Gary 'Smiler' Turner's Blog

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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Fight Hypnosis Testimonial

Here's a fantastic fight testimonial I've received from Dave Garrett - thanks so much mate, and your fight performance was incredible!

"It has been 3 days since I won my debut semi-pro MMA fight and I find myself searching the forums for future events where I can experience the same success as I did on Saturday night. I attribute my success to the hard work that was undertaken by my Coaches, training partners and myself. The following testimonial highlights some of the preparation that was given by Gary Turner.

My background:
Professional: 13 years service in the armed forces (10 years as a Physical Training instructor and 5 years in the Royal Army Physical Training Corps as a rehabilitation specialist)
Sporting background: 19 years playing competitive rugby
7 years Martial arts experience (Training in aikido, Vale tudo, BJJ (Currently blue belt) and kickboxing.

I took the fight in June this year, which gave me 5 months to prepare. I had already spent the best part of 8 months Strength and Power training which had resulted in me gaining a lot of extra bulk (muscle and fat). I decided that there were 3 main priorities from the outset:

1. Prepare my physical fitness specifically for the MMA environment.
2. Lose the weight to fight at light heavy weight (93kg) - I weighed 108.5 kg.
3. Improve my martial arts skills to competitive MMA level.

Having a solid base in the grappling arts I decided that the majority of my focus should be on kickboxing, this was coupled with a groin injury which prevented a lot of guard fighting (an essential part of grappling).

July - August.

This far out from the fight, my focus was to finish my strength training cycle and progress to power. I also began private tuition under Gary to sharpen up my kickboxing skills. I already studied under Gary at his kickboxing class and had grappled with him on many occasions so knew he was a good coach, I was yet to find out that he had a whole other level of teaching ability in a 1 to 1 environment. The skills and conditioning sessions delivered by Gary here really picked my training up a notch and helped me identify areas to improve. I noticed a cross over into other areas of training...I started to flow and move more efficiently during sparring both in kickboxing and grappling.

September - October

With the summer out of the way I had lost alot of weight already and by September I had dropped to 102 kg. I had noticed that as the event drawed closer, I was getting anxious about fighting. It’s normal to experience nerves with a challenging event pending; only this time was different. I started to go into flight or fight mode just thinking about what was to come, this would also happen when watching similar contests on the TV and had started to affect my concentration and my sleep. I decided to discuss this with Gary who offered to do some sports hypnosis with me.

The hypnosis session lasted about 2 hours (although it felt alot shorter) and I remember much of the session. I had told Gary about my nerves, which I thought were related to some other situations. I spent most of the session laughing my anxiety away and left feeling alot more focused. Following that first session my anxiety returned to a normal level and my concentration and sleep problems were resolved.

A couple of weeks of preparation passed with this new level of focus and then some new problems appeared. I was stuck at 98 kg and also was concerned that my ability would be up to scratch. Gary offered to do some more work with me which I gladly accepted. This time I don’t remember much of what went on, it was on a Saturday morning and we had already done a little warm up training. I asked Gary if there was any way he could help me with: i. my weight loss, ii. tying together everything I had learned and iii. my adductor strain (which had gotten quite sore).
During this session I remember Gary asking my subconscious if it knew how to heal my adductor, to which the reply was yes and whether rehabilitation was required, to which the answer was no! Following the session my adductor no longer gave me trouble during training or indeed the fight. I also began breaking through the 98 kg barrier.

Following the hypnosis this time Gary wanted to trial some of the cue words he had installed suring the session, he asked me to strike his stand up dummy 'BOB' and promptly delivered the command 'continuous'. On hearing this my strikes began to flow naturally and continuously and I felt more relaxed, the next command that followed was 'pick it up!' This command gave me an uncontrollable urge to strike the dummy continuously as fast as I could. The strange thing was that I was getting tired and wanted to slow down...but couldn’t! It wasnt until Garys next command which told me to slow down that I managed to get a break (albeit a short one before the next 'pick it up!'.

I know about pushing myself to my physical limits, or at least I thought I did. It doesnt matter how hard you try and push, your body will always find a way of slowing down...with these new commands I had a way of pushing through my own self-imposed barriers. We retested the commands during our Monday night sparring sessions and they worked a treat, giving me the ability to relentlessly work on my sparring partners (who I must thank again for their support).

