Be willing to kill your darlings

William Faulkner once said “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” In writing, it’s often considered an important part of the writing method. The idea is that you need to be willing to cull all of the overly-dressed and precious things that you are attached to because it removes you from your sense of objectivity.

Essentially, this is just simple critical thinking and it applies far more broadly than just to writing, martial art practice or study.  Continue reading “Be willing to kill your darlings”


Guest Post: Crossfit for Jiu-jitsu Practitioners by Christiaan Mattheus

I’d like to thank Christiaan Mattheus for this in depth look at the role of Strength training, and Crossfit in particular, in Jiu-jitsu. Christiaan is the owner of CrossFit Amandla in Christchurch and a Blue Belt at Axis Brazilan Jiu-jitsu Christchurch (coming off recent weight division and absolute National Title wins and Silver at the Japanese Abu Dhabi Grand Slam).


“Strong people are harder to kill, and more useful in general.”

Mark Rippetoe





If you’re reading this chances are you already practice Jiu-Jitsu, jūjutsu, bjj, self-defense, submission grappling or whatever else you want to call the act of tactfully disabling or disarming an opponent. For that very reason I will not spend too much of your time looming over the wonderful world of Jiu-Jitsu but instead I will attempt to showcase the importance of regular and effective strength & conditioning for Jiu-Jitsu practitioners.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Crossfit for Jiu-jitsu Practitioners by Christiaan Mattheus”

Passing the point of no return.

In any journey traveled, there is a point beyond which it is impossible to turn back. Once this point is passed, things for the traveler will never be the same again.

This is a common trope in story telling, book and films; the protagonist reaches a point where they see the path to their destination, looking back upon the path traveled that got them to where they are before pressing ahead, past the point of no return.

I feel like this is the same with martial arts. Any legitimate martial art journey is a lifelong one guaranteed to be fraught with many highs and lows. There is a point in a martial arts journey where there is no going back; where returning to the way things used to be before is no longer possible. It’s a good thing. It’s a growing thing.

Reaching the point of no return means that you have reached a stage in your journey where your martial art has become part of you. Your identity is tied to your martial art, and it is likewise tied to your identity.

Personally, we will all look back at different points in our journey and identify them as that point. It’s a highly subjective thing. Many will teeter on the edge for a long time, swaying between abandoning the journey and taking the brave steps forward into parts unknown.

If you ever feel apprehension to step past the point of no return, just remember this: It’s never the journey taken that leads to regret, it’s the journeys not taken that lead to a life of regret.

Thanks for reading,


The virtue of Curiosity

“Curious is a good thing to be, it seems to pay some unexpected dividends.”

Iggy Pop

In my current line of work, I’ve noticed that the most curious kids tend to be the ones who find the most satisfaction- and success- in learning. They ask hard questions about things others take for granted, never satisfied with a simple “Just because” answer. Curiosity leads to a desire to know more; to learn more, see more and do more. 

My philosophy teachers always expounded the principal of honesty in ignorance: Accept that there are things you don’t know. The more that I realized I was uncertain about, the more curious I became to find out what the truth was, if indeed there was any to be found at all.

Curiosity leads us down the paths often left untraveled by the timid or tame. It leads us away from the deceit offered up by matronly comfort and shows us the way to independence and resilience. Curiosity is a teacher that never questions your ability to experience and learn something new.

I think back to some of the most amazing experiences I’ve had so far, and they all come from a place of curiosity. I’m no more or less curious than anyone else as a person, if anything I used to be far from it. But upon reflection, it’s the “What ifs” and “Why is” that have lead me to places,  people and experiences that I would never have imagined as a twenty year old. Curiosity also lead me to Jiu-jitsu, which without I would undoubtedly not be here to write this. 

Einstein said “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”, but I would adjust it so:

Once you stop learning, you are dead. 

Being curious means leading a life full of learning; accepting that we can always find out more about ourselves and the world we live in. If you’re not doing that, or at least trying to in some small way every day, then you’re not really alive.

Foster your sense of curiosity. You will thank yourself for it later.

Thanks for reading.



Creating opportunities

Something I’ve come to understand about Jiu Jitsu is that the player who maximizes their opportunities is (more often than not) the one who emerges successful in any exchange.

For example: the guard player who has an in depth understanding of their options and creates more opportunities than their opponent is able to prevent finds success through their efforts. The passer who opens a number of avenues to pass will always be more successful than the passer who tries to insist on a single pass.

The name of the game is opportunities. The more angles of approach we create; the greater our chances of success in any given endeavor.

This applies to Jiu Jitsu, but equally to work, study and other aspects of our lives. The more we are able to position ourselves to maximize success, the more often we will find it.

Thanks for reading.


Want to know the secret to improving quickly? Engage with the learning process.

In education, all evidence shows that the most successful students have a high engagement in the learning process. In short: all students who engage with all aspects of learning learn more and learn faster.

Martial arts are no different. Do you genuinely want to improve? Then engage with every aspect of the learning process. 

This means working hard; not just when you feel like it, but all the time to better yourself.

It means putting your ego aside and accepting learning from every source, regardless of whom that takes the shape of.

It means seeking critical feedback about your technique instead of surrounding yourself with people who tell you what you want to hear.

It means training with the most challenging partners instead of taking easy rolls & having rounds off when you’re tired.

It’s damn simple. The blueprint has been laid out for you by your instructors and those who have undertaken the process before you. Take that blueprint and follow it. Don’t just cherry pick the parts that seem nice or easier. You have to accept every aspect.

The curious mind does not leave anything left unexplored. If you’re serious about your journey, then learn to accept that the highest peaks only exist because of the deepest troughs.

Thanks for reading.




Be Original: Two ways originality can change your Jiu Jitsu.

If you have a look at the top level competitors and practitioners in any sport, you begin to notice that they have a style that is distinctly their own.

It is extremely uncommon for us to be able to draw analogies between the greats of any sporting field, especially martial arts. We see this distinctly within Brazilian Jiu Jitsu too; any of the highest level competitors are very distinct in their strategies, style and technique.

Originality (and your ability to be original) plays a major factor in your improvement. Here are two ways originality can impact on your Jiu Jitsu. Continue reading “Be Original: Two ways originality can change your Jiu Jitsu.”