NLP Master Practitioner

Modelling Project




“Modelling the teaching skills of Master Martin Ace, 5th Degree Black bBelt, Tae Kwon Do”




Version: 21.0



Mark Young

July September 2010





1.0       Introduction. 3

2.0       Background & Context 3

3.0       The model 4

4.0       Testing the model 5

5.0       Summary. 5

6.0       Appendices. 5

6.1  Glossary. 5

6.2  Biography: Master Martin Ace. 5

6.3  Conversation transcripts & analysis. 5






1.0       Introduction[IR1] 



Somebody once said ‘we all lead others, the only question is where to?’.


Arguably a similar thing could be said of teaching – we all teach others ... the only questions is how well?  At some point in our lives we are almost certainly going to be responsible for teaching or training another person.  It may be our children, a colleague at work, a friend or associate, or indeed we may have made a career out of it - but how well do we do?


I suspect many of us who like teaching, or are required to teach or train, would agree that there is always more to learn, new perspectives to consider and our own horizons to extend.


Gaining an insight into how another person approaches teaching, especially if that person is held in high esteem for their teaching ability, presents a great opportunity to review our own modus operandi and consider how we may improve on our own journeys.


This report, submitted in fulfilment of INLPTA NLP Master Practitioner accreditation, presents a model of the teaching skills of Master Martin Ace, 5th degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.



2.0       Background & Context


The subject I have chosen as the focus of this modelling project is the teaching skill of Master Martin Ace.  Martin has been an avid fan of martial arts for most of his life and a professional teacher of Tae Kwon Do for almost 10 years.  He is undoubtedly a fine proponent of the art, but it is not his ability to deliver some very dangerous looking kicks and punches that has interested me as much as his ability to teach others to do the same.


Master Martin would himself never claim to be a fighter, yet he has a reputation for turning out exceptionally high quality martial artists who do win competitions.  It is his ability to achieve this consistently and over such a sustained period that is of interest, and which, for me, makes Martin an exemplar.


A biography for Master Martin can be found in the Appendix at section 6.2






3.0       The model


Modelling Master Martin’s entire teaching strategy would be a significant task.  The teaching subject matter for the modelling project was originally based on one of the core techniques – the execution of a turning kick.  There are many components of teaching something apparently as simple as a turning kick – acceleration, terminal velocity, balance, angle of trajectory, focus distance, how to aim, how to launch, how to land and so on and so forth.  For the purpose of this report therefore, the model was focused on the initial phase of teaching any given technique – that is the teaching of the “keys”.


The model therefore is as follows:

·         Ensure that teaching environment is suitable / conducive to effective learning (clean,  tidy, well lit and free from distractions).


·         Step into a resourceful teaching state (attitude of well being, confidence and focus).  The mechanism by which this happens varies.  Master Martin has been teaching martial arts for so long that, by and large, this confidence is pre-existent.  However, if there has been an incident that would affect his state, Master Martin will talk about it to his class as a means of ‘shaking off’ the effects and being ready to teach.  Martin has referred to martial arts as his sanctuary.  This is a metaphor for the state of well being that he experiences when practising martial arts and is a key component of his teaching model.  If the teacher is not in that positive frame, it will likely impact the outcome of the session.


·         Construct a visual image of what is going to be taught, and break the technique down into smaller chunks.


·         Recalls to mind list of important factors (the keys).   This is drawn from a complex map of knowledge about physiology and experience in the art.


·         The list of key elements is sorted against a filtering mechanism which, in Martin’s case teaching martial arts, is that which provides the greatest level of safety as this is one of his primary values (generalising the model, the filter would be that which is of value to the teacher).


·         There is then a choice as to how many of the keys are taught at once.   Firstly, an external check (visual) is completed to assess who is in the room – if children they get only main key (I.e. that which is top of the list), if adults there is a secondary check (visual) to check levels of understanding – if high, then all 3 keys would be taught.  When completing the understanding check Martin refers to two frames of reference.  He firstly matches the observed response to himself – does what he is seeing trigger any response in himself and if so how should he handle it.  The second frame is any change to the baseline state of those he is teaching that he holds in his mind.


·         The technique is demonstrated in full, but slowed down, then broken down into small chunks so that  the keys that are to be taught are associated fully into the execution of the technique.


·         External check (verbal.  As well as observing the effect of his teaching, Master Martin will be continually talking to hi students; praising them, correcting them, checking their understanding.  This both maintains rapport and enables him to assess progress.



