Gary 'Smiler' Turner's Blog

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Thursday, 9 December 2010

Pain Killers

We often take pain killers for headaches, injuries, aches and pains. But have you ever wondered what pain killers actually do? They are not the same, and each has different affects on the body. And different side effects too.

If you haven’t read my previous blog posts on pain, please do so, as they explain the four sources of pain – learned behaviour, repressed emotions, risk of damage to tissue, and actual damage to tissue. It will provide some nice background reading to understand the remainder of this blog post a little better.

Most pain killers are designed to interrupt the process of nociception. That is, the nerve system that detects damage or risk of damage to tissue through the nociceptors (nerve endings), travelling up the body to the brain where pain is received.

Aspirin and ibuprofen shut the perception of pain down at their source. They stop the signal from reaching the nerves that transport the signal to the brain. They block the nociceptors from ever receiving the stimulus of damage or risk of damage. The nerve endings are blocked from receiving the signal. Aspirin and ibuprofen also are anti-inflammatory. Ibuprofen is considered as a safer alternative to aspirin with fewer side effects.

Paracetamol is still not fully understood. It works by inhibiting the signal of pain in the spinal cord and brain, severing a vital link in the chain of pain signalling. If the signal doesn’t reach the brain, there is no signal to create the perception of pain.

Opiates such as codeine and morphine again work by inhibiting the signal of pain in the spinal cord and brain, though through a different process. Their use prevents the signal of pain reaching the higher levels of the brain where pain is perceived. Therefore, no signal, no perception of pain.

There are many other ways of relieving ourselves of pain, many of which I have described in my previous blogs in respect to pain management. Drugs are just one option to take.

Monday, 6 December 2010


I’ve been having a chat with a friend who is neurologically minded. We’ve concurred that most people don’t understand our basic responses to a threat. In fact, even though I’ve trawled through hundreds of academic papers and studied numerous courses it is still hard to get definitive answers as to what happens, and why. So here’s a very brief breakdown, not complete, and just a generalisation, to give you a better understanding.

The freeze is the first reaction we have to a stimulus which may be perceived as a threat. Adrenaline is released throughout the brain which closes down unnecessary activity. The areas of the brain which stay alert are those based on orienting and focusing, like a spotlight on the stimulus. This provides unconscious attention – arousal, orientation and focus. Our attention is focused and orientated on the source of the stimulus to discover if it is a threat

If the threat is perceived, and then increases, we move onto the flight and fight response. Firstly we respond by flight, moving directly away from the source of the threat. As an extreme example this is where people can go into a blind panic, turn and run straight into a wall. If this doesn’t work we escalate through to fight, where we respond to fight off the perceived threat.

If this still isn’t perceived as protecting us from the threat we move to fear. This is a different kind of freeze than earlier, one where fear or terror grips us as we internalise in our minds, our bodies frozen. The emotions you can read on the face are quite different between freeze and fear.

And if fear still doesn’t release the threat then we faint, shutting down all but our life support systems. We drop to the floor.

So in summary we escalate our responses to a perceived threat. Working first from freeze, then to the fight and flight response, before fear, and lastly fainting. Our brain and body activities are different in each of the responses, and work in order.

If you take the time, like I have, to study each of these responses you can apply the knowledge to so many areas of daily life and work. For security, you will be able to perceive if a threat is imminent from a person. For negotiations you can identify whether you are inducing stress or providing relief in the person(s) you are negotiating with. For interrogation or police work you are better placed to identify if a subject is lying. And for fighters like me you can induce these responses in your opponents to exploit them for your own gain.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A Rugby Advantage

Last week I was working with a high-level rugby player. During our work I realised that there was much that Rugby can learn from the fight sports, and vice-versa. In particular my studies of breathing patterns in fighting have a direct correlation for Rugby, and this player had not been made aware of breathing patterns prior to our discussion.

I use the study and application of my opponent’s breathing to give me a massive advantage during fighting. I use it to let me know when it is safe for me to attack and to know when he is about to attack me. In Rugby the distances between the players mean that they cannot quite utilise the complete approach that I use – however there are several direct applications for Rugby.

Go for a walk. As you walk, notice which step you breathe out on. If you are right handed it will be usually your right foot going forward. I’ve tested this on 100’s of people and as a generalisation the majority of people step forward with their dominant side whilst breathing out. There are loads of reasons why they do this, and for this blog post the important thing is that they are breathing out as their dominant foot is moving forward.

Conversely, this means that they breathe in when their non-dominant side is going forward. This is the key for the application of breathing for Rugby – it is possible to know someone’s breathing patterns by which step they place forward.

I attack during fighting when my opponent has started to breathe out. Actually, I attack several breath patterns before then, and that’s my little secret. But for the purposes of this blog post take it that when an opponent is breathing out they are committed to that breath and then need to breathe in again in order to react to your attack. By attacking as they are breathing out you are giving yourself a time advantage over their reaction.

In Rugby you need to be as effective as possible when tackling. It would be great if you can tackle on the opposing player’s ‘off’ breath, meaning they are shocked and less able to respond. They will go down heavier, be more likely to be winded, and therefore less likely to re-engage that flow of play.

It is my suggestion to time your tackle for best effect just as the right foot is landing. This means that the breath is almost all the way out. Hitting them with a tackle now means they need to breathe in again, in order to expel the air as they react. Yet the impact stops them breathing, and if you tackle them with application to their lower stomach, the last little bit of air may be forced out of their lungs also, winding them. This also helps to induce the ‘freeze’ element of the stress response (freeze, flight, fight, fear, and feint).

So, with the majority of people being right handed, a good rule of thumb is to time your Rugby tackle to the moment the right foot hits the ground for best effect.

Of course, this example is only the ‘bare bones’ of the application of the study of breathing on Rugby. I am also developing several models of the application of breathing within Rugby, including the timing of drives in a scrum for example.

I wonder how many applications of breathing you can identify for use in other sports as well?

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Client Approach

I always check up on my hypnotherapy clients, and often get testimonials sent through. This one arrived this morning, and I thought it was really nice! It’s a nice perspective on how I like to work.

"I have been to a few therapists previously for a variety of issues and their approach was always to keep either me or my issues at arms length as if they were scratching the surface and providing me with a temporary fix to long term issues and they did have varying degrees of temporary success.

Gary's approach is totally different; it’s a lot more interactive. He encourages you to talk about your challenges and asks subtle but targeted questions enabling you to come up with the answer you didn’t even know you had. As opposed to being prescriptive and standoffish his approach is a lot more collaborative. The buzz word "empower" is very often over used but Gary empowered me to come to the right decisions and it has been a permanent fix.

I am aware my challenges will always be there in one form or another and Gary has given me the tools and empowered me with these skills to deal with these issues and if they do re-appear I am equipped to deal with them so they no longer impact my life."

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front, although this will be changing soon! My life has got very busy and there’s lots of exciting news coming, so that means lots of informative blog posts on their way!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Motivation and Encouragement

A friend of mine just emailed me to say she was starting to do ‘BodyPump’ three times a week starting today, and asked if I had any advice or could give any encouragement. So I gave some quick advice, and think its relevant to most people starting to train, as well as those who already do.

Here it is:

“Find somewhere quiet, close your eyes, and see yourself how you will be in 6 months time if you stick on the training plan...notice every detail about yourself, your posture, your health, your skin, your expression, your clothes, your physique...everything...and notice the expression on your face...really make it REAL…add as much detail as possible…

And when you have made that image as real as you can, in as much detail as possible, then step 'inside' your body...see through your own eyes, hear with your own ears, and feel what it will feel like to have this body in 6 months time...really experience this body...notice what it would be like...and notice how good it feels...every part of it…and remember this feeling...

And then you know what you are working towards...what will be if you keep on track...and let that be your motivation to keep going consistently...and the harder and cleverer you work...the more you follow the instructions of your trainer...the more commitment you show...the quicker it will be...

What do you think of that?

Oh, here's another tip - during training, when working on an exercise, don't think of 'how many' or 'how long', just think 'technique' and work on each and every technique getting it perfect - your trainer will take charge of how you are training...

So get out there and enjoy it!!! And keep me posted with progress!!”

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Don’t Dream – Act!

Whether I am working in Hypnotherapy, Personal Training, Business Consultancy, and even when giving Seminars, I find a common theme keeps happening:

People focus on what they want, and not on the how and what they need to do in order to get what they want. And sometimes they don’t even get as far as knowing what they want – they remain stuck in what they don’t want.

For example, think about “I want a million pounds.” That’s a great want, a desirable want. And it is achievable, and many people dream it. And yet why do so many people not achieve it?

In my experience people concentrate too much on what they want and not on the important parts – the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ that helps them actually achieve that want. Miss this out and you can want all you like, you’ll probably never achieve it. You’ll remain a dreamer.

So what do you actually want? And with that want, have you even worked out on the how and what you need to do in order to actually achieve it?

In Hypnotherapy clients come to me wanting the end to their depression, anxieties, phobias, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, performance issues amongst so much more – and the majority of the time they are focusing on what they don’t want. Some focus on what they do want. But very few actually focus on the all important journey to get to where they want.

Another example is within fighting. An example I often demonstrate during my fight seminars is how people tend to concentrate on what they don’t want rather than on what they need to do. For example, an ankle lock could be applied, and the fighter struggles like mad to escape, concentrating on the ‘want’ to escape. Yet their focus would be better directed by concentrating on what they need to do in order to actually escape. Its about focusing on what you need to do in order to achieve the want.

