Personal keeping’ on!

High’s and low’s, we all have them.  Getting up from a down is necessary for a long and full life.

I’m looking to accelerate my fitness and conditioning and trying a new thing: a weighted fitness vest!  It’s a total of 20 lbs.  It feels heavier in the hands than on the body.  But I do martial arts with much, much younger people so, not that I’m trying to match individuals 30 and 40 years my juniors, I’m trying to be above average of my own age group.

Shees! Eight rounds is my standard workout:  shadow boxing, heavy bag, stationary bag.   I’m tired and hungry!

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.


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





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.


Some skills for martial arts, and for better living.

Let me recount an episode I like from the book Siddartha by Herman Hesse.

Siddartha by Doze Green at Jonathan LeVine

Siddartha by Doze Green at Jonathan LeVine (Photo credit: C-Monster)

I read this book when I was about 15, probably standing in the aisle of a bookstore somewhere, and it is a story of exploration, growth, development, and ultimate fulfillment.


Jump to the part where he is a young man, an ascetic in the forests, naked except for a loincloth, covered in dirt, lonely and alone.  He sees a procession go by with a stunningly beautiful courtesan being carried aloft.  He’s enamored, blown away by this beautiful, desirable, sexually seductive woman.  This is a new emotion and drive for Siddartha . He is attracted, and knows nothing other than he wants her.


He manages to get her attention, yet she mocks and scoffs at him.  She is curious though.  He is oddly interesting and beguiling.  She taunts him that he is just a forest ascetic and has nothing to give to her, she’s used to affluent young men fawning over her with money, gifts, and gems.  She points out he has no money, clothes, or even shoes, and asks him “what can you do that would buy the pleasures I have to give?”


He promptly answers “I can think, I can wait, I can fast.”  The boy was confident in these intangibles!  Well, long story short, after dazzling her with some poetry, he turns these invisible treasures, into material success and riches, marries Kamala, has a child…that’s another story!


The thing here is that he had the tools to improve himself regardless of circumstance, in any situation of his choosing, from being a forest dwelling ascetic, to being a high powered businessman.


The skills and tools he had were laying in wait for the motivating reason and the opportunity, which by the way, he made by facing the unknown with confidence,also  an essential skill.  He names three of the keys to his future success: critical thinking, time management, and activity!


Next, some details and insights regarding this story, applying the principals to martial arts training and to better living