Establish a suitable environment


Set resourceful state of mind


Visualise the technique


Recall teaching keys


Prioritise teaching keys


Determine teaching approach


Deliver the teaching


Check understanding & maintain rapport







































4.0       Testing the model


Some years ago I was asked to teach guitar to a couple of children (c. 12 years old).  The teaching sessions ran once a week for some 6 – 9 months.  Week after week I would turn up and listen to how much time had been spent playing the x-box rather than practising guitar.  The lessons ended when I stated that I would happily come along if the lads had confirmed that they had put in enough practise during the week.  Needless to say they never did confirm their practise and so the lessons ended.


Did the boys fail / give up because they couldn’t be bothered?  Was the lure of the x-box too great or were they simply not inspired and encouraged to continue?


Reviewing my teaching practices against the model elicited from Master Martin provides some interesting insights:


Model Component

Reflections on my teaching practices at the time

What I would do differently today...

Ensure that teaching environment is suitable

There was no conscious reflection on this point.  The lessons took place in the kitchen at one of their homes.  It was relatively quiet, but limited in space.  It was definitely a case of just making do.

Teaching music does require an environment conducive to creativity.  By & large it should be spacious, light & airy, preferably with musical stimulus to hand (CDs, other instruments etc).

Step into a resourceful teaching state.

I usually turned up out of obligation rather than a genuine desire.  I very much doubt that I was conveying my own love of music.

Running a process to ensure I had stepped into a resourceful state, (such as taking time to practise first, listen to some music that focuses or uplifts me).  Aim to create and atmosphere of infectious enthusiasm.

Construct a visual image of what is going to be taught

This is something I would have been doing.  Typically I would visualise either a chord chart or fret board fingering so that I had a clear image of what was to be taught.

My own teaching practise did follow the model.

Break the technique down into smaller chunks

This is something that I really only do if the technique was particularly challenging.

In fact, even simple guitar playing techniques can be decomposed (if you’ll allow the pun!) into smaller chunks.  Applying this more consistently would almost certainly have made the learning more accessible.

Recalls to mind list of important factors

This element of the model was almost completely missing when there are in fact a range of elements that form the “keys” to rhythm guitar playing.

Establish a routine for recalling the key factors.

Filter list of important factors  and decide when / how to teach them

This did not happen at all.

In Martin’s model, the filtering criteria is about optimising safety.  In teaching guitar the primary filter is vocalisation … achieving clarity of sound.

Deliver teaching, by demonstrating and talking through the various parts

The teaching was delivered, but usually in a single stage.

Demonstrate the whole technique then go through the sub-components, paying particular attention first to those bits that benefit deliver clarity of sound.

Continually check motivation, understanding & progress of students

This was one of the biggest omissions.  As I reflect back, I must be honest and say that I had little regard for the students, expecting them to simply learn what I taught them. Establishing rapport with them and continually checking their motivation was absent.

Watch, listen, encourage, correct & praise.  It seems to me that one of the key components of effective teaching is the quality of relationship between teacher & student.  This would need to be a more conscious element of the strategy going forwards.



5.0       Summary



I believe it would be true to say that one of the core elements of what makes Master Martin such a great teacher is his selfless regard for his students.  Almost everything he does is focused on the safety, the motivation, the enjoyment and understanding of his students.


The strategy is derived from Master Martin’s ability to both visualise that which he is about to teach, breaking it down into manageable chunks and all whilst maintaining a strong visual connection with the environment in which he is teaching.  This enables him to continually respond to the feedback he receives from his students.


I have ‘tried the model on for size’ by reflecting it onto my own teaching experience and find I am quite easily able to step into the model and try it on for size.  Furthermore, in trying the model on I can see clearly those elements where considerable improvement in my own teaching could have been improved.


So I close by offering - try on the model and see how it provides new perspectives on your own teaching journey.






Mark Young

September 2010


6.0       Appendices

6.1  Glossary





Neuro Linguistic Programming


International NLP Trainers Association


Sul Ki Do


Tae Kwon Do




6.2  Biography: Master Martin Ace


Taken from Master Martin’s website:

About the Chief Instructor: Martin Ace

Black belts gained:

·        5th degree black belt in TaeKwonDo (Master) 13th December 2005

·        1st degree black belt in SulKiDo 24th September 1988

·        5th degree black belt in Brithai 11th February 2006



·        Professional Trainer Certified – Chartered Institute of Environmental Health 25th May 2008

