Inverted Gear Blog / Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

How to develop willpower and discipline.

Willpower is a vital ingredient in the recipe of success.  No matter what your goals are, you are going to have to have guts to make your dreams a reality.  Willpower is basically just a daily commitment toward your goals, it means that you are in it for the long haul and that you can say no to instant gratification in order to protect your long term visions.  So we all know dedication and willpower are important but how do you develop it?  Why do some people unwaveringly decline fun, food, and friends for their priorities while others struggle to turn down seconds on desert?

Know what you want, why you want it, and what it will take to get it.

Willpower and dedication don’t develop quickly, they are personality traits that are forged and grow stronger with each conscious effort to turn something down for the greater good, but it all has to start within yourself.  Willpower starts with desire; desire for change, desire for something better than what you have at the moment.  You have to see the value of what you want, you have to know what you are willing to sacrifice to make your vision a reality, you have to know that times will be hard, and that you are willing to see it through to the bitter end.  Having a realistic expectation of the kind of work it will take to accomplish your goals will also better prepare you for the sacrifices you will need to make later.


Start small:  Set small goals and get them done.

Rather than making your first goal something that will take you years to accomplish, start small.

Your short term goals should be measurable and should be accomplishable quickly (think within a few months tops), then set daily and weekly goals that will hold you accountable.  For instance, rather than just setting a goal to lose 100lbs within a year, set smaller goals to hold you accountable.  Try to lose 1.5-3lbs per week, if you do the math it adds up to roughly 75-150 lbs in a year.  Not only will you build more confidence and see results sooner, but you can begin achieving your goals on week one, this is going to keep you going when times get hard.  Instead of thinking of the 98.5lbs you have left to lose this year, you’ll be focused on the 1.5lbs that you have already lost.

Hold yourself accountable to your daily actions.

Will power comes down to consistent daily action.  As you start doing the things you need to do each day to reach your goals, you will also start saying no to the things that might distract you from reaching them.  As you learn to say no to “negative” influences in your life and learn to say yes to the actions that will make you successful you will become more firm in your resolve to meet your goals.  By starting small and hitting your goals consistently you will experience the positive reinforcement of success, you will begin to see that bypassing the instant gratification of temptation and standing strong will offer much more fulfillment and reward than the little distractions of life.

There is no secret to developing will power, you find something you are passionate about, you make goals and hold yourself accountable to their fulfillment, and as you start to see success it gets easier and you can reach farther.  No one is born with the ability to be a disciplined machine, it is something that is learned, over time, step by step.
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Breaking through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu plateaus.


Plateaus are a normal part of development.  No matter what craft you are trying to master it is normal to experience times of rapid growth, times of stand still, or even times where you feel regression of skill.  Though these tough times can be hard to handle, there are some things you need to know to help look to light at the end of the tunnel.


Don’t be anorexic


In an excellent book called The art of learning, the author Josh Waitzkin speaks of several different principles, the first being to invest in loss.  The idea of investing in loss seems counterproductive, but when you take a look at the bigger picture you will see that often times it is failure or loss that causes us the greatest growth.  Being afraid of failure can cause us to stop trying new things, stop developing new skills, and ultimately stop growing.  


This idea can be summed up in a great visual provided by Josh in the book, in it he compares a person to a hermit crab; inside the shell of their comfort zone, they are safe from danger, however, the crabs growth is limited to the size of its shell.  In order to get bigger and mature the crab must temporarily leave its shell to find a larger one.  During this period the crab is exposed to danger, but it is vital to the growth of the crab.  Not seeking personal growth can be likened to a crab refusing to eat for the fear of finding a new shell.


To sum up this idea, if you are a crab, your shell is your comfort zone.  This is most likely your “A game”, your best moves.  If you stick to what feels safe all the time, then eventually you will have learned all of what you can learn in those positions.  Trying something new that goes along with your current gameplan may get you caught in a submission, but it will allow you to start making mistakes again, and once that happens you can start making improvements.  Sometimes when you get stuck its best to just try something completely different, really go through the tough periods of trying something new, who knows, it might end up being your favorite new position.


Remember that life is cyclical


Life runs in cycles.  Everything in life has an opposite, and this duality is part of what makes life what it is.  Mountains have valleys and peaks, waves have crests and troughs, stories have conflicts and resolutions.  Many times when life seems at its absolute worst, thats when a major positive change really occurs.  Staying positive through a plateu can help you get through it faster, just having faith and knowing that the stock market is bound to go back up after a fall will help you through the hard times.  I can’t even remember how many times  I have felt like my Jiu-Jitsu has stopped progressing, only to experience an intense burst of inspiration and growth shortly after.  If you find yourself at the bottom, start looking up.