November - Pre fight

The week leading up to the fight I was asked on many occasions if I was confident, to which I replied 'I am just Ready!' I was as ready as I had ever been, for anything. On the Wednesday prior to the event I had another session with Gary to refresh all the work we had done, I had also undergone a couple of intense pressure testing sessions which really prepared me psychologically for the intensity I was going to have to work. The Thursday and Friday was spent cutting the last remaining weight (i had already practised losing the last 3 kilos in th Sauna but it turned out unnecessary). During these 2 days I felt no nerves and had a clear head, I hardly even thought about the fight! I made weight, replenished my body and had a normal Saturday before making my way down to Andover for the Into the cage 4 event.

Gary arrived shortly after me and helped me to warm up. We did some warming up and I felt some slight jitters on the initial couple of minutes which I think was due to my start up system kicking in. 30 minutes prior to fighting Gary did a final hypnosis session with me. Following this I got my gloves on and prepared to go out. From the moment I began my walk out to the moment I was stood in the cage apposite my opponent, I was in a state of complete focus. I had a job to do and it was as simple as that. As the fight started I heard my 2 cue words 'continuous...pick it up!'. My goal for the fight was to execute my skills exactly how I had trained which I achieved. Once I got into a mounted position on my opponent, I was able to sustain a constant work rate which caused the fight to end in 1 minute 18 seconds of the first round. The end of the fight felt exactly as I had visualised it, a triumphant end to months of hard work and preparation.

A massive thanks to Gary for all the time and effort he put in to helping me prepare for this fight."

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Insomnia Testimonial

It is important to get feedback on the work you do, and it really makes me happy when clients give a testimonial like this! Thanks Adam, and good work fella!

"I first met Gary Turner just over a year ago at a seminar he gave at Andy Roberts BJJ in Farnborough. I was impressed with Gary and his presentation style as his warm personality immediately make’s you feel at ease and as if you have known him for years.

For about 18 months before I arranged finally to see Gary Turner, I was in a bad place emotionally as I had broken up with my fiancée and had insomnia for the best part of the time afterwards. I literally felt like I was up at 2 in the morning each and everyday of my life. It was starting to affect me negatively at work and I was becoming more and more stressed out.

I decided to see Gary as I had a tremendous amount of respect for him as he is widely respected in the spheres he lives and works in. Basically I felt Gary had been there done that. The two hour hypnotherapy session was awesome a lot of time for me was talking through unresolved clutter in my head and Gary was basically the broom that swept it away. He resolved my sleep issues and made the self-defeating dialogue that I had running, go away.

It is now a month on and I am sleeping so much better than before, this has made me virtually stress free at work and my training is improving week by week.

I cannot thank Gary enough he has put me back on track and I feel so much happier with my life.

Thank you once again Gary.

Adam Collins"

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Hypnosis in Personal Training

I tend to blur the lines between my Hypnotherapy and my Personal Training. Doing one helps me to be better at the other, there is a skillset that crosses over nicely, and most importantly helps my clients get the results that they want.

During Personal Training I have to constantly monitor my client’s body language, emotions, mental outlook – yes I even monitor their thoughts – and guide them to where they need to be. I have to be sharp when on the pads, noticing every movement in my opponent to know exactly how and where my client will strike – holding the pads safety for both of us is my responsibility. I have to use a heightened state of sensory acuity. I utilise a whole number of linguistic skills from hypnotic language patterns, cognitive linguistics, and the realms of metaphor, clean language – every pattern I need to guide the thoughts in my client’s head, be better understood, and perhaps most importantly understand my client better. This doesn’t just help my clients, but also sharpens my skills for hypnotherapy.

A couple of weeks back I brought full on hypnotic phenomena into a standard Personal Training session. I have a talented 6 year old as a client, who enjoys his judo and mixed martial arts training with me. Training a 6 year old one-on-one for an hour keeps you on your toes! You have to make the session interesting, constantly changing what you are doing, keeping attention, monitoring his physical and mental condition. And you can’t train him the same as an adult. It is a challenge, and one that I thoroughly enjoy.

And in this session I was being challenged by his weak grip during judo throws. When he pulled hard he would lose his grip, therefore losing control, and not succeed in throwing. I needed to do something about this. So I got his hand, put it on the wall, and without a formal hypnosis induction stuck it to the wall so he couldn’t pull it away. Kids respond so well to hypnosis that it was achieved in about 20 seconds. I got him to transfer that ‘stuck’ to a grip on my sleeve – and suddenly his relatively weak grip was really strong – he could pull and pull me but because his hand was ‘stuck’ to my jacket sleeve the grip wasn’t broken. We’d captured his imagination and his body responded in kind.

