In the first part of this third section on entering the Zone, I described the thumbnail technique. In this second part, I will explore the addition of visualization to the practice of self-hypnosis, and the method I use for rapid induction.

Another element that you may want to add to your training is something that I have mentioned before: visualization. Visualization coupled with the verbal cues of self-hypnosis will further enhance the mind-body relationship that you have established in your beginning stages of martial arts training. Picture yourself relaxing, look into your mind’s eye and see yourself relaxing, and performing techniques, both in kata and against a live opponent, without a single mistake. After some experimentation, you will discover the balance of imagery vs. verbal cues necessary for you to progress. It is the understanding of this balance that will propel you into an aspect of both training and performance that is not enjoyed by many.

If you expect to enter the Zone immediately upon the rubbing of your thumbnail, it will happen much faster than if you do not expect it to happen. However, do not expect to master this technique the first time you attempt it. It will take a fair amount of practice to train yourself to enter the Zone upon command. Entering the Zone when you are practicing by yourself will be easy. The next level is to practice entering it in the confines of a class setting or with your training/sparring partner. The most difficult is to be able to enter the Zone under any circumstance, but as with all techniques, perfect practice will give perfect results.

As you familiarize yourself with the process, your level of comfort will increase and the time necessary for the relaxation and induction phase will shorten. As I have mentioned earlier, it is possible to reach a hypnotic state in about ten seconds. Each time you enter the relaxation phase, pay close attention to the physical sensation that runs through your body as you relax — this is the key to attaining the hypnotic state in ten seconds. Be certain to notice the physical and mental sensations (i.e., dream-like state) that manifest as you progress in your relaxation phase. During future sessions, as you learn to recognize the sensation in your body, relax your mind and allow your body to duplicate the sensation. Once you learn to key in on this sensation, you will make tremendous progress.

Train yourself to enter a hypnotic state in a short amount of time, and you will find that it works hand-in-glove with the process of entering the Zone. Both techniques deal with entering an altered state of mind. The difference is in your focus. So every time you perform self-hypnosis, your subconscious is preparing for entering the Zone — independent of the purpose of the session.

Here is the method that I use for rapid induction. You may alter it to fit your needs.

Relax and slow your breathing. Say to yourself, “When I count from three to one, my body and mind will become completely relaxed.” Count three, two, one, and feel the relaxing sensation flow from the crown of your head to the tip of your toes. If you have not reached a state of complete relaxation, repeat the procedure. I usually repeat the count twice, which takes about 10 to 15 seconds. After that, I am completely relaxed and my subconscious is ready to receive suggestions.

Achieving mastery in any discipline requires dedication and focus, but the martial arts require you to focus at a level above the norm. Entering the Zone will give you a distinct advantage over your opponent. Being more focused on the moment allows you to perceive things the moment of the event rather than the moment immediately following the event. The relaxation in your body allows your responses to be more controlled and more effective. As you continue to practice, make yourself aware of the benefits that will be realized as you approach mastery. With this in mind, you will develop mind and body that are strong, yet versatile.