written by Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny

In DBMA, we have a considerable emphasis on developing both hands ability to work individually and in non-symetrical coordination with either hand be able to function as the dominant one. Through my exposure to NLP and a random sermon by one Rev. Terry Cole Whittaker caught while surfing one Sunday morning, I have come to place great importance on expressing oneself positively as versus negatively. Thus it mattered to me not only for myself but also in my teaching to not call me left hand my “bad” one and my right hand my “good” one. To put the power of my word into calling my left “bad” was a violation of the principle. I struggled with what to call my left hand for quite a while until I came up with calling my it “my good hand” and my right hand “my better hand”. Of course this would be utterly confusing to anyone who doesn’t know what the hell I’m talking about and so I limit its use to myself and my students. I made reference to this in a post on the Eskrima Digest and someone asked the following question:

Maybe Marc Denny could enlighten us on his NLP research and application?? Is this exclisively from Richard Bandler, or is it the Anthony Robbin’s hybrid?? Just curious…….

Herewith a reworking of my reply:

One of the great gifts in my life is that my mother only let me watch 2 hours of TV a week, one of which had to be Walt Disney. Instead I was given books and with them I did what I saw the people around me do. I read them. And over the years I have let my curiosity wander into many areas, I don’t presume to “enlighten”, but I’m glad to share, but know that all I have done is a weekend seminar, read a Bandler book, and put down a Tony Robbins book halfway through because I thought it was repeating itself and carrying an idea to its illogical extreme.

I once knew someone who was very skilled at NLP techniques, and although I had a different philosophy as to how and what they should be used for, I was impressed at their power. NLP has many interesting ideas. For example, there is one area dedicated to the study of eye movements as revealing the thought process occuring at that moment. For example, someone might look to a particular direction (e.g. up and to the left) when asked “Is the red or the green light at the top of a traffic signal?” The idea is that there is a particular involuntary eye movement connected with, in this example, accessing visual memory. If you are getting something else (e.g. down and to the right) when you ask someone for a visual memory, there is a good chance that the person is lying.

NLP also has an analytic matrix of seeing people as either tactile/kinestetic (sp?), visual, verbal, or auditory, (of course we all are a unique blend of these variables) and studies how to best communicate with each type. To this end it teaches what body language works best, even what breathing, as well as speech dynamics (fast, slow, even, dynamic) and what type of words to best communicate with the different types. This knowledge is often used to train sales people to sell. For example a car salesman might say to a prospective buyer who is visual “Can’t you just SEE yourself going down the road in this baby?!?” but to a tactile type he might say “FEEL how wonderful it is to sit at the wheel of such a wonderful car!!!”

In the hands of somebody really skilled in these techniques, there is also the temptation, in my opinion, to manipulate. One is learning techniques to have the other person feel that there is a bond: We see the world, we experience the world alike! We think alike! You understand me! We communicate- i.e. we make common! This can be very JKD like in the sense that my communication is the result of your modality, but in the absence of integrity, the temptation to exploit and manipulate can be quite strong.

All this can be very interesting, but the NLP idea I found most relevant to me was the idea of the importance of the power of how one frames one’s thoughts. You could do affirmation exercises and program yourself for success! Although I had some doubts about the claims of NLP as a school of psychology, mentally I said “Sign me up!” I tend to throw myself into things, and wound up doing some subliminal NLP hypnosis via adiotapes via headphones, with the goal of overriding “negative limiting thoughts” that held me back in my martial arts using the affirmations. I was 39 and gung ho with my new discovery of BJJ before it was general knowledge and used this technique to reach for new levels in my training. And it was working. I was one of the 7 Americans that Rigan Machado took to Brazil with him to the school where he trained for the first time. Rigan worked me into what may have been the best shape of my life. I felt that I was still going up even though I was 39. More! Harder! I was never going to die.

