Get Outta Your Way!
Last week I was training with a big guy - someone around 60 pounds heavier than me and a pro MMA fighter. I armbarred him - and he dumped me on my shoulder to try and escape.
I couldn’t lift my arm properly for a few days, so today I was taking it easy in training. When it came time to roll, I decided I’d do it, but I’d roll with my arm tucked in my belt like I’ve done before. My coach obliged by only putting me with smaller guys - or at least guys who aren’t spazzy.
Normally when I roll with the lower belts, I hold back a lot. I try and make sure that they get a chance to work. But today I cut loose - after all, I already had a handicap. I absolutely destroyed the lower grades - and gave my regular training partner, who is my size and a purple belt like myself - and did as well against him if not better than I would have if I had two hands.
The point of this is not to boast or show off - well, maybe a little bit - but to consider the mental aspect of jiu jitsu, or in life.
A lot of the time, we hold ourselves back. In terms of jiu jitsu, I do that consciously, when I roll with lower grades - and also subconsciously, against some people around my own level. In some cases, when I’ve had the upper hand, I’ve not gone in for the kill because I didn’t want to seem like a bully or a try hard. It works both ways - sometimes the competition between us makes us train harder - and sometimes I don’t give my best because I hate to be beaten by those at my level.
Today, I didn’t hold back. And what’s more, I could see some of the guys I trained with holding back. I’ve had the same problem when training with another guy who was doing the same thing. I felt bad that he was handicapped, so I tried to go lighter. He messed me up. I’m used to training with women, but lots of guys I know struggle. They feel bad about being stronger - they get into their own heads and don’t know how to act.
Same goes in life. A lot of the time, we’re the ones getting in our own ways.
Timothy Gallwey described our performance as a simple equation. Performance equals potential, minus interference. A lot of the time we’re not even aware of how much we limit ourselves through our thinking - sometimes it takes an imposed limitation to make us work at full capacity. Sometimes we need to be handicapped or forced to work under extreme situations to make us realise just how much potential we have. Think of those times when you’ve worked frantically at the very last minute. Imagine if you could work like that all the time!
The key is simple, although it’s not easy: Get the hell outta your own way!
Interested in free Life Coaching sessions?
Hi guys, apologies for the lack of activity on this blog of late. Let me explain why:
I’m currently training as a life coach. Now as part of my training, I need to get a lot of hours worth of practice coaching volunteer clients. While I already have plenty of coaching experience, I’m looking to expand the range of people I’m working with so I’m now offering sessions via Skype.
What is Life Coaching?
Life coaching, or personal performance coaching, is exactly that. It’s about getting the best out of your life and performing to the best of your ability.
Sessions focus on uncovering what you really want out of life, then planning the best way for you to get it.
Coaching is not about a coach telling you what to do. We all need different things, and deep down, most of us already have an idea of what we need. Instead of telling you what I would do, I focus on bringing out what the best way of doing things is for you.
Sounds good, right?
All I’m asking in return is that after our sessions, you send me a testimonial saying what you gained from working with me. A perfect win-win partnership!
So if you’re interested, send me a message and I’ll let you know more about what I do.
I look forward to working with you!
A Eulogy for my Grandfather
I never knew you as well as I wanted to.
I wish we could have spent more time together.
I knew you as a kind and generous man. Everybody did. Everybody respected you. Everybody looked up to you, because you were honest, determined and full of integrity. You were a leader by example.
We would all be lucky to live the way you did, surrounded by the love and respect of family, friends and colleagues.
Even though you’re no longer with us, you are still a role model for us all. I hope we can all honour you by living in a way that you would be proud of.
I wish I could say this to you in person: I am proud and happy to be your grandson.
My name is Dom.
I believe in love. Love for ourselves, for others, for everything in our world.
Love and kindness should shape all our thoughts and actions: the world would be a far better place if we did.
I believe in passion; in honesty and self expression.
I believe in pursuing what it is important to us with dedication and determination. When you have a purpose, a calling, then you must follow it with all your heart or you will find yourself at odds with your own nature. Be yourself, and be yourself completely.
Express yourself fully, honestly and without any reservations. Do this in your thoughts and your words. Do it in your actions. Do it through your behaviour.
I believe in doing the right thing and making the world a better place.
Through constant awareness of our feelings and emotions, we can learn to feel when we are straying from our course and learn to act in a way that makes us truly happy and fulfilled.
