BJJ / Grappling Tips: Inspirational Characters. Standing on the shoulders of giants

Fighting Fit Manchester: The best place to train BJJ, MMA and traditional martial arts in Machester will be hosting John Will, 4th degree under the Machados and head of BJJ Australasia on the 3rd of May. This is very exciting!

Ever since I was a child I've always loved spending time in the company of inspirational characters. Whether it was an uncle who studied at university, an aunt who had travelled the world and seen cool, far-flung places or a teacher who had stories to tell from interesting historic events. Growing up, this continued and, naturally, trickled into my many interests.

When I studied medicine at Gothenburg University, my most interesting lectures where with one professor who had spent considerable time with Doctors Without Borders and had many tales to tell from his time in both eastern Africa and the Far East. Dodging bullets and saving children. I didn't really retain much of the lectures themselves but when he started telling anecdotes, my ears would immediately perk up.

Later on, when I started training Karate, I went from club to club. I trained at a number of both martial arts and dojos before I found Gothenburg Kanzenkai which was and still is a great institution and training environment, but what drew me to it was the characters I met there. Sensei Siamak is a great man. An inspiring person. Someone who is educated, well-travelled and had a great sense of humour. A family man with tons and tons of stories from back in the day. He was there when Karate started in Iran, one of the top nations in the sport. He was there when Shinan Farhad Varasteh founded the first karate club in the country back in 1966-67. He is someone I could spend hours listening to and learning from.

This happened again when I attended a seminar with John Will about a year ago. There is something about pioneers that sets them apart from others. Their past struggles were different. Don't get me wrong, no one reaches a decent level of skill in ANYTHING without enduring hardship. Diamonds are created thru pressure. I, and many of my friends, however simply walk into a martial arts club down the road and practice.

Pioneers, by definition, could not do that. When John Will started his BJJ journey, he couldn't simply walk into the nearest club, pay a fee and start training. He had to go to the source. He had to put his life on hold, take risks and seek instruction from masters who were thousands of miles away. Thousands!

When Shinan Varasteh opened his first Karate dojo in Tehran, he had to convince people that what he had to teach was worthwhile. He had to convince the authorities to allow him to operate and had to convince landlords to rent him the space and facilities he needed.

When John started teaching BJJ, local martial artists from all disciplines must have been curious, but at the same time must have felt a little threatened. He faced challenges you and I will most likely never have to. We stand on the shoulders of giants in the martial arts and that, my friend, is why when they talk I drop everything and I listen.

Here are snipets from three articles that John Will, co-founder of BJJ America and head of BJJ Australasia, generously shares on his website. Please use the links below to download and read them, over and over.

Things I wish I knew when I was a blue belt:

Think of it like this, for every position that exists in the ground-fight, (more than a dozen different positions) you should become clearer and clearer on your answer to three questions:

- what is your number one ‘go to’ move from that position
- what is your escape if you are caught in that position
- what is your best transition (where to now) if you are losing that position

Having a good working knowledge of these three things, from each of the ground positions, will give you the foundation of your overall Game.

Tactical BJJ

Do not misunderstand. BJJ, like Boxing, Kickboxing or Wrestling, will still provide you with more useable real-world skills than other more theoretical and noncontact arts – it’s just that we still need to apply some tweeking if we are going to take it to the ‘street’, ‘into battle’ or into any other no-rules, ‘live’ environment. So, time to apply a Tactical Patch …

The Mechanics of Luck:

Every single one of our ancestors had to survive long enough to be able to reproduce, to allow for the set of circumstances to eventuate in our own birth. Not one of our millions of ancestors managed to die before procreating and thereby setting down the next step in the evolutionary path that has ultimately led to each of us being born.

My father, being well-versed in logic and a man of science and reason, believed that man is, in the larger scheme of things, just another type of animal, albeit a highly evolved one. He read Darwin’s Theory of Evolution as a youngster, and ever since had marvelled at the extraordinary nature of the evolutionary process. What he hadn’t previously thought about was the absolutely extraordinary chain of events that had to occur for each of us to have even been born at all. We are, in every way that matters, each and every one of us, incredibly and monumentally, lucky.

Fighting Fit Manchester: The best place to train BJJ, MMA and traditional martial arts in Machester will be hosting John Will, 4th degree under the Machados and head of BJJ Australasia on the 3rd of May. Make sure you contact Fighting Fit and reserve your spot. The management has been working very hard at balancing seminar price while still capping number of attendees so maximum attention and benefit are reached. Final price and time details will be released within a day or two.


Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

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