This is where I give assistance with coaching as part of my Hypnotherapy service. We work out where people are now, and where they want to be. The points ‘A’ and ‘B’. We work out the further direction for when they have achieved point B. Now we have the journey direction we work on the how and what they need to do to achieve point B and beyond. We remove limitations and add resources so that the client has a clear journey ahead of them. We add emotion to fuel the motivation. We look at the processes to make sure that they are congruent with whom that person is and to mitigate any adverse reactions in their wider ecology – how they live their life and the interactions within.

My good friend and mentor Tom Mullins was told me that you ‘vote with your feet’. Unless you take that first step, you’ll never achieve. So are you taking that first step, and gaining momentum, focusing on the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ that will achieve what you want?

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Hypnotic Focus

I’m currently working with a journalist, Mark Carling, on his latest epic journey – from being unfit and a non-fighter to taking his first professional MMA (cage fighting) bout, all within 12 weeks. A television programme ‘Unfit2Fight’ is being made documenting him every step of the way.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been invited on the ride, and I am, amongst other things, helping him through my Sports Hypnosis. Through hypnosis I am helping Mark become the very best fighter he can be, providing a support structure to the physical and technical training, helping him train better, removing limitations, to improve faster, and focus on the tasks at hand. And the work is starting to pay off big time.

A great example of the effects of our working together happened on Tuesday during one of Mark’s training sessions. We’d done various bits of filming Mark training and then it was time for him to do a killer physical conditioning circuit at the end. I had the pleasure of watching this whilst sitting on a boxing ring apron with his personal trainer, and we were chatting about the effects the hypnosis was having on his preparation.

Halfway through the circuit Mark was doing an abdominal exercise and was pushing himself every step of the way. His face was screwed up in pain, he was ‘forcing’ himself through the pain barrier and I could feel the burning his abs were going through!

“Watch Mark”, I said, before issuing one clear voice command – “technique”. Mark’s face instantly softened, the pain seemed to disappear straight away, his technique got better, smoother, more effortless, better posture – it was as though he had a new lease of life, a massive change in his physiology. His whole focus changed. And he maintained that focus. His Personal Trainer remarked that he was amazed at the instant transformation.

And all this came from just one word.

Before the session I had anchored the word “technique” during hypnosis. The moment Mark now hears this ‘trigger’ word from his coach he enters the required state of mind that allows him to focus completely on the perfect execution of the technique. It is not about focusing on what he wants, but instead on what he needs to focus on to fulfil that want.

It was a perfect demonstration of the effects of a tiny part of my work with Mark via hypnosis. It was a clear and precise influence with tangible effects for all to see.

Next time we just need the cameras rolling while we do it!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Value The Words You Use

The words we use, the way we say them, the syntax of how they are put together, and the representations of the metaphors and symbols we use within, all are representative of the thoughts in our heads. So if you want to get a better understanding of how someone is thinking then listen carefully to the language they use.

As my study moves deeper into cognitive linguistics the more I understand about language and communication, and exactly what is being communicated to me. Because when you look a little closer people tend to tell you far more than they may be aware of.

I will often take time to study a piece of communication to see exactly what message is being communicated. Here’s an example. Have a read of this extract which comes from a report issued to me by a Local Authority Planning Department, in respect to a proposed development for a small block of flats:

“The block plan does not show the proposed development in relation to properties on **** Avenue. However it appears that the proposed development will result in an overbearing impact to the occupiers of these dwellings.”

First read, and the meaning probably is quite straight forward.

Now read it again and look for a deeper meaning – what can you gleam from the words used, the order, the syntax. Because when I read it, it suggests to me that this is nothing but ‘fluff’ or ‘filler’, and that the person writing the report has not carried out her job properly.

Let’s break down the statement.

The first sentence sets the scene – it provides the information for the statement that follows. The second sentence provides the opinion of this person following consideration of the first sentence. The word ‘however’ links yet at the same time dismisses the first sentence, leading to the conclusions of the second.

If you look at the words used, in the first sentence, ‘does not show’ means that information is not there. Yet, then ‘it appears’. So the author has hallucinated something which is not there, and then goes on to state an opinion based on this hallucination. Without the required information how can they offer an opinion?

So I would question whether this person is actually doing their job, as it is clear to me that they are forming opinions without the true facts to support them. Or they are just providing 'fluff' and 'filler' to a report. And as this statement has a massive financial and business impact (via any planning decision on the proposed development) I would question whether this is acceptable.

I wonder if the author of the extract would have valued the words they used a little more if they had read this blog post first. Do you value the words that you use?

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The Perfect Strike

Poor Rob, I didn’t mean for him to collapse on the floor. My knee (during sparring) came effortlessly into his abdomen forcing all the air out of his lungs giving him no option – his legs buckled and he dropped to the floor. As I remember him gasping for air down there, I also remember how easily and effectively the strike was made. And for that, I guess I can thank my studies of NLP.

Now, whereas I am certified to Master NLP Practitioner level, I would never call myself an ‘NLPer’, as I am far more than that. There are also some misguided views on what NLP is and isn’t by some of the public and also scarily by some NLP Practitioners! So sometimes it's best not to label yourself with what a few people may perceive as a limitation. But here I feel it is definitely relevant to give a quick explanation of what it is.

NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a field of work started by two academics who ‘modelled’ several of the top therapists of the time. The idea is that if they worked out how they used their bodies, their language, and how they think - then they could produce a ‘model’ of that person’s performance. And once you have a model, other people could follow that model to get similar responses.

On a really basic level this is exactly how we learn as a child – we observe, we replicate, we learn.

The modelling of these therapists also left behind a trail of highly effective techniques and patterns, originally basically ‘swiped’ from top fields of psychology, psychiatry, linguistics and physiology. These techniques are utilised by hypnotherapists such as me, life coaches, business and management consultants, politicians, marketers, advertisers, and sports persons – every walk of life.

Yet if you go back to base principles NLP is nothing more than a system of modelling.

And that is how I achieved this knee strike.

During my fight training I like to learn and develop, whilst reinforcing what I know, expanding knowledge, and aiming to leave a training session better than when I started. So when I spar people, and find they have an effective technique or application, I like to learn how they do it.

One of my training partners, Jesse, has a lovely technique he often uses during sparring. He has a ‘walk through knee’ which he uses to great effect. It is a simple technique – you just step forward and lift your knee into your opponent – yet he seems to make this more effective than most. So the last few weeks I’ve set out to model how he does this, so I can gain some of his effectiveness.

The first week I sparred him normally, and started to notice what positions and movements I made that allowed Jesse to use this knee. Every time he used this technique I ran the movie of this event back in my head, working out exactly what position I was in when he did it. How was I positioning myself for the knee?

In following weeks I developed this knowledge, using my sensory acuity to notice his position immediately prior to throwing the technique, every part of his posture, noting where his attention was – I now had the ‘trigger’ positions set in my head that allowed him to throw it.

Then I worked on noting the individual movements of the knee – everything from breathing to posture, to all the little micro-movements, the tension and relaxation, the acceleration, the focus and attention – all the way from before the technique to after the technique.

Again, I stored it as a movie, complete with added sounds and feelings, making it a sensory ‘recording’ of exactly how Jesse went about throwing the knee. I ran this many times in my head, using self-hypnosis and visualising the recording time and time again. I now had the base information from which to work.

And then I started to ‘mirror’ his movements, working on everything from posture down to the smallest micro-movement I could detect. In doing this I found a key element was the positioning of the feet – the angle, the weight distribution, and the contact points with the canvas. Following this mirroring I started to copy his exact movements, using my mind to fill in any gaps, or to make any adjustments for the fact that our bodies are physiologically different.

This last step was actually quite easy – I had practised already with a technique known as ‘deep trance identification’, or DTI. It sounds fancy, but it’s quite simple. I run the recording time and time again in my head of Jesse throwing the knee. And then I allow myself to become Jesse, kind of ‘possessing his body’ in the recording, seeing through his own eyes, hearing what he would hear, and feeling what he would feel. Think of it like Casper the Friendly Ghost going into someone else’s body. And then, experiencing this knee strike completely from Jesse’s perspective, I allowed Jesse to ‘morph’ into me, so I was running the recording with me totally experiencing the perfect knee strikes completely from my perspective, and totally immersed in the complete experience.

One of the best bits of our neurology is that our minds cannot determine between vividly imagined and reality – both are treated the same. And if you add in the kinaesthetic element, or actually throwing the knee as you are running the recording, you really strengthen the neurology – you are totally throwing the knee exactly how you want to.

So last Friday at sparring I tested my work. I did a round with Jesse, and did a last bit of fine tuning as I observed (and then felt!) a perfect knee strike from him. It was time to put my work into practice.

And Rob was my ‘victim’. I started the round as usual, got myself prepared mentally, and then allowed myself to become this recording I had worked on. The moment Rob fell into the perfect position according to my recording I instantly stepped forward and executed the perfect knee strike. It was so effortless, so easy, so perfect it kind of went in a whole lot further than I had intended. I had mixed emotions as I looked at Rob gasping for air like a fish out of water on the floor. One part of me was feeling bad and thinking ‘oh sh*t!’ for hurting a training partner even though I was never intending to – the other part of me was thinking ‘cool’ for how effective I had been in developing this knee!

The above is the bare bones of the process I used, there is far more detail that can be added, as I do when I’m working with my sports clients. Yet at the same time every reader who plays sport can use exactly the techniques listed above to help them improve any technical element of the game.

Now I have got the perfect ‘walk through knee’ I wonder what, and who, I will start to work on next…

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

How Do You Knock Someone Out?

