Gary 'Smiler' Turner's Blog

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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…


  1. And when he hits you, you know that your message has got across, dont you... :)