Thou Shall Not Miss Out Class

Picked up my very good friend, John Will, on Friday from the Airport and then straight to Newport for a BJJ seminar.  I had to sit this one out on the sideline but it was just as enjoyable as participating – practicing my mental skills.  Then we went to dinner for big steaks.  John was figuring out how I could make better use of my crutches up and down the stairs because YouTube was no help.   

Next morning we parked the car to do coffee at GJ’s.  I was starting to whine about the crutches and I had a little laugh when John said he would piggy back me.  He came around to my side of the car ,on the crutches, and I was starting to get worried and expecting him to say, ‘hop on my back’.  Luckily, that didn’t happen; must’ve been a gee-up.  Anyway, John did a great job taking care of me.  Whe we arrived at Newport, a little late, I told John to make his way to the school whilst I park the car because I didn't want him to be any more late than we already were.  As I was reverse parking I saw John standing behind the car and guiding me in then helped me out onto my feet!  They're the little things that give a person big character.

Then it was our turn for a seminar at West Pennant Hills.  I was not allowed to be the ‘water boy’ and John had me, this time, participate.  I’m glad I did, what a great seminar!  There is no John Will taking back control of Ben Langfordsuch thing as ‘too many seminars’.  When I want to get good at something I have to do more than one thing.  The seminar is not like a regular class.   The content provided is from years of experience; you are not going to find it from books or YouTube.  Imagine doing a technique one thousand times over, usually in battle, just to find out which is the best way to do it.  I prefer, “PLEASE JUST TELL ME (I haven't got time to try it out a thousand times)”. 

A seminar is like a church gathering or special event.  There’s a purpose to it all and the people attending want something from it.  Once, again, I take my hat off to the people who came from the ACT, Danny Weir, Ben Langford (& his student) and our own guy, Storm.  These people must be very 'religious'. 

The seminar you miss or any class, for that matter, is not going to be every repeated again because each one is unique.  It's not like a movie when you cancel the morning session for the evening. 

I only believe in choosing the best persons for seminars.  It's all about improving everyone of us because martial arts is an ongoing quest for knowledge.

John and I had  a good discussion about the miraculous recoevery of his son, Ronin, who was stabbed to death recently (literally).  It's absolutely amazing to hear the whole story how this young pulled through beating the odds, one in 10 thousand chance of survival.

Accidents do Happen

Another mishap and little setback; this time my motorcycle fell on my foot fracturing a couple of bones whilst wheeling it out of my garage.  The irony is I clock up almost a thousand kilometres per month and something simple like this to happen to you is hard to accept.  Victor came to the rescue (it’s great to have friends like  him) and took to me hospital to have it put in plaster.  You take it for granted when you see somebody on crutches.  That is hard work!  You’ve got to pre-plan everything, something as simple as looking for a hair brush or making a cup of coffee in the morning.  Then the hard part, how to use the stairs, YouTube didn’t help; the advantages of living in a double storey house!

When people demonstrate a martial art skill, you may not necessarily want to learn it but it’s usually difficult to appreciate the amount of time put in to learn that skill, not unless you live through the whole process of understanding what it takes to achieve that.  I am living the process right now.

A handicap, such as this, makes you more conscious because you can’t afford to be absentminded which could mean a lot of hard work if you forget where you leave your wallet or keys.  This is no different to a handicap in the martial arts.  In other words you have to slow down things in your mind to make sure every step of the way in your pre-plan is going to get you where you want to be.  This is the right mindset of a BJJ student. 

It will mean a few weeks off training but I can still get to my classes.  I'd like to lead by example and hopefully make students be a little more conscious when they feel the urge to take the night off. 

All goes well, the plaster comes off next week which will be replaced with a removeable brace.  Anybody is quite welcome to put their foot in plaster for tomorrow’s seminar.  John Will promises there is something he can show me on the mat tomorrow morning which doesn’t require the use of my legs (?). 

Sorting Things Out

As an Instructor I am always trying to find solutions for problems that pop up, in practicing the martial arts, whether it be my own or students.  I thought I might give it a try when I told my senior BJJ students to do a private workout with me the other night.  I thought to myself this will give me the opportunity to practice the higher  level stuff and test my ability to be able to teach them.  In other words, I better know this stuff well if I am going to demonstrate them.  Everything went well and the session was extremely productive for both me and my senior grades.  We all had smiling faces at the end of the session.  It felt good! 

It was the process of doing this stuff which made me work on what I needed to do.  There was no threat or embarrassment if something did not work out right the first time.  You just drill, analyse and drill until it happens without putting a time limit as what usually might happen in a classroom.  Then we wrestled, taking it back a couple of notches, to maximise our skills and try something new without the fear of being 'hammered', The night turned out to be perfect. 

When I get stalemate I look for new methods to further advance.  This is not to replace anything I already do but it is another training method.  It’s great to be a student but I need to be an Instructor to become a great student.

Never Ending Story

During conversation, with Mr Norton on the way back from the ACT, it was interesting to hear how technical BJJ is compared to the other martial arts where there are only a finite number of techniques.  In BJJ there are literally thousands of them and the number is still growing.  Who would have ever thought this was going to happen when inventing this art?