Let yourself be your own guide.
I believe in taking responsibility.
For my thoughts, my words and my actions. For myself, for those I love: and for the world I live in.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community has been rocked in recent times. Prominent members of one of the leading academies in the school have been implicated in the rape of one of their teammates, while the head of this academy has drawn criticism for his response (or lack thereof) as well as events from his past that he refuses to address.
Ryan Hall, a well known BJJ black belt and former student of Lloyd Irvin, speaks out in an elegant open letter. This is an excellent reader for anyone involved in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the martial arts in general, or indeed in any facet of life. We train to fight, but sometimes we forget what it is that we should be fighting for.
Even if you’re not a martial artist, this is well worth a read. This is about standing up for what is right, no matter how hard it may be.
"The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living, and the get rich quick theory of life."
- Theodore Roosevelt
"Over the past week, certain revelations have come to light about awful, subhuman behavior on the part of a number of members of our community, some of whom I know personally.
"The worst of this is certainly the work of some truly reprehensible individuals who seem to think that they have the right to destroy the dignity and innocence of others in the pathetic service of their own desires. Some of them will hopefully bear the full brunt of the justice system’s penalty for the atrocities they have committed. Others may not be liable to judgment at the hands of the courts, but should in no way be excused for their own disgusting acts both past and recent.
"Somewhat less grievous, but still staggering in its absurd level of insensitivity, cultish wagon circling, and revolting lack of perspective has been the response of certain individuals who feel the need to blindly defend the actions of those with whom they are associated. I cannot say for certain if this is born out of some sort of woefully misguided sense of loyalty or if it is simply the basest act of self-preservation, aimed at protecting a reputation built on the connection to someone discovered to be wholly disreputable…"
3, 2, 1, 0… 2013!
The world didn’t end. The year did. Some things never change.
Are you planning on changing things in 2013? As I talked about last year, beware of New Year’s resolutions.
How serious are you about changing your life? Are you happy with your life? Do you have a dream? What does it look like?
Now think about what you do every day. Is what you do going to get you to your goal?
What can you do right now that will help you get a step closer to your dream?
What would you have to do to make your dream come true?
What would you gain by realising your dream? Would it actually make you happy?
Would you lose something if your dream came true? What would you have to give up to make it happen? Everything comes at a cost. There will be sacrifices to be made, risks to be run.
Are you happy with the dream just being a dream?
Work out what you want from life. Work out what you have to do to do it. Then do it. Keep on doing it.
Of course the road will be hard, but nothing worth having comes easy. Take responsibility for your life. In every moment you have a choice: walk the path that takes you to your goals. That’s all.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle
1 Decide when in the day (or night) it best suits you to write, and organise your life accordingly.
2 Think with your senses as well as your brain.
3 Honour the miraculousness of the ordinary.
4 Lock different characters/elements in a room and tell them to get on.
5 Remember there is no such thing as nonsense.
6 Bear in mind Wilde’s dictum that “only mediocrities develop” – and challenge it.
7 Let your work stand before deciding whether or not to serve.
8 Think big and stay particular.
9 Write for tomorrow, not for today.
10 Work hard.
BJJ/MMA Celebrity Spotting in Rio de Janeiro
The author with MMA legend Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
One of the attractions of training in Rio de Janeiro is its rich history of jiu Jitsu and vale tudo. Rio is home to some of Brazil’s biggest teams and fighters and if you go to the right spots there’s always a good chance you’ll spot jiu jitsu and mixed martial arts celebrities, from old school heroes to up and coming sensations. There’s something about seeing the likes of Anderson Silva grabbing an acai at his local juice bar that beats waiting in line for a quick handshake and a photo at a convention or martial arts expo. The only problem is explaining to your non-training friends just why you’re so excited about your picture with some guy with cauliflower ears.
At the Gym
When training at one of Rio’s academies, you might find yourself training under or even alongside some famous faces – or even hanging out with them after class. Many top tier fight teams have separate training for their fight teams, but even at Nova Uniao or Brazilian Top Team you might see pro fighters joining in with regular sessions…
The author with BJJ superstar and ADCC world champion Braulio Estima at Connection Rio, Rio de Janeiro
Q:Date a man who writes with less flattery, who strives for his dreams and not describe it too deep. Date a man who talks about his dream, and not one who uses it to fish. Date a man who talks about how you fit in his dreams, and not why you should love him. But I guess, maybe... go ahead- date a man like this, but don't you dare marry a man who speaks like him.
