Neural-Based Learning for 
CQB with Marcus Wynne

Liverpool 31/8 to 1/9/06

Marcus Wynne and Dennis Martin among the privileged group of Combative instructor’s and trainees, those in attendance stretched from all across the globe,

 with guys from South Africa, Norway Sweden, Belgium Holland, Ireland Scotland and all across the UK.


On the 31/8/06 I had the privilege of attending a 2-day event in the company of Neural Based Learning instructor/Guru Marcus

Wynne on the subject of Neural-Based Training and Performance Enhancement, for the Combatives Instructor/Trainee. This was

pretty much an invitation only event, with priority going out to current CQB instructors under Dennis Martin, along with those

invited by Den and Marcus outside of that context. Needless to say it was a great honor to meet Marcus and to have the

opportunity to study such unique material, from someone of his caliber. What makes Marcus different from any other NLP

 based instructor is his previous Operational experience within the fields of Close Protection, US airborne and Military Forces

and the Government Counter-Terrorism unit as an instructor for the US Air Marshall’s, along with his uncanny ability to

present a workable and result producing formula of Neural-Based Learning, to any and all aspects of CQB and Combatives

training in general. Events kicked off on the Thursday morning with a curious medley of individuals gathering at the usual

Combatives arena, care of Liverpool’s deluxe Prescott Leisure centre.  Many of the guys in attendance came down

the evening before for the Wednesday evening session, with Liverpool’s very own Gutter fighters. The rest, like me ambled

in on Thursday morning with eager anticipation of what was to unfold during the days a head. Like most people in attendance

I was very curious as to what some of the KIT list was for; poster size flip charts, multi colored markers, index cards colored

stickers, Dictaphone Air soft guns, live blades, trainers and first aid kit, where all more than enough to raise an

eyebrow in anticipation. 


The most important requirement was an open mind and willingness to go outside of your comfort

zone, I thought ‘’Sh*t Mister that’s the business I’m in!’’ This is gonna be great, and I was neither mistaken nor disappointed. Now before we start let me say that, out of respect for both Marcus and his unique material, rather than give you specifics, I am only

 going to cover the dynamics of Marcus’s work with us, which was to be considered a gift from him, to use and employ as

 individual’s and instructors for our evolvement as combat athletes. To this end I can honestly say, at least on a personal

level, I felt that Marcus had helped take me to my next level of learning. The context of his teaching method and material

is both unique and outstanding. Also I must say that pictures during this event were a little thin on the ground, so I have used

all that I could find, some are courtesy of Den’s forum and the rest are from me on the day.


‘’Everything we do must have a purpose!’’ Marcus Wynne




Marcus in lecture mode, as the rest of the guys sat soaking up the information with stimulated interest.


As a general introduction NLP or Neural Linguisting Programming; is the language of the mind and the study and modeling of

excellence in any field. The focus here however, was purely for enhanced operational ability in a Combative sense. The three

key areas covered by Marcus relating to this objective were;


1. Situational Awareness

2. Behavioral Cue Acuity

3. State Management

We of course took an in-depth look into each of these aspects in turn, from both a student and instructor’s perspective.

In addition to this Marcus also covered an array related topics, supporting this overall objective. First up was Den’s introduction

of Marcus and how they first met on a CQB services BG course in Detroit. They quickly discovered how they had much in

common, including martial arts and trips to Japan etc. Den talked about how they both kept in touch and as a result of

that, how Marcus organized some future training courses involving Den and his team in the US. Marcus was last over in the

UK back in 1996 when one of my additional instructors, the late great Peter Robins was also influenced by the unique teachings

of Marcus Wynne.  Then Marcus took the floor, establishing an immediate rapore with the crowd, as he talked us through an

overview of what was to come.  The overall concept of the course was to provide students and instructors with the state

 of the art in specific techniques from Neural-Based training designed to enhance combat performance.


One of the poster sized mind-maps, these were plastered all over the gym walls.


