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Showing posts with label Danielle Serpico. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Danielle Serpico. Show all posts

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Eye of an Eagle Heart of a Tiger - A Fighting Mindset info for Writers with Danielle Serpico

Blue yin yang
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today, we are talking with Danielle Serpico about a fighter's mindset, so we can get our characters right as well as write better fight scenes. Danielle, can you start us off? Tell us a bit about your background.

Danielle - 
Hi, sure yes, delighted to. The arts I have trained in are American and Chinese Kenpo and Taiji Chuan. I am a Gold and Silver European Champion. My instructor was Alan Ellis, and 
I also had the privilege of training on many occasions with, mainly Tommy Jordan, Erle Montague, Larry Tatum. I teach various classes and self defense seminars in the empowerment aspect of things.

Fiona - 
Is there a personality difference between a lover and a fighter?

Danielle -
I believe we can be both a lover and a fighter. We touched on this previously in my other interview with you, regarding yin yang.

(Read that article HERE.)

I believe we can be both a lover and a fighter but...

Our instinct is to avoid conflict and fighting, it is not natural for us to want to fight, however we posses a primal coding that enables us to move into fight mode when needed. Our most primitive state is one of fear, which is actually a good thing. Our ancestors would have known fear on a daily basis, and they would have understood how that fear worked, in order to enable them to survive, procreate and live some semblance of a 'happy life'. Unfortunately, society has eroded this sense of understanding of fear, and now we are confused and sometimes frightened by our 'fight' instinct. This can lead to severe emotional and health issues, such as depression and anxiety.

Fiona -
Can you talk about the mindset of a trained versus an untrained (oh, boy I hope I can get out of this one!) fighter?

Danielle - 

Essentially, a trained fighter will not 'think' but will react.

Fighting is an illogical activity for us to engage in as human beings. We are not programmed to harm each other so even when confronted with our own imminent destruction or injury many of us will tend to not want to fight.

The trained fighter is someone who has developed the ability to overcome layers of civilized behaviour and to automatically enter into a primal state. In this state, the thought process is bypassed because if we were to think during an altercation the thought process would slow us down.

The Chinese saying 'If someone attacks you, hit them first' is indicative of this philosophy.

In our training and preparation, we do of course have to 'think' about what we are doing, to the point of having to learn specific moves and body mechanics. However, during the actual moment of confrontation, we need to give ourselves over to our primal or animal instinct and allow that inner rage to come forth.

Fiona - 
So tell me about "self-defense for the mind."

Danielle -
The greatest enemy we face is fear. The paralyzing effects of fear cannot be underestimated. In defending the 'mind' and creating strategy of protection we need to KNOW fear.

What I mean by this is we need to embrace our fear, examine them and confront them one by one. I like to have my students and clients make out a fear pyramid, with the least fearful issue at the bottom and an ascending scale of fear as it reaches the top.

The object of this is to, from the bottom up, examine and actively confront each of those fears. We don't necessarily want to completely eradicate fear, but we want to know it and why we are fearful and to be able to get ourselves to a point where we can accept that fear but not let it bind us.

In a sense, to have NO fear one must KNOW fear.

Fiona -
Having the character confront their fears is an important part of character building and can make for some very interesting plot twists. 

Another technique that you speak about with your students is Eagle Vision - can you talk about this?

Danielle -
In a martial or fighting context, one should never look at an opponent's eyes, the person's eyes won't pop out and strike us!

If we concentrate on the attackers eyes or face, we narrow our field of vision, leading us vulnerable for attacks outside this visual range what we need to do is to have a peripheral view of our opponent, that is to say for example, if our opponent were standing in front of us, we would rest our gaze on their shoulder this allows us to pick up movement from our attackers hands or feet, and we can react accordingly

The Chinese call this Eagle Vision and what this technique mimics is how an eagle would look at its prey. The eagle doesn't focus on its prey, but rather on a wider area around the prey and in that way can track any movement.

I relate this technique to stepping back and taking an overview of any life situation, not just focusing on the problem but rather having a view of the bigger picture in order for us to have a better perspective of what we are dealing with.

Conversely, if the student does not understand the effects of adrenal dump, whereby the body is flooded with chemicals, which actually creates tunnel vision, then the concept of Eagle Vision will not work.

Its important for the student to understand that we must be quite proactive in our defence and learn to react before the adrenal dump kicks in, 
so we have a huge advantage on our opponent.

Likewise in life, in general, prompt action and positive thought can often preempt and negate many problems.

