The Next Belt

It’s both a pitfall and a hallmark of jiu-jitsu practice that when it’s time to graduate to your next belt, you feel uncertain and insecure. You may say, “Uh-oh…am I really ready?”, or, “I don’t deserve this”, or, “there’s all these people who are better than me…”.  You may say, “Uh-oh…am I really ready?” Or, … [Read more…]

High Standards

In the martial arts tradition, we look to one another for support. Part of the benefit of having more experienced students around us is so we can reflect on our own experience. We get a gauge of how we’re doing. But we’re not looking to measure ourselves solely in relation to where we are in … [Read more…]

Discomfort and Doubt

A lot of traditions, both martial and contemplative, say that there comes a time in your practice when you’re surrounded by doubt. It manifests as never being completely sure that you’re seeing the entire picture. It’s not exactly a matter of distrust, but a sense that we can question everything – down to the most … [Read more…]


One of the things I like to work on in my practice is acknowledging my teacher. Not just because it’s polite, but because in the Japanese martial arts tradition the student teacher relationship is is one of the most important relationships there is. It’s up there with the parental relationship. I want to honor that … [Read more…]


We encourage all practitioners to love martial art practice just for the practice alone. It happens that people start with this sensibility, but grow more short-sighted over time. They feel that they need an outside stimulus in order to motivate them to practice. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything wrong with this at first, but … [Read more…]

Finding Control

When I’m with a partner that I’m not sure about, or that might be a little bit bigger than me, or younger than me, I always begin with inside control. That’s my primary strategy, the principle that I start with when paired with anybody I don’t know well. It’s a strategy that puts control first, … [Read more…]

Going Uphill

We have to go uphill every day, at least a little bit. We may have flat days where our equilibrium is never upset and we’re right in balance, or we may have downhill days where everything goes easily. In either case, we still have to find a challenge to engage with, in order to build … [Read more…]

Musashi’s Middle Mind

In the “The Book of 5 Rings”, Musashi encourages the reader, the sword-master, to stay in the middle mind. His recommendation is not to let the mind move too far in any one direction, but to make decisions from a central place. And that place in combat is where all discoveries are made. It’s a … [Read more…]