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Registration date : 2007-06-27

PostSubject: THE NEURAL-BASED OPERATOR by Marcus Wynne   Sun 12 Jul 2015, 13:08

The following is taken from replies Marcus made to various topics on an online message board concerning the application of neural based training to CQB. The questions have been edited out, and the text punctuated. DM

I regularly apply neural-based learning, which includes and incorporates NLP principles and strategies, to the design of training for elite units. Iíve taught in England, and have had some of your counterparts in my training courses. Without going into tons of infinite detail about NLP based strategies, let me tell you what a friend of mine, Lofty Wiseman (and if youíre in the UK spec ops community, that name will be familiar to you) told me when we were working together. For the folks who arenít familiar with Lofty, in addition to being the author of several international best-sellers on wilderness and urban survival, he spent 28years with Britainís †22nd Special Air Service Regiment, the British special forces unit that provided the model for our Delta Force Detachment and the FBI Hostage Rescue Team.

He designed and taught the survival course for them, and was instrumental in designing the SAS Selection Course, which many other units (including your Marine Commando Course) model.

[Den, Lofty and Marcus, Bodyguard Course, Minnealpolis, 1989]

The selection course, which involves training in basic skills, physical conditioning and the ability to perform under stress, culminates in a series of orchestrated exercises, which strips away all the physical and mental facades the trooper candidates use to socialize themselves. "Selection strips them down to the core, see? They donít have the energy to put up a front anymore, and we see them as they are. They dig down inside themselves and find that place (emphasis mine) where they can keep on going and do what must be done."
Deconstruct that statement for the wealth of information in it. ..the key points I see is talking about the core-core values and beliefs.
Finding that place = finding and/or creating the appropriate state. Their physiology, and hence their internal representation, are radically affected by the physical, cognitive and emotional stressors heaped on them. Those that canít create or find the state fall by the side. Those that do, that access a state which mostly parallels what Bandler calls 'ferocious resolve', continue and succeed in their training. The same state comes out of Hel1 Week for SEALS, Selection for Special Forces, Marine Corps Force Recon training, Ranger School and service in airborne infantry units, real martial arts training, and other places as well.

Iíve taught women who accessed that same state and out-performed police and military commandos. Characteristics? Ferocity. Close to anger and rage, but more controlled Resolve, the knowledge, rooted in elemental core values (the will to live, the desire to be of service, belief in a higher power-whether you call it God, the Force, the Tao, Allah, whatever-and most of all willingness, willingness, willingness-to overcome, to adapt, to improvise, to create solutions) that their is no problem that you cannot overcome by force of will. My suggestion? Examine your present belief system and your values. Do you want to have what it takes?
Get the state and everything else is easy. From twenty years of experience, as an operator, trainer and designer of training, the thing that shoots most operator candidates down is their own self-doubts, which are rooted in their belief systems. If you get your belief system in alignment, then applying the worry-breaker strategy has been the most effective method Iíve seen and used. Iíve had a very high success rate in using this strategy with operators and other personnel who must perform under threat to life stress.

Iím indebted to Ian McDermott and Joseph OíConnorís excellent book NLP and Health for this strategy:
a] HOW TO WORRY: Triggering event LEADS TO Internal Dialogue (What if...x...were to happen?) LEADS TO Constructed, associated, moving pictures of the bad event LEADS TO Bad feelings LEADS TO More internal dialogue and so on till you break it
b]. HOW NOT TO WORRY: Internal Dialogue (What will I DO if this happens?) LEADS TO Make constructed, dissociated, moving pictures of a number of possibilities (at least 3-5) LEADS TO Choose one that makes you feel good LEADS TO Mentally rehearsing that plan, taking the action and getting the result you want by running a visual, constructed, associated, moving picture LEADS TO Noticing how this makes you feel good. Go back to step 2 and run through to generate more choices LEADS TO Breaking state.

I taught this technique to Didier De Chenniere, the Belgian Tour car racer who is the current European champion while training the BMW Professional Racing Team on mental aspects. Dider tells me that this strategy was responsible for him not only winning every race he ran this season, but was also responsible for him setting a track record each and every time. The operators Iíve trained say that this strategy works for them as preparation for stressful operations and they are very pragmatic evaluators of what works and what doesnít. Thatís one nice thing about working with threat-to-life stress: your feedback is immediate.
Just a few thoughts, based on personal experience and observation, about meta-programs and beliefs of special operators, both military and police. Iíve listed some below that Iíve seen consistently and that I consider when Iím working. Itís by no means exhaustive or complete.