After some throwing practice I got him to stand up. Using a principle currently being seen used by the street magician Dynamo (very talented, nice style, entertaining and fresh, check him out!) I first lifted him up easily off the ground. I then taught him to follow a mental process to stick his feet to the floor, to make him so heavy that he just couldn’t be moved. It was funny watching his mum try to lift him up when he was doing this – he had become so heavy!

I applied this principle to his holds, where he would do this mental process to stick himself to the floor – and with brilliant results pinning me so much more easily. For me underneath him, being held, he felt twice as heavy when he was using the mental technique.

Of course as with any training, it takes deliberate practice and repetition for the procedural memories, the muscle memories, to just allow this all to happen without conscious thought. Yet this was a lovely start, and a fun blend of hypnosis to get better results from my personal training. It made the session fun for both of us and the results came quicker. It opened my eyes, yet again, to what was potentially possible.

And this has got me wondering what other approaches I can use from hypnosis to speed up my client’s results…

Friday, 15 July 2011

World Titles – Are You Swimming In A Pond Or An Ocean?

Well, what’s a blog for if you can’t have a bit of a rant. Here’s one of mine. I was chatting to a top Thai boxing trainer/promoter last week and we started to rant about this, so I think its time to put it into a blog post and see what you all think.

And just to let you all know, this is aimed at no-one, and no show in particular. It’s the way I feel, and I put this out for discussion.

What better way to start but with a bit of trumpet blowing.

I’ve been fortunate to have had a long fight career, one where I’ve won more than I’ve lost, where I’ve tested myself, and along the way achieved thirteen World Titles. Yet, what does being a ‘World Champion’ actually say you have achieved?

The title that I am most proud of is my WAKO World Champion title for Heavyweight Full Contact Kickboxing. This one was an amateur World Title, yet it is the one that means the most to me. The competition raged in Poland over 5 days and I fought in a tournament against National Champions from nearly 70 countries. I earned that title the hard way – through blood, sweat, tears, and injuries – picking myself up and throwing myself time and time again into the ring. The fact that Britain has only won gold medals for Full Contact three times (me, Dev Barrett, Chris McNeish) in a competition that has been taking place for nearly twenty five years tells you something of the achievement. Yep, I’m pretty proud of this one.

All of my titles are what I consider to be true titles – apart from this one that follows. I hold a Thai Boxing World Title for beating Azem Maksutaj in Switzerland (the year he bust up K-1 Vegas and was tipped as the hottest fighter on the scene.) It is a fight I am very proud of though – for me, the challenge has always been in the opponents and not the prize, and Azem was one tough cookie to beat. Me knocking Azem down during this fight is currently my Facebook profile picture. The title itself though was for a pretty obscure governing body, although even this one was an international body. The title didn’t represent much at all.

So what makes my World Titles ‘true’ titles? They are all from truly international bodies, I fought foreign opponents and travelled the world for the fights, and the standard of competition was high. I put out challenges and I was challenged. The fights all took place on the world stage – I was a fish swimming in a massive ocean.

Even back in the day, in the 90’s, I won the biggest two British kickboxing titles against the top level opponents in Ricky Nicholson and Lee Swaby (WKA and WAKO). Back then titles really meant something, and these British Titles probably mean more of an achievement than most of the World Titles being won today.

Because nowadays it seems everyone is a World Champion. And whereas I know that all have been earned through effort and emotion, I do wonder about how much value these titles hold.

Most of the ‘World’ Champions aren’t really champions of the world. Instead, they are champions of a ‘show’. There are so many shows out there giving their versions of world titles, where the challenged only take place on their shows, often just fighting domestic opponents, some only ever featuring local fighters.

With these shows the pond is small, and often the fish aren’t even that big.

I think it totally devalues what a title actually is.

I’ve always enjoyed the challenge more than the titles, and I’m proud to say that I’ve fought against the best in the world, on a true world stage. Some I won, some I lost. For me, the challenge was in my opponents not the prize. So with titles being devalued I can still hold my head high and know where I’ve been and who I have fought, and the quality of my opponents.

I may be a little fish but I definitely have been swimming in the biggest ocean.

What are you swimming in?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Professional Hypnotherapist and Street Hypnosis – Can You Do Both?

I have been criticised for mixing elements of street hypnosis within my hypnotherapy sessions, most recently following my recent blog post. This criticism has come from General Practitioners (Doctors) and certain other hypnotherapists. Apparently, street hypnosis of any kind is ‘unprofessional’ for a hypnotherapist, and ‘totally unprofessional’ in a clinical setting.