All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.
~ T. E. Lawrence
Of all the responses I’ve had to 'Date a man who dreams', this is one of the most thought provoking and interesting.
My dreams are always changing, shaped by my experiences, my successes and failures. The details become less important, while the core of what I aim for becomes ever clearer.
I never expected that post to reach so many people. I wrote it for a girl, at a time when I felt that we were slipping apart. I loved her and wanted to be with her: I wrote it in part to show her what I would do for her, and in part to convince myself that I deserved to be with her. Dreams are one thing, reality another. Confusing the two can cause a lot of pain, as was the case here.
Things didn’t work out as I thought I wanted. But on the other hand, this dream inspired me to pursue others, and I also helped her further her own. Even the death of this dream led to others being birthed or becoming concrete. Dreams change: knowing when to hold on to them and when to let them go is an art that I am yet to master.
I’m afraid of my dreams sometimes. I’m afraid my dreams are selfish, that I am all style and no substance, or that my dreams will never come to pass. Sometimes I think I am dreaming about the wrong things. I am a most imperfect man, and many of my dreams are far from being actualised. I write to share my thoughts with others. I write to share my dreams. But I also write in order to show myself that my dreams have meaning, to remind myself of why these dreams are so important to me.
My dream was always to reach people. But dreams can be dangerous: many people keep dreams that they will never realise, an unattainable goal that they can imagine will make their lives complete. So: do not date a man (or a woman) who dreams but does nothing to make them reality.
The worst thing I can imagine would be to leave my dreams unfulfilled. I am not writing for the sake of writing. I write to learn as well as to teach. I write to make things happen. Some of my dreams are unfulfilled, but I know that every day I do something to make them reality. Everyone dreams: not everyone remembers them when they are awake.
I stand by that last line: “Date a man who lives his dreams.”
"Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it." - Savaldor Dali
This is some great advice.
I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from one of my old posts in the last few days which is always nice. I feel inspired to go out and write again. It’s important to have belief in yourself, and your encouragement and support helps immensely.
As a writer, and indeed as a person, my worst tendency is probably to avoid doing things if I feel unprepared or unable to do it perfectly. It’s why I have several nearly finished articles sitting around, and why I have numerous projects that I’ve put off starting or haven’t finished.
The more you work on things, the better it gets. It’s as simple as that.
Go forth and create!
Connection Rio x Bruce Lee.
One of my favourite sayings from my biggest inspiration. Almost anything is possible with the right mindset.
I am now working at Connection Rio as house manager. This means I’m training jiu jitsu, looking after the hostel and the guests and speaking a lot of Portuguese (or something kinda close to it).
So far my stay in RIo has been an amazing experience that has fuelled a lot of personal growth, and I can only see this being a catalyst for more. It might be redundant to say I’m excited about spending the next four and a bit months in Rio, but excited barely begins to cover it.
I will also be able to focus more on my writing, so expect some more posts on my thoughts and experiences so far. I also have a number of my own writing projects that I can’t wait to bring onto the front burner.
Now go live your dreams!
The 12 Commandments of Carlos Gracie Sr.
1. Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
2. Talk to all people about happiness, health, and prosperity.
3. Give all your friends the feeling of being valued.
4. Look at things from an enlightened point of view and turn your positivity into reality.
5. Think only of the best, work only for the best, and always expect the best.
6. Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are with your own.
7. Forget about past mistakes and focus your energy on the achievements of tomorrow.
8. Always make those around you happy and always have a smile for those who talk to you.
9. Take the time you need to improve yourself, but never spend time criticising others.
10. Be big enough not to feel unsatisfied, be noble enough not to feel anger, be strong enough not to feel fear, and be happy enough not to feel frustration.
11. Hold a good opinion about yourself and show that to the world, not through your words but through your work.
12. Believe that the world will be on your side, as long as you stay true to the best of yourself.
Ten Days in Paradise
Holy crap, I’ve been in Brazil ten days already. Time does fly when you’re having fun.
I’ve been meaning to write a number of posts about specific parts of my trip so far, about life in Rio, and about life in general.
However, my first week and a half has consisted of me finding my feet, getting my bearings, training, and settling in. So here’s my Top Ten hits so far.
1. The People
Within a few days of living at Connection Rio I felt like I was hanging out with friends I’d known for ages. It helps that everyone in the hostel is a gringo in town for the jiu jitsu so we all have something in common. Lots of people to hang out with, to show you all the local secrets, and to go exploring with.
