Building Pathways: Thoughts on Strategy

Developing strategy and building pathways to success is important. Whether you’re creating a game plan to win a game of chess, finding the fastest way to submit your opponent or planning to create a piece of art, you need to build an effective pathway towards that end goal.

Pathways are more than just physical motions that we go through, it also involves pathways in our mind; adjusting what and how we think. Continue reading

Allowing yourself the space for creativity

Many of us, in the pursuits we are passionate about, have the space to be creative and express ourselves in a true, honest way.

One thing we need to be aware of is that sometimes our focus can narrow and we can become absorbed by single facets of our pursuit. This can leave us without the space to find creative solutions- or to express creativity- because we become hyper-focused on the single thing directly in front of us. Sometimes, we need to take a step back and allow ourselves that space for creativity again.

For myself, my biggest creative pursuit is within Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and I’m constantly trying to find new ways to open up pathways to express myself within the (martial) art form. At times, I’ve felt like I had hit the dreaded “plateau”; where I felt like I was at a point of stasis and not seeing any improvement. I would be dissatisfied because I could not find success with the single thing that I was working on.

But the solution in cases like this is actually very simple. Sometimes, we narrow our focus too much and do not allow for the state of flow to occur, limiting our creativity and ultimately our ability to experiment & improve. When we become too objective focused, we dedicate all of our attention to completing that objective and forget to prioritize other equally important aspects.

A lot of practitioners talk about “opening up their game”. I think that this in a way refers to attending to the creative learning often required within BJJ and other martial arts or sports. Shouldn’t we always open up our games? By allowing ourselves the space to work creatively to solve the problems presented us, we will plateau less, enjoy training more and find more satisfaction when things do start to come together as a result.

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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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

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

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