·        Level 3 Diploma in Coaching Sports (Adults) December 2009

·        Level 3 Diploma in Coaching Sports (Children) December 2009

·        Duke of Edinburgh approved Unit Leader & Assessor

·        Edged Weapons certified – Black Belt International (

·        Self Defence Instructor – Martial Arts Commission 2nd February 1990

·        Women’s Personal Safety Officer – Realistic Self Defence Association 8th May 2005



·        Fusion Fitness, by Anne-Marie Millard – ISBN# 1 85605 844 1

·        Kick The Fat, by Anne-Marie Millard – ISBN# 1 84509 131 0



·        Good Morning Television (GMTV) 28/2/02

I began training in 1982 and initially started with Seibukan karate with my friend Mil. I was interested in learning how to defend myself and throw a few flashy kicks. The idea of ever actually sticking it out to gain a black belt never entered my mind. After all, black belts are only for the few gifted people out there, or so I thought.  Mil and I trained hard together and both took our first martial arts grading on 1st July 1983 under Vernon Bell, the man credited with bringing karate into England.  Mil and I were both really pleased as that grading was marked in points, and we both came out with the highest mark in the club that day.

I drifted around with various styles until in January 1985 I began a relatively new style named Sul Ki Do. I really enjoyed the SKD training and this further fuelled my interest in martial arts. So, whilst training three times a week in SKD, I took up Wing Chun kung fu twice a week too. I trained at a couple of clubs, one of which was recommended to me by a friend Demetrios that I met previously in SKD. After about four or five months, I stopped Wing Chun altogether, tried a couple of months of kickboxing, again with Mil, and then got involved with SKD whole heartedly, attending six to seven classes a week from December 1985 until the end of 1987. I achieved my 1st degree black belt in Sul Ki Do on 24th September 1988.

My Tae Kwon Do training began a year earlier in October 1987 when I had already graded to "deputy black belt" in SKD.  I was introduced to Master K. Lye, a 6th degree black belt, who I started training with.  He not only became my instructor, but a great influence on my martial arts training. Master Lye was not only a real expert in TKD, but a very good teacher too. Five times Malaysian national champion and a runner up in The South East Asian Games, this man was not only a full-contact competitor of international standard, but also a terrific instructor, a great motivator, and the inspirational force that led me to opening my own TKD club back in June 1993.  Unfortunately Master Lye retired from teaching in 2007, but still takes an active role as the founder of the EWEST Taekwondo Association.  Under his tutorage, I achieved my 1st degree black belt under Master Lye on 23rd February 1993, 2nd degree on 18th September 1994, 3rd degree on 6th July 1997, my 4th degree black belt Master Instructor on 17th December 2000, and most recently my 5th degree black belt on 13th December 2005.

I love teaching all aspects of martial arts. Being a constant encouragement to my students, helping them to attain new skills and seeing them climb up through the grades is a real pleasure for me.  Seeing them graduate up to the black belt is as exciting for me to see, as it is for them to achieve.

On 2nd October 2000, I made the big transition, and turned professional, leaving my career in IT. I initially designed a training programme to take people from beginner to black belt in 36 months.  That was successful, however I changed the methodology of teaching and running classes in May 2005 and we can now take students to black belt standard in only 24 months.  There's actually no reason for anybody not to achieve this.  Training twice a week at The Academy, with 15 minutes of home training a day is enough.  However, it is possible to fast-track through this by enrolling in our Leadership Programme.  This was proved by one of our students, who gained his 1st degree black belt in only 14 months.  

Aside of martial arts, I’m a Christian and attend St. Barnabas church in Woodside Park and regularly attend a Home Group during the week.  I’m a keen motorcyclist and got into bikes about the same time I started martial arts regularly, at the age of 16.  I enjoy riding around in good weather and have been on race tracks a few times.  There is a massive crossover of skills between motorcycling and martial arts.  Consider balance, perception, reaction speed, spatial awareness, and the all-important factor of timing and I hope you can appreciate that these qualities are beneficial to both activities.



6.3  Conversation transcripts & analysis


The initial conversation, which is captured in the second column of the table below, felt on reflection to have stayed too far in the surface structure (I fear I may have been seduced by the content!).  Therefore, to take the modelling exercise beyond the superficial, the analysis has focused on the natural language presuppositions, meta model and meta programme elements.  The elements of the analysis are shown in the third column, with the distillation of those elements that are probably part of the model taken through to the last column.  The model is then presented in full in section 3.