I. Emotional coping sorting-theyíll be aggressive in going towards their stressors. On a spectrum of response, theyíll fall into aggressive-with-some-avoidance to highly aggressive/fight.
2. Temperament- theyíll be strong willed to extremely strong-willed.

3. Self-image-theyíll have high self-esteem and self-confidence. Self-esteem may, in some Individuals, be somewhat dependent on the acceptance and mores of the peer group. Belonging to the unit is an integral part of the self-image. As Iíve said previously, the language of a small unit, SWAT team, A-team, recon team, whatever, is that of one body, one flesh.
4. Match/mis-match sort-this is one of the most important programs. Operators and for that matter any individual who is consistently successful in high-risk activities operate from a pronounced mismatch sort. Quite often itís a mismatch with exception sort. Why? Itís the small things that are out of place that will kill you. The sound of metal in a rice paddy at night. The unnatural fold of a shirt over the hollow behind the hip of a standing man. The shift in someoneís eyes when they go from looking at you to looking through you.
5 Representation system-the most predominant type is very much a visual processor with a kinaesthetic check. I looked at it and it feels right.
6 Information gathering style --way more uptime than downtime.
7. Direction filter: a very strange and unique mix of both toward and away from-simultaneously. Because of the predisposition to mismatch sort, which becomes even more pronounced after combat, street experience, etc.-operators are often quite clear on what they DONT want. In terms of mission focus, this operates as a superb propulsion system. There is the goal of mission accomplishment-thatís toward. Thereís the moving away from the picture of failure and all the associated negative kinaesthetics that go with that; couple it to a state of ferocious resolve and youíve got a damn fine propulsion system.
8. Perception-many more sensors as opposed to intuiters. However, you II find more intuiters walking point or being first through the door-they just access that aspect according to the context more readily than others. Also a marked propensity for black and white thinking.
9. Adaptation-tend to be judges, like closure and order. They tend to be active doers.

10. Frame of reference and authority sort-tend to be internal reference people, with a self-reference developed in part through selection and acculturation to the unique group.
11. Modal operators tent to be those of possibility, desire and choice.
12. Their experience of emotion, at least in the operational context, is almost always dissociated in the objective/computer mode. The ability to turn off emotion or to specifically control emotional response, especially to inter-personal violence in the moment, is necessary for continued operational usefulness.
13. Convincer sorts are either visual or kinaesthetic, for the most part (either it looks right or it feels right. Occasionally youíll find some with an auditory convincer. hardly ever find someone with auditory digital-itís too slow for close combat.
14. Values/beliefs: Power and control, affiliation with identified peer group, self-esteem, superiority/supremacy, independence, achievement/mastery, competition, success, service,
15. Goal or value sort-they tend to go for optimisation and strive for perfection in achieving goals-whether personal or mission.

16. Time tenses tend to be present and future oriented. 17. time experience is generally through time.

18. Extroversion and introversion are both seen, but the dramatic groupings come from the different job requirements. Extroverts gravitate towards door-kicking and CQB, introverts are snipers and close-target reconnaissance operators.

19. Affiliation filters see them processing both as independent and as team members-team as on the small unit operational level and as also as the larger universal team of special operators.

20. If you use the Satir stances for a model, youíll see lots of assertive Levelers and a fair number of accusatory Blamers as well as some disassociating Computers.

[Marcus in Sweden]


It also includes Dr. Bandler's Slow Time Distortion, a customized version of his Redoubtable Belief Mobile, and a few goodies I've developed myself. I also have "hired" a few hand-selected parts of my unconscious to act as a security team for me. They perform specific functions forms, such as notifying me of impending danger by perceiving signals from my environment that I'm not consciously aware of, gathering and ensuring access to the best of my combat skills, and state control. It's quite a little mercenary party up there!
Question: "Is it a sliding anchor?".
Nope. The spectrum necessary for a sliding anchor presupposes a binary polarity of response, when combat has many other factors to be considered.
Question: "Is it cool and detached or focused and vicious? Or something else?"
It's context dependent and chosen by the specific parts of my unconscious who perform only that function for me.

To expand upon optimum fighting state-- Time distortion and the mastery of it is necessary not only to achieve the simultaneous processing of real-time events necessary in combat, but as Bill Jordan said, You need to take your time--fast in order to make best application of CQB skills. Have you found that installing time control and the experience of time distortion in younger/less-experienced operators minimizes tunnel vision in reality simulation and/or real-world ops? What about state management as a tool to develop total and continuous on-going situational awareness through-out the spectrum of the combative event?

