NLP & Martial Arts

 

 

In the literature and studies of self improvement you’ll find the concept of Neuro Linguistic Programming, that’s a mouthful, so it’s commonly referred to as NLP.  NLP is a recent branch of applied psychology, and has high profile proponents in the field of self help.

Originally used in psycho therapy, its concepts and tools found their way into business,and personal development.  Car salesmen were using NLP principals to increase their sales, people in sports and various fields were using it’s concepts to improve their performance.

So what is it?  The words themselves bear extended definitions as well as simplification; Neuro refers to the brain and its relation with mind and body.  Linguistic refers to language and communication systems, how we communicate with ourselves and others. Programming refers to patterns and change.  It’s a process for establishing patterns and making changes that improve our condition.

How can martial artists and use of NLP work together?  Without going into a comprehensive study of NLP, it’s still important to cover a couple of things, one is the Four Pillars of NLP.   They are:

 

  • Outcomes
  • Sensory Acuity
  • Behavioral Flexibility
  • Rapport  

 

Another important element I’ll mention is called “Modeling.”

For Instructors.

Instructors can benefit from understanding what a student’s goals are (outcomes), how students learn (sensory acuity), adaptability to help the students achieve their goals (behavioral flexibility) and, in order to communicate effectively, rapport.

Can instructors do their work without these pillars?  Sure, and they have for a long time using traditional methods.  NLP is a relatively new science, and it offers the potential not only for significant change, but of accelerating the process of change over the older methods.

Traditional instruction methods often rely on a one way street of pitching and catching; I throw material at you and it’s up to you to catch it or not.  NLP invites a partnership between instructor and student, an effective giving AND receiving. There are a myriad of constantly evolving tools that can be used for this, all driven by individual outcomes. This method is more properly called coaching.

A friend and instructor, Neil Ehrlich, a few years ago set up a martial arts school with a few unique concepts going on, and one of them was that we, the instructors, were now “coaches,” not Sensei, Shihan, Sifu, or Grand Master.  “Coach Neil, Coach Jimi, Coach Rick…” We coached to help each student succeed in achieving their goals.  For some it was competitive, others combative, others defense, others just recreational and fitness.

This coaching method of instruction is different from traditional instruction where there is only one way to teach, only one type of student, and only one outcome; the glory of my martial art, or myself.

Using NLP for martial arts instruction doesn’t lend itself well to an en masse approach with an easily followed instructor’s manual.  It’s been said before and bears repeating, not every skilled practitioner is a skilled instructor, they may know the material, but not the effective teaching of the material.

For Students.

On the student side, the individual can facilitate and accelerate the process of learning using NLP.

The Four Pillars apply:

  • Outcomes. Having a goal, knowing the Outcome you expect, and having a driving vision of it.
  • Sensory Acuity.  Receiving, storing, and applying of information important to your goals/outcomes.
  • Behavioral Flexibility. The ability to re-route, to take detours if necessary, on the way to your goals.  If something isn’t working in an appropriate time frame, change might be in order.
  • Rapport.  This is important. An easy definition is “friendliness” or “getting along.”  A deeper definition is: understanding, understanding others, and understanding yourself. It is also about trust and connection.  In a teacher student relationship, it is hard for a student to learn from a teacher they don’t like, or thinks aren’t liked by.  Why?  There isn’t sufficient trust.  If the instructor or coach cannot elicit trust from you, or you can’t give it to that person, move on.  The point here is to learn, to improve, efficiently and speedily, and lack of trust is an obstacle to that.  That’s right, you don’t have to automatically trust every karate/kung fu/martial arts school owner in the world.  Trust is earned, given, and shared.

Modeling.

Another helpful NLP technique is called “modeling.” It’s not quite imitation, it’s more applying from observation the successful behaviors, strategies, and practices, of someone’s exceptional performance.

This modeling is used as a higher starting point to achieving your own excellence.  Modeling acknowledges that we recognize a level of performance excellence or success we want, and we start our own process as close to that as possible, not from zero.  Modeling is a powerful tool in accelerating skill development and performance on the way to your outcome/goals.

