• I Know You Got Talent – It’s the Other Thing I Wonder About

    I was watching the movie The Devil’s Advocate, and was struck by a perfect description of Mental Toughness. Al Pacino is trying to seduce a small town lawyer from Florida to join his firm in New York. Here’s what Pacino says: “I know you got talent. It’s the other thing I wonder about. Pressure. Changes […]

  • Balls to the Wall, Man

    Ever heard the phrase, “Balls to the Wall?” It always kinda confused me. You’re out on the field or on the court, and some guy’s yelling, “Balls to the Wall!” I never knew what the hell it meant. And I guess if I gave it any serious thought, it would have brought up some pretty […]

  • You Gotta WANT It

    My old High School football coach had some memorable quotes. Some of em…not so positive. I remember him yelling at us in the locker room: “No matter how good you are, you’re all replaceable.” Or telling us, “The more negative energy you have, the better football player you’re gonna be.” He was like an alcoholic […]

  • Mental Toughness In a Head-On Collison

    The good word from a Tension Blaster member, Tyler: “I’ve just completed the 9 week Heavy Tension Blaster cycle and I have got to say that I’m impressed. My anxiety has lessened a lot. For example I was almost in a head on collision with another car. In the past when something like would have […]

  • Power Naps of the Champions

    There are plenty of reasons I look up to Royce Gracie. For one, he was the guy who cleaned up on all the early UFCs, proving to the world the unbelievable power of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. But what really amazes me is something I heard in an interview with him. He said he was so […]

  • Loosen Up, Stop Thinking, and Perform

    Sometimes I get some flack for being so hard on the ‘positive thinking’ crowd. Truth is, I don’t really have anything against positive thinking. If I’m gonna have thoughts rattling around my skull, I figure they may as well be positive, goal-directed, achievement oriented, etc. That’s all good. It might even be helpful sometimes. But […]

  • Yoda’s School for Mental Toughness Jedi

    I loved the original Star Wars when I was a kid. Especially the scenes where Yoda trains Luke to become a Jedi. Go figure. As it turns out, that Jedi stuff is pretty close to Mental Toughness training. So let’s see what we can learn from Master Yoda: “Unlearn what you have learned.” Whenever I […]

  • LSD and Mental Toughness and No-Hitters…Oh My…

    This is one of the craziest stories in sports history. On June 12, 1970, Dock Ellis, pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, took some LSD with his girlfriend. It was his day off. Well, he thought it was his day off. About an hour after they took the acid, Dock’s girlfriend opened the newspaper. “Dock,” she […]

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You Might Get a Kick Out of This Psych-Out Story…

There have to be a thousand ways to psych a guy out.

But I think this one is my favorite.

This actually happened, though I can’t remember exactly who it was.

Right before an MMA fight started, one of the fighters had flowers delivered to the other guy’s sister, who was sitting in the front row.

Talk about a primal psych-out. What could get a guy’s blood up more than that? You’re about to try to destroy this guy you’re fighting, and suddenly he’s giving flowers to one of the closest females in your tribe.

It must have activated some intense primal anxiety, but it also must have been confusing. Is this harmless? Offensive? Am I the butt of the joke? Does anyone else notice? Does my sister maybe *gasp* like this guy?

You gotta admire the creativity of it. It’s even kinda charming, and definitely a little funny.

But if you lose the fight because you got thrown off by a stunt like that, well…not so funny.

We all know psych-outs are part of the game, whatever game you play.

They’re definitely part of everyday life, whether you like it or not. There’s always someone–an advertiser, politician, family member, friend–who’s gonna try to psych you out to get you to do what they want.

But here’s the thing. You can become invincible to psych-outs of all kinds. You can even learn to use them to your advantage.

It all comes down to how much stress you carry around on a day-to-day basis.

Think of it this way:

Imagine you have a 10-ounce glass, filled up with 9 ounces of water. You pour in 2 more ounces, and it what happens? It overflows, obviously.

Now imagine the same glass filled up with 6 ounces of water. Pour in those 2 more ounces, and what happens” Nothing. No overflow. No problem.

Same thing with tension in your body.

If you’re filled up close to the brim with worry and tension and anxiety, you may not even be aware of it. Your glass isn’t overflowing yet, so everything seems fine.

Throw in a psych-out, though, and suddenly you overflow. Your anxiety kicks over the edge, and you short-circuit.

But if you go in with less tension, you can handle that same amount of pressure, that same amount of psych-out, without having your glass overflow.

You don’t have to do anything to make that anxiety go away. It’s just not there in the first place.

Instead, you just observe it calmly, and you say to yourself, “Okay, now I’m REALLY gonna kick this guy’s ass.”

You gotta be ready for that moment.