Fiona - 
Obviously, one of the aspects of a trained fighter mind v. an untrained fighter has to do with thinking about things/working with mindsets that aren't normally offered to us in our day to day lives, taking the time to ponder such things as stress and focus. 

What other techniques do you work with your students on to broaden their understanding, and how would these techniques show themselves in decision making by a trained fighter v. a seat of the pants fighter?

Danielle - 
Firstly, for us to manifest it in our outside world, we have to first manifest it in the inside world.

Therefore, we have to go there, to a place which is not necessarily pleasant. The same is true for the opposite of course.

In martial terms a huge part of the training with my students is the working of scenario based drills. By this I mean we deliberately fire the adrenal response.

This is achieved by placing the student under verbal assault and triggering the adrenal response by various verbal and physical methods.

The object is to place the student under a high level of stress to enable them to become familiar with the feeling of being swamped by an overload of chemicals running through the bloodstream.

It is important that they experience this because they can then know how to flip this switch in their opponent and this allows them the option of controlling the situation.

To control the situation at that point the student would have to practice what we call the Escalation drills. This allows the student to loophole their opponent and perhaps a get out clause to avoid the situation becoming physical.

I like to use what I term the Traffic Light method, whereby we have the reverse of the normal light procedure. We have red, amber and green.

Red, obviously you're stopped, nothing is happening. Amber you're switched on, your waiting and green is a go.

The life lessons from these drills in the studio can be easily assimilated into everyday life. A confrontation with the boss, a difficult argument with your spouse or children, etc. All this can be much better handled when we understand our own capacities.
And also, it doesn't have to be a violent confrontation. As I said pre-planning and programming works both ways. If you plan for a situation to go well, you stand a much better chance as you have prepared.

As is said..

Whether you think you can't or think you can, you are right!

Fiona - 
Let's talk about that last sentence for just a moment. I have found in the young people I speak with that our social environment encourages us to think we are capable of anything we put our minds to. Unfortunately, the last bit - we put our minds to - gets lopped off. They think that without putting in the brain training/muscle training/time and effort that spur of the moment they will have what it takes to do the job. That complicates the think you can/can't equation. Can you add your two cents?

Danielle -
The prevailing line of thought seems to be...that we are capable of anything.

The truth is and it is a lovely that we are not in fact capable of anything.

However, we are capable of MUCH more that we think we are.

Of course though, that requires effort as you say. The effort to success ratio is an extremely important factor.

Edison and the light bulb are a prime example. It took him many hundreds of attempts before finally achieving success. In fact each 'fail' takes us a step closer. Our unconscious mind, which makes up 93% of our decisions, doesn't know the difference between what
s real or imagined. When we visualise with real intent, the mind believes it has happened. This gives us drive and momentum but of course we now have to take action!

So whether in the Dojo or in everyday life, we must practice daily inside and out.

Fiona - 
Last thoughts?

Danielle - 
A true fighter will always recreate and innovate. Embrace your fears and get to know them. Remember...your mind is like a parachute. It only works when it's open.

Much of my teaching and philosophy was inspired by the works of Erle Montague, Larry Tatum.

Thanks, Danielle. 
You can stay in touch with Danielle Serpico HERE

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Transforming Your Beta Heroine into Her Full Alpha Potential w/ Danielle Serpico


Poor little beta heroine. She looks so sweet in her librarian attire, buttoned up to the very top button, hair swirled into a practical knot on the back of her head. Too bad her caved shoulders, shy gaze, and soft voice make your other characters think they can manipulate and manhandle her. Quite frankly, she's had enough of those shenanigans, and she's hell-bent (in the most demure and ladylike way possible) on finding her inner Xena.

To help beta heroine along her path to alpha stardom, I have invited Danielle Serpico to chat with us.  

Hi Danielle, I'm so glad we're talking today. You have an amazing background with martial arts and women's empowerment. Can you tell me about your work?

Danielle - 
Hi, sure yes, delighted to. The arts I have trained in are American and Chinese Kenpo and Taiji Chuan. I am a Gold and Silver European Champion. My instructor was Alan Ellis, and
I also had the privilege of training on many occasions with, mainly Tommy Jordan, Erle Montague, Larry Tatum. I teach various classes and self defense seminars in the empowerment aspect of things.

I am an NLP trainer. I use this technique to help people overcome their limiting beliefs and realize their full potential. I help them take control of their emotions and have confidence and self-belief.

NLP and Martial Arts are interlinked.

Fiona -
For some of my readers, NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming, will be a new concept. Can you give us a brief overview? What is the goal of using NLP and how does it work?