I put my clients’ needs first before any perceived ‘professionalism’ by others. And I believe that is why I get the results that I get. I do my best to do what is needed to get my clients to where they want to be. That is the most important part.

Today during a hypnotherapy session I had my client hallucinate a living breathing independently living dog. I followed that up by sticking a business card to their fingers, sticking their hand to their head, and then having them forget their name. All of this was without a recognisable induction, my client not in any trance at all, and the total process took about 5 minutes. It was pure street hypnosis. My client couldn’t even identify that he was in hypnosis. He just couldn’t say his name, could see the dog living independently, and had bits of his body ‘stuck’ to things. The results were very tangible.

So what did this have to do with a client session? Firstly, I used it to illustrate what happens when the imagination locks onto an idea. How, outside of conscious awareness, the body will react to that imagination and move towards its creation. How your imagination can guide you to your behaviour and results. It was an eye-opening experience for my client as he realised how he created elements of his problem. And a fun experience too.

(I could have taken the phenomena much further, for example gone for some negative hallucinations such as making myself invisible to my client (always a winner!), created and tested for anaesthesia, or ramping up the fun a little – yet there was no need. I knew my client was exactly where I needed him to be already.)

By carrying out this process I was also ramping up the hypnotic phenomena, checking that he could create the depth of phenomena I required for the post hypnotic suggestions required to ‘stick’.

With my client already well hypnotised, and creating a depth of phenomena which indicated to me that he would follow any suggestion accurately and immediately, he was one suggestion away from a ‘trance’ hypnotic state that matched his model of hypnosis. I ‘dropped’ him into this state and delivered the direct suggestions he needed for the change of behaviour, before taking him out of hypnosis and testing the work.

Hypnotherapists are often taught to use long winded and cumbersome methods of inducing hypnosis. I empowered myself to learn every methodology I could find to induce hypnosis, and looked to the street and stage teachings to fill the gaps in my knowledge. By practicing the street and stage methodology (including the psychology of the subjects) I have become far better placed to hypnotise my clients, and to do so more quickly. They have also been more cooperative with the entire change-work process. And the quicker I can obtain the hypnosis I want with my client the more time I have to work with them.

I practice street hypnosis exactly as a fighter uses padwork – as practice. I get to hypnotise loads of people and produce hypnotic phenomena. This is the practice time, where it is OK to make mistakes. I do not consider it OK to make mistakes during a hypnotherapy session, so I practice to minimise risk. It is also a very, very powerful marketing tool.

And when I do street hypnosis I don’t humiliate or embarrass, instead I empower the subject. I leave hypnotic gifts to help them with their lives. The experience is about the subject and not the onlookers. In the street I am ‘subject centred’ and in hypnotherapy I am ‘client centred’.

In a clinical setting there seems to be a stubborn opinion that everything should be done ‘professionally’, and in the ‘correct and appropriate manner’. This appears to be in respect to dressing a certain way for clients, the set up of the room, operating in a certain procedural fashion - the way that you carry yourself as you do the work, the way you carry out the work.

I say professionalism is doing what is needed for the client. I often dress casual to have the client relaxed and put at ease. (For sports clients I am often in sports kit for example.) I greet my clients warmly. I put humour in to ‘break states’. I love using my sense of fun to provoke a different reaction. I attach enjoyment as much as I possibly can. I go into neuroscience and psychology and get the books out all in a fun way to illustrate points so the client knows I know what I’m talking about so they can trust me. Everything I do from the first contact through to the follow up is by design, as appropriate for the client, to help them get the best results I can.

I put the client first.

And isn’t that being professional?

Thursday, 30 June 2011


I recently carried out much research into the studies of asthma, ranging from what it is, what causes it, through to what can be done about it. I found considerable evidence in the scientific research papers to say that there is a large psychological and psychosomatic element to asthma.

I believe I can work with anything psych (mind) or psychosomatic (mind-body) within my hypnotherapy. So this set me up nicely to have a little experimentation, to get some test clients in, to see just what can be done. As usual when I do experimental work, the sessions are free for my clients though they are treated with the professionalism, respect and attention I give all of my clients.

Interestingly, all but one of my clients developed asthma at some time in their childhood – they weren’t born with it, it was a condition which developed later in life. This suggests that there was a later trigger point, which could be psychological rather than innate (genetic). I work with that presupposition in mind.