And at the end of the day, that’s what Mental Toughness Training boils down to. Draining that tension, draining that glass of water, so that when the pressure’s on, it doesn’t overflow.

Instead, you stay calm, poised, and ready to destroy.

But if that glass of water overflows, good luck. Affirmations, positive thinking, or whatever else you hope might save you, won’t. Barring a miracle, you’re going down.

Need I say that NRW is the best way to drain that tension?

The more you get rid of, the more you can handle.

So go get it, before it gets you.

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

The easiest way to kill your progress is to make things more complicated than they are.

It’s easy to overwhelm yourself with options, especially in terms of fitness, workouts, and diet.

I’ve definitely jumped around over the years. I played football in high school, became an avid weight lifter in college, studied martial arts like Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai kick boxing, Western boxing, did distance running for a bit, etc., etc.

I also spent some wasted months doing nothing because I couldn’t decide what to do. Train for a marathon? Join another boxing gym and compete? Start lifting again?

I should have been spending my life-force on DOING something, but I spent it wondering what to do. And whatever I chose, I’d stick with for a year at most before moving on to something else.

Sure, a big part of that was being young and exploring. You gotta do that before you find what works best for you.

But now, after years of effort, I’ve finally simplified my own routine down to kettlebells and body-weight exercises. I do it all at home with my music blasting, and I love every minute of it.

I get a lot of ideas while I work out, and it’s nice for me to be close to my computer in case I want to write something down. I’m actually in the middle of a workout as I write this to you now, still breathing heavy.

Obviously I’m not going to become an Olympian with that routine, and that’s fine with me. My game is the Mental Game. It’s always what I’ve been most interested in, and it’s always what I’ll focus on the most. It’s just my nature.

I know that’s not true for everyone, but I know everyone can benefit hugely from working on their Mental Game at least a bit.

I mean, there are plenty of guys out there who really DO kettlebells, or CrossFit, or Jiu Jitsu, or whatever, and could whoop my butt without batting an eyelash. They focus on it, and I don’t.

But I still get a TON out of doing those things at a moderate level.

Similarly, anyone, no matter how busy with other training, can get a TON out of doing some Mental Training at a moderate level.

The key is to keep it simple.

But too many people get so overwhelmed by all the Mental Training stuff out there that they never make a move.

It’s especially tough with the Mental Game, because most of the stuff out there flat-out doesn’t work.

I understand–you don’t want to take all that time to research and study all these different methods and decide which one is best.

But it’s a shame to leave such a massive area of training behind.

So I’m going to just be up front and tell you: NRW is the only Mental Training method you’ll ever need.

And as a beginner, you can make massive gains with very little effort with the Tension Blaster Workout Series.

I’m not tootin’ my own horn here. This has nothing to do with me, it’s all about the technique. All I did was went out on the quest, tried everything, and came back with this–the most mighty Mental Toughness method ever handed down from Valhalla.

And you can benefit from all the time and effort I put into traveling down all those dead ends and scouring the Earth for the truest Mental Training method.

I don’t expect you to just believe me, of course. You gotta try it for yourself. That’s why I offer a money-back guarantee.

It doesn’t take much time, and it doesn’t take a huge amount of effort to get started. It does take consistency to see big gains over time, but it’s easy to build momentum.

And the most beautiful thing about the Tension Blaster Workout Series is its simplicity.

You do the work for 15-20 minutes every few days, and then forget about it. The rest takes care of itself.

You’ll accomplish more in those 15-20 minutes than you would spending a year studying sports psychology.

And you can focus on all the countless other things that need your focus and attention, confident that you’re investing in developing your Mental Toughness.

And hey, if you get ruthlessly simple in other aspects of your life, you might even have time to grab a beer with a friend every now and then and just chill….

Why I Don’t Do Tai Chi or Yoga Anymore

I remember when I finally quit Tai Chi.

It was almost 7 years ago. I had been training Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai kickboxing in a martial arts gym that also taught the “internal arts.”

These were techniques designed to develop mindfulness, sensitivity, and deep relaxation. In that gym, they consisted of Tai Chi, Chi Kung, and standing meditations.

The idea is to complement the hardcore fight training with softer, gentler techniques to reduce stress.

Basically, an attempt to train Mental Toughness and become a better Warrior.

I was in grad school at the time and teaching writing classes to undergrads. I was busy as hell, but trained hard at the gym every other day. I was determined to crack the code of my mental game, and I was sure these internal arts were the way to do it.

But I was about to become seriously disillusioned.

The head teacher wanted me show him my “Yang form,” a long series of movements that I had been working on for a year.

I was excited to show it off. After a year of putting it together piece by piece, I had a serious sense of accomplishment.

I don’t know what I expected to happen. Maybe I thought I’d burst into instant badass-Warrior enlightenment as soon as I finished the form and he gave me his approval. Who the hell knows.