Danielle - 
Neuro Linguistic Programming - therefore the language that we use to "program" our minds and that of others. We use it every day even if we think we don't. And it is used on us.

Basically anyone who is suggestible, which is all of us, is influenced by language and uses NLP.

The term NLP was coined by John Grinder and Richard Bandler
with whom I have had the honor of training.

Grinder and Bandler studied people who were successful in their field: coaching, psychology, hypnotherapy, etc. They monitored the result and what they had in common. Their discoveries pertaining to what worked became NLP.

NLP is a tool to help us regain control over our minds, thoughts, emotions, and ultimately our actions.

Fiona -
Can you tell me a bit about your book,The Blackbelt Mastermind? How does that tie together both of your fields of expertise, martial arts and NLP?


Danielle - 
The Blackbelt Mastermind is basically my system. It is the accumulation of my work, and the process I take clients through.

I use the acronym: MASTER.
Masterful Attitude, Strength, and Tenacity Equals Results

I tell the story of my journey briefly in my book, and how I overcame adversity. The main message in The Blackbelt Mastermind is to never give up, to always keep getting back up,
no matter what - just like in martial arts training.

When you get kicked in the gut, remember the pain will pass. It is the same in life. Always fight back. And fight back FULLY.

I learned through my martial arts journey and through life experience that you can grow from adversity. In fact, you come back stronger.

In Blackbelt Mastermind, I show you tools and ways to help yourself overcome these obstacles and challenges and how adversity will make you stronger so that you can become the champion in your own life and the Master Blackbelt of your mind.

Fiona - 
Let's pretend for a moment that you are a character in a book. The heroine, a beta character approaches you; she's in trouble, life isn't going well. She feels that she needs to empower herself, and she thinks martial arts will help. She has chosen you specifically to bring out her inner warrior goddess because she knows you do NLP as well as fight. Can you walk us through the process of moving our beta character into her true alpha role? And what stages might she experience along the way?

Danielle - 
Okay, The first thing I would do is help her become aware. I would do that by using the Empty Cup Theory. The heroine would start by emptying her thoughts of any preconceived ideas that she may have regarding martial training or simply her mindset. She has to let go, and then become open and trusting and aware of a new way of acting, moving, thinking and behaving - knowing that I will guide her as she acquires her new skills.

This is the most courageous step she will need to take, as it is her first step and that is always the hardest. 
Everything starts with the first and most important stage, awareness.

Her awareness will include hearing her sabotaging critic - what she says to herself. She does this by simply listening and maybe meditating, or doing something such as meditating through her forms or kata, connecting with her primal or reptilian brain.

Fiona slips in with a quick definition insert: kata is the Japanese word for a series of choreographed movements. In martial arts there are various names, but they all are moving meditations that are memorized and performed in the same way by all of the students.

(Danielle cont.)
The primal brain contains the knowledge of her ancestors and is a composite of all their talents and survival mechanisms.

The simple act 
Deutsch: Yin Yang
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
of being aware of your negative, self sabotaging voice is powerful. Awareness cancels out negative thought controls.

Once you "remove" yourself from the overwhelming feelings that absorb you, the feelings lose their control.

Your heroine also needs to balance her internal yin and yang 
to understand the ebb and flow of her emotions.

Fiona - 
Oh, dear - yes, her internal yin-yang is all a kilter - what would she do about that?

Danielle - 
Basically, once she understands that there is no light without shade,
no hard without soft, for every smile there is a tear. In essence, her vulnerability and negativeness vastly contribute to her strength and positivism.

It is a process to connect the mind and body, and it is accomplished through either form work in a martial term, kata etc.

She needs to understand the form which is in essence a moving story poem or representation of yin and yang. The various postures are just that.

Danielle Serpico moving through a kata

Fiona - 
So now our heroine has come to the conclusion that in her life she has been overly soft and shed more tears than she has experienced smiles. She's on a mission to balance her masculine and feminine. It helps that she just kicked her first board, and her foot went right through.

Danielle - 
She is taking micro-steps to see how that feels in her everyday life.

Fiona - 
How long would a determined beta-heroine take to move to a more balanced state - for the sake of plotting the transformation?

Danielle - 
In practical terms, in classwork this will involve her training to move forward into the attack. The classroom scenarios, while representing physical assault, also train her to move forward and become assertive in all areas of her life.

There are two sayings which I love, which relate to this.
One we all know:  Feel the fear and do it anyway.
FEAR = often false evidence appearing real

I also love: He who hesitates, meditates in a horizontal position.