So how do you knock someone out? This is a very misunderstood subject especially in the fight world. If you ask a number of fighters how you knock someone out you will get a bevy of answers ranging from speed, brute strength, accuracy, timing, explosiveness, kinetic linking, penetration and follow through – and the list goes on.

And yet I’ve dropped someone to their knees with a couple of taps on their head. This doesn’t seem to fit in with the above list, doesn’t it?

In order to understand how to knock someone out I believe you must understand the knockout process – what is going on inside that person. Only then can you apply yourself effectively and achieve that knockout you desire.

There are two ways of knocking someone out – concussion, or by inducing the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS, commonly and in my opinion incorrectly termed the fight or flight response.)

For concussion you need to literally rattle the brain around inside the skull, causing damage to the cell structure, resulting in shut down to protect itself. This is trauma within a fight at its most brutal. To effect this trauma on the brain you need to create movement in the head, allowing the brain therefore to crash and rub against the skull and the deviations in the internal surface of the brain, damaging cells, breaking neurology, creating bruising – not very nice!

This movement can be achieved two ways. The first would be sheer force of violent impact, displacing shocking and moving the head through pure force of impact. Here power development and the application of this behind a shot is paramount.

The next way would be through identifying the mechanical weaknesses in your opponent, in particular how the head sits on the neck. A hook to the side of the point of the chin could create a much greater twisting movement in an opponent’s head. Compare this to just hitting the side of the opponent’s head with a hook where his strong neck may absorb and prevent the required violent movement.

Concussive blows are accumulative – the more times you hit someone with power and create the violent movement in the head the more damage and the closer to a concussive knockout. Of course, this is the one element of our fight sports that no fighter should forget. If any of us get hit concussively in training or competition we must monitor ourselves and take precautions, including no alcohol or returning to impact too soon. If in doubt, any doubt, seek appropriate medical attention. Actually, if you take a concussive blow seek appropriate medical attention anyway – let’s play safe hey?

The next way to effect a knock out is by inducing the GAS. This response prepares for the freeze-flight-fight (fear-faint) response, which happens in that order. When we suffer a shock we freeze. If this doesn’t release the stress we know this response is not working, and we quickly move to flight directly away from the source of the stress. Again, if this doesn’t remove the stress we increase our response yet again, now to the fight response. If this doesn’t resolve the stress then we enter a state of fear, similar but different to the freeze. And when we come to the last of the body’s defences there’s nothing left to do but to shut down everything apart from our life support systems – we faint.

And it is possibly for the shock to be so great that we can almost instantaneously shoot through the responses to the faint response. This is what happens with a ‘flash knockdown’.

To induce the flash knockdown stress has to be induced, and rapidly increased. This is why the ‘shot we didn’t see’ can create the stress and therefore the reaction.

Stress is much easier to induce in a novice or intermediate fighter than at the higher echelons of our sports. With the novice and intermediate fighters in training I often set up what I term the ‘limbic loop’ (the limbic system creates the GAS), inducing stress gradually, hitting once to increase stress and the freeze, then again to get them to move away with flight, once more for fight and reading their physiology to instantly hit them as they respond again inducing fear, then tapping them on their head to induce the knockdown, usually a drop to the knee.

Sometimes, as its training, the stress doesn’t quite reach the fear as I keep the contact light, instead sometimes trapping my partners in a never ending limbic loop of rotation through freeze-flight-fight.

So that’s how you induce a knockout. Either by concussion or by inducing the GAS. Hopefully now you’ll be better placed to get the knockouts you desire – and I’ll have to watch out for you in sparring and competition! I'll better blog on evasion and defence pretty soon...

Friday, 23 July 2010

Listen To Yourself – You Know What You Need To Do!

I’ve had several hypnotherapy clients recently that have wasted their time. They haven’t wasted mine, as I’ve been paid, and have got some great learning from working with them too. And this is the reason I’ve written this blog post, so other potential clients might not waste their time either.

These clients came to see me with problems that were definitely real. And they left without their problems. So why did they waste their time? Read on and all will be explained.

And then you may not be surprised when I solved all of one of these client’s problems with three words. Yes, literally three words.

When a client talks with me I listen to the words and structure they use, the way they say those words, and the body language that they use as they tell me. With the body language I look at everything, from their overall posture down to the smallest of undetectable movements, the pupil dilation, even the skin tone and colouration. I swear I know one of my peers that see pores actually opening! All of this tells me more than you could possibly imagine.

So in a session when I ask a client to tell me how they do their problem, I receive an incredible amount of information. And, being lucky to have had (and continue to have) some good mentors, I’ve learned that a client will always make my job easy. All I have to do is listen with my whole body, listening to their words, listening to their body, and listening to their eyes, and of course listening with my intuition.

And through listening to them I realised that they weren’t just telling me how they did their problem – they were also telling me exactly what they needed to do to solve it.They literally told me in their own words EXACTLY what they needed to do to solve their issues.

A recent depressive told me that he “couldn’t see” what he needed to do. So as he told me how he did his depression, through listening to the message he was telling me, he was also telling exactly what he needed to do to lift him from everything that caused his depression. I made lots of notes, and showed him these notes. He could then literally ‘see’ exactly what he needed to do. The realisation on his face was, well, just special. He always knew what he needed to do. He couldn’t see it. Now he could.

Though my best one was a stop smoker – forty a day plus for thirty years. Lung problems, health problems, complications, asthma – the smoking was literally about to drop him dead. And then he told me exactly what he needed to do. “I just need someone to tell me to stop smoking!” he said, exasperated.

So I held my nerve, and obliged.

“Stop smoking, now.”


Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Pain Management – Hypnotherapy

This carries on from my last two posts on pain, and here I will give a ‘general’ approach I often use when working with clients who have pain. Please note that every client is an individual, and as such, deserves an individual approach relevant to them. This is just a general approach I may utilise.

Hypnosis and the management of pain have a long documented history and hypnosis is commonly used as an analgesic and an anaesthetic during operations – and has been for centuries. Yet this is just one aspect where hypnosis (and other tools that a hypnotherapist has) can be used to work with pain.

Of course, the first thing in respect to working with pain is to ensure the client has appropriate medical attention. The last thing you want to do is remove a person’s migraine pain is if the pain is actually a signal from a growing tumour! It doesn’t matter whether it is knee pain, migraines, joint pain, back pain – I want to know what I am working with, and ensure that my client is actually getting the right medical attention where necessary. I know I am not a medical doctor – I know my limitations.

I also get a list of any drugs, painkillers, or any other treatments they have been having, together with a history of the pain. I want to know whether the drugs are preventing the process of nociception (the pain signal from tissue damage or risk of tissue damage), or are working inside the neurology of the brain, or even whether they aren’t working at all. The history will give me a great starting place too and let me know the origins of the pain.

If it is ethical and morally right to continue, and the client is happy with the process, I then start work on the emotional and learned behaviours behind the pain. Examples of these I am often presented with include:

“I’ve had a rear end shunt so I must have whiplash.”
“I pulled my back bending down and now every time I bend down I get a pain.”
“I only get my knee pain on the way to training.”
“My migraines started around the time of a severe emotional trauma.”
“Even though the doctors say nothing’s wrong, it still hurts.”

All these are clear examples to me of psychosomatic pain. The first task I undertake is to educate my client to what pain is, and that by paying attention to the signals of pain then there is no need to feel the pain. I also explain the origins of pain. Often, this is all it takes. It seems this is quite usual with sportspersons who train hard or are competitive. They tend to have ‘niggly’ pains on the way to training but at no other times. Educating them about pain often removes the problem immediately.

Actually, according to people like Dr Sarno, a medical doctor who is a leading pain specialist, if an injury is not getting worse and is not being aggravated and the pain has persisted for more than 6 weeks then it exists at the psychosomatic level only. And he includes amputees in this category too.

If the pain persists following education I then look for learned behaviours or unresolved/repressed emotions behind the pain. I often use hypnosis for this although often the client can present the signal behind the pain immediately – pain is a great inducer of hypnosis! I use all the tools in my hypnotherapy kit as appropriate to reframe the learned behaviour or resolve the emotions – I work with the client to pay attention to the signal.

With recent clients this has immediately removed or reduced pains from backs, shoulders, necks and knees. More than that, with pain just being one form of psychosomatic signals, this afternoon I worked with a stop smoking client who also has severe psoriasis. Interestingly as I was paying attention to the emotions driving him to smoke, the psoriasis started to considerably improve. Whether the psoriasis has psychosomatic origins here or not is not really important – what is important is the clear and tangible change for the better has taken place and exactly at the time of dealing with an unresolved emotion.

Of course, not all pain is psychosomatic, from learned behaviour or unresolved emotions. Some pain is obviously from tissue damage. Two of my recent clients have had pain almost across their entire bodies. Their consultants haven’t known what pain to attend to medically – there was so much of it. So together we are working first on the emotional pain, then the learned behaviours – so all that should be left is pain from actual damage to tissue, giving the medical consultants clearer signals to work with.

Once the medical practitioners are paying attention to these signals of damage, I can then work with my clients to turn down the pain. This pain is an important signal, and one that needs to be paid attention to. However, where it is interfering with a person’s recovery from that injury, such as prohibiting good sleep, then it is appropriate to turn it right down – or even off for certain parts of the day. As all pain is a perception within the mind, and again let me assure you that all pain is very real, I find that hypnosis is a great tool with which to do this.

Some damage to tissue is also untreatable. Think about certain long term conditions here, degenerative orders, or worse. Here whatever the signal there is no attention that can be paid to the source of the signal. Hypnosis is well documented in assisting these persons have a much more comfortable time.

