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Bob Spour is a former soldier, martial arts expert and high-profile bullshitter. Over the years Spour had enjoyed a life of dashing dare and praise from all who followed his teachings. He started his dazzling military career in the Queen's Lancashire Regiment - making the grade within two years as a ‘top section commander’, only for his Sgt Major (bless him) to tell Bob ‘you’re wasted here, you would be better with "Them".’
Bob took up the challenge with his typical ‘Who Dares Wins’ attitude and passed Selection with flying colours. He was even caught during his Escape & Evasion phase by the Hunter Force (at the time 3 Para Mortars) and beaten up. How lucky were the... or him for that matter?
Spour - after a few (in his words) ‘frolics’ on active duty including the Falklands War and reaching the rank of Sergeant (or was that Geordie Wallace?) - decided to hang up his guns and in 1984 and left the SAS to seek his fame, fortune and higher education at University. He found time on the stand up comedy circuit [No change there then?] and made cheap films where he was made to wear his old beret again. The proceeds enabled him to set up a Jap-slapping school. What a canny busy lad he was.
It's all Good Stuff
What follows is a sample of the self-aggrandising trumpet blowing that got Bob pinged:
Director and founder of SAS Survival, Bob has served extensively in the military spending many years with the SAS. During the course of serving with the latter he saw action in number of different theatres [The Old Vic and the Palladium presumably]. Bob is a highly qualified and well-respected Martial Arts Instructor spending many years instructing Self-Protection and Thai Boxing, and is the Chief Instructor to the Phraya Pichai Muay Thai Camps International.
Interview with SFS
Faithfully reproduced here is an interview with Richard Gannon of Street Fighting Secrets and it has also appeared in Martial Arts Illustrated Magazine. It’s been pasted here because it’s quite important and it would be an awful shame if it was pulled off the original site. It makes for gripping reading. Grammatical and spelling errors have been left uncorrected, though it has been paragraphed to make it readable.
SFS: How did you come to join the SAS?
Bob Spour: My journey into the SAS started with me serving as an infantryman with the Queens Lancashire Regiment, based in Preston forward [sic] barracks [I think he means Fulwood] where I served my time as an engineer. I'm originally an engineer by trade. I left school and worked in the shipyards and did the usual thing of going into the merchant navy for a year.
During my year in the merchant navy I realised I was doing something that I never really wanted. I was more or less doing it for my father, it was like a family thing. So I decided to join the army, I wanted to be in the infantry. The army tried to put me in the engineers but I told them, no, I want to be an infantryman.
I'd been involved in the martial arts since the age of 10 and I was always interested in the warrior spirit and what it really took to be a real fighter. I was always aware that the martial arts that I was doing at that time just did not have that reality, there was no edge to it. I felt it was just a sport and that I was never really tested. Being an infantryman however was a great way of being tested.
You've got to realise that at that time, in the 1970's nobody had ever really heard of the SAS, in fact when I joined the army I had never even heard of it. This was back in 1977. It wasn’t until I'd been in the army for 3 years that I heard of the SAS and I was actually thinking of leaving the forces at the time.
However my Sergeant Major at the time, bless him, told me "Look you should go for selection, your being wasted here as an infantryman." (I was actually a corporal at the time and a section commander). So he put me forward called selection which is called the SFBC (special forces briefing cadre), which is four days in Hereford to take us to have a look at what the regiment do and to see if I liked what they did. Of course this was no guarantee that we would actually be invited for selection. But at the end of the four days I had my interview with them and they said they'd like to put me on the next course which was the winter course.
Then I embarked on selection, which was a gruelling 7 to 8 month period of endurance. This took place in the mountains around the Breacon Beacons and then there was 6 weeks in the jungle and 3 months continuation training of different weapons systems, different tactics and techniques that the SAS use specifically for the different roles they have. This finally culminates in the 7 day escape and evasion exercise where I was caught and battered for three days by members of the Parachute Regiment, bless them! At the end of that ordeal 242 of us applied and 14 of us got through. It was quite difficult.
