The four vital tools to train warriors

Some years ago, one of our experts, an experienced SWAT officer, asked for a drill to control and reduce stress (specifically, the kind that that arises on a dangerous mission like a hostage rescue or raid on a terrorist safehouse). He received a simple drill on rhythmic breathing and visualization. Its essence was to inhale, stop, and exhale in four-second increments for each segment, while paying special attention to the moment when the air flow changes direction. This drill should be done during the preparation period before the stress-inducing action begins, and also on a daily basis.

The next time we met, the officer told me, "This drill changed my life." It enabled him to control his mind and the stress during missions, be more focused, and function much better.

Imagine, after over 15 years in the unit, a simple breathing exercise changed his life.

Another example of the value of breathing exercises comes from a friend who was studying medicine. She had to take blood from several patients, for the first time. That young woman, together with all dozens of other medical students, was in complete panic. They had all failed in their attempts to take blood from each other the evening before. We gave her a drill that we call "accept defeat." You start by visualizing and "practicing" the worst-case scenario. Then, in several stages, you progress from imagining the worst to the best results, ending by visualizing the most desirable outcome. After that you visualize, and, if possible, physically train through the best scenario ten times. Our session with the doctor-to-be took about 20 minutes. The next day that young woman performed first out of her class and flawlessly did the blood extraction from several patients.

The tools that we can use to control, manipulate, strengthen and train our minds are:

Breathing – Controlling the breathing process, especially when focusing on abdominal breathing, is relaxing, elevates your focus and concentration, and is a basic mindfulness tool.

Picture – The picture in your mind strongly influences your mental state. That picture can be real one, transferred by the eye, or a visualized one, created in the brain. The brain sees; the eye is only a device. If you visualize yourself as a predator, for example, a tiger, acting in a very aggressive manner and attacking a prey, your mindset will be similar. If you visualize yourself as a rabbit, running away from a predator, your state of mind and mood will be very different. It's clear which mindset you wish to have during a confrontation. Use the imagination and train while you visualize yourself as an aggressive predator.

Self-talk (internal monologue) – The thoughts you have are your internal talk; after all, we think with words. These thoughts turn into action; the actions into habits; and the habits into the building blocks that create the character. Thus, both what you do and the way you behave start with a thought. You must alter your self-talk to speed up your transformation into a level-headed warrior. It's easy to change your thoughts. Change your loser's sentence to a winner's sentence and check your mental state after repeating each sentence for 20-30 seconds. For example, a loser's sentence: "I can't make this call; anyhow she will never say yes, she will never go out with me". Or a winner's: "I can do this job. I know I will succeed in delivering what the boss asked of me".

Action – Putting a move or a series of attacks into your thoughts will put you into a "ready to engage" mindset. Visualizing sequences of kicks, punches, grabs, throws, and stomping the "enemy" elevates your aggression and "predator attitude." It's advisable to do a series of attacks combining a grab, knees, headbutt and hammer strikes while taking the target down.

  • The two additional tools are also very important, especially if you train for conflicts that do not involve physical violence, or that you can stop from escalating to physical aggression:

Posture – The difference between power pose and the weak pose is a matter of changing your mind, attitude and hormones. Research shows that if you hold a pencil between your teeth, after about 20 seconds, your will feel happier. The same principle happens when you enter a winning, commanding or fighting pose: Your cortisol (stress hormone) level will drop and your testosterone level will go higher. The opposite will happen when you take a weak, submissive pose.

Sound – The sounds that reach your ears change your spirit and mood. Your mood will be different when hearing a Mozart concert versus a heavy metal song. If you add growling sounds to your fighting and striking actions, your fighting spirit and predator behavior will increase in seconds.

Introducing Martial Arts School Listings on Black Belt Mag!
Sign Up Now To Be One Of The First School Listed In Our Database.
Don't miss a single issue of the worlds largest magazine of martial arts.
Photo Courtesy: Dawson Holt via Instagram

The 2021 Diamond Nationals took place on October 8th and 9th, the first time the prestigious event has been hosted since 2019. World class competitors gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota to test their skills in forms, weapons, point sparring, and more.

In the early 2010's, Ken Warner (otherwise known as ZenInc on YouTube) always shared his "Top Five" on Facebook after major sport karate events. Reflecting on these posts has inspired me to write a top five article of my own for the Diamond Nationals, and I plan to continue writing these articles after each tournament I attend. Special thanks to Ken Warner for his contributions to documenting sport karate history. Without further ado, here is Jackson's Five for the Diamond Nationals.

Keep Reading Show less
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases of the airways of the lungs. In developed countries it affects 7- 10 % of population, and it has got an increasing tendency. In 2014, around 300 million people globally had asthma, mostly in North America and Europe and with lowest rate in Africa.
Keep Reading Show less

Bruce Lee Birth Anniversary: Looking Back At 'Way of The Dragon', And Why It's the Most Underrated Movie Of This Martial Artist

Bruce Lee's Back Exercises for Explosive Punching Power and Speed

Did you ever wonder why Bruce Lee was so focused on training his back muscles?

The back is like the core. It stabilizes the spine and shoulders. It also connects the power of your hips and arms to push, pull, rotate, and punch.

The force of your punch relies on your body, not just your arm. The power of your punch is generated by moving the mass of your body. The tension your muscles can create will determine the force and speed they can produce. There are many factors involved in developing your punch. However, strengthening your back is a good place to start and you will see instant changes in speed, power and explosiveness of your punching technique.

Keep Reading Show less