Sunday, June 22, 2008


...about my training journal. And by that, I don't mean this blog. Instead, I'm talking about the actual notebook that I scribble in every now and then.

I've got this thing where I'm mad about brand new notebooks. I love everything about them: from the way the pages smell, to the sound they make when you flip the pages, to the feel of high-quality paper. It's especially the case for high-end notebooks, like the kind with the built-in rubber band, so they don't flop open, and the pocket in the back for loose sheets of paper.

I just hate writing in them.

It kills me when I have to start writing in a really nice book, because it's like I've just condemned it. Its future is now etched in stone. If I rip out a page so I can use the book for something else, I've just taken away a little part of its soul.

The worst part, though, the WORST part? There was a time when I was absolutely horrified of writing anything in my notebook about my BJJ classes until I had - and I know how this will sound - positively every aspect of every technique ready to put into print. Never mind the ignorance of assuming this was even possible. Let me explain.

Guy obsessed with getting everything positively right the first time with a notebook + constantly evolving system of combat sports = not fun. To illustrate, imagine the following internal dialogue:

"OK, right. So. I'll just start writing the alphabet in this book, with my ballpoint pen. So...whatever I write...will be permanent. So I need the first page for 'A', the second page for 'G' and the third for 'Y'...OK I can do this, I can do this, just breathe. Just breathe. Relax. I'm just going to write down some letters in a book. In order. But great Caesar's ghost, what happens if THERE'S A LETTER BETWEEN A AND G?!?!"

You get the idea, I hope.

Yes I know, there's something a little wrong with me. I mean, I'm no Tony Shalhoub. I think this is the only thing I ever really get all OCD over.

I've had the same book since last september. I started writing in it after last year's Australian BJJ Nationals, when I was on the train to Geelong for a visit to John Will's gym. The train was really jerky so the writing for the first 10 pages or so is frighteningly sloppy.

When I got back home I found some old notes from a seminar earlier in the year. I didn't want to lose them, so I copied them into the book. Pretty soon I started using it to take notes on CMD classes. Thoughts and things I had learned about coaching also made it into the notebook. I ended up writing in the book from both ends, so now there's just a bit of space left in the middle.

I'm trying to save enough space to make it last until after this year's Australian Nationals, at least, so I've been going back and looking for pages where I didn't write on both sides of a page to scribble in the latest notes.

When I look back at things I wrote just a few months ago I see rubbish and I wonder what I was thinking. That's OK, because I can flip just a couple of pages and be reminded of something I may have forgotten about, and have it become a meaningful addition to my game after some drilling. And who knows, a few months from now I may look back through my notebook and yesterday's 'awesome' will have become today's 'this is a joke, right?'.

I can, with some embarrassment, trace the progression of my game through the kind of notes I take, which for me is really cool to think about. It's also helpful that having a notebook does not mean I can just totally forget about stuff. In addition to the mat time I spend drilling something, I've also taken the time to write it down, which makes me think about it and analyse it enough to be able to articulate it.

The purpose of this is to say, just get a book and write in it. To an extent, it doesn't matter what you write, just as long as you get started. Write down things you learned in class, things you feel, things you think won't work, whatever. I mean, not to sound facetious, but if I can do it, I think anyone can. The trick is, if you are even half as obsessive as I am, don't think about it...start writing before your OCD defense mechanism knows what hit it.

It also helped that my notebook is ringed, and not bound with glue. It drives me absolutely up the wall when the spine on one of my books is damaged.

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