I have had some good experimentation with control of pain (switching on and off), and regulation of pain (extent of the perception of pain) with my fighting friends. Last year on the Combined Services Judo Course I would often get a shout of “Gary, another one!” from the coaches. Often a twisted knee, impact trauma or the like was the source of pain. I’ve also carried out similar experimentation with my fight training partners.

This experimentation has often centred on their ‘perception’ of the pain – after, of course, I check that they will be paying attention to the signal. I ask them to visualise the pain. What does it look like? How big is it? What colour? Is it moving? And as they visualise it and experience it, I get them to change their experience by shrinking it, moving it away, fading it out, ‘sucking it out’ of the body. This is a surprisingly quick way of regulating, and often controlling, pain. Give it a go – after you make sure you’ll be paying attention to the signal that is!

So there we go – a three post journey through pain. So that’s a few thoughts, a few bits of my study, and a few thoughts all thrown into the mix. I wonder how many of you who read these three posts find that just by understanding pain a little better, your own pain becomes easier to manage?

As always, I welcome all feedback – please feel free to add comments!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Pain - Control, Regulation and Management

In my previous article I had a look at what ‘pain’ actually is - the signals and the neurology behind it. So now we have a better understanding of pain this blog post introduces approaches to control pain, as well as the management and regulation as to when, and how much we feel.

In summary of my previous post pain is the result of a signal, a signal that says we need to pay attention to something. The source of that signal could be tissue damage or risk of tissue damage, learned behaviour, or unresolved emotions. These signals are passed to our brain where we interpret the signals and pain is perceived. This process is there to protect us from harm – pain is in our best interests for our health and safety.

Some quick definitions for you. Control is a digital switch, a switch on, or a switch off – black and white. Regulation is an analogue scale, the amount, the extent, and timing of pain – shades of grey. Management is the process of allowing life to continue with pain and the process of control and regulation. The good news is that a hypnosis approach can help with all three of these, and my next post will explain some of the methods that we can use.

But first, pain is a perception in our minds, although very real, it is a perception created in our minds. And as such we actually control, regulate and manage pain on an every day basis. This is a usual every day occurrence. Have you notice your pain coming and going, varying at different times and in different circumstances?

Let’s start with pain from nociception – the pain that results from damage or risk of damage to tissue. The two ways of regulating the pain are ‘afferent regulation’ and ‘descending regulation’.

Afferent regulation is the process that can most easily be explained by rubbing your shin after bruising it to reduce the pain. The ‘let mummy rub it better’ approach. This can be explained by the ‘gate theory of pain’ where the neurology is both excited by the nociceptors detecting the pain and inhibited by the signal of rubbing it. Perhaps it could be simple put that by rubbing the injury, further signals from the rubbing are sent to the brain as well as the nociceptors signal that results in pain, therefore giving too much information and dulling the nociceptors signal – and therefore less signal for pain is received.

Descending regulation is something that as a fighter I use on a daily basis. Especially when we compete, and often in heavy sparring, we have to ‘switch off’ from pain. This is common in athletes and soldiers where injuries are incurred but no pain is felt. The suppression of the pain is thought to be carried out in the brain including the area known as PAG (periaqueductal grey matter). This area of the brain sends signals down the neurology effectively depressing the nociception signals coming up.

Pain from learned behaviour has a slightly different approach. Here we have been hurt in the past and therefore our minds look to protect us in the present by giving us a pain signal – often, though not exclusively, from the source of the original pain. I work with many athletes who have pain from old injuries on the way to training, but at no other times. To regulate or control the pain we need to work out what the signal is that the pain is telling us, and pay attention to it in order for the signal to not be necessary. And then we can switch off as it’s not needed.

The final source of pain is unresolved emotions. Dr Sarno is a leading name in the field of psychosomatic conditions including pain coming from unresolved emotions. If you are suffering from long term pain I would definitely recommend reading his works – just by reading his books many people become pain free as they understand the sources of their conditions. I regularly am helping people turn off and turn down long term pain by paying attention to unresolved emotions. Often this pain is first experienced around the time of emotional stress or trauma. As the emotions from this time are repressed by our unconscious minds the pain is a reminder that we need to process or resolve these emotions, even though we are mostly not consciously aware of them. Resolve the emotions, and then there is no need to feel the pain.

It is interesting to note that in my studies I have come across numerous reports as to the use of placebos in pain relief. A patient may be given sterile saline instead of an analgesic and report relief from the pain despite having no drug. A belief that the treatment will work can be enough to cause activation of the pain relief systems of the brain.

In my pain control/management/regulation I work with an understanding of all of these methods, the processes by which we experience pain. And by understanding these methods I am better placed to ethically assist people in living free from pain. In my next blog post I will explain some methods that I use, including some that you can try without a hypnotherapist, to control, regulate and manage pain.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

What is Pain?

I’ve been working with several patients in respect to their ‘pain’ lately, including in conjunction with their consultants at their Pain Clinics. In this blog post I thought I’d explain what pain actually is, and how we experience it. (Everything here is put as a generalisation to enable simpler understanding.)

In later posts I’ll talk about pain control, management and regulation, together with the uses of hypnosis in the same. But first, what is pain?

Pain exists to keep us safe. It is a response to an alarm signal, our body’s way of saying ‘pay attention’. And this response helps us to avoid harm. Pain and withdrawal reflexes help us to keep ourselves safe. Pain makes us rest injured parts of the body which assists in recovery from any damage. It also reminds us to keep away from situations where in the past we had pain, or to pay attention to emotions that are not yet resolved.

Pain is a ‘somatic sensation’, in other words, it is a sensation felt in the body. But how is it created? Pain is a response to a signal. That signal could be from tissue damage, risk of tissue damage, learned behaviour, or unresolved emotions.

Pain as a result of tissue damage or risk of tissue damage is through a process called ‘nociception’. This starts with the nerve endings, or nociceptors, detecting the damage or risk, and sending this signal through our neurology to our brain. In the brain the signal is received, interpreted, and the synapses within our neurology fire accordingly and often produce the sensation of pain.

It is worth pointing out that the process of nociception is not in itself pain – it is just a signal that we can interpret as pain.

Pain can be as a result of learned behaviour. In the past we may have incurred injury and experienced pain, so if we are about to do that behaviour again, or are doing that behaviour we may experience pain, telling us not to do so. It is also well documented that current social norms also influence pain, and we can learn to feel pain as a result of other people’s behaviour, or even just hearing about it.

Unresolved emotions are also a source of pain, especially those with chronic pain. It has been documented that unless an injury is getting worse or being aggravated pain shouldn’t be felt six weeks after the injury – if it is, there is very likely an emotional element to that pain. Often repressed emotions become a source of pain – the pain being the signal that we need to pay attention and process that emotion through to resolution.

Pain is a cognitive process and it is due to this that our perception of pain can vary. Pain can come and go, may be intense, or just in the background, or we may just not feel it at all. And we can also experience pain whilst having no tissue damage or risk of damage to that tissue. We can control it by turning it off or on, or regulate or manage it to lessen or increase its intensity. And we can do all this because pain is created in the brain.

Now, whilst it is true that all pain is a perception in the brain, whether from tissue damage, threat of tissue damage, learned behaviour or unresolved emotions – all pain is most definitely real. And we all know how real that pain can be. So in future posts I’ll describe pain can be controlled, regulated and managed, so when we experience pain, we know how to pay attention to it.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Coming Off Caffeine

Coming Off Caffeine

This Blog Post follows on from my previous Post ‘Help, I’m Addicted To Coffee!’ So if you haven’t read it yet, please do so!

In my last blog post I explained in simple terms what caffeine is and how it acts on the body. Now I’m going to take this further and show how to safely cut back and remove the addiction.

If you drink a lot of coffee and suddenly cut it out you WILL have problems. If you remember caffeine affects us by ‘blocking’ the calming effects of adenosine in our neurology, allowing our neurology to run at faster speeds.

However, if you consistently take caffeine the neurons become adapted to the smaller amounts of adenosine, and therefore just work slower. Your whole neurology will slow – the brakes will be permanently on.

Without caffeine the neurons fire too slowly, slowing the brain, resulting in the fatigue and the headaches.

So there you go – caffeine can actually slow you down. And that’s not a good thing.

If you want to limit your withdrawal symptoms my suggestion is to not go cold turkey – instead gradually reduce your caffeine by say, a cup a day, giving your body an opportunity to increase the adenosine as the caffeine intake decreases. You need to allow the body to adjust its chemical balance once more.

Something else happens when we take caffeine though, and this is the source of the addiction. We have a reward pathway in our neurology that helps us to form pleasurable associations when our body’s needs are met – and that involves the production of dopamine, which makes us feel good.

And when we don’t take caffeine our bodies desire that dopamine hit – and therefore we get the coffee cravings and the withdrawal symptoms.

How do we increase our levels of dopamine? Fall in love, get good (and flavoursome) nutrition, carry out healthy activities – anything that is an activity which promotes our survival. We are hardwired to reward ourselves for doing this, and this leads to production of dopamine. We reward ourselves for being good to ourselves.

So the first way of removing cravings and the addiction is to replace the dopamine from caffeine with dopamine from being good to yourself. The second is to slowly cut back on caffeine bit by bit allowing the plasticity of the brain to re-adjust to normal levels of dopamine.

Another way is to change our ‘perception’ of the cravings. Allow yourself to have a go at this. The principle works with headaches, cravings, pain too – it works on anything that is a perception within the brain – of which these three are. It takes a bit of practice, much easier to do with a coach or hypnotherapist like me, and it really, really works.