Once I'd passed selection I was assigned to G squadron, mountain troop, there were 16 of us in that troop. After that I got involved in lots of little frolics around the world. Some of them I can talk about, some of them I can't. The Falklands was a big one and of course Northern Ireland which played a major part in my development naturally. It was the work I was doing in Northern Ireland that fitted in beautifully with the way I was teaching martial arts. I’ve been involved in martial arts since I was 10... I'm now 50. So its been a long, long road to learning about fighting. Whilst I was serving in the army and the SAS I continued my martial arts training and was able to use it. Much in the same way a good doorman will go and learn a technique, then practises it on unsavoury characters we were able to do the same thing. You find out one way or another whether these techniques work.
So then I came into civvie street, to Birmingham to do a drama degree of all things. Which was awesome and I enjoyed that a lot. I found that no matter what I did, I didn’t seem to have any fear of it and I put a lot of this down to time served in the SAS. People were afraid to go onstage and I felt nothing so people started asking me: How do you do this? How do you cope with fear? I would reply that because I don’t have any doubts about my ability so I have no fear. Which is the tile of one of my courses "No Doubt, No Fear"- because I firmly believe that if you have no doubts about your abilities you will be able to do anything. Anything you want. Its about self belief and totally immersing yourself in your identity.
People kept asking me the questions: How do you do you build this confidence? How do you do it? Much later I discovered this thing called NLP and I went and trained with Richard Bandler (co founder of NLP) and Richard Grannon (laughs at this point, I was 19 when me and Bob went to London to train with Bandler). NLP is all about how people can change there perceptions of the world so they can get the best they can out of life.
I realised that I was already using a lot of NLP techniques automatically anyway. So I started teaching these NLP strategies for being fearless, building confidence, building motivation but I use it in other contexts as well, but that isn’t pertinent to this interview. Suffice to say its a very powerful tool. That’s where I am today, I’m very keen on getting this message out in interviews, books, DVDs, magazines: its all about changing your perception of a situation and then dealing with it effectively.
You'll notice that on the SAS Fight Secrets DVDs there is not a great deal of physical techniques. Its about aggression. Its about building that confidence in your ability to deal with what is essentially a life threatening situation. Remember, the ranks of the SAS are filled with average guys who are just prepared to push themselves that little bit further... and when they do, they find out amazing things about themselves.
Some of the most innocuous people you could ever meet have served in the SAS, they are the genuine warriors. I am heartily sick of reading about so called warriors in martial arts magazines. It's time to redress the balance. There are so many people claiming this and claiming that. What you have to do is ask them: have you used these techniques? have you actually done what you are teaching?
If you meet a member of the Parachute Regiment or the SAS or any member of the armed forces who has actually fought in conflicts they are the real warriors. The guys who have actually faced death, not just trained in dojos. The guys who have faced situations of real stress and dealt with it effectively and come out alive the other end. These are normal people, you don’t have to be super human to use these strategies and techniques... does that answer your question?
SFS: How has your experience in serving with the SAS effected the way in which you teach? I know you dont like to use the term martial arts, usually you prefer the term fighting arts or self protection.
Bob Spour: Oh absolutely! If I hadn’t of served with the SAS I would be teaching "martial arts". And as you know from training with me I don’t teach "martial arts" I teach people "fighting arts" and I mean that quite strictly. I mean I teach people Muay Thai and whilst it is a fighting art I make the distinction between sport and self protection as well. Muay Thai is an awesome sport and it does give you some very powerful weapons that you could use on the street but the mindset is different.
The mindset for climbing into the ring and fighting five 3 minute rounds with a referee and a doctor and corner men is completely different. Its easier because its safe. If you get knocked down someone is going to be there to help you. That’s a sport and I love it dearly. When it comes to Self Protection I clearly delineate between the two.
Fighting arts and street fighting is a separate issue all together and should be treated as such. The term "self defence" is an anathema and I hate it. Its an awful negative word, "self offence" would be better or even maybe "self abuse" and I’ve had to have a few words about that with people! We could all do with a bit of self abuse (laughs).
Essentially what I'm saying is I teach Thai Boxing because its a great sport and it's useful. At the end of my Muay Thai sessions I'll always spend at least 20 minutes talking about how things like the elbow can be used in a street situation. I cant help myself I'll always end up talking about the intent and the aggression people must have in order for them to be effective in the street. You cant be effective in a street fight without aggression.
SFS: So your saying its not just useful for civilians to develop this aggressive determined mindset but that its also essential?
Bob Spour: Its essential absolutely.
SFS: How do you train it?