We started things off with each of us designing the start of our own Mind-Map; everyone placed a poster size piece of

paper up on the wall, along with our overall expectations and objectives from the forth coming learning experience.

Marcus explained how from an instructor’s perspective this saves time, by placing this map on the wall the instructor

can view the information as it evolves, right there in front of him rather than go over the whole group asking questions.

Next we moved into our warm up, this gave us the first introduction to accelerated learning.


Preparation for learning:

We were informed that, to get the best from any learning experience it is important to feed the brain as well as the body, to

remain fully hydrated by drinking plenty of water and keep your blood sugar up and on an even keel with nutrients at regular


Warm up drill:

He then gave us a good physical example for preparing the body and mind in unison, which was to practice a knife flow drill

from Kali (a background art for Marcus) this allowed us to apply movement to kinesthetic learning. During this drill we focused

on the tip of the knife, employing a trainer and progressing to a live blade in order to achieve multiple objectives at the same

time. This is one of the principles of accelerated learning.  In this example we are sending oxygen and blood to the brain, which

 will in turn increase alertness as well as warming up the body and increasing hormone levels.  In the case of a class

environment using live blades, it will also increase your trust in your class mates and as an instructor it allowed Marcus to assess

the level of ability among his students.  This drill accomplished all of this in addition to the original objective, which in this

example is to develop the student’s ability to move through a dangerous space safely, as they enhanced their visual

peripheral scope, which is part of the overall goal, leading into enhanced situational awareness. The drill progressed

to using both the dominant and non-dominant hands with a live blade along with 360 degrees of mobility and footwork in

close proximity to your training partners.  From Marcus’s perspective it gave him the opportunity to observe our level of

ability, offering a starting point from which to assess where we finish, along with progress made.



Here is an example of NLP in application; depicted here by some of the shooter’s within the class, modeling excellence during one of the pistol drills for

the rest of us amateurs to follow. We all then had a chance to model the skill along side a little coaching from Marcus, to a near perfect example

of moving forward rapidly towards a target with a trained pistol.


Situational Awareness

The first part of the day focused on the enhancement of our vision skills, for faster observation and pick up of violent behavioral

indicators, along with the enhancement of peripheral vision transferable under stress i.e. inhibiting tunnel vision.


Peripheral enhancement drills:

First we learnt to calibrate our peripheral vision and then had a partner massage our shoulders and neck, to enhance

relaxation as you elongate your spine into a relaxed state. We then recheck and calibrate our vision for an obvious

improvement. This shows how a relaxed state can enhance peripheral scope, conversely to that an alarmed state can cause

 a closing of peripheral scope, often referred to as tunnel vision.  Enhanced Peripheral Vision is an essential Combative skill.  

The progression was to calibrate Peripheral Vision from a relaxed state. You can do this either by using your own hands

or employing 2 partners to stand either side of you on the fringe of your peripheral scope. An additional partner will now add

stress to the drill by offering you face to face role-play and dialogue, depicting raw naked aggression. Or as Marcus

demonstrated, the sudden introduction of a large knife held a few inches from your face, can also work in addition to

the sudden and explosive verbalization (I personally like to use a big f**k off Bowie knife.)

One example of offered aggression by Swedish instructor Mika


The drill continued several times until a degree of de-sensitization started to occur this can be measured by your ability now,

to maintain a good degree of peripheral scope in comparison to the first true test, which should lead your scope to close

or tunnel some what. Next we had a partner with a striking pad/shield stand in front of you, on your partner’s signal which

will be offered intention from him/her, blast into the pad with an all-out attack (access state) on instructor’s signal stop your

 assault and re-calibrate your vision, check state then spell your mother’s maiden name to simulate thinking

under stress.


We were constantly asked; how can I employ this skill in the real world? Everything must have a purpose.