Close your eyes, and focus on the feelings of craving. Give them a score of 1-10, 10 being really bad! Notice where they are in the body. Really notice them. Make them real by putting your hand on where they are. And as you do so, start to notice exactly what these feelings feel like. The physical aspects of the feeling. My bet is that there is movement in them, if only at a minor level. So concentrate. Usually the feelings reconnect with themselves, ‘spinning’. Notice the speed and direction of the spin. Apply your mind, and make it spin faster. As you spin it faster your headache/craving will probably get worse. The same will happen if you make the feeling physically larger using your mind. Very much worse if you spin it faster and make it larger as well.

So do the reverse, and slow it down. Use your mind to change your perception by slowing the spinning…and once it has stopped…spin it slowly at first in the other direction. This is now a different feeling, so spin it faster. And as you spin it faster and faster in the opposite direction, make it smaller. Shrink it down to a size of a pea. Notice how the craving is reducing all the time you slow and reverse the feelings, and shrink them down. Notice what the cravings are like now on a scale of 1-10.

If you want them to go down still further ‘dissociate’ yourself from the feelings. Again, apply your mind (this is all working on the level of perception), and float the feeling out of your body. Float it further away, and then as far as you can so you can’t feel it any more.

Give it a go, and trust me, it works a treat! Certain things are experienced only through the brain’s perception, and these include cravings, headaches and pain. Yes, there will usually be a root underlying physical cause behind it. Often pain which only exists on an ‘emotional’ level as its roots in physical cause – even if the physical cause is long gone, or created by the mind/body connection in the first place. But how we ‘perceive’ those feelings is purely in the mind. And we can change them…

And this will lead me into a future series of articles on pain – what it is, how it works, and what we can do to either control it (switch it on or off), regulate or manage it. And doing this with clients is something I am passionate about, building good experience of freeing clients up from the burdens of chronic pain.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Help, I’m addicted To Coffee!

I’ve been known to take a wee bit too much coffee. With my will to give my Personal Training clients the best sessions I can, quite often I’ll take a coffee before each one to ‘pick me up’ and check I’m on form. I regularly do blocks of 7 PT clients in a row – that’s a lot of coffee going down me!

Whereas a little caffeine buzz can be a good thing, not many people know what caffeine is, let alone what it does. So this blog post sets out to give you some information.

We can take on board caffeine through coffee, tea, stimulant drinks, chocolate, and a few other sources as well. Interestingly, the average cup of coffee has 100mg caffeine, cup of tea 50mg, 10-50mg in colas, and Red Bull has around 80mg.

Yes, that’s right; the average cup of coffee has more caffeine than a red bull. Interestingly, tea has more caffeine than coffee, but when we take them as a drink we directly ingest coffee whereas tea is infused. Therefore there is more caffeine in a cup of coffee than a cup of tea.

And now a quick science bit.

Caffeine is found in plants as a natural neurotoxin. The plants use it to protect themselves. It’s a defence mechanism against certain bugs.

With us, it plays havoc with our ANS (Autonomic Nervous System). In our neurology there is a chemical called adenosine which has the job of slowing our nerves down. Caffeine blocks it from doing its job, by taking its place, and therefore the nerves are free to work faster. This puts a perceived ‘emergency’ reaction into the body and the sympathetic system kicks in, starting the preparations for the GAS (General Adaptation Syndrome, or the Freeze-Flight-Fight (Fear-Feint) reaction). Voila, you are awake.

In simple terms, caffeine takes the brakes off.

And with the brakes off our neurology runs fast, and creates an increased level of dopamine activity in the brain – just like cocaine and other stimulants. Your body starts to look forward to the caffeine hit.

And the more caffeine you take, the more the body becomes desensitised to it, meaning you need more caffeine for the same effect. This is why you end up taking more and more caffeine to get a ‘lift’.

My caffeine intake levels are too high – and I’ve started the process of weaning myself off the coffee and caffeine. How do you do that? I’ll be posting another blog post soon explaining exactly what happens to cause the addiction, the affects of withdrawal, and of course suggesting some simple ways to handle it comfortably!

Thursday, 1 July 2010 Interview

A big thank you to Andrew and the team at fullmount for doing an interview with me - thanks guys, its appreciated!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

How AWARE are you?

This is the fourth of a series of articles originally published by the now defunct online magazine MMA Unlimited. Its part of a series of articles, and while my knowledge has now moved on, it hopefully makes interesting reading.

How AWARE are you?

Have you ever wondered how some fighters seem to know what their opponent is doing no matter how quick or sneaky their opponents are? How they always know precisely where they are in their chosen arena, whether the ring, cage or mat? Imagine being able to read your opponent so well that you can see inside their mind, and know what they are going to do, before they do, ready to exploit them. If you want to know all this, then this article is for you.

I’m going to give you the skills you need to achieve all of the above and far more. If you haven’t read the first three articles in this series then perhaps you should. These articles are designed as a series and whilst each can stand alone giving really effective advice and techniques that you can employ, right now, they work best in an inductive learning series. Their true power is in the combination of skills. For example, if you don’t understand how the body works under stress, you won’t be able to control your nerves. And if you can’t control your nerves you won’t be able to get into the right state. And if you aren’t in the right state you will have no chance of recognising what your opponent is going to do!

In the next article I’ll show you how to bring all these skills together to influence exactly what your opponent does and when. How you can hit without fear of being hit, and to set up a ‘loop’ in your opponent so you can just hit him at will, however you like, and whenever you like. And of course learn the antidote to stop this ever happening again. If you think this is far-fetched you’d better talk to my sparring partners on whom I’ve been practising. A couple of days ago I got a professional fighter to drop to one knee in resignation while sparring, because he was caught in one of these loops I had set up, and there was no way to for him to break the loop. And I did all this with nothing more than tapping him lightly on the head with my jab hand.

So what’s the next step on this journey to winning your fights more easily than ever before? It’s how you can use your senses to know much more than you do now during the fights. It’s about using your vision, your hearing, your sense of feeling and even your senses of taste and smell to feed you with information. It’s all about AWARENESS.

At seminars, in conversation with other fighters and as my clients’ progress into sparring I often get asked the same question. “During a fight, where do I look?” Some people watch the face, some the chest, some the hands or feet. Some people focus in even tighter and look at the eyes. I think they are all wrong. You see, vision is of utmost importance during fighting. Most of us have vision as our primary representational system in our brain. But if you focus on something you exclude everything else. And the more you focus the more blinkered you are and the more you miss.

You have two basic fields of vision. You have your central vision through which you focus and your peripheral vision with which you see the panoramic. As you focus in on an object you utilise your central vision more and more at the expense of losing the peripheral. So in very simple terms if you are focusing on something, like your opponent’s eyes, you are cutting out your peripheral vision. And in doing so missing all the important information you need to see.

It’s like these articles. If you just read this one, you’ll see something good. But if you read the other articles as well you’ll see the whole picture. And of course you know that the whole picture is always better than seeing just a part.

And as you’ve read my previous article on handling nerves and anxiety you know a very simple exercise which can reduce any anxiety before a fight by at least half, in all cases. There are many more simple techniques I use to help to solve anxiety issues, and actually remove them altogether. This week I managed to help solve someone’s lifelong anxiety of flying in just two minutes flat. But there is a very important reason why I chose the technique for the article, and its all about forming overall awareness.

During a fight you need to see literally everything at once. You need to see the complete environment at all times. You need to know where you are in relation to everything, and everyone. How can you see this if you are focused on just one spot?

And during a fight you need to see every part of your opponent, from the tip of his head to the tips of his hands and feet. Again, how can you see this if you are focused just on one spot?

You should have guessed by now that you need to see as wide as possible in order to take in all this information. To do this you need to be in peripheral vision rather than being stuck with the focused central vision. In my anxiety-busting technique from my previous article you are engaging both hemispheres of the brain by tossing the little ball or object between your hands – and this is very important – across your body. You throw the ball from the far left to the far right and back again. As you get more skilled, keep your hands further and further apart. And now look straight ahead as you throw the ball. As you do note how your vision widens and your focus becomes more ‘fuzzy’, as you pick up more and more in the periphery. Very soon, and with deliberate practice, you will open up your peripheral vision to the extremes; you’ll be able to see your full field of vision.

If you do this exercise for a period of several minutes not only will your anxiety be at least halved, you will also open up your peripheral vision. Your eyes will stay like this for many minutes. And with practice you’ll find you can enter this state of peripheral vision at will, and of course if necessary you can anchor this reaction to a touch, word, or thought.

So now your eyes are able to see everything. You can take in your environment and your opponent completely. But that’s still not the complete picture; you have another four senses to go. Actually, I teach that there are seven senses in total. I teach the first five standard senses, and then describe the sixth sense as being the experience that interprets what the other senses are telling you, combined with that intuition that you just can’t put your finger on. And the seventh sense? Well that was added by a client. He added the seventh one, saying that it was my primary sense. The seventh sense is non-sense, which is developed through my terrible jokes apparently. I’m pleased to report that this client is expected to make a full recovery following my reaction to him telling me this.

So what about the other senses? Your sense of touch is probably the next most important in this context. You can feel so much as to what your opponent is doing. Grapplers can build an entire game purely around the sense of touch. Ever grappled with a blind person? They know where you are better than you do. You can use every part of your body to sense your opponent, from the air from his breath, the vibrations of his movement picked up by his feet, and in a clinch or grappling the sense of touch comes right to the fore.

The sense of hearing is a strong one. You can pick up the sounds from him, from your corner, and from his corner. The sounds from the audience can be used to create energy within you. It is actually possible to learn to focus your hearing, so that you could focus on hearing just the sounds of your opponent’s breathing, filtering out everything else, no matter how loud they may be.

