“Troubled teen to world champion”

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The Relentless is a non-contact martial arts therapy program championing the values, experiential life lessons and qualities of character defined in the WIBA World Champion Flyweight Boxer Sylvia Scharper’s relentless progression to the top, often in spite of the odds.

The Relentless is a chin tucked and march forward approach to life, lead by Sylvia who over the course of 5 weeks encourages participants on a journey over the ropes and into the squared circle.

As we know, Boxing is the most incredible metaphor for hard times and for many it has been the modality for profound transformations and becomings. This is a remarkable opportunity for Sylvia to step into the corner of those who have their backs up against the ropes, calling on 'The Relentless’ to get up off the mat keep on fighting.


The journey


Delivered over 5 weeks by social workers and professional martial artists Sylvia Scharper and Matt Williams, ‘The Relentless’ engages participants in a range of areas critical to mental health and wellbeing, with each session (or ‘Round’) featuring 45 minutes of physical activities followed by 15 minutes of group work to take place in the Ring.

Each session draws on martial art metaphors and examples to extrapolate the learning, in an innovative, fun and engaging way.

Each Round (week) will involve:

  • Physical Activity or boxing drill on focus mitts

  • Personal Story

  • Discussion of Theme

  • Psychodrama Exercise (Gestalt Chair Therapy)

  • Debrief


Round 1 - “Over the Ropes”

Engage participants in understanding the psychological response to challenges in terms of our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Explore the way core beliefs (stories we tell ourselves), internal dialogue (automatic thoughts) impedes our ability to put our best self forward, if we put ourselves forward at all.

  • Psychoeducation.

  • Explore Core Beliefs / Automatic Thoughts (Conscious & Unconscious Self-Talk)

  • Explore strategies for formulating Alternative Thoughts – which will in turn create alternative, helpful behaviours and positive emotions.


Round 2 - “The 8 Count”

Engage participants in understanding losses (challenges, failures, setbacks, obstacles etc.). Explore the notion: “Welcoming failures, they are your greatest friend”.

  • Accepting the inevitable fact that loss is a part of life. Explore helplessness.

  • Explore how loss provides an opportunity for great growth.

  • Explore how great change and ‘success’ tends to only occur when we are uncomfortable.

  • Explore how to reframe loss as opportunity. Do we focus on loss, and freeze in fear, or do we look for opportunity and grow? Link to previous week with overriding unhelpful thoughts.


Round 3 - “Boxing Smart”

Explore fear of failure and the discomfort of vulnerability. Engage participants in understanding the power we have to control what we can. Explore the way fears coupled with obstacles, limits, and history have a place but they aren’t all of us, and we are the agents in ours lives and have great capacity to work on our ‘chinks’ with our strengths, and create change.

  • Fear is not real clip:

  • Education around basis for fear of failure, discomfort of vulnerability.

  • Exploring strategies for overcoming fear of failure. For example, looking at controlling what we can, reducing challenges into small components, making small goals, practice facing it and pushing through, celebrate small wins.


Round 4 - “Up to Scratch”

Engage participants in understanding the physiological response to challenges. Explore ways challenges create stress and how that presents physiologically. Explore connection between the way our physiological reaction to threat impacts our capacity to make decisions, and how that plays out with our emotional reactions.

  • Psychoeducation.

  • Explore strategies for getting into your body, coming into the present, and identify what is happening.

  • Exploring strategies for reducing physiological reactions in terms of: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation.


Round 5 - “Rolling with the Punches”

Engage participants in understanding relentlessness, or resilience. Explore the ways you are relentless, acknowledge your strengths, and look at how that can translate to other areas of your life.

  • Explore strengths.

  • Acknowledge strengths.

  • Remember to learn to recognise how challenges present in body and emotions and our management strategies (link back to previous two weeks and reinforce).

  • Explore how they can be used in other areas of life.