I carried out a similar approach with all to form a baseline for my experimentation. These were not carried out under strict ‘scientific double blind study’ testing, although, as with every element of my work, I would love for someone to design and sponsor some proper testing!

With most clients I carried out a single two-hour session, and a couple had two two-hour sessions. I worked on the potential psychological origins of asthma, the potential of the mind to learn to not have asthma therefore guiding the body, and also to use the mind-body connection to reverse any asthma attacks that did happen.

Some of my clients haven’t had a single asthma attack since our session(s). Some have had attacks, though of a reduced number and reduced intensity. I am awaiting longer term feedback from two of my experimental clients – although interesting changes have been reported in the interim. Of note is that all of my test clients have reported positive results. This suggests strongly to me that a form of psychological intervention will help asthmatics on some level.

Here’s a testimonial from one of my clients, a lady in her thirties, following our first session:

“I have suffered with Asthma since the age of 16, during this time I have been hospitalised with various Asthma attacks. In April this year I booked a hypnotherapy session with Gary.

During my session with Gary he explored the reasons as to why I have Asthma; he created an Asthma attack and taught me how to control it.

I have gone from using my inhaler at least 3 times a day to only using it once or twice in two months, if I feel an Asthma attack coming I now have the tools to combat it without the use of Inhalers.

I have been absolutely amazed by the success of the Hypnotherapy session and can honestly say that I never thought that Hypnotherapy to combat my Asthma would have this level of success.

I would Highly recommend Gary, he achieves excellent results and from just one session!!!

Thank you Gary”

Now, I’m not saying I can help everyone or even anyone in just one session. The results that individuals get vary – one person’s asthma is unique to them, and every person’s psych is different. I am also not saying I can ‘cure’ asthma, and I definitely don’t diagnose anything. In fact I hate diagnoses full stop. I just work with what I am presented with, and if it is psych or psychosomatic I could be able to help. Should you consider that you have asthma or any other condition you shouldn’t throw away advice from licensed medical practitioners. Hypnotherapy works on a complimentary basis, and you should take care to consider all of your options, and also how to combine your options.

It is worth taking careful note too that the Royal Society for Medicine is calling for hypnosis to be made “a standard part of the NHS toolkit.” (RSM 6 June 2011)

I’ve found my experimental work very eye opening and have led to me asking many more questions than I’ve answered. The best thing though is that all of my test clients are reporting positive results from this experimental work. I’m currently in the process of carrying out experimental work with clients reporting crohn’s disease, and I hope they get similar results too...

Monday, 27 June 2011

Crushed By The Power Of Your Mind

I’ve been a bit slow with my blog posts lately, I’ve been very busy studying, working with clients, and I have a lovely new husky to keep me busy! So it’s time for me to get back up to speed and regularly blogging.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of street hypnosis. This is for the purposes of perfecting my skills with hypnosis, so I can be a better hypnotherapist. It is also a lot of fun!

Some people think that street hypnosis is immoral or wrong, yet let me assure you that I do street hypnosis only to perfect my skills as a hypnotist, never to embarrass anyone, never to humiliate, and do it to show the power of my subject’s mind. It is always about the experience of the subject, not those who are watching. I think of it like padwork for a fighter, or revision for someone about to take an exam.

The sort of simple skits I use are living statues, sticking hands and feet to things, hypnotic steals (I always give back!), hallucinations such as me being invisible or becoming someone else, speaking Chinese as their first language, forgetting their own name…and a whole host of similar.

I believe that if you can’t create phenomena, then you aren’t hypnotising. For me it is about bending reality so much that a person believes, and then experiences. So the more hypnotic phenomena I can produce, the better hypnotist I will be, and therefore the more effective tools I will have at my disposal as a hypnotherapist. This is especially true in respect to some of the psychosomatic work I do, and especially in work like pain management.

I recently saw an incredible piece of work by Anthony Jacquin ( He just told someone to close their eyes, and, with his hand in a claw grip and without touching them, in fact being several feet away, and apparently just using his intent (like he was pretending to be Darth Vader), he proceeded to squeeze their neck until they had trouble breathing, at which point he instantly released them. No induction. No set up. No physical contact. It was performed ‘cold’. The effect was amazing. Put ‘force grip hypnosis’ into Youtube and see for yourself.

I worked and worked at retro-engineering this effect, as I believed if I could do this I would be better than the average hypnotist! With a little help, I had the methodology in place. Time to practice!