Have faith in the process, know that bad things often proceed the best things in life.  Invest in loss and don’t be anorexic, always look for opportunities to grow instead of focusing on immediate results and success is sure to follow.


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Is there an I in team after all? Initiative might just be that hidden I.


Today I would like to talk about teamwork and how a spirit of unity can create an environment of growth for all of those involved.  Having a great team around you will lift you up, but you don’t have to wait for one to pop up around you if you don’t have one already.

There is an old saying that there is no “I” in team, I personally believe this is completely false.  First, of course people are internally motivated, our motivation comes from desires that are unique and exist in all of us.  You are an individual, but you must recognize that you are not greater on your own then you are as a part of the team.  The weight of one piece of a machinery, cannot outweigh the entire machine; however, you are a part of the team and you must realise that you are a vital part of it.  Whether you choose to contribute nothing (this may make you more of a burden than an asset), or whether you choose  to take responsibility, you will affect your team.

You have to realize that being part of a team requires a certain level of responsibility from you as an individual.  Being on time, keeping commitments, holding each other accountable, communicating, self examination, and picking each other up are all important responsibilities of being on a great team.  A team spirit creates a true environment of synergy, which is to say that everyone involved works together in such a way that the sum of all parts has a much greater result.

Let’s see a practical example:  You and a training partner on your team start doing drilling and positional training together each day.  He has a very good x-guard, and a strong pressure passing game, he has strong submission defense, but has a hard time finishing submissions.  So he has 3 strengths, and one major weakness off hand.  That is 3-1=2 if you we look at it in a very objective way.  The other partner has a highly dangerous open guard, he has strong submissions especially from guard, he has excellent dynamic movement, but weak overall passing.  That is again 3-1=2.  So individually they have 4 net strengths between them.  Now if they start working together partner 1 challenges 2 with his x-guard, increase his guard recomposition by pressure passing, improves his submission finishes by defending submissions, and gets vital tips from partner 2 on finishing submissions more effectively.  Additionally partner 1 learns to defend submissions and sweeps from the open guard, improves his passing, learns to better tie up a dynamic opponent.  This is only the net benefit to one of the partners, but we can see just by adding his partner to the equation he has gained 8 new useful skills and experiences.  1+1=8 in this case, this is synergy at work.

Synergy is not a complicated concept, it just means that though you have value and responsibility as an individual on a team, the net impact you can make through a team is much greater than the impact you could make alone.  Not only will you make more impact on others, but they will also impact you and allow you to improve as well. If you can begin to see yourself as a vital component of the team, take pride in helping, and open yourself to learning in a true team environment then the sky becomes the limit for the growth that you can experience together.

It only takes the hard work of one person to change an environment, Ghandi is a perfect example.  If you don’t have the team you want, then start working on yourself, learn as much as you can every day, push others, help your teammates every time they ask you a question.  Begin by building up others, and they will be there to build you up later on.   “Be the change you wish to see in the world”

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Begin with the end in mind


There is an old adage that the end is just the beginning, while this is true in the sense that life exists in frequently opposing forms (night and day, joy and sorrow, sickness and health), it also has a radically different and profound meaning.  I want you to consider that its possible that every person who has ever achieved happiness or success had to start with the end in mind to achieve it.  While it's true that the happiness is achieved more from the journey than reaching the destination, its the idea of being on a set course, the idea of living a life with purpose that is truly fulfilling to us on a deeper level.


This leads me to the idea, to begin with the end in mind.  In 7 Habits of highly effective people, we learn this important principle to direct the course of our lives.  To begin with the end in mind means this, imagine yourself in 10 years, see yourself and try to envision as many details as possible.  What do you look like?  How do you act?  What are you doing, and what great things have you achieved?  When you imagine your perfect future, what are you doing, where are you living, and what makes you who you are?  Focus deeply on this dream, use your imagination and try to really see these things before you.  After you can clearly see the end point, you can start planing to make it reality.


Imagine your life as a boat about to set out to sea on voyage.  There are two ways your boat can depart and you have to make a choice.  The first choice is to hop on board with no supplies, lower the sails, and let the wind take you where ever it leads you.  The second choice is to begin with the destination in mind; in this scenario you load the boat with all the supplies you will need, you plot out the course you will take, and you plan for contingencies.  Which boat would you rather be on?  The one with a plotted destination, or the one floating randomly through the wind.  It should be obvious that almost certainly the first ship will never make it safely to shore, while the second has a much greater chance of letting down its anchor at its destination.


