Applying DBM to Karate Instructors’ Training

By Billy Haggerty

Recently Shoto Budo, a Martial Arts organisation, of which I am Technical Director, invited John McWhirter, developer of Developmental Behavioural Modelling (DBM), to give a weekend intensive course on the subject of ‘effective instruction’. The objective of the Karate Instructors’ course was to review how to teach students as well as self instruction for personal development in both Karate and life in general.

During the course some of the participants pushed John for information about and proof of the several behavioural models he was presenting them. On each occasion John would respond with ‘Lets put them into a Karate experience and test them out from an experiential base rather than take my word for it’.

The Models

John included and used in the course a variety of the models he has developed. In this article only two models have been selected and their use described to give a flavour of the course.

Cybernetics of Rapport

One of the models used was the ‘Cybernetics of Rapport’ with emphasis on the inclusion / exclusion components. The group spent approximately 30 minutes being guided by John through a sequence of ‘self’, ‘other’, ‘self and other’ subjective boundaries. Then they formed into groups of four with one person defending against two people attacking simultaneously. Usually this is very difficult and few of the participants had previously practised with more than two attackers. By applying their new learning the defender not only evidently improved skill-wise but also remained calm and relaxed during the entire sequence. This particular skill usually takes several years to achieve using conventional training methods. Whereas people new to the skill were achieving high standards and noticing the difference in this one practice within a very short period of time.

Setup, Upset, Setdown

Another model tested by the group was the ‘Setup – Upset – Setdown’ model. The group used this model to review their study of Karate and to recognise how they had gone about their learning. Many realised what they had done constructively and destructively during their years of training. Some instructors were surprised at the importance of setting yourself up for experiences. Indeed some were amazed that they had choice in the matter, previously having assumed physical experience is trial and error learning in the main.

The exercise used to test the above model was, simply, the striking of pads. With a mindset of, firstly, thinking to yourself ‘This is a good punch’ or ‘This is a bad punch’, (making digital distinctions) and then comparing this to thinking ‘Is the first punch better or worse than my second punch?’, (analogue distinctions), giving feedback – Upset – to allow adjustment – Set Down – for improving the punch. By doing the task in this way, by making digital and analogue distinctions, the group noticed how they were effecting the way they learned. This allowed them to understand how to better improve and continue developing their striking skills. The improvement was speedy and effective leaving them with a realisation that this model could be used to develop other skills in a similar way.


The course continued moving from one model to the next. Each model revealed more and more useful ways of developing our teaching skills and self-instruction for our personal development in both Karate and life in general. John satisfied all the criteria we set, going well beyond the group’s expectations. So much so that some of the participants gave up previous commitments to attend the whole course after the experience of the first day.

One participant expressed that this course had given him a completely new and more effective way of learning Karate. Also he was amazed at how quickly this had been achieved.

With the course behind us now, I’m left wondering how John manages to consistently develop holistic and interactive models that are so effective, practical and useful. Hopefully we can encourage him to give us more of his time in the future.

Personal Profile
Billy is a mechanical engineer with 25 years experience in the Quality Assurance area. As such he has been involved in most areas in business, from auditing, management, to ordering, manufacturing and after service customer care.

Billy has studied the Martial Arts for 25 years. He is a 5th Dan, Karate Blackbelt and an experienced Training Instructor, well known within the Karate world for his innovations and skill.

In both these areas, he has been using Developmental Behavioural Modelling (DBM) to improve the understanding of Q. A. in the business world and the instruction of the Martial Arts. More recently he has been using DBM to develop a Stress Management and Personal Security package on offer to businesses of all kinds.

He is a Certified Trainer of NLP with Sensory Systems Training.

He can be contacted at:    5 Jardine Terrace, Greenock, Renfrewshire PA16 8BP Scotland  Phone: 01475 724957