Taste and smell are the senses that give us the least information in this context. You can still smell and taste your opponent, and as an example you can use this to help sense proximity to him. This is actually heightened, or at least made easier, during fights where it is possible to use Thai oil with its pungent smell.

So now you know how to use your five senses to give you information. By using all five senses you can complete as accurate as is possible internal representation of what is happening during the fight. But what information would you be looking for? I’ll now give some examples for to try. My suggestion is to take each one in turn, and sense it in sparring, so you know how to recognise everything on this list. In fact, if you can’t recognise what’s listed for your opponent, you won’t be able to achieve the easy wins that can be had through my next article!

You fighting will take place in some kind of fighting arena, whether a cage, a ring or a mat. You need to know this environment inside out. Its dimensions, its give and take in respect to the cage and ring construction and the floor, any loose areas, any drops or areas subject to slipping, as well as where you are in location to it. You need to know your ‘home’ inside out, so much so that you can move around it with your eyes closed if necessary, working from your internal ‘mind map’ and your other senses. Have you developed your sensory skills to this level?

You need to know everything about your opponent. Starting with posture you need to recognise the angle of his spine, his head position, where his arms and legs are, the weight distribution, the flow of movement through his body. Focusing in you need to really be aware of his breathing, sensing every breath in and every breath out, and recognise how this is exhibited in his body. This is of primary importance. Can you list every signal of breathing in a fighter? And taking it further still, you need to be able to see the tension or relaxation in every muscle, down to which muscle fibres are twitching, even further knowing the rate of his pulse.

Just from this very simple list, which is far from exhaustive, you will be able to learn so much about your environment in which you are fighting, and the opponent that you are fighting. You need to use your senses fully to take in every piece of information from a global perspective through to one of the tiniest details. And it is possible, it’s all about practice. Deliberate practice. As a side-note I want you to remember that practice does not make perfect. It makes permanent.

These four articles now give you the base information which we will use in the next and final article in this series, where we put everything together into complete domination of our opponents. I’ve boasted several times during this little journey as to the incredible results I’ve attained through the development and application of these techniques. Now you have the base information to achieve all this for yourself. So take the time, right now, and imagine knowing exactly what your opponent is going to do, when and how you can induce him to do exactly what you want, and completely dominate him in a fight. That would feel good, right? So get practising, you’ll need to practice all that I’ve told you so far to achieve this. And when you think you have practised enough, the next article will give you what you want.

The fifth article was never published as the magazine folded – I’ve know taken my ‘Limbic Loop’ system still further and it may wait for a forthcoming book or DVD to pull it all together. I can’t give too much away for free on my blog, can I?

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Keep Your Guard Up!

I had some good fun at the weekend, playing with various methods of getting results with my Personal Training sessions. Now, as any good hypnotherapist would, I use embedded commands, metaphors, voice tonality and hypnotic language patterns with my clients while training them. It makes sense to use your skills in one area to help you in another. Rather than meet problems head on, you can gently lead your clients to where they need to be covertly, often during other tasks or just generally chatting during the recovery periods. It gets the results far faster. And I have to be honest – I have great fun doing this!

So while I have enjoyed utilising my linguistic skills, and even inducing covert trance states in my clients, I hadn’t actually utilised physical hypnotic phenomena yet to get results with my fighters – until last Saturday that is.

One of my clients, who (as all my clients do) works very hard and diligently, had an issue with his guard. He just couldn't maintain a good solid guard, his hands dropping far too low. I was having a really good ‘play’ psychologically that day and suddenly I had a 'light bulb' moment. I quickly utilised an adaptation of a simple hypnosis suggestibility test during a demonstration of what I needed him to do for his guard. And this had incredible results on my client, who suddenly was keeping a very, very tight guard perfectly and effortlessly.

I tested this over a few rounds, and the change was almost miraculous. So, as every geek like me would, I decided to test this result. Thoroughly.

I proceeded to totally ‘beast’ my client with pads, he hit more pads in twenty minutes than he’d probably hit in his entire life. I took him through such an intense workout that when he finished the beasting, he couldn’t even lift his water to his lips.

And then I gave him a very technical five minute round of boxing pads, firing the trigger for keeping his guard at the start. His guard was perfect. His techniques came even better as a byb-product. The expression on his face was amazement combined with a little confusion, and of course a lot of sweat! I must have looked like an 8 year old at Christmas.

Later that day I got a text from him, saying “I’m still scratching my head. How you made me keep my guard up even when I was well and truly f***ed is beyond me!”

Of course, I replied, in the immortal words of Lee Francis (Avid Merrion) playing David Blaine – “It’s all...because...of the magic!”

But, the best bit is, I didn’t make him keep his guard up – he did it himself. A little combination of physiology combined with the power of suggestion, something that even the most inexperienced hypnotist could handle, and he quite happily kept his guard up there himself. I hadn’t actually done anything!

Perhaps it is really good to allow experience from one area to cross over to another. It has left a client and me really happy – and I’m still grinning with how stupidly simple the whole thing was to achieve!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Can You Get In The Right STATE For Fighting?

This is the third of a series of articles originally published by the now defunct online magazine MMA Unlimited (so don't click on the MMA Unlimited link - it won't work!). Its part of a series of articles, and while my knowledge has now moved on, it hopefully makes interesting reading.

Would you like to be in the optimum physical and mental state for every fight? Do you want to achieve consistency? Fed up with sometimes just ‘not being on form’? Then this article will tell you not just how to have your mind and body in the best state for fighting, but how to achieve it every single time you get up to fight. Just imagine, right now, getting your fight state right every time.

A state can be defined as being made up of your internal representation (your state of mind) and your physiology (your state of body). If you change your internal representation, or your physiology, you will change your overall state. The state we are in determines our external behaviour, and our external behaviour produces the results that we get in life.

The knowledge of states is the key to change work, as with change work it is usually the external behaviour, and therefore the results that the client will achieve. So we work on the mind to change the body and therefore the behaviour, and with this we change the results.

You are in charge of your state of mind. And that’s all of the time. If you are in a bad mood, well, sorry, that’s down to you and no-one else. Only you are responsible for the way that you feel about anything. So lets say it again for clarity – you are in charge of your internal state. Realise this, and realise this now – you are the boss, you are in control, and as such you don’t need to be influenced by internal factors. And now you understand this, you know that there are no reasons why you can’t be in the optimum mental state for fighting.

In this same way you are in charge of your body. Your brain controls every function within you. It is not the fact that you are hot that makes you sweat. The brain receives stimulus from the five senses that you are getting hot, and therefore it makes some adjustments, and you sweat to cool down, amongst many other physiological actions. But the body only reacts because the brain tells it too. If it didn’t, your cooling system wouldn’t kick in. Under hypnosis, where it is often easier to communicate with this part of the brain, it is easy to induce sweating, control blood flow, control heart beat – any psycho-physiological action in the body.

You can experience this psycho-physiological now. Close your eyes and imagine holding a big, juicy lemon. See the colour and feel the texture it in your hands. Hold this lemon to your nose and breathe in. Smell the lemon. Now take a knife and cut the lemon in half. Smell it again, as you lightly squeeze the lemon, and imagine the juiciness inside. Imagine what it would be like to bite into this lemon and the bitter sharp taste in your mouth. Did you smell the lemon? Did you taste the lemon? Did your mouth start to salivate? If you did, congratulations, you’ve just had a positive hallucination in the waking state. And you’ve also realised how easy it is for a hypnotist to help you experience things. Most importantly you’ve just experienced that the mind controls the reactions in the body.

In fact, the control of blood and the health of the body is an area of my field I am studying like mad. And that is made even more poignant with my links to the military. With hypnosis it is possible to take a severe trauma victim and control blood through a wound, control body functions and basically adjust the body’s ‘life support’ system. Imagine how much more effective medics would be with this knowledge?

But let’s get back to our type of fighting. So to recap we are in charge of our state of mind, and in the same way we are in charge of our state of body. So what would be the optimum for each?

For the state of mind I would say that sensory awareness and focus on task would be of optimum importance. The increased sensory awareness will provide the stimulus for your mind, and therefore your body, to react to. You need to be alert in all respects, concentrating only on the opponent and your corner’s instructions, sharp and clear, sticking to the strategy, and yet have flexibility in response. In change work we have a saying that the greatest success comes to those with the greatest flexibility in approach. In fighting we need the ability to adapt to every eventuality during the fight.

The body obviously needs to be warmed, mobilised, and ready for action. At the same time it needs to be relaxed, like a coiled spring, the energy stored, ready to instantly react as required during the fight. It needs to be able to work efficiently, precisely, explosively. This is where you want the effects of the limbic system to come into play, but under your control. The very physiological reactions that nerves and anxiety produce in your body to get it ready for the freeze, flight and fight responses are what we need to induce in order to produce the perfect fighting state for your body.

I call this state in my hypnosis sessions the ‘perfect fighting machine’, because that is what you are aiming to be. Have you noticed that in the two paragraphs above I have only focused on the positives? The mind needs to be efficient, and focus on what to do, and no ‘what not’ to do. For example I said to ‘concentrate on your opponent’ and not ‘be free from distractions’. For you to think about being free from distractions, first you need to think about what the distractions! That’s taking ‘processing power’ away from your mind. So concentrate on what you want – now is not the time to start thinking about what you don’t.

Try this – don’t think of a blue tree. You have to think of a blue tree to not think of a blue tree! Get the point? I’ll leave that one for you, and the discussion as to whether the unconscious part of your awareness hears negatives or not can go on between psychologists who have the time to think of it. I just concentrate on what works.

