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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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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Keep Climbing: Thoughts on Reaching lofty heights and New Horizons.

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“The higher we go, the wider our horizons become- and the bigger the challenge of looking beyond them”

Yuri Milner

When we set ourselves goals, they often are (and should be) ambitious. The person you are currently may not even be able to achieve that goal. This is a good thing; it means you will have to grow as a person to achieve it.

Climbing a mountain provides a good analogy to achieving a goal. From the foot of the mountain, the peak seems so far away. We may not even have a plan yet on how to climb the mountain yet, but we know that somehow we will find a way. I’ve talked before about setting goals and how to find success at reaching those goals, but what about once we’ve reached them? What’s next? From the peak of the mountain, we can see further. Once we reach success with one goal, we can start to set another.  Continue reading

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

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

Swimming with the Current: Thoughts on style, changing & innovating

One of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Jefferson:

“In matters of style, swim with the current; on matters of principle, stand like a rock”

I have primarily concerned myself with the second half of this quote and the emphasis placed by Jefferson on not compromising ourselves for the sake of others. As an innovator and agent of change himself, Jefferson’s quote is a perfect fit for the concept I’ve been thinking about recently.

Recently, I turned my attention to the first half of the quote: “In matters of style, swim with the current.” We live in a rapidly changing world that demands that we are able to adapt, change and innovate. To keep our head above water, we have to learn to swim with the current: adapt, innovate and change to survive.

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Elevate those around you.

Many of us aim to elevate ourselves to reach success, but remembering those around you can often help us to reach that success faster if we help to elevate them.

So often we end up focusing purely on self-elevation; improving ourselves and trying to elevate our own situation. What about those around us? Our friends, family, colleagues or training partners? If we try to elevate them too, helping them to reach their goals, the whole process of climbing to the top of the mountain becomes a whole lot easier, if not a little less lonely. Continue reading