they form our Integrity as people and, in my opinion, they are the Virtues that Plato expounded as our means to live by.

So what does it mean to have integrity? How do we preserve ours? We live in a world that demands much of us, at times we may even feel pressured to compromise our own principles for a (perceived) beneficial outcome. Continue reading