Combattre le stress dans la vie active/ Fighting stress in active life. Literally!

This article about stress, in French, is based on using combat and bodyguard training in anti stress workshops. It has has proved highly successful. The secret lies in the approach itself: using the training systems to substitute active joy for inhibiting anxiety.

Le stress et le combat

C’est par la formation aux techniques de combat, que l’homme peut apprendre à gérer efficacement son stress. Ce concept est au cœur de cette réflexion.

Un brin de biologie

Le système nerveux autonome gère les cycles d’activité de notre corps. Il est divisé en deux sous-ensembles, le sympathique et le parasympathique.

Nous sommes dotés d’un système nerveux   autonome   qui   gouverne la dépense et la récupération de d’énergie de notre corps : les battements de notre cœur, notre système digestif, etc.

Ce système gère les cycles d’activité et de repos. Il est divisé en deux sous- ensembles : le système sympathique qui gouverne notre dépense énergétique et le système parasympathique qui permet la récupération d’énergie.

Le système nerveux sympathique, qui opère de manière continue, agit lors la prise de décision – de fuir ou de combattre. Il démultiplie notre puissance, notre vitesse lors d’une menace vitale perçue. Le parasympathique est complémentaire au sympathique. Il per- met de se relaxer, de ralentir le cœur et de digérer. Il contribue à la régénération cellulaire. Les deux systèmes alternent, activité-repos-activité et rythment notre journée.

Au cœur de ce système se situent les  neuromodulateurs qui ont un rôle primordial dans la régulation de notre bien-être et de notre activité : les quatre principaux sont la sérotonine, l’acétylcholine, la dopamine et la noradrénaline. Dans un modèle simplifié la sérotonine augmente avec les relations positives et aide à retrouver l’estime de  soi. L’acétylcholine  renforce la conscience et l’élaboration de la pensée tout en mobilisant la mémoire à long terme. Le taux de dopamine croît avec l’expression corporelle, la noradrénaline avec l’action ciblée et la concentration. Continue reading

Interpersonal communication training in a multilingual setting.

Interpersonal communication training in a multilingual setting

Here is the story of a workshop I ran twenty years ago which is at the root of my approach to personal communication training today.

About twenty years ago I spent two weeks at the Espace du Possible, now called Jardiner Ses Possibles , a humanistic summer camp in South-West France. At that time the organization’s policy is to open up their movement and activities to other peoples and nationalities. As my contribution to this internationalisation I organized and ran a 5-day multilingual experimental communication group. The group took place every evening from 19.00 to 20.15. The group varied between 16 and 30 people from day to day. The variations in number depended on external activities over which I had no control. I situated the activity on a lawn near ‘the little cafe’, a place where people gathered for before dinner drinks and discussion of the day’s events.

The working language was English but, as the group progressed, my objective became to give participants the basic tools enabling them to develop communicative competence in a language of their choice. No particular level was required but the vast majority of participants had studied English for between 4 and 6 years at school. Half the group had not used their English since that time.

Continue reading


I see my work with engineers as turning linear minds into creative poles of excitement.

Step one

Act-Teach them how to generate masses of fresh ideas.

Reconnect – Give them pathways to reconnect those ideas into new patterns

Twist-Storytelling adds the twist.

Here is a well worn training exercise

Tell the participants they are going to write a group poem.

Distribute paper and pens.

Instructions write a line of ‘poetry’ on yr sheet of paper and pass it to the person on your left. They read and then add a line of their own, continuing the theme. And so on, round the table. When the ‘poem’ is judged complete it is placed in the centre of the table. Participants can still read and add to it as they wish.

When all the texts are complete, stop.

Hand out more paper. I generally use larger sheets.

As each participant to collate the words and phrases he wrote from all the different texts and to write a new poem from them.

“You can cut, add, borrow from others,  remodel and rewrite to your hearts content. ”

And they do. The results are often electrifying.

The same flow paths can be applied to other fields. An often richer more satisfying alternative to brainstorming.IMAG0271


The LRRH Attitude. Tools for storytelling.


Here are two ideas of many. I use them in language training and interpersonal communication development.

  1. Little Red Riding Hood and other stories waiting to be (re) told

For years I’ve been working with Little Red riding hood,

I’ve explored LRRH as interactive theatre (the audience gets to choose the final ending), as a party game under the stars with a hoard of piggybacking joyful wolves and twinned teams of LRRHs. I’ve turned it into pantomime.  I’ve put children to sleep with it, and kept them awake too!

I’ve even played it as a bedroom game,  finger-walking a  pathway through the gentle maze of light and shade in shuttered shafts of siesta sunlight.

In a tamer world I use LRRH as a vehicle for fluency practice in language teaching and as a vehicle for teaching intonation in English classes.

 Following their play and  connection to common culture provided by input creative speakers put their own slants and twists on the old stories

Below are some photos of engineering students telling their own versions of children’s’ fairy tales in English (no censorship here).  They got the audience sitting on the floor while the teller sat on a chair. Joyful regression to 8 years old guaranteed! Love your audience. And they will reflect that feeling.  Empathy is all.

Focus on ten ways to retell!




Building out from Hans Christian Anderson through Thurber and Roald Dahl and into new worlds of autonomy and assertion.

A few years ago I spent a week running a workshop where we reworked Three Little Pigs, Sleeping Beauty and Hansel and Gretel.



  1. The tarot cards for story telling


 I have several sets and used to teach people to tell each other’s fortunes, sharing and building the stories with the insights my godfather Basil Rákóczi,   painter, psychoanalyst and mystic, taught me when I was a young man. I help them explore: the major arcana from the world of men through to the holy hidden cavern of the Gods. A  limited deck with a simplified layout.

 I  use the tarot the way Italo Calvino  does in his novel ‘ The Castle of Crossed Destinies’ creating wonderful tales with students in the language teaching arena.

Enough for tonight.