So off I went, and what better subjects than my personal training clients…

The first two attempts I messed up myself through being over-eager, and then I got it going with the third. I actually achieved the ‘force grip’ effect! What a result! It felt like an incredible achievement. Without a hypnotic induction I had a client create the psychosomatic feeling of having their chest compressed, hard enough so that they could only just talk, all without touching them! Their mind believed, and their body created the effect.

At that point I realised just how powerful the mind-body connection was – I wonder if you could imagine how many psychosomatic conditions are created this easily? If the power of the mind creates this effect in the body, what else can it create? And therefore, as a hypnotherapist, how much can I help reverse this to help free people from psychosomatic conditions?

I’ve since replicated it several times. One of my subjects has reported to me:

“My experience with Gary’s phantom throat grip was very interesting and a demonstration of the power of mind over matter. Gary, without once touching me, just using the volume of his voice, was able to make me to feel pressure on my throat, to the extent where swallowing became difficult. The strangest thing was, I knew of course, that Gary was not in physical contact with me, but oddly, the more I thought about this, the more it seemed to affect the pressure on my throat. It was an extremely odd experience but a great demonstration of the power of suggestion....”

Anthony Beckley

(Anthony has given his permission to use his name)

I’m really interested in how far I can take this within a performance setting. I’ve already got a methodology in place and being developed in practice to create the precise circumstances to drop someone into hypnosis right in the middle of sparring (kickboxing or grappling). I am now looking at whole ways of working where I can hypnotise someone during fighting and get them to take a count, or submit through tapping, all without touching them after I drop them into hypnosis. And when I can beat someone just using the power of their own mind to create the physical changes I need – I’ll have discovered the ultimate fighter’s Nirvana!

Of course, I’m also developing the cross-over into my hypnotherapy work too. And when you think about it, if I can get Anthony to have that feeling (as per his testimony above), imagine what work we can do with your issues in hypnotherapy

Friday, 11 February 2011

Sparring a Fighter in Hypnosis

As I type this there is a lump growing and reddening on my eye socket. I like to test my work at every stage, and this lump is giving me great satisfaction as to the success of my morning’s work!

As a Sports Performance Expert I work with many athletes. Due to my sporting heritage many are other fighters. I work with them with Personal Training, Mentoring, Coaching, and Hypnotherapy. The elements tend to blend together, yet until this morning I hadn’t combined full hypnosis with sparring at the same time!

One of my good friends and training partners has a kickboxing fight in a couple of week’s time. This morning I had him in my home gym and we had a fantastic experimental session, mixing hypnosis with fighting. And it was a success in every way, from my learning, through to his developmental improvements.

We entered the two hour session fully knowing it was experimental. I wanted to experiment with a fighter in hypnosis during sparring, just to see what I could learn from the process and to see the results that could be achieved. I didn’t even know if we could maintain the focus of hypnosis under the pressure of fighting, let alone how effective my approaches would be.

This blog post is a description of the session, so you can see how I worked, and an idea of the results that were achieved. This blog post will be of interest to other hypnotists, fighters, and just the general person who wonders what fighters and hypnotists get up to when they decide to play!

We started with a coffee and my client telling me which areas of his game he wanted to improve during the session. He told me he wanted to look ‘through’ his opponent’s punches, keep his head moving, and have the defences of Mayweather. He told me he wanted the footwork and the ability to counter-strike that a certain World Champion friend of ours has. “Anything else?” I asked whilst thinking “sh*t”…but hey, when experimenting, a failure’s acceptable if you learn from it!

So we set to work. Knowing my client, I know he can enter hypnosis easily yet has difficulty in producing certain phenomena. Each suggestion given needs to ‘fit’ his model of the world precisely. If it fits, it works spectacularly, if not, the suggestion feels flat. And production of hypnotic phenomena is what is required. (I am constantly amazed by the number of ‘hypnotherapists that just read from a script, not interacting with clients let alone knowing if they are in hypnosis. For me, each stage of the work needs testing, and if you can’t produce phenomena, then you probably aren’t hypnotising!)

Hypnosis is a tool and everyone needs that tool applied differently. So I had given myself a bit of added pressure, as I would have to ramp up the phenomena carefully to get the results I wanted. This is different to the way a stage hypnotist usually works. They can get to choose the best subjects and send the harder subjects back to their seats. I had to get it right first time with the person directly in front of me.