As instructors or students, I hope you’ll consider exploring NLP and how it can bring you greater and speedier success in your personal and martial arts development.

Coach Rick

Coach Rick

 

 

 

Criticism: proprietorship in the martial arts

I find the idea of proprietorship in the martial arts amusing. 

The “this is mine and mine alone, you can’t use it unless I approve,” kind of presumptuous ownership, of a muscular skeletal operation that is by nature  optional for most humans with four limbs.   Who “owns” a lead leg side kick, or a forehand slash, or the form Kusanku?  What about the jab/cross/hook combination?

Hapkido holds many throwing techniques in comm...

Hapkido holds many throwing techniques in comm…

Martial arts “styles” with peculiar moves often claim that it is impossible to learn these from anyone outside their approved lineage.  When someone else, through the same trial and error, experimentation, practice, perhaps even  glimpsing the material, that originally developed these moves achieves them, they are disavowed as inauthentic.  As if the moves originated like divine revelation to only one authorized prophet.

There are instances that I respect of imaginative concepts codified for purposes of instruction, but so far as I know, there are no legal patents for martial art moves, techniques, katas, training methods, etc.

I’ll use a Karate example.  Master Jhoon Rhee created a set of katas, forms, set to classical music. The best known of these  are “Exodus” and “Granada.”  While never a Rhee student myself, I learned Granada informally from one his students.  Is it the case that I can never teach the form Granada as I know it, to one of my students, friends, or family? Or that I can not modify it further? No it’s not.  I can, and I would not be in violation of a patent, civil, or criminal law.

Some instructors will not teach martial ideas similar to another’s, but it is done not by penalty of law.  They may say it’s out of respect, and maybe it’s also because they feel they got something better.  But, technically there is no legal violation in teaching or practicing something you learned from someone else, through personal instruction, book, instructional video, movie, or what not.  On the other hand, in my old neighborhood there were several Tae Kwon Do schools within a 2 mile radius, all different names, all teaching the same drills, kicks, and punches.  Why did they not have this sort of conflict?  Most of martial arts has gotten over all that, still some have not.

Film Production: Cinematography

Film Production: Cinematography (Photo credit: vancouverfilmschool)

To compound the issue there are training videos out there by instructors and practitioners, easily purchased, and intended for self training, and many self published instructional videos on you tube.  If you buy one, can you be forbidden to use or teach what is on the videos to others under penalty of law?  No. So what if I do?  Your ego will not be as gratified? Why the did you publish the video?

I have training videos, and a few years ago I contacted one of the instructors/publishers. I told him I had the videos, was training them, and was going to incorporate some of his material into my classes.  His reply: “I am glad you find my dvd’s helpful, if you have any questions just ask… Be Well.”  That’s the attitude to have regarding video material you put out.  In turn, my students know I didn’t originate this material and who did, just that they are getting it from me.

An instructor recently bemoaned the fact that he saw someone wearing a particular styles t shirt, and when he asked the guy where he trained (since he owns the only “authorized” school in the area, being certified by the master) the guy told him something like “nowhere, I video train.”  The instructor from that style is upset, considers that training invalid.  You’d like for him to come train those skills and concepts under your kingdom?  Oh, well.

“The times they are a changing” it’s not like it was 70, 100, 500 years ago.  It’s a smaller and faster world.  It’s the information age. Master so and so sells the training videos, t-shirts, and does short and long seminars worldwide.   I’ve been to his seminars and bought the t-shirts too. So what if the individual trains via videos?  So what if he creates his own training group based on the videos in the area?  We’re buying a video, not into a religious hierarchy and obligation here.

There’s a popular Bruce Lee story about his being challenged by Chinese martial artists for teaching to non Asians.  Bruce had been taught a style of Gung Fu, and was sharing the knowledge with others.  They tried to forbid him from teaching outside of official authorization.  Luckily for most of us, he rejected their claims of racial, cultural, and martial arts authority, and we are better off for it.