To help set the context, and possibly step more fully into the model, a brief distillation of Master Martin’s main rep systems and filters are shown below:


·        Strongly visual with a supporting kinaesthetic

·        Associated

·        Sorts for difference

·        Procedures more than options

·        Externally referenced

·        In time


These were elicited from the conversations that follow:


First Conversation





Component of Model


Where do you start?




With a turning kick there are three factors that you need to be able to do it safely – move the supporting foot (minimum 90 degrees to the perpendicular), do not hyper-extend the kicking leg and make sure you lean back.  The first of these is most important.

·        “3 factors that you need” = implied cause & effect and model operator of necessity

·        Meta programme = procedures

·           Has a visual image of what is going to be taught

·           Recalls to mind list of important factors (the keys)


How do you know to teach these factors?

The question intent was to get to ‘process’ (what triggers in your mind the need to do this bit), but was interpreted as content “how did you go about acquiring the knowledge…”


The meaning of the communication is the response that you get!



Have gone out of way to contract other people in to help me develop myself and my training, and have looked outside of my subject area to strengthen my understanding (such as gaining an understanding of human physiology).


I may not explain all three at once though.

·        “…contract other people in to help me develop…” – presupposes the value of additional / incremental knowledge and input.

·        …”have looked outside” – visual rep system reference

·        “strengthen my understanding” – a complex equivalence … strengthened understanding of complementary areas will improve the teaching

·        “may not explain all three” – model operator of possibility, presupposes availability of alternatives & therefore implies a sorting mechanism

In subsequent conversations, Master Martin advised that anything that helps is of benefit and therefore of use.  His wider knowledge helps him respond ‘in the moment’.







The list of key elements is sorted against a filtering mechanism which, in Martin’s case is about which provides greatest level of safety (generalising the model, the filter could be anything).



How do you determine when to bring these factors in?




I do it as soon as possible, and always look to cover off the most dangerous aspect (protect the knee) first.  I explain these because I want people to understand why they are doing what they are doing[IR2] .

·        “…as soon as possible…” – presupposition re the necessity of time.  Implies an internal sequencing of components and a value driven ordering (why do this bit ‘as soon as’ rather than any other bit)

·        “…always look to cover…” – visual predicate

·        “I want people to understand” presupposes that learning is possible!  This potentially gives an insight into Master Martin’s values.









Why is this important?




I feel that if there is a good understanding, people are more likely to be motivated and so will be better at the technique being described.

·        “… I feel…” – Kinaesthetic predicate

·        “…more likely to…” – model operator of possibility

·        “…more likely to be motivated…” – meta programme: external reference (what the other person is thinking)

·        “…will be better…” – implied value judgement and also a complex equivalence (if you understand something, you will be able to accomplish the technique better)



You use the word “feel”, is there an actual feeling involved?

Up to this point I’d had a number of indications that Master Martin was primarily visually referenced (the linguistic narrative is supported by high level hand gestures, but eye accessing cues have thus far been indeterminate) and wanted to test the “K” strength.



Yes, a feeling of excitement


[Note:  when talking of his passion, Martin smiles broadly, his eyebrows raise (symmetrically), his hands are invariably raised, his voice speeds up and rises in pitch.]



There is a strong synaesthesia here of the visual elements in the observed behaviour (eyebrows, hands & voice raise) combining with a very evident visceral response – big smile, eyes light up, palpably more energy…



Can you think of a time when you have been teaching and the passion has not been there?





This almost seemed unthinkable!



How dependent on this passion is your well being / state of mind?

The intent behind this question was again to test firstly how strong the Kinaesthetic factors in but also whether the state of mind is an important part of the model or not.



Crucial.  Whenever I am in a poor state of mind I remember that they (the students) are paying clients and that it is not what is taught but how that matters.  Martial arts is my sanctuary.

·        “… I remember that they…” – meta programme: external reference

·        “…not what is taught but how that matters” – a deletion … matters to who?  Presupposition is that this matters to the student (supported by external referencing), however therefore becomes assumptive, a complex equivalence (how it taught is more important to the student than what is taught in maintaining their satisfaction and making them better).

·        “…martial arts is my sanctuary…” – this is a fascinating statement, almost strange in the context.  What this may mean is that Master Martin is associating into the training context and in doing so realises that, more than any other place, this is where he feels at peace.















Can you demonstrate for me the perfect turning kick

The aim of this line of questioning is to ascertain whether there is an internal values assessment that is deployed when looking at what is being taught (hence the use of the ‘perfect’ extremity)



[Martin demonstrates]




Was that a ‘perfect’ kick?