Imagine building a house with no blueprint, or going on a vacation with charted route or GPS.  The first step in any undertaking is to decide what you want to do, or where you want to go, then you decide how is best to get there, and how to make it happen.  If you you aren't going anywhere, that is where you are going to end up.


The same applies with your Jiu-Jitsu, which ship is your game?  Are you out to sea, just flowing in your rolls lost in the wind, or do you have a plan for improvement?  When you really want to improve in Jiu-Jitsu you need to ask yourself these questions:  What do you want your game to look like, what moves do you want to do, what are your weaknesses, what are your strengths, what needs the most improvement?  If you are not willing to look inwardly at yourself and start taking responsibility for your own progress no one else will do it for you.  If you want results, progress, and success you have to have a plan, this means not showing up to class with nothing in mind and just trying to win every roll.  It means having a goal each class, a position to work on, a problem to fix.  


Whether you believe it to be true or not, your life is what you make it.  If you see nothing but bad, it will be nothing but bad, and if you see nothing but good, you will have nothing but good.  Its up to you, you can take action, you can plan your course, you can direct your life in whatever direction you choose.  Though things may not, and will not, go exactly as you have planned, you stand a much better chance of living your dreams and achieving your goals if you take each step with those dreams in mind.


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How to make the most of an injury.


To a dedicated Jiu Jitsu goer an injury can feel like a death sentence.  BJJ is more than just a hobby for many of us, it becomes a way of life, an extended family, a source of potent inner happiness and peace.  Sometimes though, an injury will sideline us, even in the times we feel the best we are still vulnerable to this possibility.


Injuries can vary greatly in severity, amount of time off, and interventions for the injury.  Outside of the normal medical interventions (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, physical

To a dedicated Jiu Jitsu goer an injury can feel like a death sentence.  BJJ is more than just a hobby for many of us, it becomes a way of life, an extended family, a source of potent inner happiness and peace.  Sometimes though, an injury will sideline us even in the times we feel the best we are still vulnerable to this possibility.


Injuries can vary greatly in severity, amount of time off, and interventions for the injury.  Outside of the normal medical interventions (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs)  there is often not much you can do to speed recovery of an injury, but there are some things you can do to help from losing your mind while you are off the mat.


1.  Do EVERYTHING your doctor tells you!  

Ice as much as possible, use compression wraps and elevate the area as much as possible.  Also if you are able to do any sort of rehab, therapy, stretches to help the injury recover, be diligent and don't be lazy!  Doing these things will get you back to 100% sooner than anything else.  I can't stress #1 enough.


2.  Keep using your mind during the "acute phase".

With most injuries there will an "acute" phase, where you will not be able to train at all.  Depending on severity this can be anywhere from a day or two, up to several months.  During this time you can do many different things to occupy your mind and keep progressing in BJJ: watching competition footage, instructionals, or watching class can all give you that BJJ buzz without hurting you further.  Start a journal, try to remember moves you had a hard time with, or submissions you got caught with, watch your favorite blackbelts in competition and look for those spots on video; take notes and save your notebook for when you are feeling better.


3.  Ease into controlled training as possible.

As you are gradually able to do more with the injured area, start integrating SLOWLY back into training.  You can do many things without going full out in sparring.  For instance: drilling, specific training, flow rolling, cardio, and strength training.  


Cardio and strength training in this stage become an excellent compliment to your rehab/physical therapy.  These can both get you back into fighting shape, and help increase your confidence in the stability of the area you injured.  However you want to be careful not to make weights too heavy, ease back in slowly just to help get your body working again.  


BJJ wise, drilling and specific training can get you back on the mat the most quickly.  Drilling can be an excellent tool for someone coming off of an injury.  Drilling can be easily controlled and is highly predictable, which makes it much safer than live sparring.  In drilling you control the pace, intensity, and range of motion of your movements.  Don't do anything that hurts or causes discomfort.  You can also use specific training to ease back into sparring gradually, for instance if you have a rib injury, you could do some light sparring with a partner and have specific objectives;  avoid instances of twisting your body, or having high pressure on top of you, work your passing and if you get swept start over.


4.  Getting back into sparring.

As you get back into full classes and sparring the most important thing is to listen to your body.  Avoid pain or discomfort, ice after training or if swelling becomes increased.  Let your instructor and training partners know you have a recovering injury.  If you feel pain just tap, start over in a place that doesn't hurt, or take the rest of the night off training.  At this point you have come a long way, its important to preserve the healing you have already done.


Stay positive most of all, know that all things come to pass.  Eventually you will be better again, take the time off of training and try to make the most of it in every way possible.  Listen to your body and get back to training slowly!


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