There are still territorial, stylistic, cultural, and even familial claims to some sort of inherent proprietorship of martial arts practices.  “Our style’s moves,”  “My family’s Art,” “Okinanwa’s punch”  “Korean kicks”  “Systema movement,”  “Gracie Jiu Jitsu,” and more.  It is good to acknowledge other’s intellectual innovation, creativity, and contributions to the arts, but when the recipient demands it, it becomes ego gratification. That’s not a martial virtue.

Can you imagine this happening with boxing, gymnastics, chess, or any other skill or practice?  “This is the Bobby Fisher technique and you must be certified by an official Chess Master Bobby Fisher school/instructor in order to use it, teach it, or win a match by it.” Preposterous, right?  My point exactly. It’s silly and insecure.  I can freely get and use the U. S. Marine Corps fighting manual, but not Joe Blow’s method of punching with a fist attached to an arm…

It also strikes me as a contradiction; there’s a form of fear evident in this type of proprietorship.  Contradictory, because one of the virtues expected to develop in  martial arts  training is that of overcoming fears.  But there it is: fear, mostly, of losing money.  Fear, of losing influence.  Fear, of lack of recognition.  Fear, of losing “purity.”  Some will talk of sharing the art, while being utterly and monetarily selfish about its dissemination.  I say get over it, the paradigm of exclusivity in martial arts is over.

I could be wrong, but I think somewhere along the line it was lost that these skills and knowledge are for for the individual’s benefit and development, not for the glory of one person’s  legacy or corporation.  Given a little time, that attitude begets idol worship and dogma.

Do your practice, share or hoard as you want, but it’ll be increasingly futile to try to pull the idea on others that this is feudal Japan in the 12th century, and you can lord over knowledge and sharing.

There is also a side argument made sometimes, the one about preserving “quality.”  Some instructors would have you believe they’re concerned with the skill levels of “their” art.  But physical skill is an individual phenomena, not a corporate one.  There are higher and lower skilled practitioners in every art, as well as at every stage of learning.  I believe it has less to do with skill levels and more to do with money and ego.

Another point often made by “owners” of a martial arts is that you cannot learn their stuff if you don’t have loyalty to them.  Bull.  It’s they who need to have loyalty to you if they accept you as a student.  Loyalty to give you the best they can in as quick a manner as possible, because tomorrow is not guaranteed to either instructor or student.

When I teach, I teach like a mini seminar.  Everything I teach is “homework.”  You take it with you, refine and develop it, own it, and pass it on as you wish.  If you come back, I may try to optimize it for you according to my understanding of it, and off you go again. I coach.  My humble material is yours.  I am not the “sole proprietor” of martial secrets,  or a select franchisee of anything martial arts.

Until the patent office issues a “martial arts” patent, neither is anyone else.

Good people interested in martial arts should seek instructors who want to share the art, rather than recruit members to their kingdoms.  I’m glad I’ve found some like that.

POSTSCRIPT:

Really interesting, and for further consideration, I found one other significant discussion of this proprietorship as I call it here, so do click on it: Can martial arts moves be copyrighted?

Warriors. I’m not one.

English: Two Marines from 2nd Marine Aircraft ...

English: Two Marines from 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd) practice Marine Corps Martial Arts Program at Al Asad, Iraq. Here, Corporal Robert Lemiszki performs the shoulder throw technique on Corporal Halie Kennie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So often I hear from martial artists, instructors, and others, talk about being “warriors.”  God help me I think that term is over used, yes, even in the context of martial arts. 

You may argue that martial does mean war, and I can argue back just as righteously that it has more to do with military, and that you are not a warrior unless you are in the distinct “warrior class” of a society, in most modern societies that means the military.

You may be a fighter, but not a warrior.  A warrior is part of a group that fights for more than himself.  They make themselves available full time to die for the protection of others.  He/She fights for the tribe, the village, the country.

Most martial “warriors” I meet these days train part time to fight for the personal glory of a winning performance in a tournament.

I, and many others have been there done that (Marine Corps here, baby)!  I did my turn, I don’t do it anymore, and I’m on to the next stage of my existence.  I’m not a warrior. No shame in that.   I am a householder, an educator, a family man, hopefully a good contributing member of my society.  That also means I have the highest regards for those true warriors that are doing their turn now.