The locals tend to be really friendly too, in keeping with the stereotype. Many will happily chat to you and call you friend (well, ‘fren’ anyway) within minutes. I had an excellent chat with a bus conductor who came and sat next to me and chatted and laughed for most of the journey, despite the fact I hadn’t got a clue what he was saying for the most part. Of course, not everyone is like this, but there’s definitely a much more laid back vibe to the place. Everything definitely runs on ‘Brazilian time’… the one exception to this is driving. They drive like madmen here, although to be fair they seem to remain fairly relaxed whilst honking their horns or avoiding a fiery death by a matter of microseconds.
2. The Jiu Jitsu
Yup, the Brazilians seem to be pretty good at this Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lark. At open mat today, there were eleven black belts, including one guy who must have been around 70 and completely schooled a couple of gringoes. The depth of talent here is extraordinary and the training is top notch. I’ve had a couple of glaring holes in my game exposed and (kinda) patched up already.
I’m training at Gordo Jiu Jitsu, run by Roberto ‘Gordo’ Correa, one of the best instructors in Brazil. Although there’s a bit of a language barrier, a lot of the guys speak English and it’s amazing how fast you can make friends through rolling around on the mat. We’ve also been down to Team Nogueira, run by the Nogueira brothers who are absolute legends in Mixed Martial Arts and BJJ, where we trained with Little Nog.
I tried a few different Portuguese language products before I came out. It’s still bloody hard to make myself understood or work out what the hell is going on at times, because the accent is strong in Rio and things aren’t pronounced how they’re written. Pimsleur probably worked best for me, because of the emphasis on listening and speaking. I’m starting to understand a bit more as I get used to things, and I can at least string a few words together.
4. The Food
Food here is gooooood. Mostly fairly simple, but it’s tasty as hell and there’s lots of it. There are plenty of buffets, ranging from ‘as much food as you can heap on your plate’ to ‘all you can eat’ or ‘per kilo’. Expect meat, rice and beans, and vegetables with most meals.
Açai tigela, or a kind of frozen blended Brazilian berry in a bowl, is amazing.
I have also eaten an ungodly amount of steak and fish, which brings me nicely to the next point…
5. The Price
Things are pretty cheap here. Far cheaper than I was led to believe by numerous articles stating that Rio was as expensive as any city back home. Well maybe they were thinking of cities that weren’t London, because things here are a lot cheaper. How does three steaks for about £2.50 sound? Or if you’re eating out, how about a huge serving of meat, two sides of your choice, and beans, all for around £5? Sure, some things and some places are pretty pricy, but all things considered you can live like a prince for very little.
6. The Nightlife
So far I haven’t been going out a huge amount. We’ve been for a few drinks around the neighbourhood, which has been nice and chilled. Brazilians like to start late and stay out late. So far I’ve only been out in Barra, and we went to a fairly high end club called Zax which had a rich young crowd. It felt a little snobby, like people were more there to be seen than to have fun. But the music was good (a mix of local stuff and commercial western stuff) and the dancing was fun, plus it was just the right kind of busy. I hear it loosened up later, and the consensus was that this was way out of the ordinary, with other bars and clubs being much friendlier.
Door policy here is crazy - we got ID’d three times on the way in, then went to the front desk where instead of paying, they scan your ID (again) and take a photo of you, all of which gets programmed into a card that you use to pay for your drinks all night. This goes on a tab, which you pay at the end of the night (along with your cover charge) when you hand your card in at the end of the night. Things could get hairy if you don’t keep track of your spending; it was an expensive night, although all things considered it was cheap compared to back home. It did seem to make queueing at the bar much less painful.
Ah, the drinks. They have a kind of tea called mate that is popular across South America and is pretty good. Guarana is the most popular local soft drink, made from the guarana plant, slightly caffeinated, fizzy, and damn refreshing. Brahma, Skol and Itaipava are the beers of the choice, and they are served ice cold. Light and refreshing. But the interesting drinks are the cachaça based drinks, of which the caipirinha is the most famous. Cachaça is a kind of rum made from sugar cane. All hail the glorious batida, which is basically blended fruit (or whatever) mixed with cachaça. It’s like drinking an alcoholic smoothie! Our local bar, owned by one of the black belts at the gym, has flavours such as açai, coconut, passionfruit, cashew, coffee creme, and chocolate. Om nom nom.