Its interesting that you find it more useful to rely on different parts-my own focus is more on custom-designing a state and the necessary skills to implement the tasks concurrently. While my original model relied more on state access, that is accessing and bringing forth the part of me that was focused and efficient in violence, Iíve shifted more to combining parts through a series of chained states that are context- dependent. Iím also interested in what you find to be the most efficient way to integrate these learnings in presentation. For myself, Iíve moved away from the individual presentation or modelling of the techniques in the NLP training model to embedding them in the design of the specific training experience for the students.

While my operational years are behind me, I still enjoy being around young students, and the student body Iím dealing with takes to this stuff much better when applied in their operational context with the metaphors that suit their world.

Response to question about heart-rate/breathing under stress
Having a core belief that one can handle any given situation anchored and reinforced by training and experience goes a long way towards minimizing tunnel vision, etc. The control of the heart rate is an interesting idea. I've run into this promulgated as the be all and end all of critical skill retention under stress. I'm not convinced. I think it focuses on one tiny aspect of state (heart-rate) and does little or nothing about bringing the holistic solution to the holistic presentation. The University of Wisconsin under a study grant from NASA did a study on the effectiveness of training fireman to control their heart rates as a means of controlling stress and enhancing their efficiency in threat-to-life scenarios. They found that isolated training in controlling heart-rate (through breathing, visualization, etc) while useful as a general stress management skill, had no measurable effect on real-world performance, as measured by transmitting heart-rate monitors worn 24/7/365 by the fireman. What they did find to be more effective predictors of performance excellence were:
I) previous exposure and successful use of their skills under real-world threat-to-life stress and
2) extensive training in reality simulations where the students felt as though they were performing at the upper edge of their skill envelope. That bears out my experience and observations.

During a consultation with NASA' s Astronaut Office, I had the opportunity to debrief at length one of the shuttle commanders. He was unusual in that he had been a Marine Corps infantry platoon leader in Viet Nam with lots of trigger time, as well as a Marine Corps Fighter Pilot with trigger time in the Gulf before he became a Shuttle Commander/Pilot. It was interesting to hear his descriptions of his mental processes as they developed over the years.
Essentially he attributed his ability to solve problems while under threat-to-life stress to first his belief, deeply ingrained, that he could solve ANY PROBLEM he'd been trained for; second his ability to "somehow take all the time I needed" (time distortion and other-than- conscious use of it) to figure things out and the ability to access a state (that Marine Corps basic and infantry officer training, as well as fighter pilot school does a great job of modelling) to immediately take charge of key personnel and lead them, orchestrate all of their abilities to solve the problem.

Very interesting. He didn't think that heart-rate training was much use in an immediately practical way; his thinking was the best way was to see it as an enhancement, a value-added protocol to support the primary aim of rigorous training that addresses the necessary psychological hardening. I agree. Breath control techniques as tools to control heart rate are probably best used as prepatory instruments. Lots of entry teams, military and police, utilize the inhale-hold-exhale rhythm as a way to reduce heart rate right before they do the door. While most of them don't know it consciously, it's also a great way to achieve breath-lock, deeply reinforce rapport and promote team cohesions at the other than conscious level right before they go in.

Response to question on beliefs
I agree with the dependence upon belief systems-and my bias for doing rather than talking led me to experiment with modifying belief systems through structured reality simulations. While there can be a difference in response to sims and real-time ops, this can be minimized through the careful orchestration of the simulation (assuring fidelity in internal representation) and appropriate use of skilled role-players for force-on-force. While tunnel vision is autonomic, my interpretation of that based on experience and observation, is that itís directly related to the organisms perception of its capability to handle the perceived threat.
If it wasnít, then operators, fighter pilots, cops etc. would tunnel in every single time they went hot. Since they donít, the debilitating effects of tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, etc. seem to be directly related to successful experience in handling circumstances-either in training or operationally. The key is the amount of emotional content. Iíve seen shooters waiting to go into a tire-house and run a hot drill stand around and smoke and joke, then go in and do just fine. Iíve also seen some that take the time to pre-visualize the problem, run through the strategies that help them solve problems, access their appropriate problem-solving state and go in and do just fine on the problem. The difference is in how the second group retains their skills when plans meet the real world and the shit hits the fan. Train in state, operate in state.Ľ