I think it almost diminishes their worth when some un-thoughtful knucklehead calls himself a warrior cause he “likes to fight.”  Martial artists are not necessarily warriors, and I think the qualifier is the “art” part of the term.  Art implies a creative continuity not an expectation of possible death in the process.  Fighting isn’t enough to make you a warrior, it is an availability and willingness to die, for others.

Fight, train martial arts, but respect and honor our true warriors by not trivializing the term.

All the partner drills!

I hope everyone had a great workout today!  Workout, Class, or whatever we call it 🙂

Rick Vargas Kali Silat and Self Defense at Black Lightning Martial Arts.

Joe1 Joe2 R&G T&M

We added new partner drills.  Remember, there are drills for everything, lots of drills, and more being made up every day.  Some practitioners boast how many drills they know,   others, only know a few.  However, the point is not the amount of drills you know, but to develop the skills the drill teaches in order to apply those skills effectively as needed. You can learn those in as few, or as many drills as it takes to learn them. I’m not as concerned about how many drills you memorize as I am about how well you can do what they propose: a good forehand or backhand strike when needed.  To get you that skill we’ll try established and creative drills to get you there.

So, if you have trouble with one drill, don’t be discouraged, there is another you’ll naturally do better at.  I especially like to get the ones that are more “natural” through you, than the ones that take greater effort and time.  The latter become an issue of personal development and perfection, which can be lifelong and beyond the pale of my presence.  The natural ones we can achieve in a few sessions and will be valuable for your self defense.

I was very encouraged  when a master instructor I highly regarded once told me about a particular drill I was struggling with; “I don’t know that drill, but I know every move in it.”  I eventually learned the drill, but better than that, I understood every movement in it.  You can restructure the drill in any order you want and I may not know the new sequence, but I know a thrust, backhand, forehand, and blocks, and I will adapt quickly.

Once you know the moves, the particular drill wont matter.

//

Disappointed at the state of martial arts in my area.

I’m disappointed at the state of martial arts in my area.

But that’s no excuse for the lack of common courtesy displayed by most instructors to a visitor walking in the door.  Of several schools I have visited, the most common reception is…nothing, they may glance your way, then ignore you, presumably because they have a class going on.  Not acceptable.  Courtesy is one of the values they supposedly teach, yet given the opportunity with a visitor and potential customer, the teachers neglect it.  At this point the visitor should be passing negative judgment,  I do, just as unapologetically as their pretension of importance.  I have sat through an entire class without anyone greeting me.  It takes a split second to graciously call out. “Hello, welcome, If you can wait I’ll be with you shortly,” and in a gap, and there are gaps, approach the visitor and offer information, or ask them to stay a little longer so you can speak with them.

Which brings me to my next point; the brusque “Can I help you?”  “Yes, I want three pepperoni pizzas and a bottle of coke.”  It’s a martial arts school, what can they possibly be there for, hmmm?  Usually it comes off as “Whaddaya want?” and sort of standoffish.

How about “Hello, Please come in.  I’m Mr./Mrs. Soandso, the instructor,  your name?  Are you interested in martial arts/do you have any martial arts experience?”  In a courteous and pleasant manner.  Respect and engage the visitor, don’t treat them like they are disturbing you, how dare they, you have a black belt…

I’ve had one guy talk to me for twenty minutes, without knowing a thing about me, or asking me anything other than “you lookin to train, you wanna join our school,” telling me all the martial arts he knows, everything they teach, even telling me “I can teach you how to fight…”  I barely got a word in edgewise that I was just visiting schools to get to know instructors, and thanks, I gotta (want to!) go now.

The teaching and training. It is boxed in with kid stuff, public performance, athletics, and tough guy posturing and focus.  What’s missing?  The part of martial arts that is martial, effective, and for everybody including women, and post 40 year olds.  Back to this later.

