Hitting the wall: Thoughts on plateaus & mental blocks in training.

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Many a student has experienced the notorious “plateau” or felt the sensation that they, try as they might, are getting nowhere with their training. “Hitting the wall” is or experiencing a mental block is common in any area of learning, Martial Arts being no different.

I would like to share my thoughts on why I believe that the dreaded plateau does not exist. In my opinion, it is in fact a symptom of a far more important cause that needs to be treated in your practice.  Continue reading

Experimentation: Trial and Error

EIxyzix5DCtC-ix3NyGp2EpvRNxW6_IZQo54uugnNdgA huge part of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu’s continuing success as a martial art is an emphasis on creativity and experimentation.

No two practitioners will express themselves in the same way: some will prefer certain techniques and movements over others and develop their own particular style through a process of discovery, experimentation & trial and error. I’d like to explore the importance of Experimentation in this post.

Hold on, ‘cos we’re about to get scientific.

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The Exchange of Information

Possibly one of the most unique things about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu among the martial arts is the way that information can be exchanged.

Unlike some traditional martial arts, there is no premium on knowledge; anyone, with enough time, dedication and practice, can develop understanding about a set of techniques or broaden their skill set.

The exchange of information in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is far more organic than in more traditionally structured martial arts. A practitioner can learn lessons from anyone. With the right mindset, anyone can come across the information they require to improve on the mats.

Most commonly, it is the role of the instructor to pass on information and knowledge. In most cases, this is where a lot of learning occurs. The instructor will pass on information to the student, who will interpret it in a certain way and act on it accordingly. However, another part of this exchange is between students. As students execute techniques on each other, they are organically exchanging information and learning more about one another’s strategies, go-to techniques and more.

Students can sit and discuss any number of techniques or approaches to BJJ and glean information from a training partner in the right mindset. I think the fact that we can learn from each other in such a natural, organic way makes Brazilian Jiu-jitsu one of the most consuming martial arts to learn. Every conversation, every roll, every drilling session with a partner becomes a learning opportunity.

Thanks for reading.

Oss

The Eternal Apprentice 

Many people are not willing to start learning something new because they dislike the idea of looking like a beginner. The cycles of learning never change and always deals in certainties: Mastery is a lifelong pursuit and we are all beginners when we start anything. These are both topics I’ve discussed before in previous articles, however I would like to explore the concept of The Eternal Apprentice; once we have started something new, how can we adopt a mindset that allows us to continue pursuing mastery? I’d like to coin the phrase, The Eternal Apprentice, to describe this mindset.

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Even when we stop wearing a white belt, symbolically no longer being a beginner, the mindset of a white belt is one that we can continue to adopt as we continue on the path to mastery. Constantly being prepared to learn is the key to self growth.

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Fallibility: Understanding and embracing imperfection.

Fallibility; the ability to make mistakes and to be wrong. We absolutely hate being proven wrong, but one of the greatest certainties in life is that there is precious little that we can know and prove to be entirely factual. Let’s seek to better understand what it means to be fallible…

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We are no different to the earth under our feet. Faults, flaws and holes are part of our identity and, more importantly, our nature.

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Presence of mind: The importance of mental presence in learning.

 

“What’s the secret?” 

Who has heard this before? With reference to learning; there is no secret. There is no cheat code that lets you skip the hard work, the effort and demands of improving and learning something new. However, as is the focus of quite a few discussions here at Articulate BJJ, there are specific habits we can develop that will help us to maximize, and maybe even fast track, your learning. One of these is Mental Presence.

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Thoughts on Having an Open Mind

“Oh, I don’t need to learn this. It doesn’t fit into my game plan.” or “I already know this, I don’t need to practice it.” are examples of what got me thinking about this next topic: Being Open-Minded. 

I think I’ve been very fortunate to have had teachers, friends and peers who have modeled open minded behavior throughout my learning. I think it is also because I have been surrounded by this positive behavior that it comes as a shock to me when I see people uttering statements such as the above.

It takes humility for a person to admit they don’t know something; many of us don’t want to risk looking stupid in the face of our colleagues, partners or friends whose opinions we value. Above humility, it also takes a lot of effort for us to be open-minded. In the gym, the work place or even in the company of friends, being open minded is an invaluable attribute. Continue reading

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

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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Asking for it versus Taking it: Thoughts on expectations and perceptions of “what you deserve”

We live in an age where social media and ultra fast digital communications have bred a culture of instant gratification, providing instant gratification and superficial satisfaction for those who seek it. Despite how “noble” we may think our disciplines or pursuits are, they are not immune to these pitfalls.

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I want to take some time to hopefully make you reflect on what it is you want. What do you feel like you’re entitled to? Do you feel as if you deserve it? What do you ask for and what do you deserve?  Continue reading