When striking a pad or a person, most people will tend to fixate on the intended target, there are of course pro’s and

con’s to this. If I focus on the central threat once I’ve received the stimulus to access state and proceed to eliminate

that threat, my central focus may now make me vulnerable, to an additional threat from outside of my periphery. By

habitually checking vision I can broaden my peripheral scope to a degree where  even under the stress of a critical incident,

it will close down a lot less, than if I didn’t have that skill. This is obviously a huge tactical advantage in a fight. Also by

habitually checking my vision after accessing the fight state, I am also checking my state, to a degree of calm, where it is now

possible to make a tactical decision based on any new Orientation. This will keep me within the realms of my functional

OODA Loop.


     Average Peripheral Scope:                                                 Potential of enhanced Peripheral Scope:


The first two, of four diagrams depicted here; will first show an average, followed by the potential, of an enhanced

peripheral scope during a relaxed state, of body and mind.  This is followed by a depiction of peripheral scope under the

stress of a critical incident, for both, a trained and untrained individual. What we can see from this is just how useful

such an enhanced scope of vision could be during any threat to life incident, hence the benefit to the Combatives trainee,

as a potentially life saving skill


               Peripheral tunneling under stress:                          Enhanced Peripheral scope under same stress:



Behavioral Cue Acuity

Next up we started to look at various ways of enhancing the speed, in which we receive information from another person.

The area of particular concern here is of course, associated to pre-attack cues and precursors to violence. Here we

looked at going beyond more obvious signs such as gross motor movement, weight shifting of any kind of aggravated

facial expression; here we were looking for the subtle pre-pre cues that are exhibited just before Attention turns to

Intention. Here we paired up for a static drill facing each other. One person had to visualize bad intention to his/her

partner while the other tried to pick up on that at the earliest demonstrated cue. In spite of the fact we all tried to mask

our intention in the physical sense, the commonality amongst us all was very similar, tightening of the jaw/facial muscles,

 slight coloration changes, flaring of the nostrils etc. Any of these subtle pre-cursors to violence can offer us a faster

reaction time during a potential incident, hence the relevance to Combative efficiency. A variety of drills followed along

these lines all equally useful.  


State Management  

Understand that although I am presenting these subjects in order, for the reader to understand all 3 of these aspects kind

of intertwined and overlapped with each other. The idea was take the skill and add it to what you already do, in order to

enhance your functionality in a Combative sense.  The Management of State was the main topic of interest for me.  It was

interesting to see how our physiology, directed our mind, along with both our internal and external representations to ourselves

and others. I was quite honored to be pulled out as a demonstration man by Marcus on numerous occasions. 

Apparently my own physiology represents a forward and at times explosive predatory mode, and there’s me thinking that

sometimes, I just had a lazy posture. Here Marcus presented a variety of excellent techniques for accessing the appropriate

state of mind and physiology, for the full spectrum of a confrontational incident.  A state of high awareness for enhanced

observation and greater reaction time, the fight state itself for dealing with the threat, back to a state of awareness to assess

the situation and make tactical decisions based on your new Orientation of events etc and if necessary changing from

one State to another in order to sustain the required state, needed to deal with the problem or escalating problems from there.

‘’Start where you want to end up!’’


It was also emphasized how one objective as an instructor, is to give your students an experience as close to the real event,

as early as possible. As a teacher we don’t need to explain the hows of everything just let them do it. Give the student the

experience early on, along with the emotional content that goes with it, allowing the Visual and Kinesthetic processing

to take place. Now you have installed or plugged in, an array of the concerned variables as one large piece, directly into the

trainee as an experience that is as close to the real event as training will allow. From here we can add and refine the

 smaller pieces as time goes on.  A variety of wonderful exercises continued over the next two days, all focusing on enhancing

 the factors that we’ve already talked about, in addition to related topics such as; Time Distortion and manipulating

 our internal representation of time, in order to our accelerate reaction time. This is done by enhancing our perception of

 events, which can appear to slow down giving us a tactical advantage.