So, how do we get into the perfect fighting state – every time? The key to achieving this is to set an ‘anchor’. An anchor is a trigger to bring about a specific response, and this anchor can be set in any of the five senses. Ever heard a song, or smelt something and it takes you instantly straight back to a memory that’s so real you are almost there? These are examples of anchors, and our lives are littered with them. In sports have a think about all the little rituals sportspersons have; they are all forms of anchors. One great example that springs to mind is the Johnny Wilkinson spot kick. The whole set up is a series of anchors, all to achieve a set effect. In terms of fighting the most appropriate senses for an anchor to be set would be a touch or a word either said internally through self talk or in a specific way by your corner.

If you want to see anchors within fighting search ‘Youtube’ for my fights against Tank Abbott and Julius Francis. In my fight against Tank I won the hard way! As soon as the referee said “fight” I had this crazy self talk flash through my mind, something like “what’s it like to fight Tank Abbott when he’s fresh?” and I charged straight in and you can see the result! Instead of following the strategy of running around and waiting until he got tired, I had the ‘pleasure’ of seeing what he can do when he is fresh. It still hurts just thinking about it!

Now, I didn’t want this to happen again so before I fought Julius I worked with a hypnotherapist friend of mine, and my coaching team, and we installed a series of anchors to keep me on the strategy that we had decided upon, and to remain in the state of ‘perfect fighting machine’. If you watch that fight I didn’t put a foot wrong. I could have finished the fight much earlier, but we wanted a risk-free win, so I stuck 100% to strategy. As a side note, we set many anchors all for different reactions, and one was that if he had hit me we’d used being hit by him as an anchor, so I would instantly react with the right shot from my experience of techniques, whilst doubling in awareness and strength at the same time. Scan through my Youtube videos and you’ll find an early video of one of my clients sparring for the first time with this post hypnotic anchor installed to great effect.

So how do you set an anchor? Well, the first thing is to get into the state, and there’s two ways of doing this. The best way is to be ‘in the moment’ for the strongest anchors to be set. So when you are sparring, and you are just ‘buzzing’ everything going so well, and your reactions are so fast, and your ability is just incredible – anchor it.

If, and you should have, read my previous articles you know that the mind cannot distinguish between vividly imagined and reality. So, close your eyes, and remember a time that you were fighting at your best. See what you see, hear what you hear and really feel the feelings that you feel in this great fighting state. Notice where the feelings are in your body, and notice the movement. Imagine the movement intensifying, and start to spin the feelings more and more and notice how they intensify. Build it and build it. And as you do so, imagine yourself performing not just to the best that you have performed in reality, but suspend belief a little, and take it even further. Move quicker than your opponent. Move sharper. Have more explosivity and have better techniques. Experience what it is like to be better than you have ever been before. Change your physiology, sit or stand upright, allow your breathing to quicken, feel your pulse race, relax your muscles and let them become relaxed but like coiled springs ready to explode, really allow yourself to feel what it is like to be in the best ever possible perfect fighting machine state. And that’s when you anchor.

I find that hypnosis makes this mental process of setting anchors so much easier. The guided process of hypnosis can really allow you to ‘experience’ the state far better, shortening the process and making it even more effective. I’ll be releasing hypnosis MP3’s and CD’s particularly for fighters later in the year, of which one will be purely for the setting of anchors for ‘the perfect fighting state’. Keep tabs on my website, and of course on for announcements in this respect.

To set an anchor you first need to decide on what would make a good anchor, or trigger, to set that state around. Anchors I have used successfully in the field of fighting are rubbing the glove against the nose, a specific single word from the corner said in a command tone, a squeeze on the shoulder from a corner man, and tapping the gloves together. But find the right one for you. Now, I’m bound by client confidentiality, but maybe you can watch out for a few professional fighters I’ve worked with over the last year, and spot the glove tapping before the fight. See how they build their state as the glove tapping increases, their mind and their physiology reacting to the anchor. The anchor needs to be specific and unique.

So when you get yourself into this state of the perfect fighting machine, just before the peak fire the anchor for a period of 5-15 seconds. Make sure you fire the anchor in exactly the same way, the same pressure, the same direction, the same word, or the same voice tonality. Fire the anchor in the specific and unique way. Make sure you release before the peak of the intensity, you don’t want to anchor a decline!

Once you’ve set an anchor, carry out a ‘break state’. Dance like a chicken or something stupid. OK, you don’t have to do that, but you do need to do something different to change states. I like using humour, because, well, its fun!

Once your state has changed test fire the anchor. If you have the intensity right during the setting of the anchor, and are firing the anchor with exactly the same unique stimulus, the feelings and state will start to come flooding back. It may come back only lightly at first, especially if you are not ‘installing’ using hypnosis, so keep repeating the process of setting the anchor, and it will get stronger and stronger each time. The anchor will eventually be as strong as you need it to be.

One word of caution is that you can ‘wear out’ an anchor. Fire the anchor when you need it or to ‘top up’ the response from the anchor. If you use it too much, at inappropriate times, then you will weaken the anchor and it will fade. The mind learns incredibly quickly, so bear that in mind.

So my suggestion is for every fighter to build the appropriate anchors in, and then fire them just before you fight. You will then enter the ring/cage/mat for competition in the perfect fighting state, having the perfect fighting mindset, the perfect physiology, for the perfect fighting result. And this can be achieved consistently every time.

Now, as you’ve read my first two articles you know that this is a series of articles. As such I’m telling a story, I know where I’m going. We’ve started with the base information, stress and the limbic system. We’ve then applied this base to nerves and pre-fight anxiety, and shown how to bring these under control. And in this article we’ve discovered how to bring the limbic system into play to help us get into the perfect state for fighting. And if you read these articles several times, take note, there’s a lot more information to help you hidden away as well. We’re building towards the fight, and this happens in the next article, where I’ll be showing you how to build the optimum awareness, recognising everything that your opponent is doing. And then in later articles we’ll be using this awareness to apply the principles of the limbic system and start to influence your opponent, know what they are going to do before they do, and manipulate them, all to your great advantage. Because we want to win, don’t we?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The General and his Soldiers

I was lightly sparring with a client last night working on skills across a single fifty-minute round. My aims were to get him to ‘flow’ with his techniques, just allow his shots to flow, and flow without restriction. And there was constant obstruction – he just couldn’t react quickly enough to counter, evade, or to take an opportunity.

Now, his technical ability is exceptional, and his conditioning too – I mean, how many of you think you can fight for a continuous 50minute of Thai boxing sparring? So I had to look closely to see where the blockage was. And in doing so I realised that I would never see the blockage, because it was in his head.

His analytical conscious mind was getting in the way.

He would see an opportunity to gain entry for a combination and then think about how to take the opportunity. So while he was thinking, the opportunity was missed.

The same was happening for his counters, his evades and every area of his game – his conscious mind was just not allowing him to do what he needed to do.

Let’s make an important distinction. This client can sense what he needs to, and has all the knowledge and technique to back it up. He knows what he can do, what to sense for, and how to apply what he wants to do. He can fight. The only problem is that his conscious mind was getting in the way and not letting him do it!

I needed him to release his conscious mind and just let his unconscious mind do the work. In sparring, padwork, running and many other forms of training you are in a nice trance anyway, so while we continued sparring I utilised the power of stories to get through to his unconscious. No point in working on a trance induction – I just worked with the one he was already in!

As we continued to exchange I told him a ‘shallow metaphor’ based on a young Army General commanding his troops. Early in his career this General would set the strategy and command his troops but always be involved, wanting to experience the battle with his troops, wanting to check that everyone knew what they were doing, and that everyone was alright. By doing so he just got in the way, preventing the soldiers from doing everything they had been trained to do, it placed them at risk, and made winning battles a great effort. He was a burden rather than an asset.

As his experience grew the General grew wiser, he learned to recognise that his troops could do their training unaided, and that he could separate himself from the battle, his mind and attention better spent on attending to the overall direction and strategy. In doing so he allowed his troops to follow his orders and their training, following the orders instantly without hesitation, just reacting, and achieving with incredible effectiveness and skill. And as a result battles were being won and victories achieved with near effortless ability.

At the end of the metaphor I saw the lovely confused expression on my client’s face, the sign that every hypnotherapist knows well, that the story was being sorted and filed, new options are there to be considered. Within ten minutes my client was testing me, speeding his reactions up, taking opportunities, his techniques freely smoothly, a new confidence showing on his expression.

I quizzed him afterwards and he told me that he wondered what the hell I was on about, babbling away about soldiers to him whilst we continued sparring. And a short while after the story had ended, he told me his mind kind of ‘zoned out’ and his arms and legs kind of moved with the techniques on their own, reacting and flowing to the stimulus of me fighting him. And while his arms and legs were reacting, his mind was thinking about what to do, whether to pressure, whether to tag and move, what overall skills to work on.

Job done.

Sometimes it’s nice to carry out sports performance work with clients ‘in the field’. Whereas sometimes I will use a more traditional approach with my sports clients, sitting in a chair, a therapy style setting, it is definitely fun to spot an opportunity during training and utilise it from there!

Until he hits you that is…

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Can you control PRE-FIGHT NERVES?

This is the second of a series of articles originally published by the now defunct online magazine MMA Unlimited. Its part of a series of articles, and while my knowledge has now moved on, it hopefully makes interesting reading.

Do you know what pre-fight nerves are? Know the difference between feeling nervous and having anxiety? Do you get either or both before a fight? Are your performances affected as a result? If so, this article will explain what they are, why they happen, and most importantly will let you know how you can bring them right under your control.