I often tell people this is my back up art to what I already know.  In the true spirit of martial arts it’s all about seeking new challenges and ways.  All martial arts are challenging but BJJ can get quite intricate which requires the mind to be fully engaged.   If martial arts were that simple then there would be a lot more people doing them.  This is what separates us from the norm making us special in a certain way. 

 Going back to grass roots is always an interesting thing.  Mr Norton and I were going over the basic knife hand block and back stance in a carpark one evening (Richard never forgets his routes).  Proof to students that Instructors do get around to discussing the simplest techniques.  Furthermore, I spent a whole 2 weeks with Richard going over and over a basic guard pass (lesson 101), picking up more and more detail of the technique each time.  IT'S LIKE A NEVER ENDING STORY! 

Kickboxing, when first coming on the scene, was quite primitive.  Getting on the floor today with Sensei Urquidez and Mr Norton will certainly convince anyone it is as technical as any other martial art, if not, more.  What makes masters of these arts is the way they do it effortlessly.   That takes time, dedication, enthusiasm and a lot of work.There's really no finishing line to cross in the martial arts.

Looking forward to seeing Mr John Will over the weekend.  Should do around 8 hours of training and 4 cups of coffees with him.

Richard Sargeant – new BJJ Black Belt

Just got the news that my very good friend and one of my BJJ coaches was awarded his Black Belt in BJJ, yesterday, by John Will at a seminar in Penrith.  Normally, I would be there, but at  the time, I was in the ACT.  Ten years in the making and I have to say Richard is a great martial artist and superb athlete not to mention he is one of the nicest guys around.  I wish I was there because I would've liked to have shared the moment of joy.  This would've also been a great moment for his Instructor, Steve Perceval.

Richard Sargeant has always taken a special interest in Instructors of other martial arts, like myself, by taking up new challenges such as BJJ.  His example is about perseverance, dedication and enthusiasm which is what I am always looking for from our own students.  An important thing to look for when a student deserves to get a Black Belt is passion and drive.  Richard is extremely passionate and has mega drive!

Congratulations, Richard, from me and Mr Norton.  Very well deserved promotion.  It's always a pleasure to roll with you. I hope the guys are organising a dinner night out.

ACT visit

Just returned with Shihan Richard Norton from the ACT for a BJJ seminar on Saturday which turned out to be quite outstanding.  This was followed by a Karate Grading conducted by me, putting Damien Philpott’s students to the test, and they performed quite well.  We were very honoured by Richard who sat in at the grading.  Dinner afterwards with Richard and some of our Budoshinkai students at a nice Turkish restaurant.

Also came along was Steve Micakovski of United Kempo.  The next day we left the ACT and headed to Steve's full time school at Austral and met up with his father, Shihan Jordan  Micakovski, where Richard put on a seminar for his students.  Jordan’s other son, Alex, is a movie car buff, who surprised us with his new toy, ‘Herbie the love bug’ car which he recently purchased.  a fictional character (an old Volkswagon vehicle), which was featured in several Disney motion pictures in the late '60's (you can look it up on Wikipedia).  

One thing I have particularly noticed about BJJ is the infinite web of moves and counters.  I relate this to our rules, regulations and laws in our society; if somebody finds a way to beat the system, the government comes up with a new regulation to counter.  That’s what happens in BJJ.  Everybody finds a way to beat a new move but there is somebody out there who is going to come up with a solution to counter it – ‘thus a new technique is born’.

Best wishes to Mr John Will and his family.  His son, Ronin, is in a serious condition in hospital.  Those who wish to read about his progress may do so by reading John's blogs.  These are tough times for John but I believe a positive outcome.

Richard Norton – 6th Degree Black Belt

My very good friend and mentor, Shihan Richard Norton, got the word he has just been promoted to 6th Degree Black Belt by the legendary Benny ‘the jet’ Urquidez in the Urquidokan martial arts system.  What an honour to be graded by one of the greatest martial arts masters on earth!  After spending 30 years training with Sensei Benny this grading is well deserved.

 Mr Norton is staying in Sydney for a few weeks to do some work on the start of the ‘Mad Max 4' film.  I have been keeping regular contact and putting some workshops at various schools in his spare time (not much of it).   

I was told about the promotion when I met up with Richard on Saturday morning and I was the first one to congratulate and shake his hand.  Richard’s grades are long overdue considering he started the martial arts almost 50 years ago.  Mr Norton currently holds the rank of ‘Shihan’ under Hanshi Tino Ceberano (his original Instructor) and was also graded to 5th Degree, several years ago, by Chuck Norris.  He also holds a 4th Degree in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under JJ Machado.

It really isn’t about the grades.  Richard’s philosophy, ‘don’t show me your belt, show me what you can do’.  The grades are only as good as from the person they came from.   Guys, I have thrown a few certificates away in the past and my senior Black Belts can vouch for that.  I only honour the certificates from the people who I honour.

To get back to the events of the day (Saturday), we first started with an hour of BJJ and then an hour and a half of Kickboxing.  It was great to see the many happy and stunned faces at my school; they were totally impressed.  Then a 2 hour BJJ seminar for kids at Wayne Miller’s school (the kids were fantastic).  I was amazed I picked up quite a few things there as well.  That was a great session for me, too.

What a great day, I’ve learnt a hell of a lot.  Victor (senior Instructor) was absolutely astounded with the Kickboxing!