Bob Spour: In order to develop the mindset of a warrior you need to speak to people who have actually fought in wars. OK? Maybe your granddad... and really listen to what he's saying. It's quite difficult to explain this for people who are not NLP trained, but you've got to find out their "strategies" for doing what they do inside their head. I always come back to the most basic things and it works like this: I have a student who came to me and said that they weren’t confident that what they were doing would be effective in the street. He knew he could do it in the gym, but put in the context of the stress of a street fight he wasn’t sure... so I said OK, think back to a time when you've felt that same level of stress and fear- it doesn’t have to be a fight situation.
To be honest he found it difficult to do, but what he could remember was the fear he felt going in for his driving test. Know he knew he could drive, but he had this absolute fear that he was going to fail the test. Not very different I think to someone afraid of getting hurt in the street. So I got him to think back to that particular time... that moment of fear... of trepidation. But this time in his mind I made sure we carried it through to the end because in reality he passed his test. I got him to think of the elation that he felt as a result of that fear, it was almost like a trigger.
I got him to focus intensely on the experience of elation that came with passing his test: feeling what he felt, seeing what he saw, hearing what he heard at that time. He said that he noticed that when he felt the elation that in his head that he got this huge picture, that was full colour and very big and was doing this with his hands when he was talking about it. (makes wide gesture with hands) I took notice of this because this is the most important stuff.
He also said the picture was moving picture in which he could see himself passing his test. Not in the first person looking through his own eyes like in real life, he could see himself from outside... this is what we call in NLP disassociation. He also noticed he could hear inside his head a voice. It was his own voice saying "yeah, yeah, yeah"! This voice wasn’t just anywhere, it was specifically in his right ear. (These details are extremely important for NLP strategy elicitations) I then asked him the most crucial question which is: What were you feeling at that time? He said he got a feeling that was rushing up his body. Now when I asked him about the experience of the fear he felt, it was a completely different thing.
The feeling he got he said was "dropping down, feeling heavy" and like "he couldn’t move" and his breathing would be high, up in his throat almost as if he wanted to scream and he just couldn’t move. So, I got him to think of the time when he felt afraid in a street fight. He started to describe a time where he'd been in an argument with a group of guys and he thought it was going to go off and you could see him reliving it. He said that the picture he got when he thought about the fearful scenario was much smaller and that he was looking at it through his own eyes. He also said there were no sounds at all other than his breathing. The dread feeling sunk down through his body into his legs and immobilised him. So basically we just reversed the fear strategy into the elation strategy.
First we made the picture bigger, made it full colour, then we made it so he was looking at himself in the picture. We changed his perception of the event essentially. Well then he noticed that things started to change for him automatically. As he relived the fearful experience of being where a fight is about to kick off but with a different visual perspective his breathing dropped, the sounds changed and most importantly the feeling started to move up his body. So then we just increased the good feeling and make it stronger. Then we used an NLP "anchoring" technique, which is a psychological trigger whereby he would here himself inside his head saying "yeah, yeah, yeah" in the same location for his elation strategy which was his right ear. The change in his perception of the event was very stark. He said it was amazing.
We chatted about other things for a bit and then I came back to it and said "OK imagine again your in that pub and its about to kick off and you don’t want to run, what happens know when you think about it?" Well, his whole physiology changed ! He felt much more confident so I told him to apply it to lots of other situations.
I told him to imagine going into the roughest bar in town and asked him what started to happen, he said the feeling started to drop down again and he began to feel fearful, so we ran the process again until he felt confident. What this is doing is actually retraining his brain and this is how I train people to deal with fear.
Everyone is different and this is one example doesn’t fit everybody. You can not put people in a box and say that they are all going to do this. Everyone is different. What I’m saying is there is a way of learning strategies and a way of retraining the brain to perceive a situation differently. The lads in the SAS are not special. But they do this kind of process themselves naturally. It is something I must of done without my knowledge.
SFS: Would you say that without knowing it the military in general uses NLP style techniques to train soldiers?
Bob Spour: Absolutely. But the army denies it! I trained the Ghurkhas recently and I was talking to one of the commanding officers about how the army uses hypnosis and he was dead against that and said (does pompous officer voice) "Of course the British Army don’t use hypnosis". And yet you can walk into any room full of soldiers and shout "ten-shun!" and they will all stand to attention. And you want to tell me they don’t hypnotise soldiers?!