But here’s what really happened: After I completed the form, the teacher looked at me stone-faced and said, “You don’t have the tension of a beginner anymore, but you have the tension of someone trying not to be tense.”

And that was it. That was his feedback after a year of training.

I asked him, “Well, what do I do to get rid of that tension?”

He said, “Just keep doing the form, and after five or ten years, it’ll go away.” And then he walked off.


I remember thinking, dude, I may not have five or ten years. My life is happening NOW. I need something that hits my tension NOW.

Is that such an unreasonable desire? If I were training CrossFit, and my trainer said, “You can expect results in five or ten years,” how long do you think I’d hang around?

I’d seen the same thing in yoga, massage, all sorts of methods to reduce stress. They say, “the kinks come back, the tension comes back, you never really get rid of it.” All just ways of rationalizing the fact that their methods don’t really do what they’re supposed to do.

I remember a lot of the other guys at that gym who had been training the internal arts for years. None of them were making progress. But they were so impressed by the history and mystery of the techniques that they just kept cutting the teacher checks and waiting it out.

Not me. I bailed.

And I went home totally dejected. I started to wonder if there were any real techniques out there.

And then, a few weeks later, I tried NRW.

BAM. Instant results.

My tensions started melting right away. It was almost shocking. I had spent so long with soft techniques that I had almost forgotten that some of this stuff might actually work.

I remember seeing that same shock on people’s faces when I started teaching NRW to people years later. Friends of mine who were massage therapists, yoga teachers, martial artists…They’d go into it skeptical. Afterwards, they would admit, sometimes reluctantly, that this goes way deeper than the stuff they were used to.

Of course, the longer-term results do take time. I’ve been practicing NRW myself for 7 years, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

But you don’t have to wait five or ten years to start feelin’ it.

Five or ten minutes will do the trick

“It’s Like Cops and Communism…”

I learned a new phrase today: “It’s like cops and communism.”

A friend of mine was talking about NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming), a popularization of a certain type of hypnosis.

She said, “It’s like cops and communism–it looks great on paper, but in practice, there are some serious problems.”

Of course we want cops, people to serve and protect us. And sure, it would be nice to have a society based on equality rather than exploitation.

But as history shows, those nice ideas often come to life in less-than-nice ways.

Sometimes downright horrific.

I could relate to her statement right away. I’ve studied and practiced hypnosis, NLP, and tons of other methods that are meant to train the mind for peak performance.

When you’re reading books about that stuff, it’s easy to get excited.

They tell you if you can just “reframe” your attitude about something, change your basic beliefs, you can go from being an anxious, sad sack, to being a dominant, successful A-gamer.

Okay, sounds great.

But when you try to start putting it into practice, you bump up against some serious problems.

I mean, sure, if you can just change the way you think, you could change the way you act.

But changing the way you think isn’t so easy. Every thought and belief has roots that go deep into parts of your brain that you can’t access with words.

The ancient “crocodile” part of your brain is in charge of your survival. It keeps a watchful eye over every attempt you make to change you behavior.

As far as it’s concerned, as long as you’re surviving, everything’s going fine. It doesn’t like change. Try to do something different–even if you know it’s a positive change–and it’ll start sounding off alarm signals.

That’s the anxiety of the new.

If you want to really change the way you think, you have to go in and dismantle the croc brain’s fear responses first.

You have to speak to it in a language it understands–breath and body movement.

The croc brain doesn’t understand English. When it goes into fight-or-flight mode, you can’t just tell it to calm down. You have to hack in and send signals back to the brainstem that everything is okay.

That’s what NRW does. It’s snake charming for your ancient reptile brain.

To train your brain into real Mental Toughness, you have to evolve this primitive response.

Drain the tensions that guard the gate to your transformation. Then you can change your thoughts into whatever you want.

But until then, you’re just trimming the top off the weeds. And like weeds, the negative thoughts and beliefs will grow back.

NRW will help you pull those weeds out by the root.

And the sooner you get started pulling the weeds, the sooner you can start planting you garden.

What Is NRW?

Whatever your sport or skill level, Neuromuscular Release Work (NRW) can improve your game and life dramatically by blasting your tensions and releasing the primal energies within. If you're looking to improve your mental toughness, competition readiness, focus, motivation, and turn your nerves into confidence, NRW can help.


Riley Holland

8954 N Portsmouth Ave.

Portland, OR 97203-5976

Who Is Riley Holland?

footerRiley Holland is the world’s leading expert in Neuromuscular Release Work (NRW), and is recognized as an authority on the mental game by athletes and sports psychologists alike. He has studied a wide variety of methods, both ancient and modern, for relieving stress and tension and increasing mental toughness. Now he coaches and teaches NRW, which he has found to be the ultimate method of mental training. Read More...