We also looked at how to design a neural-based class room/training environment, how to accelerate learning by teaching

 5-7 things at once, use of voice tonality and the creation of anchors to trigger and access certain states in ourselves and

others. All great stuff geared toward the enhancement of any combat athlete.  As instructors we were of course, expected to

demonstrate the effectiveness of the NLP applied concepts Marcus installed the skills into us, our job was to demonstrate

how easy and quickly we could install them into someone else. With this in mind the whole class was divided into groups

and each was given a specific task of creating a workable drill; relating to one of the 3 specific topics talked about. We

then had to pull out a member from the crowd and demonstrate a workable improvement, which

we all did successfully.


One of the class groups organizing the design of their topic drill; in this example instructor Si Squires came out of this with

better target acquisition and assessment skills for shooting, than from when he had started, several minutes before hand.


                                This was a clear example, of the installation of accelerated learning.



The grand finale for the day was putting everything that we had learned, together and on top of what we already do,

into one large workable format (installing the BIG piece) so that we all get the experience under the conditions of

emotional content during a Simulation exercise.  The objective of the scenario was to rescue the baby; this was simulated

by a 20-30lb sand bag placed at the far end of the room. The objective was simple, go get the kid and bring it back to the

starting point. The drill called for the following resources; 3 shield men, 1 trainee 1 coach (Marcus) 2 safety guys, also on hand

to calibrate peripheral vision, a sand bag, 2 pens and 2 pieces of paper. 


Marcus was on hand to take each and every single trainee, starting with me, through a variety of mental and physical

States which he helped to fluctuate, whilst coaching us to constantly check our Peripheral Vision, think under stress and

make decisions, by asking such questions as ‘’what’s your mother’s maiden name?’’ or spell your surname backwards,

then more fight state stress, check vision then write your name, address and telephone number ledge ably as fast as you can.

The goal was clear to take you through a variety of fluctuating states and levels of stress. Such as; access the fight state to

fight through several threats, in between checking your vision and observation, thinking and answering questions, making

decisions out of fight state, save the baby then access state again to fight your way back, change state again to check

your vision then answer a question, fight the shield man again, check vision again then draw an X to mark the finish of

your experience.  This is installation of the big piece which can be refined to excellence with further experiences, i.e.

refine the smaller pieces.  This training methodology allows an instructor to immediately install EXPERIENCE into a

trainee under the conditions of emotional content, close to the real event for the refinement process to follow. Voila,

accelerated learning in action! Cutting edge stuff to say the least and what make it special is, a lot of this stuff is

simple to implement, a lot of which most of us are doing already without know it.


Here’s an example of the save the baby scenario drill, depicted in its entirety by Mika



1. Marcus helps fluctuate state:                                   2. access fight state/deal with first threat:





3. Mika has checked vision by actively scanning: 4. then negotiates the next threat of 2 pad men:




5. Out of state again, check vision then write name address and phone number ledge able: 6. rescue the baby:




7. Access state again, fight your way back with the baby, check vision and answer a question:




8. Fight the last pad man, check vision then X marks the spot to finish the stress drill.



Additional pictures from the course



Our very own Phil ‘the Bristol bloke,’ giving his all to save the baby, Marcus and Den with our S.A connection.



Other guys during the state scenario simulation drill.




John Brawn from Ireland and Clint from South Africa giving a talk on how Marcus’s previous neural based learning program,

back in 1996 had helped them from personal experience.



Star struck Lee Morrison with NLP master and author Marcus Wynne



Leading practitioners in the field of NLP particularly in the area of CQB; Tommy Mac, Marcus and Den.


All in all, this was a fantastic learning experience that I felt, was a great honor to be a part of.  Like I said before I feel that

Marcus has given me the tools and the know how, to reach another level, both as an instructor and as a student.

I am already implementing the neural based concepts and ideas into my life right across the board. All that remains is for

me to thanks Marcus and Den for making it possible.

Peace L.M