And one day at the beach in Buzios, as part of showing off for some really cute girls whose hands I read, I went out body surfing out where the surfers were. Long story short, I got carried out in a rip tide and would have died if one of the surfers, who turned out to be from our group, had not turned at the moment I was easier to see because a wave had lifted me up and come to get me at not insignificant risk to himself. With me hanging on his leash, it took us 45 minutes paddling together to get in.

But in terms of my outlook, I shook it off. Three months later, back in the US, I was pushing myself to go train one night when I was really tired, my knee got snapped– in part because I was too tired to notice and compensate for a hyper 6’7″ idiot. In the surgeries that followed I used the NLP headphone hypnosis stuff to prepare for the surgeries. The nurses were quite impressed at how quickly I threw off the anasthesia. (sp?)

But I began to reflect and came to feel that while the hypnosis process that I had done had merit for something like prepping for surgery, that as far as the big picture of one’s psychological dynamics, it was kind of like Partial Equilibrium Economics as versus General Equilibrium Economics. By that I mean, that PE isolates one variable and assumes other variables constant, i.e. no response from the system to a change of one variable. For example a congressional bureaucrat in Washington DC doing an analysis of the effects of a change in the tax rate might assume that people’s behavior will remain the same. In contrast GE assumes reaction and interaction-for example when Reagan reduced tax rates from 70% to 30%, the rich took their money out of tax shelters. PE would have predicted a 4/7 decline in tax revenues, but GE (here the right half of the Laffer Curve) would expect that people would change their behavior. Statically PE showed this an increase in the disparity of wealth, but GE said “Oh, the rich aren’t hiding in tax shelters (non-cash expenses offsetting cash flow) and are actually paying more in taxes and that is what is showing up in your PE statistics as an increase in disparity. Their behavior responded to changes in the tax code.” No duh!!! But non-free market people seem to have trouble with this. In this sense, I see NLP as kind of like PE– it has its merits, but its best to understand that there are other forces that will respond as well. The human pysche is a very complex thing and in my opinion in this area NLP has too mechanistic a view of human nature.

Thus with the NLP headphone hypnosis subliminal affirmations, I had overpowered voices with in me that I should have, and perhaps would have, listened to. The blazing stupidity of what I did in Buzios, and of training while dead tired with a hyper 6″7″ idiot ( a few years off of playing defensive end in high school football) had almost led to a very Darwinian finish to the adventure of my life, and had in fact led to a very substantial Darwinian setback.

Yet I also believe that this experience emphasized the power of the articulation of one’s thoughts. If I could overwhelm common sense, imagine what I could do if I aligned my thoughts with more care! I thought Bill McGrath’s post of yesterday made the point of the power of the music/lyrics of one’s “war dance” very well. To the extent that one has succeeded into going into an altered state by means of the training, one is putting the words of the music into oneself and if they conflict with what is in there already there can be some real problems.

So what I have done is limit myself to the simple NLP exercise of expressing my thoughts only with positive words. The concept here is that the mind does not hear the negative word. Thus, if we say “Don’t forget to , , ,” the mind only hears “FORGET” and so we forget. The challenge is to learn to say “REMEMBER to , , ,” It can be quite an interesting study to notice how thoroughly the articulation of thoughts takes the negative for most people and extraordinarily challenging to apply this Concept impeccably to oneself.

But sometimes we bump up against something that we have a real problem with stating positively in a way that we genuinely believe. My mistake in applying NLP, and it literally almost cost me my life, was to to use technology to overpower what NLP told me were my negative limiting thoughts, when actually at least some of these thoughts were those of recognition of limits. Even chanting a mantra of affirmations which conflict with one’s true thoughts in my opinion does not yield good results. Instead I have come to see a difficulty in positive expression as a potent indicator of something being out of whack in my inner thoughts. This is the key point. My idea is to seek to go into them and find alignment and THEN affirm it with my positive words. In other words, the positive words are the result, not the cause of the positive thoughts. This is what I have learned from my experience with NLP. Your Mileage May Vary.

Anyway, I have wandered a bit far afield here— how rare! but, well, there it is.

Guro Crafty

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