I like the holographic paradigm as well and find many of the applications (especially some of the stuff Stanislav Grof has come up with) to be very useful. Iíve found the traditional train to be the easiest point of entry for the folks I work with-it provides a good foundation for building. The interactive points of choice I find to be best handled other-than-consciously.
An example to bring other people up to speed and into the discussion: Take room combat. Setting aside the technical issues in getting door-kickers to the door, you and your crew are outside a door and must enter the room and solve a combat problem, which might be a hostage rescue or the simple elimination of enemy personnel. Upon entering, the operator has to operate on many levels simultaneously:
a] He must manage his own internal state so as to be most efficient and access all his skill-set;
b] He must be totally aware of the environment he enters, not only for threats that can shoot him, but precious cargo he cant hit, obstacles on the floor, walls or suspended from the ceiling;
c] He.must know at all times his relative positioning to other members of the entry team; must be aware at all times of his muzzle, field of fire and back-stop, and so on.
This doesnít get processed sequentially because thatís too slow. All that data must be processed simultaneously and acted upon instantaneously. After the fact, when we reconstruct and debrief, we present information in a sequential fashion. But thatís not how you get it. Thatís why most traditional models of NLP, and for that part, most traditional training methods arenít the best way to train that process. Thatís where military and para-military spec ops groups have an advantage, is that the lengthy selection, assessment, and training process tends to identify those people with a greater than average predisposition to that kind of neural processing.

Situational awareness for the martial artist has to do primarily with sensory acuity, particular the conscious manipulation of your pre- conscious cognitive filters. Your senses bring in everything that impinges upon them. Your pre-conscious cognitive filters sort and evaluate the signals according to your genetic predisposition (for martial artists, primarily visual and kinaesthetic), experience and training. You cant do much about your genetic predisposition, but you can certainly do a lot with experience and training.

Most of the exercises previously described in this thread are experiences to expand your perceptual filter, that is, the way you sort and recognize important information.
For martial artists, situational awareness means being tuned in to your environment so that you may sense the intention of those around you towards you (IMHO). I prefer a larger definition, which means that I am actively engaged in my environment, which means being aware of potential and real threats (and cover, and allies, and weapons, ad infinitum) as well as enjoying the sunshine, the lovelies in their summer dresses, and all the other good things we can see and experience.
This presupposes that you can recognize intention, hostile or otherwise, and that youíre paying attention to what your senses are telling you. This is the basis for whatís called street smarts, intuition, etc its your unconscious, that part of your brain that busily automates all the functions like breathing, endocrine and hormone release, heartbeat, etc. processing data that is overlooked by the 4% of your brain that is occupied with what we call consciousness. Your preconscious perceptual filters, shaped by genetics, experience and training, determine the quality of your situational awareness.

Us people who have been shot at and have shot have a different experience base, so situational awareness is something different than for a martial artist whose only experience with real violence is a bruised shin in class (and no disrespect intended to anyone). So how to inculcate situational awareness, change your perceptual filters?
What kind of experiences and what kind of training would enable you to recognize INTENTION and increase the way you use the information coming into you right now?

Try this: for intention, stand facing a partner. Close your eyes. Have your partner hold his hands up and you hold yours up, palm to palm, chest level, with about an inch of space between your hands and his. Then have your partner think of two different experiences on opposite poles from each other-maybe the first is drinking a beer with the boys after a hard training session, and the other is the fighting fury that might come over him if he entered a room and found someone raping his sister.
The key thing is to have the two emotional states be opposite from each other. Then have him visualize each experience vividly, recreating the pictures, sounds and feelings that would go into each, as clearly as though he were watching a movie. With you eyes closed, and no words exchanged, notice when you can feel your partner change from one state to the other. Most people notice it quite easily, and then kick it up a level-again, with your eyes closed, have your partner visualize with the same intensity an attack aimed at you, and then visualize having a friendly beer with you. Youíll begin to notice the transition between physiological states without having to see it, hear it, or touch it-youíll be able to feel it. All kinds of physiological reasons why you can do it, all of which are boring and donít help you do it. Just do it.

After youíve done the above exercises a couple of times, go out into a crowded place, like a shopping mall. Defocus/soft-focus your vision and walk through the crowd, keeping your soft focus and increasing your peripheral vision to its max. Then find a place you can sit, a bench, a planter or something. keep your soft focus. Then have your partner walk around and at random intervals come up behind you, sometimes sending you the intention to hurt you, and other times not. Each time you feel the intention to hurt, raise your hand or give some kind of signal to your partner.
Partners, if youíre sending it and sending it strong, and heís not getting it, tell him, then back off and do it again. Do it for at least twenty minutes at a time.
Just do it, and notice how your overall situational awareness will kick up without you having to be conscious about it.

