Habits and Principles: Aikido, BJJ, GoT boardgame

Thinking about my habits lately and polishing the little things that I do in everyday life. Doing it now rather than doing it later as a guiding principle. Usually when I get thoughts in my head, I tend to go ‘oh yeah I’ll do that after I’m done with this other thing I’m doing now’ and then I’ll forget it. What I try to do now is act on the thought as soon as it comes up by at least writing it down or indeed acting on the thought as soon as it comes up without hesitation or procrastination. Thoughts and actions tend to lead to other thoughts and actions however, but rounding off projects as they come and finishing things off 1 by 1 tends to be better for concentration and focus.

With habit building, it’s about the little things that build up which determine a long term outcome over a collection of years. I mean this in the little things you do, like where you leave your phone, wallet and keys at home, but also the bigger things like what kind of lifestyle you’re building for yourself by choosing which institutions you associate yourself with. For example, my strongest institutions would be the garden, my work and most recently, the dojo.


Image source: http://crowdink.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Aikido-Image-Source-Siamstarmma.jpg

I decided to throw myself into the deep end with Aikido last week, training on every possible day (5 days/week). This actually worked out great and I’m glad I didn’t have any work to prevent me from training actually. On some of these last nights, I sleep really short hours but I still have a lot of energy for the day. I go to bed on time but just end up waking up in the middle of the night feeling too energized to go back to sleep. Better to get out and do something. On other nights, I simply can’t get to sleep until its like 4.00am, although I’ll wake up at 8.00am to prepare myself for Aikido training. That still works out as I don’t struggle against my alarm and actually jump out of bed straight into my morning routine. Last Sunday I had that, but the dojo was still closed as training started half an hour later than I thought. I decided to head to a nearby cafe to escape the wind and the cold and had a coffee. I then proceeded to meditate in my chair for the next 15-20 minutes until training started. That was actually a great experience and found myself wondering why I didn’t do this more often. I felt a lot more energized after my meditation session and had another great Aikido training day.

On Saturday (the day before), I went to 2 training’s: in the morning Aikido and in the afternoon Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Aikido is more technique based and there’s a  lot of falling and rolling involved. If you have a lot of body weight, I can imagine that this could be a workout in itself. That is not the case in my case, so I’m almost always up for more after an Aikido session.


Image source: http://fightplanet.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/brazilian-jiujutsu3.jpg

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is intense. It starts with some warm ups, then some applied techniques and finishes with sparring. Sparring is always a fight for survival. I’m getting better though. You win some, you lose some. The flexibility I’ve trained through Shaolin Kung Fu has given me a decisive edge against my opponents. People always make comments about how flexible I am which makes applying certain techniques to me a little different than when applying them to an opponent with ‘standard’ flexibility. With BJJ training, I feel a lot more sore than I do with Aikido because I’m exerting myself a lot more. I find that Aikido is a great way to rehabilitate myself after training BJJ however, as I can roll my sports injuries out through some good Aikido warm ups and techniques.

What I’ve realized through my training is that I tend to overextend a little too fast. The principle of ‘safety first’ applies and I have to learn how to control my excitement: cover my base before I attempt to counter. This principle applies in both love and war… and also the Game of Thrones board game I played on Sunday.


Image source: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/G/01/toys/detail-page/c26-1589947207-2-s.jpg

So yes, I played Game of Thrones again this weekend. I was playing as House Martell (orange) and things were going well on my end as I was targeting House Tyrell (green) to the West and made a peace treaty with House Baratheon (yellow) to the North before we even started playing. I was doing great with initial battles, gaining control over the seas of my enemy, which allowed a backdoor attack into his base. My initial plan was to wipe out my neighbor with sheer force but through some strategic blunders in my defense, I crippled myself and found myself losing ground on the homefront whilst being surrounded in enemy territory without backup from the mainline… it was a sort of Operation Market Garden situation if you know your World War II history. This left me open to third party attacks where I was strong armed by the House Lannister (red) navy cutting off my main fleet from my base and leaving them useless for the rest of the game.

The guiding principle that would’ve saved me was ‘safety first’. Although its important to take some risks to reap those rewards, don’t overdo it. Try not to repeat the same risky moves you make, as your opponent will be expecting it… especially if it was successful. It’s like poking your head out the same window when you’re fighting against a sniper. What I did well at first was ‘meeting the enemy’, but I fell through the floor by being over excited about my backdoor attack which I could’ve easily stalled to initiate later in the game. By being too focused on my attack, I overlooked a vital move which could’ve held the line for my defense.

Through me and my neighbors unsuccessful campaigning against each other, we were left weak against House Lannister who ended up taking 2 easy castles from House Tyrell and 1 easy castle from me to end up winning the game with 6 castles in the last round.

Looking back, I should’ve let me neighbor stay strong enough to offer some form of resistance against his other neighbor. This would allow me the opportunity to support him in battle or stab him in the back when the opportunity would arise, and only then. Also, I could’ve initiated contact with the Lannisters instead of the other way around. Even though I would’ve lost this battle, I would’ve been able to play some special cards which would’ve allowed me to mess up their influence track and make them an easier enemy to defeat in other ways.

Playing Game of Thrones is a great way to spend a cold, wet, windy Sunday because its not all just about killing each other in those 6 hours of gameplay, but also just enjoying the company of other board game nerds, having some nice food/snacks and being warm inside drinking tea. I still haven’t won a single Game of Thrones game (except the ones I’ve played online) but I like the analysis of each game to see how I influenced the outcome… and to play better next time.

I find overlapping concepts in everything I do and its interesting to see how the dots are connected. There are certain underlying principles that come back in every aspect of my life and through doing different activities and living life, I find myself getting a better grasp of these underlying principles by noticing patterns that run throughout. I also like seeing things through principles coming out of East Asian philosophies such as Yin and Yang and the Chinese Five Elements Theory of water, fire, earth, metal and wood. I can often induce the actions back to the principle, but its not always easy to deduce an action from the principle, especially if we forget the principle or fail to center ourselves on a principled way of being. There’s a lot of stories to be told using these principles however, and it is my hope to express and tell those stories through living my life.

Hope you’re having a good day and see you on the other side 😉

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