Fiona - 
The K'iaps, I think are very good for this as well. A k'iap , for our readers, is the sound that you make when striking or blocking. Doing this powerfully is embarrassing for many - especially girls who have been taught to modulate their tones. Overcoming this block seems to be a big step in empowerment - would you agree?

This is what a k'iap can sound like. I used a more powerful k'iap for breaking the cement block than I would in a normal sparring round.

The K'iap or 'Ki-ai' is essential for unifying mind and body at a precise moment in time. S
o yes, of course, it is an important step.

The k'iap should be practiced regularly when striking, but more importantly is the understanding that it is the expression of primal INTENT used by all ethnic warrior groups. Amazonian women screamed when going into battle the practice is no less relevant for today's woman. 

The INTENT behind the k'iap and accessing this state, of course both are interlinked learning and realizing that we all have the inalienable right to defend ourselves - be that on the streets, in the dojo (dojo is one of the names for the martial arts studio) or the workplace - in anyway we see fit. 

Self defense is so much more than kicks and punches. It is important for your beta heroine to access her self-belief and truly understand her right to be safe. She also must learn to love herself. It is important in order for the beta heroine to transform into an alpha heroine that she always accesses this state of self-preservation in her practice. She must own that she has the right to protect herself.

Fiona - 
Let's go back to the question of the transformative arc.
A very mousy heroine comes into your dojo. During the story arc of the book, she transforms into her her potential.

Can you lay some stages that you might have seen unfold in your students. ex: First she had caved shoulders and small voice then X happened, and the next time she came in she was different in this way.

Danielle - 
Okay, absolutely. Let's start with me as an example. The first time I went to the dojo, I sat on my hands with my feet turned inwards. I timidly watched the class in progress, and meekly approached the instructor when called forward. And I was made to face fear. 

While I knew CONSCIOUSLY, that I would not be really hurt at the dojo, and I trusted my instructor, my primal instinct was still to be afraid of the flailing hands and feet that whizzed inches from my body.

This first introduction to pairing off or 'one step' technique, is a ground breaking experience for many, and the start of their climb to confidence. (Pairing is when you work with a partner on your skills such as punching, kicking, blocking, or take-downs). From then on, their attitudes and postures change.

I had faced fear and understood fear. I understood that I would feel afraid, but I could survive that fear. I learned to literally KNOW fear and not that we simply don't have "NO fear."

This important step will demonstrate to the heroine that through facing the challenges set before her, she can climb to blackbelt or to the life she wants to live.

She must constantly learn to face fear and to live with it, so that she may use fear as an ally and not an enemy. This is reflected in the progressing belt colors, where we meet stronger and more able fighters.

The heroine's demeanor will change rapidly through this process of pressure testing; I know mine did.

In the same way in NLP terms when we constantly stretch our boundaries and our safety net, it will expand. Interestingly, 
there is very little difference between the manifestation of excitement and fear. Learning to go with the fear and to know it in life, gives us huge control and power.

In relation to how martial arts and life intertwine -
In NLP we learn that 93% of our conscious mind does not know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. Hence, when we visualize with INTENT and with EMOTION behind it, we can trick our unconscious. This is hugely powerful and the most important point to remember in training, both in the dojo or out of it. 

Let's assume for a moment that a heroine has played a scene through her head. Perhaps she visualizes an attack that she successfully fends off or she goes to an interview and she nails the job. Once she has tricked her mind into thinking that she has seen the threatening situation through to fruition with a positive outcome, then doing it in real life is easier. Hence, when your heroine is practicing in her mind, she must practice with REAL intent and EMOTION and trick that 93% of her mind. Useful stuff to know.

Fiona - 
We are at the last moment of our time together - and I always ask about your favorite scar or harrowing story.

Danielle - 
Not exactly a scar but my shins.

I fought the Spanish Kickboxing champion who had come to train at our dojo and wanted to impress us. If there was ever a time to bring forth the heroine within, it was this occasion.

This girl was one tough cookie. First, she had intimidated and humiliated many of the junior ranks, and knocked out two of the guys.

As my turn to face her came round, I felt the eyes of all those around me, I was a newly qualified blackbelt and European champion. 

Over the years my shins had become 'dented' and if I run my hands along them I can feel the dents. A testament to my training. When she kicked me with the first of her ferocious low kicks,
it all came back to me - the journey I had made to this point.

The excruciating pain in my shins reminded me of what I had been through. And soon enough, she felt the brunt of that.

My shins remind me that just like life there are bumps along the way, but they serve to make us stronger.

Fiona - 
Danielle, thank you so much for your insights. 

If you would like to contact Danielle and
find out how she could help you with your
confidence, her link is:

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.