I had a pretty powerful experience yesterday. I had Divya Siddarth of RadicalXChange in a Decentralized Governance room on Clubhouse, an invite-only, conversation-only audio app that has recently seen explosive growth. I have been blown away by the sheer volume of incredible changemakers from such a wide variety of efforts, from local to governmental and even supernational.

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Divya was recounting the highlights of her recent article Taiwan: Digital Democracy That Works on the incredible use of decentralized intelligence by Taiwan to, among other things, have the best Covid response in the world. Within a few minutes, an incredible array of…


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2020 has just come to a close. A tumultuous year for many and for the world as a whole.

When things got shaky, we all worked together — we stayed home, we kept to social circles and for the most part, we did our part to stem the disease.

In many cases — inevitably too few — governments stepped in to support people. When people stayed home from work to support society, some governments gave some of their people money to cover the bare necessities — food and shelter.

In the places where this did happen, what beautiful symbiosis. People…


Every year between Christmas and New Year’s, I take a week in solitude, isolating myself, ignoring email, avoiding the phone and all other distractions — and I dream. Most years I go away to LA, but just as often I stay here in Toronto and go through a specific practice I’ve put together over the last decade or so. It’s incredibly enriching and something I recommend everyone give themselves some time to do, but it’s not something I’ve ever shared in writing before.

You don’t have to do it around new years — I’m starting late, myself — but I…


I had one of the most wonderful weekends in recent memory.

RadicalXChange, a growing movement/community introducing and testing innovations around everything from economy and currency to voting and democracy to ownership and governance to art and storytelling.

The opening talk was by the digital minister of Taiwan, Audrey Tang who shared the mind-blowing, heartwarming, imagination-sparking successes the people and government of Taiwan are having in working together. The government is leveraging technology to really let people’s voices be heard and taking immediate action to keep people safe and informed — while using humour. It’s a shining example not only of what’s possible with today’s technology, but of what’s possible when a…


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My academy, OpenMat MMA in Toronto.

Covid-19 swept across the world in a flash. Cities and countries quickly got overwhelmed. Schools, events and small businesses shut down and for the first time in history the world acted as one and stayed home.

Martial Arts Schools were some of the first businesses to realize the danger and close. The nature of these schools inherently requires congregation and for now, that is off-limits. With a near ubiquitous unison that closely mirrored the collective action of the rest of the world, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, MMA, Karate, Tae Kwon Do and many more types of schools shut down.

Like…


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In his thought-provoking book A Moral Landscape, Sam Harris discusses the source of altruism.

“The economist Samuel Bowles has argued that lethal outgroup hostility and ingroup altruism are two sides of the same coin. People unite when they have an enemy to fight. His computer model suggests that altruism cannot emerge without some level of conflict between groups. If true, this is one of many places where we must transcend evolutionary pressures through reason because, barring an attack from outer space, we now lack a proper out group to inspire us to further altruism.”

While I agree with his stance…


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One of the seldom discussed benefits of training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is that it helps you remain calm in otherwise terrifying situations. When you regularly have people 20–50 lbs heavier than you who are trained to control and injure people try to impose themselves on you, your stress threshold increases. By compare, facing someone untrained can sometimes feel like fighting a baby. Imagine a chess master, used to seeing, thinking and acting 5–10 moves ahead of skilled opponents facing someone who can at best see their next move*.

*This is not meant to instil false confidence in BJJ as a…


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Soft Violence: Self Defence Against Unwanted Touch

Not all violence includes punching and kicking. There is a difference between defending against someone who wants to “fight” us and defending ourselves against someone crossing boundaries by trying to grab or touch us — those situations we might be concerned within a “women’s self-defence” course. “Soft violence” refers to the spectrum of possible ways in which boundaries may be crossed with unwanted touch. Of course women (and anyone) may encounter both types, hard or soft violence, but each has different dynamics. …


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Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Two Types of Violence

Basic and other safety techniques are a necessary part of training safely and being prepared for accidents in daily life. When most of us think of self-defence however, we are more likely thinking about dealing with violence.

Violence can take different forms — hard violence, the attempt to hit or injure; and soft violence — unwanted touch.

Hard or inflammatory violence includes situations in which a potentially bigger person is getting aggressive and trying to hit or hurt us. …


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Self-Defence can mean many things. From someone trying to hit or hurt us to unwanted touch to being able to stay safe if we accidentally fall on ice. Jiu-Jitsu prepares us for all of these possibilities. The first type of self-defence is not about an opponent.

General Safety: Self Defence Against Life

An often overlooked aspect of self-defence is knowing how to keep yourself safe — from everyday life! We might simply trip and fall while walking down the street or over a patch of ice. Not knowing how to minimize and prevent injury might lead to unnecessary suffering.

When…

Elliott Bayev

Martial Artist, Philosopher, Writer

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