My approach was to ramp up the phenomena, and to get him to enter hypnosis on command. I started with some waking hypnosis, commencing with a card stick (for the hypnotists, an adapted approach to James Tripp’s Hypnosis Without Trance), where he can’t drop a card in his hands through the effect of my suggestions. He struggled, and then dropped it. Some hypnotists would take this as a failure but I’m lucky – I have some good peers who have trained me well, and I know how to handle it when things don’t go to plan. This failure just gave me all the information I needed.

Using this information I stuck his hand to the table just using suggestion, so that no matter how hard he pulled he couldn’t lift his hand. Perfect. Now I knew the approach I needed to get him to produce physical phenomena.

My client loves to test himself, and he really struggles when challenged. So I switched approaches and did a ‘magnetic fingers’ induction (fingers move together outside of conscious control). He struggled with this before the fingers eventually came together, really testing himself and I knew then I had a little adjustment to make. I got him to open his eyes, and did a ‘magnetic hands’ induction (arms straight and hands come together outside of conscious control). Perfect.

A quick instant induction and I quickly worked to stabilise the state. I continued the hypnotic phenomena and got his unconscious mind to lift his arm slowly upwards to his forehead with the suggestion that he would find it funnier and funnier the higher it got until it stuck on his forehead where he would find it the funniest thing ever. (Thanks Anthony Jacquin!) He achieved this nicely, and I had transitioned nicely from physical phenomena through to emotional.

I anchored entering hypnosis to the command ‘sleep!’, and did around 4 or 5 different instant inductions taking him up and down each time, so that I was sure that I could just command sleep and he would drop. I wanted to make sure he had the skills to enter the same state each time at my command.

From this state I moved to produce more ‘mental’ phenomena and gave him name amnesia and he quite nicely forgot his name. Now he was in the realms of creating the phenomena I wanted him to do. During the amnesia ‘skit’ I thought I noted an element that my client needed to be able to achieve these phenomena. To test, I left this element out as I moved for number amnesia. The number amnesia nearly worked and then failed. Perfect, a failure yet it was the feedback I needed. Now I knew exactly what I needed to do.

We gloved up for sparring, and I dropped him with the ‘sleep!’ command. I was looking for my client to carry out ‘deep trance identification’, where he actually would ‘become’ another person. Think of a stage show, where a hypnotists gets someone to be Elvis or similar. I know how procedural and episodic memories (movements like riding a bike, and memories of events) are laid down in the neurology and how ‘habits’ are formed. I know how they can be used to form habits in sport. By getting my client to act like another fighter the skills should be transferable, applying my determinist knowledge to a stage hypnosis procedure.

I had my client visualise Mayweather fighting perfectly with all the head moving, looking through the punches, and all the defences that Mayweather uses. Once I was happy my client was experiencing this to the best of his ability I took him inside Mayweather, so he actually was this representation of Mayweather. I got him to ‘spark’ his muscles to fire the neurology exactly in accordance with what he was experiencing. Watching his muscles move and twitch I knew I was witnessing a completely different performance to that which my client would usually give. He was actually firing and moving as Mayweather. It was now time for a test.

With my client still as Mayweather in hypnosis we gloved up and started to spar. Straight away I was fighting a different client to usual. He was moving and ducking and evading and hitting on the move – just like Mayweather! It was a completely different fight style for my client and a completely different skillset. Every time I went for an entry to hit him I was hit myself and had to move clear – it was impossible to gain entry without being hit! So I used my fight experience and skills to test him, broke his pattern, and whilst I still didn’t hit him it appeared the ‘spell’ was starting to unravel. I called time in order to get the feedback.

My client was buzzing, knowing he was moving more, countering, and just reacting unconsciously rather than his usual self. He said he ‘just was’. However, when pressured, he said he felt himself slipping from that state. So, a promising start, but more work was needed. We needed the hypnosis and the state to be maintained under pressure – we needed it to stick.

I dropped him into hypnosis again and carried out the same process of deep trance identification, only this time with Mayweather responding under pressure and other minor changes. I then used a couple of techniques to then make this state stick as permanently as I would want. (For the hypnotists, one adapted from one of Anthony Jacquin’s teachings, the other adapted from an approach from Jeffery Stephens combined with my studies of symbology and metaphor.)

