Balance in BJJ / Grappling & Life: Lessons from John B Will, head of Will-Machado BJJ

As mentioned yesterday, I recently attended a BJJ seminar by John B Will . The seminar was held at neighbouring BJJ academy (and top notch people) Factory BJJ.

John Will is much more than just a BJJ coach. He is a very accomplished martial artist and, most importantly, comes across as a very balanced human being which is the theme of this post.

The seminar itself covered two topics: the X-guard and head and arm chokes and John's delivery and, of course, content were top notch. I will cover several pointers from both in future posts.

He did, however, pepper his delivery with comments, tips and hints not only on how to perform BJJ techniques (thank you for the weight distribution principles John!) but also how to best learn (the trust principle) best teach and coach (the trust principle. Again!) and how to live your life!

The martial arts being a microcosm where we learn life lessons is a phrase much repeated in dojos around the world but seldom practiced or even understood. I’ve always felt that the reason was because the training in these martial arts had evolved in directions different to the ones that gave us the philosophical values. What we were left with was a sport (e.g. much of today’s Karate, Kendo and Taekwondo) or a self defence system (e.g. Wing Chun, Japanese Jujutsu) or even a deep-dive into the esoteric (e.g. Aikido, Capoeira, Tai Chi Chuan or Japanese weaponry) and some ancient values and principles based on some variation on the Bushido (itself a hotchpotch of principles, philosophies and eastern religions). In all my years of Karate training (which I thoroughly enjoyed!) the closest I ever got close to principle embodiment was Shugyo which I must say has helped me at work and in studies.

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, however, the parallels are always there. They are inescapable! Every time you stagnate in your development in BJJ, there is a lesson to be learnt. Not just a BJJ / Grappling, but a life lesson.

Balance in BJJ can mean many things. It can mean balance between:

1. your attacking game and defensive game
2. your mobility and control
3. your top and bottom game
4. your right and left sides
5. your hands and feet

and so many more. Every time you feel your BJJ learning curve stagnate, take a step back and try to fix the balance in what you are doing. Are you perhaps attacking too much, too little, too early, too late? Should you be attacking at all? As our friend David Onuma put it eloquently in his Kombat Clinic interview when asked about overcoming training and teaching plateaus: “The secret really is to find the answer and that answer may come from a friend, a training partner or even your teacher. There is always an answer to everything.”

How does that link to life? Is your life in balance? Are you perhaps falling short in some areas while overloading in others? Perhaps you are struggling to make a relationship work because you work too much. Could it be that you never do well at interviews because your social skills are lacking? Could it be that your BJJ skills are falling behind because you spend too much time reading BJJ blogs?

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fenix said...

I think you're on the money with your balance concepts.

Ha, I think I need a bit more balance :-)

We'll have John Will for a seminar in June. I've been two a couple of his seminars before, they were excellent. I've also been lucky to train with John at his school a few times. I'm certainly looking forward to the next seminar. Whatever he has in store for us will be good stuff.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Thank you fenix. The thing is, it's all in your hands :)

When you see John, tease him about the "Right Angle" :) and say hi from me :D

alexyeahdude said...

The two guys on the left in the middle of the first picture are my instructors! They drove down from Paisley to attend. They said it was the best seminar they've ever experienced in any martial art.

The Part Time Grappler said...

@Alex. Shame on you for not coming along :) I echo what they said :)