No.  Could have warmed up more and could have thrown a lower kick rather than trying to impress.

·        “…could have…” – model operator of possibility



How important is it when teaching or demonstrating that you are physiologically ready?




It does matter, but more importantly is the fact that full speed and power could demotivate, leaving people thinking “I could never do that”.

·        “…could…” – possibility again

·        “…more importantly … could demotivate…” – external reference again (what is impact on others)



So your primary concern is for the motivation and well being of the client.




Yes, sometimes I will mask the teaching.  For example when demonstrating something complex, it can demotivate and so I will break the move down into its components and often hide them within other techniques (for example will teach the spin for a back fist rather than going straight to a spinning outside crescent kick)

·        “…mask…” – visual predicate




So let’s bring this back to the turning kick




I use a mix of auditory and visual techniques to point out the parts.  I may either demonstrate & explain the whole kick or show a good and bad kick and ask the students to point out the differences. 


I believe that a student can appreciate the technique more if they have worked it out for themselves.


I certainly prefer to work things out for myself rather than be given a script or flow chart.

·        “ … to point out…” – a Kinaesthetic / visual predicate

·        “…point out the differences…” – meta programme: sorting for difference?



·        “…I believe…” – a clear indicator of beliefs & values – values understanding as much / more than the doing?

·        “… I certainly prefer…” – a complex equivalence: because I prefer it, other people will too…



So your ability to break things down into the component parts is an important part of your teaching as it is key to encouraging & motivating the student.  The student feels good, but breaking the technique down also reinforces why the parts are important.

I use the backtrack frame to summarise what has been said 1) to maintain rapport, 2) to try and keep the other party’s words in my mind (and mouth) to aid the prevention of my slipping into presenting my own perspective…







What happens next?




I get the student to do the kick emphasising that speed, height and power are not important.  Do it slow and low, that’s how you grow!


The order of the three keys is important, that is, getting the student to understand early on the importance of moving the supporting foot is the first thing, the other two factors (never hyper-extending the joint & making sure you lean back) are not as important.


Also, timing and means of introduction of these factors is dependent on the context, such as the environment, the number of students, the ages and the personality (detail focus, keenness etc).

·        “…emphasising…” – suggesting importance, which in turn suggests an internal scoring or evaluation.  

·        “…the order of the three keys…”  - meta programme: procedures

·        “…dependent on the context…” – external referencing again





Explicit reference to the internal ordering here.


There is then a choice as to how many of the keys are taught at once.


External check (Visual) who is in the room – if children they get only main key, if adults there is a secondary check (visual) to check understanding


How do you know what strategy to run?




Generally if kids I will only teach one bit at a time




Why is that?




Kids just want safe physical fun.




What about adults?




I judge from their response




Can you think of a time when you have been in such a situation

Here I am seeking to associate Master Martin into an actual situation and see what else can be elicited in turns of accessing queues, sub modalities, and actual process steps.



Yes [begins to describe]




[interjecting] I do not need to know the example, just the process.


[The following is elicited:

·        A moving image

·        Martin is associated in the first party (i.e. seeing the scene through his own eyes)

·        There is no sound to the image

·        The picture is sharp

·        There is no frame, just remembering what was seen]




So what happens?




I am looking at the facial responses to see whether they are promoting a question or showing recognition of understanding.  If I see a question then I will ask what the question is. Sometimes the students may just ask a question in which I would respond accordingly.


I always watch for the reactions as I do not want to do anything to embarrass anybody.


If the students are showing understanding then I would give all three parts.  I always remember a point from my data communications days about “flow control”.  If the buffer is filling, you have stop or the hardware becomes overwhelmed.  Humans are the same.

·        “…I am looking… / …watch for reactions… / showing understanding” – visual predicates

·        “…see a question…” – interesting synaesthesia!



Visual external check for progress … are people following or should there be a pause?



How do you know when someone is becoming overwhelmed?




Mainly by observation and by auditory responses to the teaching.  I make sure I praise the bits they are doing well and do not reprimand the technicalities every time.

·        “…observation…” – visual predicate




Thank you Martin, lets bring the session to a close there




[Note:  whenever Martin describes a teaching scenario he steps into “character”:

·        Voice pitch raises

·        Eyes open wider

·        Eyebrows raise

·        Energy level increases

·        Breathing quickens]

·        Meta programme - associated






 [IR1]Suggest the inclusion of a 4-Mat Q1 here to stimulate initial motivation.

 [IR2]Good example of  naturally occurring “Why” to stimulate motivation in the other party.