I got him to open his eyes still in hypnosis again, and off we went sparring. And I wish we hadn’t! Every time I moved into range, strikes were flying towards me. Fed up of staying on the end of these punches I absorbed a couple and moved in. I threw a couple of combinations of around 8 or 9 varied punches and I only probably hit him with 1 or 2. He was ducking and moving and instantly countering and it was all I could do in order to keep from being struck. Then it happened. I saw the movement and the punch coming. I went to evade, I moved off, my guard too far away to respond in time, nothing I could do, and the sharpest sweetest right cross sending me nearly off my feet – an achievement for someone 20kg lighter than me and against my experience too! I called time, satisfied that the approach was working.

I brought my client out of his state and looked for feedback. I must have been beaming a smile all over my face as I looked at an ecstatic client over-whelmed with his new ability, summarising with “no-one gets hit by me like that!”

I repeated the same process, this time with our World Champion friend’s slick footwork and ability to counter. I drew in the ability from Mayweather and stabilised the state as before, and we sparred again. The state stuck. I was fighting a 100% improved client.

Sitting my client down I then worked with him in hypnosis to amalgamate the learnings and ability once more, to integrate it all with his own natural ability, let it become ‘one’ with him in a way that was right for him. I wanted these skills to be a natural part of his ability. I wanted to really embed these new skills. There was lots of mental rehearsal, lots of direct suggestion, and a few extra direct suggestions as well.

At the end of the session my client summarised with a very congruent statement. “I feel like a different fighter.”

That’s right mate. That’s because you are. You now know you have that ability. And I’m proud of you.

As I’m typing away and musing over my morning’s experience and findings, I now have a new avenue to help my sports clients improve. I know I can induce hypnosis with what some hypnotists would say is a testing subject, produce what is perceived as a deep trance phenomenon (worth noting I don’t believe in the hypnotic concept of depth), and stabilise it so that it can withstand the ultimate testing – the pressures of fighting. My mind is buzzing from where this can take me now. And the results I can get with my clients.

Actually, as I’m finishing writing this I’m now starting to feel my cheekbone from one of my client’s punches too, adding to my eye socket. And what a satisfying feeling this is too!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Magic, Mentalism and Fighting

One of the things I love about fight sports is that you get to meet some very interesting people. The fight game is actually very friendly, particularly the higher up into the professional ranks you go. And with this comes opportunities to learn.

Recently I’ve been working with a few new training partners for some hard sparring sessions. Chatting after training I mentioned I was a hypnotist and one of their ears lit up, and a conversation (and much ongoing dialogue!) has continued. It turns out he is a mentalist and close-up magician, with a great depth of knowledge on the subject. And, through the learnings of our chats, I’ve come to realise that magic, mentalism and fighting actually cross over quite nicely.

My main interest area is with the psychology behind the performances and of course the hypnosis elements, rather than the sleight of hands and illusions. Initially I was interested as to how this performance knowledge can help with my hypnotherapy clients, and already have some great insights. And at the same time I am looking to see how this knowledge can cross over to other areas such as fighting.

I’ve been fortunate to gain access to much classic material in respect to these performances, including early notes by Derren Brown and the like. I’m constantly amazed at the simplicity of the approaches used yet at the same time how elegant and practiced you must be to apply them, and how much depends on the element of showmanship around the technique.

There are three regular elements to mentalism tricks – slight of hand, forces, and distractions. Sleights of hands are the small movements, the dexterity, swapping cards, making coins disappear and the like. These are the movements that require months and years to practice to achieve effectiveness. Often these slights take full advantage of gaps in our own sensory perceptions such as carrying out the switches in our visual blind spots – we literally can’t see the sleight taking place! Forces are the psychological direction where a subject is guided to make the choice that the mentalist wants them to take. The bombardment of senses uses a whole host of psychological practices to ensure that this is successful and so little left to chance. Distractions are pretty straight forward. Change the attentional focus of the subject and make the switch elsewhere.

Last night at training I realised that my clients and myself already use these approaches. I watched with realisation as one of my clients last night repeatedly struck another with a hook that wasn’t recognised. He ‘blind-sided’ his opponent by making the path of his hook behind his opponent’s glove, with it ‘breaking cover’ right at the end to strike. A classic ‘reveal’ in the magic sense I guess! The trick definitely hit home……and I noticed several other sleights observing the sparring.

Forces are what I love to do when sparring and fighting. Forcing the opponent to position themselves and actually take the shot that you intend is a big part of my game. To do this I use my techniques and feints to set them up, as well as psychological approaches, and playing on their strengths amongst many others. I literally allow them to position themselves in the way of my shots.

Distractions are fun, and are used all the time in fighting. From feinting to acting, all fighters use them. Distract from one area and hit in the other, or combine a distraction with a force to really set the opponent up.