In my last article I explained the limbic system and the effects it has on our physical and mental state. If you haven’t read it, please do so, as it will provide you with all the background information you need to get the most from this article. With knowledge comes understanding, and with understanding it is easy for you to put what follows into practice. Don’t skip a step, there are no shortcuts here.

Now, imagine you are back stage before a fight. Start to notice what you would see, what you would hear, and start to allow the feelings to come back inside you. Really do this now. Really take on the experience of being in your changing room right now. See what you would see, hear what you would hear, and really allow those feelings to enter your body. Your body is warmed up and ready, you know you are about to compete. The show’s runner lets you know its time, and you stand, your time for action. Think about what is about to happen. What will happen as you walk out and experience the crowd for the first time? What will you experience as you walk towards the mat, ring or cage? How will you feel the first time you see your opponent? Notice the feelings growing in your body. Really take on these experiences, right now. And if you do this, you’re having these feelings, aren’t you?

Your body can’t differentiate between a vividly imagined experience and reality. So if you really imagined the fight scenario above, you will have started to get the feelings rising in your body. Did you? Did you get the butterflies in the stomach, the dry mouth, the increased heart beat, the shortness of breath, the feelings of energy and adrenaline starting to pulse through your body? And did you get any or all of the other feelings from the autonomous nervous system, the perceived threat response, as explained in my previous article? And now ask yourself, how familiar is that feeling? For us fighters, the feelings are ones we know too well!

If you felt those feelings as you followed this process above, you may have just realised something. You create these feelings. And you can remove these feelings. You are in control of these feelings. Bear this in mind for later in the article where I show you how to handle nerves and anxiety, and remove them completely.

Now, here’s an important distinction. We need to feel like this in order to perform at our best. We need our limbic brain to fire up our sympathetic system, the stress response, to prepare our body for action. If we don’t, we will not perform. As fighters the sympathetic system is our friend, providing us with the energy and reactions, switching off optimising our system for competition. So we actually need this feeling to be there!

The problem is that we only need that reaction for when we compete. The remainder of the time we don’t need it. So you may find that on the run up to the fight you are having trouble sleeping, your appetite may be dropping off, and the perceived pressure of the fight may be crossing over and affecting your behaviour in your daily life from work through to relationships. All this is a wasted and unnecessary use of the sympathetic system – we only need this to kick in as we fight.

Now, experiencing nerves and feeling anxious are related but not quite the same. Being nervous is when you are worried about something you have to do. Being anxious is when you are worried about something that might happen, or has happened. And therefore both can kick in when you are going to fight. The responses are the same – the limbic brain mobilises the sympathetic system fires up getting you ready for the GAS (General Adaptation Syndrome), and you all know the feelings of nerves and anxiety.

Have a look again at the definitions of nerves and anxiousness in the paragraph above. They are both concerned with worry, but have a look at the time references. The worry is in the now, but the event you are worried about is either in the past or the future. The past has already happened, so don’t worry about it, take your learning from what has happened and don’t worry about it any more! Let it go! You can’t change what has happened. So worrying about it is a waste of time.

The future hasn’t happened yet, so there is uncertainty. That uncertainty causes you to worry. This worry fires up the sympathetic system and the nerves and anxious feelings start. If you allow the worry to build the sympathetic system will fire up more and more and you may even start to experience panic attacks. So the way to reduce nerves and anxiety is to remove as much uncertainty as possible.

I think of the mind being the body and the body being the mind. They are so linked that I find it easier to think of them connected in this way, inseparable. Perhaps you could too. I’ve already written that the body cannot distinguish between a vividly imagined event and reality, so we can use this to help remove uncertainty about the fight. So, as you get nerves or feel anxious, take note of what it actually is that is making you feel that way. What element about the future is worrying you? The worry is the start of any nerves or anxious feelings.

Once you have identified what the worry is, you can use your mind to ‘play out’ your own movie of the alternative options. For example, if you are worried about a technique that your opponent is famed for, like a devastating kick or takedown, then visualise your opponent executing this move. Then, in your mind, run through the ways that you would want to see yourself react to it. How you would want to counter, how you would want to evade. Find the response that would be most appropriate for you. Then, really flesh it out and make it real. See yourself in your own little movie. Start noticing every little detail of your opponent’s move in the movie. Make the colours and brightness and sound and feelings as real as you possibly can. See what he does to set himself up for that move. Then see you responding in the perfect way that you want to respond. Following it all the way through until that segment of the movie is complete. Then run that movie from just before the move all the way through to just after your perfect execution of your response.

This exercise ‘hardwires’ your brain, telling your body in advance how to respond. You are removing uncertainty. When he does ‘X’, I will then do ‘Y’. If you are removing uncertainty, you are removing worry. If you are removing worry, you won’t be getting the nerves or anxious feelings. And yes, it can be that simple! But please, follow the steps exactly how I’ve written them, as there are some important elements included in the steps.

As a by-product, this exercise will also be improving your fight ability. Visualisation is a powerful tool. NLP is all about modelling how someone does something. For example, this article is based on the works people have done on modelling nerves and anxiety. The same is applied to sportspeople. When successful sportspeople are modelled you will always find that they visualise. Tiger Woods visualises his shot before he plays it. See bobsleigh drivers and skiers going through every twist and turn on the course before they compete. Formula 1 race drivers visualise their driving of every turn, lump and bump of the course they are about to race. If you don’t visualise, you will not be the best fighter you can be.

So you can carry out this exercise all the way through all of your uncertainties. Remove the uncertainty and you’ll kill off the worry, and in turn the nerves and anxiety. But what if you can’t? What if those worries pop into your mind, and you feel the nerves and anxiety building?

Apart from the psychologically negative impact on your preparation for a fight these feelings can also have a negative physiological impact. If the sympathetic system fires up too early before the fight, your metabolism will be running too fast, and you can lose your energy and focus for the actual event. Pre-fight nerves and anxiousness can ruin performances. And that’s just on the day of the fight – these feelings can also ruin preparation in the weeks running up to the fight. You only need those feelings for the actual fight itself.

There are many simple methods that you can use to remove the feelings of nerves and anxiety as they appear in your body. I’m going to teach you one, really simple way, that you can get using straight away to help banish these feelings as they appear. Imagine these feelings appearing in your body, these familiar feelings of anxiety and nerves, and then turning them off almost like flicking a switch. It really is that simple.

Anxiety is a right-brain problem. It is a pattern response to the trigger of worry. You basically have a strategy that says ‘uncertainty leads to worry leads to stress leads to nerves and anxiousness’ and this happens in a certain way in your brain.

Anxiety and nerves form a positive feedback loop in the brain. The feeling builds as the sympathetic system fires up, and by concentrating on the feelings it makes you more nervous and more anxious. So we need to break this pattern response, this strategy, this positive feedback loop.

Now, as these feelings result from the right hemisphere of the brain, there’s a very simple technique we can use to break the way you get anxious. As soon as the feeling of anxiety starts if we engage the left hemisphere of the brain the neurological response is changed and you won’t be able to follow your strategy of getting anxious.

As a generalisation the right hemisphere of the brain controls the left side of the body and the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body. Take a ball, a screwed up piece of paper, something that size, and throw it between your left and right hands. Your hands must be across the body, your hands wide apart to engage both hemispheres of the brain. With the strategy for anxiousness broken, you won’t be able to get the full feeling, if at all. The positive feedback loop is adjusted so that anxiety will actually start to trigger calm!

This is just a really simple method to reduce nerves and anxiety, just by knowing how we process these feelings in our brain. I’ve chosen this as an example method for several reasons, not least because it is so damn simple! But also it can be utilised to enter a state of heightened sensory awareness, something that every fighter needs, and there’ll be more on this coming in the next article.

What I’d like you to do is get a feeling of anxiety back in your body. Notice where it is moving within you, and spin it faster and faster until you really can feel the anxiety building. Breathe faster and feel your heart beating faster. Take short breaths. Feel the tingles in your hands. Really create the feelings of anxiety, and calibrate it, give yourself a rating from 1-10. Then try the technique, and notice how the feeling subsides, and you may notice that the anxiety disappears completely as you calibrate after the exercise. After you do this several times you will actually begin to anchor the reduction in anxiety just by picking up your object, or even thinking of the exercise. There you go - a really simple method for reducing anxiety based on how the brain works.

The best thing is that the brain doesn’t work in this way just for fighting. The brain works this way on any nerves or anxiety, whatever the cause in life, whether work, personal life, exams, public speaking and other performances – anything. Try the exercise above on other nerves and anxiety in your life and notice how the nerves and anxiety fade.

Now, if it didn’t work, you may be doing an element wrong, or need appropriate coaching in terms of controlling anxiety. There are many other simple methods that can be used, which can be taught by a coach, and then utilised by the individual. There can also be deeper rooted issues that may need resolving which may include past limiting emotions, limiting beliefs, or ‘parts’ of you at conflict. You may also have that ‘little nagging voice’ inside your head, preventing you from being the best you can be. You could always contact me via my website should you wish to discuss any matters in more depth.

I started this series of articles with the base information on the limbic brain and how it creates the GAS in our body. This article you are reading now helped with self understanding of this response by investigating how we start to produce the response in our body, and how we can control it. Now we can recognise it within ourselves, and understand it a little better, we are well on the way to inducing stress responses in our opponents, setting them up in a loop where you can hit them at will. Imagine setting your opponents up in a loop where you just can hit them, and keep hitting them, and there’s nothing they can do about it once you start! But that’s in a later article. Next I’ll be looking into simple ways of getting into the right physiological and psychological state for optimum performance – how you can set yourself up for victory right from the start.