The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

The World of Iniquus - Action Adventure Romance

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.


  1. Nice post. It's always good to hear how other writers put their stories together.

  2. Excellent post. It's enlightening to think of character arc as the character moving from beta to alpha. Viewing that from the martial arts perspective is so interesting!