8. The Beach
So far we’ve mainly been on Barra beach. It’s 16k long, the sand is glorious, and there are beautiful beach bodies everywhere. It’s quiet during the week but busy on the weekends. The surfing is supposed to be great, so we’ll have to check that out soon. All the beaches have stalls at regular intervals where you can buy drinks, while there are also vendors wandering along the beach selling things ranging from hats, to food, to football shirts.
9. The Sights
We hiked up Pedra da Gávea, which is a big old mountain (according to wikipedia it’s a monolith: I don’t know what the difference is but it sounds awesome). It’s a really steep jungle hike, interspersed with a bit of rock climbing.
The views from the top are amazing: the photos just don’t do it justice.
I checked out the Escadaria Selarón, a famous landmark in one of the older parts of town (Lapa/Santa Teresa). The artist, Selarón, has covered the stairways by his house with a whole series of brightly coloured tiles which he keeps constantly updated: it’s a real labour of love. Check it out:
I’ve also been around Barra and seen a little bit of Copacabana and Ipanema, but I still have plenty more exploring to do. Christ the Redeemer and Pau de Açucar are on the list…
10. And the other stuff
There’s too much stuff to write about, plus lots of stuff that don’t warrant their own entry but are fun little anecdotes in their own right. So I’ll throw them in here:
Being without a bag. Fresh avocados in the garden. Jumping in the pool to cool off after training. Pimento the cat. Monkeys living outside our house. Baby monkeys! The dog that dangles its paws over the balcony. Canto Alegre. Oswaldo’s. Camacha. Sungas and fio dental. The sun, and the torrential rain. Mats in the house. Melissa commandeering a bus back from Team Nogueira. Getting crapped on by a pigeon. The way Brazilians like to make out - and they do it anywhere and everywhere. The prospect of watching the UFC in Brazil.
Oh ya: and apparently the girls here are quite nice looking.
Living and Leaving
"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
In less than 22 hours, I will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Given that I’m currently sitting at home in London, England, the thought is making my head spin.
I’m about to spend the next 6 months living in Brazil. This can all be traced back to a conversation I had less than 3 months ago on March 21st. I was working on a particularly long and arduous shoot when I struck up a conversation with a guy who was diligently working away on a screenplay.
It turned out that he’d worked as a film producer for a number of years but was now focusing on writing. He mentioned that he’d recently spent 6 months in Brazil, teaching English and working on his script. He said it was one of the best things he’d ever done, in terms of writing as well as just being an amazing experience.
Can you guess where going with this yet?
I’ve wanted to take a trip like this for a long time, but for various reasons it didn’t happen last year as I’d originally planned. The moment seemed to have passed. Hearing about someone else’s adventure brought the dream back to life: I mentioned to my script-writing friend that I’d always wanted to go to Brazil, to train and to live. His answer? “So do it.”
I started to make excuses: too many things in the way, too much to sort out. Too much keeping me here. “Like what?” I couldn’t come up with a proper answer. “You should do it”, he said. That night I spent hours researching it: within a week my mind was made up. I had an opportunity: who knows how long I’d have the freedom to take advantage of it?
I made a point of telling people right away: as soon as I’d told enough people, it took on a life of its own. I couldn’t back out of it without looking stupid. I talked to so many people who volunteered contacts and their own personal experience: they inspired me to make this fantasy into a reality.
And really, that’s what this post is all about.
"To travel is to take a journey into yourself."
I’m nervous. A little scared, even. I’m leaving behind some amazing friends. I’m taking a risk. But to be honest, the rewards far outweigh the risks in my mind. My freelance work has been rather slow and my writing had taken a back seat: I had slipped into a rut. I’m going out of my comfort zone to give myself some perspective, to see things and see myself in a different light.
A change is as good as a rest, they say: there’s no better way to change than to immerse yourself in another culture. Things that were stressing me out no longer seem important, or at least not as important as learning to speak Portuguese and learning to live in a strange country. I literally have no idea what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be in a couple of months: suddenly I feel alive, excited, and most of all, free.
We all have dreams and ambitions: things we want to do, or how we want our life to look. If things aren’t going the way we want them to go; if there’s something missing in our life; if it feels that you aren’t living the life you want to: it is up to you to change things. In the words of Maya Angelou, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
I’m going in search of something that I know is missing from my life. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I do know that the search itself is what’s important.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller