Semi-Charmed Life


Resistance to Change: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Sometimes it boggles my mind how resistant to change some people are. I don't particularly believe in the saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" because it's this type of lazy thinking that leads to a stifling of innovation. What's scary is that not only are people resistant to change, they are downright venemous about it when someone suggests something new and different.

I recently read a post on a grappling forum I browse where the thread starter was complaining about how he was frustrated by how his instructors often never taught counters to the techniques taught in class. He felt that instructors should teach both the technique and the counter to the technique.

Now, I understand some of the arguments against this. One of the strongest arguments is that if a counter is taught at the same time the technique is being taught, students will be frustrated in class when they can't apply the move because they will be countered all day and will get the impression that it "doesn't work." They would be discouraged from using it because of their frustrated atttempts.

But most of the responses to the the thread starter was along the lines of "STFU you suck, just keep training." "Stop bitching." etc. etc. Everyone felt the TS was an idiot because, over time, you will learn a lot of this through experience on the mats. While I don't disagree that mat time is always the best way to get better, I was shocked that people did not feel that there might be a better way to approach teaching/learning brazilian jiu-jitsu.

I'm not saying I agree that a counter should be taught immediately alongside a specific technique, but why not during the same week? Or the same month?

I brought up that perhaps a more structured and focused approach to teaching might yield greater results. Not necessarily a strict curriculum, but maybe classes could be taught in such a way that a specific concept was focused on each week or each month. This was shot down with a response that basically amounted to "but it won't work!"

The current approach it seems is a haphazard "technique of the day" approach, at least from my experience. Each class, the instructor shows a particular move, but it is never tied in to a move learned the previous day or is seemingly unrelated to the previous lesson. While I have no doubt about the skills or teaching capabilities of any of my instructors, it appears that instructors figure out what they want to teach in class the day of.

Why should brazilian jiu jitsu be any different than a typical school teacher's curriculum? I believe with more thought and planning, bjj can be taught and learned more effectively. One day I hope to prove myself right by teaching.

Of course, not ALL instructors teach like this, and in fact some instructors DO put thought, effort and planning into what they teach their students.

But I want to prove the naysayers wrong. That the generally accepted way of doing things is NOT the best way. Just because world champions have been produced out of the current way of doing things does not mean that the system is perfect. There is always room for change and improvement.

Too many people have the mentality that just because they did things a certain way, that it is the right way to do things because hey, they turned out fine. Suggesting anything otherwise is nothing short of an assault on their character! This is true not just in brazilian jiu-jitsu, but in just about every aspect of someone's life.


A Dream

I woke up feeling great this morning. I had this dream where I met my the love of my life, but I can't remember how she looks like. In fact, I didn't even get her name. We had a brief conversation and the next thing I know, I'm awake.

Usually when I have happy dreams like this, I wake up a little disappointed because it hits me that it was only a dream. None of it was real. I don't know why, but this time I woke up feeling happy and energized.

I hope I find her one day.

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On Living

A little background before I put up the excerpt from The Graveyard Book:

Although the book opens with a scary scene--a family is stabbed to death by "a man named Jack” --the story quickly moves into more child-friendly storytelling. The sole survivor of the attack--an 18-month-old baby--escapes his crib and his house, and toddles to a nearby graveyard. Quickly recognizing that the baby is orphaned, the graveyard's ghostly residents adopt him, name him Nobody ("Bod"), and allow him to live in their tomb. Taking inspiration from Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Gaiman describes how the toddler navigates among the headstones, asking a lot of questions and picking up the tricks of the living and the dead. In serial-like episodes, the story follows Bod's progress as he grows from baby to teen, learning life’s lessons amid a cadre of the long-dead, ghouls, witches, intermittent human interlopers.

Here's a passage that I liked:

Silas said, "Out there, the man who killed your family is, I believe, still looking for you, still intends to kill you."

Bod shrugged. "So?" he said. "It's only death. I mean, all of my best friends are dead."

"Yes." Silas hesitated. "They are. And they are, for the most part, done with the world. You are not. You're alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you're dead, it's gone. Over. You've made what you've made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished."

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On Race

Government exacerbates racial thinking and undermines individualism because its very existence encourages people to organize along racial lines in order to lobby for benefits for their group. That lobbying, in turn, creates animosity and suspicion among all groups, each of which believes that it is getting less of its fair share than the others.

Instead, we should quit thinking in terms of race -- yes, in 2008 it is still necessary to say that we should stop thinking in terms of race -- and recognize that freedom and prosperity benefit all Americans. As Thomas Sowell points out, lobbyists for various racial groups will spend all their time trying to enact programs that specifically  help their own group, even though that group would reap far more benefit from advancing economic freedom in general.

And finally:

We should not be thinking in terms of whites, blacks, Hispanics, and other such groups. That kind of thinking only divides us.

Those were excerpts taken from The Revolution: A Manifesto by Ron Paul. I'm liking the book so far.

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Please Wake Up

2009 is looking to be one of the worst years ever. The bad news just never stops coming.

Last night I found out my dad's friend is in a coma. He was a close friend of my dad's and is like an uncle to me. He's in the construction business, and over the weekend he fell from two stories down while working at a client site. I'm not too sure of the details, but from what I know he still has not woke up.

Sam, or "Tor Sook" as my brothers and I used to call him, was very kind to our family. When I was in college he let me work for him and taught me a lot. He used to pay me a wage of $500 a week, and considering I knew NOTHING about construction and probably only provided very marginal help to him, it was an enormous sum of money. He grew up in the same village as my dad. They went through the same struggles when they were younger, and made their way from China to Hong Kong to America together. He and my dad were close, so I guess he was doing my dad a big favor by having me work for him. I worked for him for 2 straight summers.

I plan to go see him this weekend. I hope he wakes up soon.

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