After 30some odd years in and around the martial arts, Iíve seen a few instructors .Its the sign of a good instructor when he or she goes out to find even more ways to challenge and grow his students. Its also the sign of healthy self-confidence and self-respect. Thereís some good ideas posted already, so III just offer a couple of ideas Iíve tested in civilian, military and police contexts-both as an operator and as an instructor. Thereís at least two parts to realistic combat training.
The first has to do with technical fidelity in the simulation. What that means is training and testing your skill set in the environment you expect to use the skills in .If your focus is on practical combative skills (and let me throw this in parenthetically-Iíve trained as a martial artist and I've trained as' a soldier. Martial arts as practiced classically is a PROCESS-the training is the end result, and combat proficiency, willingness and so on are by-products of that training way.
Combatives practiced as usable street skills are trained from the beginning to be immediately usable in the combat environment IMHO), It then it make sense to practice with contact against dynamic targets(moving and mobile) in a variety of scenarios, dressed in the clothing and wearing the shoes youíll have on in the end-use environment. Back in the late 60s and early 70s when I was training Kajukenbo and Won hop kuen do in San Jose, we had a regular training night where we showed up in street clothes (l was bouncing in a disco then, so that meant I showed up in platform shoes and polyester!), went into the gym with the lights out, and trained. we put in a strobe light, loud music, a bunch of tables and chairs wed scrounged, and without warm-ups, practiced responding to various attacks from seated positions, standing at the bar, dancing (!), defending someone else, taking a guy out fast, multiple attackers, weapon attacks, both using and defending against beer bottles, ashtrays, glasses, pool cues, pool balls, knives, clubs, guns etc.

We often brought our girlfriends down to play different roles in our scenarios as well. What this does is condition the brain to using your skills in a real-world environment, instead of anchoring the skill to the gym. lt's interesting to me today to see how the military and special operations tactical training is getting around to doing the same thing that martial artists were doing back then.
In terms of practical immediate applications to your students....have them do a combative oriented session without warm-up dressed as they are during the day. Business suit if thatís appropriate, doc martens and shorts if that's appropriate. Ask them what kind of improvised weapons are available in their environment and set some up. Set up the training space to represent different places: bedroom, office, whatever. The best thing, if you can do it in your area, is to take the training out of the gym and into the street or public some place.
Attacks should be random, and the training partners should take care to act out the verbalization and physiology of a real attacker in a series of random attacks.

The second part is emotional/mental fidelity in the simulation. Without going into all the neuropsychology of state-dependent learning, etc., let me summarize it like this: The retention of critical skills like fighting skills is affected by the emotional V mental state of the learner while learning the skill. You sound as though youíve been around and successfully tested your skills in a venue or tw0--have you ever seen or known somebody who was really good at their martial arts in the gym, but couldnít fight on the street?

When you were actually fighting someone, where you in the same emotional/mental state you were when you train in the gym? Or did you, after your combative experiences, find a way to access that skill and the fighting state simultaneously? ĎId guess the latter.
You can accelerate your studentís performance and increase their retention of their fighting skills by teaching them how to manage that state while they train.
IMP ACT, the full-contact system that grew out of Model Mugging, has quantified the results of training in what they call the adrenaline state, which they induce by highly realistic role-plays using trained role players in a padded suit which allows for full-contact by the student against the role-player. They followed up with 5000 students over five years in a study, and found that the retention of the skills learned (without any subsequent practice!) was almost as high after five years as immediately after the training course. this was compared to traditional martial arts instruction, where there was a rapid fall-off in the skill retention when regular training ceased. The key element is anchoring those skills to the appropriate state.
Without getting into all the neuro-linguistic programming stuff use in designing training, I'd suggest you try this: Strike a Thai pad or heavy bag in the way you normally would in training. Then stop. Take a moment and visualize something that would make you fighting mad-maybe someone hurting your woman or a child.
Make that picture big and bright, add the sounds of someone you love in pain or fear, take the feeling that arouses in you and double it. Then double it again.
Now hit that pad as though itís the person you visualize hurting your loved ones.
Do you notice a difference in the power of your strike and how you feel striking? I taught a group of kali/muay thai practitioners a series of techniques like this, and they all report that it increased the intensity of their work-outs radically-and that they found themselves exhausted much sooner than previously.
Again, without going into all the neurophysiology of it, how the emotional content and signal in the amygdala part of the brain activates and releases more energy to the muscles and simultaneously locks the motor skill in with the desired state, youíll find that students who practices in this way will find their combative skill retention going through the roof. Just a few ideas, for what its worth. Hope you find them of use.

For details of training with Marcus go to Accentus-Ludus website

Check Six,
Dennis Martin
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