Injury and Recovery

One of the unfortunate realities for anyone who trains Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, or any other sports for that matter, is injury.

Even if you are a safe, conscientious practitioner, the likelihood of accidental injury increases alongside time spent training. The severity of an injury will dictate the amount of time needed to recover, as well as the kind of physical requirements needed for sufficient recovery before returning to the mat. In this post I will look at a few things that you should be looking to do on the path to recovery in the unfortunate event of injury. Continue reading

Investing in your journey: Thoughts on your time & effort as a currency

I read an interesting quote last week that caused me to reflect on the way we invest our time and effort into an activity. The quote was Jiu-jitsu related, however I think it applies to any pursuit we have:

“Jiu-jitsu is like a bank; the more you put in the more you can take out.”

On the surface, this quote seems pretty simple at first, but the more I reflected on this, the more it made me think about the investments we make into our chosen pursuits. The more time and effort we invest into something, the more we are able to take from it and the more it will come to serve us. In this article I will reflect on this idea, as well as discuss the idea of our time and effort as a form of currency.

As a bit of a bonus, I’ve added some thoughts at the end regarding Cognitive Dissonance for those of you who are interested in how this concept may affect our perceptions of our time invested and our improvement.

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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.

Listening to Criticism.

The most valuable people you will ever meet are the ones who won’t always tell you what you want to hear. Remember that.

The people in your life who care enough to tell you what you need to hear, as opposed to what you want to hear, are worth their weight in gold.

Remember that no-one ever created positive change in their life by being encouraged to keep to doing the same mediocre things that they’ve been continuously doing without result. That is called stasis. Stasis will galvanize your way of thinking, it will encourage you to adopt weak, ego-centric narratives that justify your lack of improvement or inability to change the things that aren’t going right in your life.

Surround yourself with people who care about you and the kind of person you are. Be prepared to listen to them without taking offense. If they care enough to tell you when you’ve made a mistake, take that on board and allow it to inform your perceptions of how you act without being hurt or outraged.

Be grateful for criticism. Be grateful for an opportunity to learn and improve as a human being. Be grateful for those who care enough to tell you when you’ve made a mistake.

 

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

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