Some of these instructors can’t do their own class, they are out of shape and look like they don’t really train much for themselves, they just “teach.”  I think you, as an instructor should maintain a degree a training for yourself.  There is a conundrum though.  It”s tricky, because in boxing for example, the world’s best trainers are older, heavier, and some even have severe medical issues.  What’s the difference?  The boxing trainers don’t have the image presumption that they are qualified because they themselves are great fighters.  They are great “coaches.”

Walk into a common martial arts place and they guy will puff his chest, center his belt, and point to a picture of him in a fighting pose “that’s me!  I can make you like that!”  Most great boxing coaches don’t have that air, or anything like that to prove.  They’re valuable because of the quality of knowledge and skills they impart to their “students.”

Rigidity.  I have been fortunate to have instructors who encouraged you to learn from other instructors and systems, and who themselves drew from other sources and even adapted or innovated.

However, most taekwondo instructors and schools “belong” to one organization or another, and stick to the book of that group, nothing outside the tradition permitted, only one variation of round kick allowed.  Most MMA schools springing up all over the place do not train weapons.  Krav Maga is popular, but would never incorporate Systema or JKD training in their space.

Rigidity also presents itself in how they can train students.

Apart from the “kid stuff” and athletic stuff, most are hard pressed to train the more mature individual.  Someone in their 40’s & 50’s who is more stable and can now do things they’ve wanted to but couldn’t in earlier years.  Those individuals will be out of place physically and psychologically in the atmosphere of the Spartan “fighter” and lots of other “conditioning” training which is set to the standard of someone half their age.  With that individual I would go straight to the art and skills training in the available training time, after all that’s what sets martial arts apart from zumba…

So,  I’m doing my own thing.

I train a small group in the outdoors and privately cause schools won’t make a time slot for what I do.   It’s diverse training, based in Kali Silat, and drawing from JKD, Kickboxing, Systema, and my own experience and innovation.

I try to make sure that the average, mature, non martial arts, non athletic, man or woman can learn what I teach, a little self defense, and feel comfortable while at it.  I train for myself pretty consistently.  I continue to expand my knowledge and develop my skills appropriately.  Most of all, I endeavor to live out the values that I learned from the martial arts, including courtesy, respect, sensitivity, and generosity.  🙂

English: Pictogram of Mixed martial arts

Sumbrada!

Training this Sunday in Campbell Park in Deltona, 1pm.

For the regulars attending the Deltona Sunday in the park training group, this Sunday we’ll be adding a little more intensity, speed, and power to the practice.  We will still train safe, it makes no sense to me to have beginners get hurt before they fully learn a skill, but for something’s you guys and girls are ready to start projecting.  Remember you are still in the compliance stage, not in the really trying to “get” each other stage.  It’s a good way to learn.

That said, we will continue to work sumbrada.  I learned this particular practice from an Instructor named Jimmy Tacosa many, many years ago.  I was impressed with how fast it made you, to reflexively change and adapt to a follow up movement, whether a defense or counter.  Then from Gregg Alland and others, I learned insertions, the disarms and finishes possible at each point.

I hear some people pooh pooh the practice of sumbrada as mechanical.  I don’t see it.  At the early stages you are compliant, but that is the learning process for the drill.  Even then you are continually adjusting things like distance, angles, footwork, breath, gaze…Once you have the drill down you add the insertions.  Because the insertions can come at any point in the drill, it is less mechanical. add to that being able to recounter the insertion it becomes less mechanical.  Add to that being able to shift to dakupt and punyo, hubuds, or any of the sinawalis and you have one of the most dynamic weapons training drills around.

We’ll be having some fun.  Anyone referred by their instructors are welcomed, thats why I’ve visited the local dojos, if you come with one of the regulars as well, or if you drop me an email or a call.

As the instructor I reserve the right to decline anyone on the basis of attitude or behavior.

Rick

Deltona Kali Silat Training Group 1st meeting

It was the first meeting of a group to train in Kali Silat.  We met in Campbell park.  It was the first exposure to Kali training for the participants.  We covered History and background,  5 of abecedario/64 attacks, footwork, sumbrada, sinawali, hubuds, and more.  A wide base but I like to lay a wide base so we can build from any point.