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

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.


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

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

Being True to yourself: Thoughts on Integrity and Principles.

Plato once said “All the gold which is under or upon the earth is not enough to give in exchange for virtue.” When I think of Plato’s idea of Virtue, two things come to mind: Integrity and Principles. 

Regardless of the society we live in, the laws that govern us or any other external factors; the primary compass through which our lives are guided are our internal Principles. These Principles form the code by which we live by; they form our Integrity as people and, in my opinion, they are the Virtues that Plato expounded as our means to live by.

So what does it mean to have integrity? How do we preserve ours? We live in a world that demands much of us, at times we may even feel pressured to compromise our own principles for a (perceived) beneficial outcome. Continue reading

Stick to the path: 3 thoughts on following your path.

We all walk a path that has been paved by our past choices and actions. We either walk this path with intention, having paved it with purpose, or we walk a path unintentionally, forced to because of causes we had no control over. Regardless, there is nothing to be gained by not seeing your path to its destination. Today I had three short thoughts about the paths that we walk…


Sometimes the path to your goal is paved. At times, you won’t see where it leads and at times the finish will not be in sight.

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The Triangle Concept: The Three Principals of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

The triangle is omnipresent in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Many canonical gyms in the Gracie lineage and others use the triangle in their logo, one of the most well known chokes employs a triangular shape to strangle one’s opponent, or the structural strength of the triangular shape… The list goes on.


Renzo Gracie demonstrates the iconic Triangle Choke. Arguably one of the most technical submissions to apply, the Triangle requires the practitioner to arrange their limbs into a triangular shape to strangle an opponent, cutting off their flow of blood to the brain. 

Recently, I have been percolating on another possible interpretation of the ever-present Triangle in Jiu-jitsu. In my mind I imagined a triangle; where the three points reflected Three Core Principals in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and indeed grappling as a whole. Those three principals were: Movement, Breathing and Technique. In this post, I will meditate on why I saw this trio of principals as the three main points of the triangle that is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  Continue reading