are you new to martial arts

GUEST BLOG WRITER : Martial arts writer, Mind Coach mindfulness practitioner.

Do you wanting to accelerate your progress? Or, Are you powerfully into your martial arts journey but have reached a plateau?

I would just like to say what a privilege it is to be asked to write a few guest posts for the new Total Body Defence self defence blog. I am nearing the publication of my new book, Inspire the Next! A book aimed primarily at raising the level of coaching amongst Martial Arts coaching. [ Sorry, could not resist the opportunity to get a plug in there 😊]

Chatting with Alun Williams your chief instructor recently, about my ideas for my new book and it was suggested that maybe I could write a few a guest blog posts for the new TBD blog. Alun and I have been friends for several years now and I have a deep respect for the way Total Body Defence has developed since our first meeting.

So much has been achieved by Alun and his team of Total Body Defence instructors over the past several years and even now in this challenging time of the Corona virus and the lockdown, the team has managed to turn limitations into opportunities and opportunities into adventures!   I have met many of the team and they are such an amazing bunch of people and I am pleased, if even in a small way, to be able to contribute to the success of the Total Body Defence team.

Having both trained in martial arts and studied neuro-science and the new mind technologies, I feel I have good enough understanding of the mindset needed to make the most out of training opportunities and also the challenges students have to overcome in order to help reach their fullest potential.  The dojo [martial arts training hall] is a great leveller, every type of person you are ever going to meet training at the dojo and you will not only test yourself to your limits but also gain skills for life, skills transferable to every part of your life and skills that will enhance every part of your life. The dojo is also a fun place where you meet new people and make lifelong friends.


“The aim of Total Body Defence isn’t to make you good at martial arts,

It’s to make you good at life!”


I thought I’d start with the questions above because from experience, the two things I pick up on mostly, from speaking with students relate to either students that are just starting out on their learning, who want to learn everything at once or experienced students or instructors  who want to find ways to reach the next level or to get through a plateau, they may have reached. The news is that both these scenarios are common and perfectly natural. So, the message there is “you are not broken, You don’t need fixing.”


To help you deal with these situations effectively, all you need to help you get through these challenges are the right mind tools and I have thought about the best way I could try and help here, how I can use my skills, my knowledge and experience to help get you through, past and over these barriers, barriers  I ‘The gateless gates. ’  Termed gateless gates because these barriers are only in your mind. The good thing about this is that we can learn to tame the mind, to make a friend of it and through mind techniques and mythologies we can silence that inner critic and self-defeating voice of doubt and confusion, in our head.  The voice I call ‘the inner roommate’

Over the next three blog posts we are going to explore some of ways your mind can often work against you, stopping you from even attempting to do the things that will get you out of your comfort zone and towards achieving positive outcomes for your life!


Everything you want in life,

is only just on the other side of your comfort zone!

martial arts mindfulness

Martial arts mindfulness Training:
Not to learn to control your mind, but to stop your mind controlling you!

In this first post I want to touch on the ‘Transforming patters of action’ or in other words, habits. “Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of enemies!” [Nathaniel Emmons].

For the most, habits are like the subconscious rules we play out automatically, they are part of our mind conditioning – the things we do that we do not even think about. We have pattern of action for how we do just about everything, eating, sleeping, relating to other people, relating to ourselves, work, leisure activities. EVERYTHING!.

What we are going to start to learn in these posts  is how to understand and control our patterns of action. ‘Reap a habit, Sow a character, Sow a character, reap a destiny!


What makes a pattern of action good or bad is whether it takes us closer or pushes us further away from our goals / positive outcomes. On the subject of goals, you need to have clear laid out goals in your life If you want to get anywhere otherwise, you will be like a ship without a rudder, if you don’t control your life, life will control you. More on goal setting and positive outcomes below and in future posts.


If you are still reading this, I am going to assume here that some of the things I’ve written are things that you’ve been thinking about from time to time and it resonates with you in some way. Also, that you have been looking to make changes in your life or your training?

If you have now decided to change you can become more clear about your future by looking at your habits, these are like clothing for your personality and the good thing is that like changing your clothes, you can change your habits!

Today or as soon as you can, I would like you to look at where you are, were you want to be or get to, now or into the future. Don’t think about it too much just list the three most important questions as headings on three sheets of paper, the headings should be.

  1. What experiences do you want to have in this lifetime?
  2. How do you want to grow?
  3. How do you want to contribute?

These three areas are those that underpin goals. Your decisions are made by your subconscious more that you may think and the thing to think about her is that our unconscious mind records everything that happens to us from even before we are born.

Although we only recall a fraction of our experience, our subconscious mind stores every thought, feeling, emotion, sound, sight. Everything!  We are a product of our minds conditioning which comes through our contact with others and our environment. Our outersphere.