When that sergeant is screaming at you to move out of the hole and move forward towards the enemy you do it because you are trained to be more afraid of him then the enemy. That’s hypnosis. The army builds in triggers. They do this all the time. Things like saying "show me your war face" or "put your war head on" and they get you to do this over and over and over again. They are training you in S.O.P's (standard operational procedures) just like I teach in the DVD "SAS Fight Secrets" and most of them are in here (points at head). They are training you to react in a specific way.
If you say to any trained soldier: "There is effective enemy fire coming in." He will say: "Dash, Down, Crawl, Observe, Sights, Fire." as an instinctive response without even thinking because he's been drilled and trained to. The "anchors" have been put into him. When he hears the rounds crack over his head and the thump behind him he knows that’s time for action, because he's been trained to do that. Using those same principles is what makes it easy to get over that fear. The brain learns things really quickly and the army most definitely uses hypnosis to achieve that aim.
SFS: so are you saying in self protection we need to use techniques of self hypnosis to train ourselves?
Bob Spour: Yep! We need to get way from some of our ideas of what hypnosis is... the idea of the Paul Mckenna style scenario of "oooh you’re unconscious"- no you are not because ANY communication is hypnotic. If your holding someone in conversation and they are definitely listening to you and they are focused on you and the words you are using like people listening to this interview then you are under my spell basically. You are entranced by what’s going on, if you are not then I'm not doing my job right! SFS: Was that an embedded hypnotic command? Bob Spour: Yes! (laughs)
Got all that? It's quite hard reading but the claims are all there.
What is known is that Bob Spour did join the Army, and was in for three years in the MT Section. It is, however, unsure whether he was a Regular or TA soldier, as nobody from that era in the Regular QLR could remember him - despite Bob being a cheeky chappy Geordie and all that.
It’s All Gone Pear-Shaped Boss!
Bob’s slow and very painful (and public) demise into ridicule started months before The Sun got wind of the story. Bob Spour had plastered the internet with his tales of daring do - particularly on YouTube with his ‘SAS FIGHT SECRETS’. As Bob would say ‘You only have to type in my name and you will find me!’
And find him the Waltenkommando did. YouTube alone yielded at least three business ventures, books, seminars, video games, TV and tabloid news interviews (some even slating genuine members of ‘Them’) - all of which added to his credibility, and all with the same theme: tough ex-SAS Sgt Bob Spour blah blah blah. He could take you up the Fan and down again for £80 - just like the SAS; or beast you for only £150 - like the SAS on his SAS Survival Days. What a Bargain!
Riders on the Storm
At first (a once slender) Bob thought he could ride it out with his special NLP Jedi mind tricks. You know the ones: the tricks that helped him overcome the horrors of the Falklands War and his PTSD. Then came the demand from his supporters and followers that ARRSE be nice to Bob because he was a nice bloke.
Followers or mugs? Whatever. The ARRSE tentacles span far and wide and after some digging the wheels slowly come off Bob’s claims. Then the media got its claws in. His web sites all started showing the same message: Web Site Under Construction. Of course, as all this was going on, the well-tried (and failed) Walt SOPs (as Bob likes to use) started to kick in. Accuse the accusers, threats that the Walt Finders will be reported to the MOD for looking at military files, and the final old chestnut... it’s secret and you can never check it. Oh how wrong Bob and his support team were.
One thing's for sure: Bob's certainly got spuds the size of Mexico. To plaster oneself all over the net, get filmed for TV in full assault rig and even mix with serving and former personnel - some of whom really were ex-SAS - takes some bollocks. Bob's tactic of total openness about his action-packed career worked. How could he not be the genuine article? He'd even written books like that Clunge feller! But Bob failed to take in to account the fickle nature of technology. The same medium that enabled him to peddle his wares and large it up big time was also the instrument of his undoing. As Barry Gibb once said... 'Tragedy!'
- The Sun
- ARRSE Thread
- Bob's Homepage
- SAS Survival
- Ultimate Self-Protection
- More trumpet blowing
- Read the Reviews on his books Here
It has been noted that Bob has recently been seen to have gained an excessive amount of weight - nicely pointed out by THESUNJOCK on the ARRSE forums.