This is why we have to be careful of the kind of thinking and environment we expose ourselves too. Often all our negativity our self-doubt, our fears and anxieties come from mostly well-meaning parents, teachers or peers who tell us we can’t do things because they feel they want to protect us from disappointment or because they just project their own lacking or insecurities on to us. Like sponges, especially as children or we are taking all these negative traits that influence our minds, especially at the subconscious level.


Next time you have a conversation in your head with yourself, if you listen carefully enough, the voice you hear is that of your mother, father, teacher. Just think about this, often I think about what others have advice or warned me about. Especially, in times of challenging situations.  This is how our brain is programmed as a survival mechanism but we have to be watchful, we need to be careful, not everything this voice says is useful, in fact most of the time we have to try and get through the clutter.


We need to focus more on moving towards the things we want for us rather than just fighting against the things we do not want.  Everything is energy, do not waste it. What you focus on most in life you get!.

Moving towards what we want is easier than pulling away from what we do not want. Its easier to push a car than pull one!

Even something as crazy as climbing mount Everest, just write it down, let your words flow, do not get in your own way.  There are times its best to let your subconscious find the answers for you just try and regain your childhood curiosity, your lost enthusiasm for life and just ‘dare to live’!

Keep your beginner’s, your childmind!

Aim High

Keep your beginner’s, your childmind!

In the expert’s mind, there are few possibilities.

 in the beginners there are many!


When you do this goal dump exercise, let your imagination run riot, do not hold back, let your thoughts flow, do not be concerned about the how. If you get a big enough Why, you will soon get big enough How…

When you have done this,  write down and then ask these questions…

Which three patterns of action [habits] might prevent you from reaching your goals? Those you think hold you back.

For example, If you have a grading coming up and your goal is to achieve black belt and you know you don’t train often enough. This can be a pattern that prevents you reaching your goal.

Then, ask What three patterns of action, what habits you need to establish to reach your goals. An example, if you are to turn around the lack of training if this is a negative habit for you… then its obvious, train more and harder would be the pattern of action to cultivate.

Note: On forming new habits… New neuroscience research has discoveries show that it takes around 90 days to form the new habits that start to change your behavior.


You must start to identify both the habits that will stop you and the ones that you will start to help you reach your outcomes. I prefer to refer to goals as ‘outcomes’, its all to do with the way we present words to our minds as labels of meaning, a goal appears out there something still to be reached, outcomes = something more achievable more in the present, your mind starts working easier towards outcomes than goals, this is also a way of anchoring your mind to a positive active word..


Tip: People I have coached in the past fail mostly because the merely focus more on what they shouldn’t  be doing, what they shouldn’t eat, that they shouldn’t smoke, or drink,  all these things they shouldn’t do. Better I recommend, to start focussing on things you should start doing, because these new formed habits, repeated enough times help to “crowed out” the unauthorised ones.  Again, its moving towards positive things rather than moving away from what you perceive negative. easier to push than pull. On an emotional level too, you get excited about moving towards what you want in life. Its tougher to pull away from what you don’t want.


By the time you have sat down, identified the three unresourceful habits and the new ones you we’ll work on replacing them with, you will be well on your way and even though it may have taken you years to develop bad and unresourceful patters of action, it is not going to task you anywhere near as long to change them.

In my next post I am going chat to you more about developing good habits and introduce you to the mind tool of ‘mindfulness’ and in the 3rd post the concept of ‘new thought, ancient wisdom’, more mind tools to help you get through any challenges or gateless gates, you may meet up with on your way to your reaching your higher potential.

Its my aim, in these few blog post, to give you some ‘takeaways’ that will help you get more out of your martial arts and self-defence training with Total Body Defence. I hope you can begin to get the mindset that despite the popular idea about Martial Arts training helping you find yourself, there is more.

Martial arts are not about finding yourself,

 Martial arts training are about creating yourself!


What if in reading my next post, you give yourself permission to question everything you know and throw out all the pieces that hold you back?


I hope you have enjoyed reading through this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. If you have any comments or would like to ask me any questions or if you have any ideas about further posts please get in touch, I would love to hear from you.


‘Are you out of your mind training in martial arts?’

A post on mindfulness in the martial arts.

Keep checking out the new Total Body Defence blog 

Mind Coach mindfulness

start your martial arts journey

Final word;

I am at present in the process of setting up a new author website and blog for my new book project and yes,  another plug. 😊 .. My book ‘Inspire the next!’. A book on coaching for martial arts instructors is due for publication in late October this year, 2020. I will let you know when its up on Amazon and other outlets….

For now, if you want to contact me e-mail me at

Take care, be safe and see you at my next post..

Tony Davies

Martial arts writer, Mind-Coach and mindfulness practitioner.