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Has any one taken Van K. Peak Performance Home Study Program

Posted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 10:44 pm
by alien
I'm learning to trade,but do not know where to start, is Van K. Tharp, Ph.D
Professional Trading Coach's Peak Performance Home Study Program worth to take, could any one knowing somethine about it tell me ?

Peak Performance Home Study Program
Volume 1 - Using Risk (sold individually)
Volume 2 - Control Stress (sold individually)
Volume 3 - Control Losing Attitudes (sold individually)
Volume 4 - Develop Discipline (sold individually)
olume 5 - Sound Decisions (sold individually)

Profile ( With Peak Performance Course)
Systems Development Home Audio Program
Special Report on Money Management
Position Sizing Video Tape Series
Infinite Wealth Audio Program (Tharp, Burley. et al)

Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 4:03 am
by damian
I bought it about 4 years ago but didn’t get past the second book. Overall it appears most useful for discretionary traders. A mechanical trader isn’t really a decision making trader acting under pressure, rather we are just people that need to live through equity draw downs, not on its own an easy thing, but not the same as having to use your own discretion as to whether a transaction should be made. I plan to start the course again and finish it when I am closer to trading for a living.

The course will not teach you how to "trade" (ie, when to buy and sell). It will help you learn about yourself and how to condition your life and mind to be in peak state for the demands of trading. This is of course a very valuable skill and makes up the bulk of being a trader, particularly a discretionary trader.

To be honest the material is rather padded out with a fair measure of crap. Childish pictures and big over-spaced text allows Tharp to exaggerate the actual volume of material that is within the course.

The money back gty is also a farce. It requires you to follow every thing in the material.... right down to getting a personal trainer!! You will be forced to read a chapter about keeping your heart rate up during physical training and then he will convince you of the dangers of any physical activity conducted without the guidance of a personal trainer. What a load of xyz.

From memory there is some value in the material but there is also some classic Tharp salesman rubbish.

As a closing bit of advice: there is only one way to learn how to trade and that is to do it. I used to buy all number of books and courses as a substitute for actually trading. It is worth paying up for education, but it is also worth accumulating a trading stake (rather than buying endless books and software) and starting to put on trades. The course is aimed more at someone who has problems as an existing trader, rather than being aimed at someone who has never traded.

I recommend you save the cash, develop a basic trendfollowing method borrowed from a basic technical analysis book and risk 2% on each trade whilst trading the cheapest equities you can find. This way you will pretty fast find out some of the in and outs of placing risk every day. Your aims in this exercise are two things: 1. Never let the account drop below 50% of where you started and 2. Learn.


Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 8:36 am
by edward kim
Hi Alien,

I have all those items except for the Infinite Wealth and Position Sizing materials. Damian brings up some valid points, so I will only list what I disagree with.

How many people on this forum have violated their mechanical trading system? How many people have violated their mechanical system rules frequently? For me, it's easier to develop and backtest a system than it is to trade and follow it. That's where Tharp's PP course has helped me the most. Mental and emotional performance is very important, even for mechanical system traders - if you are a basketcase or even marginally stable, you will never last long enough, and you will only last until you blow yourself up.

After going through Tharp's MM, PP, and System courses, I developed my own trading system that I really liked. It was a really weird experience when c.f. printed the Turtle Rules because the Original System was almost identical to what I developed myself prior to the publishing. Absorbing the Turtle Rules was really easy for me.

I hope you find the best way!


Van Tharp - lots of useful information, but some fluff too.

Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 2:47 pm
by Christian Smart
I found the Peak Performance home study course to be very useful.
In addition to the psychological/discipline information, Tharp does some NLP modeling of two traders - one succesful anonymous discretionary trader (who seems a lot like Larry Williams), and one successful systems trader (who seems a lot like Ed Seykota). In my opinion it was one of the highlights of the course. But the course has some fluff (like the cartoonish graphics mentioned by Damian), and there are several irritating typos in the written information that makes it look a little amateurish.

Most of Van Tharp's courses have some fluff, and this seems to vary widely from one product to the next. His Special Report on Money Management has zero fluff (in my opinion) and is really his best product.
But his video series on Position Sizing is all almost all fluff - three video tapes, each under 30 minutes in length, that covers much less material than the Special Report. (IITM was nice about giving me a full refund upon returing the tapes when I complained to them about the video series.)

The Systems Development audio series has some useful information, but too much time on the tapes is devoted to discussion with the forum participants.

Van Tharp Course

Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 4:21 pm
by ksberg
I do have the materials mentioned. I'll give the caveat that I have not finished going through his entire course, so I can comment on what I know.

I believe there is value in some of the exercises and mental preparations contained in the material, especially when they can shed light on habits or goals. I'm thinking of one exercise in particular that looked at hourly wage of day trading. I see many people skip basic conditions for treating treating trading as a business, so this could be useful.

The video tapes on money management are clearly designed to bring a money-management novice up to speed. It includes his famous "marbles" game, and discussions around R-multiple expectancy. Probably the most interesting aspect of the videos was scaling positions, which offers a comparison to Turtle scaling techniques. For instance, it's interesting to note he recommends scaling no more than four times, just like Turtle. He also relates scaling and exposure. All in all, the tapes cover some pretty good basics.

If you've been a member of this board for long, the tapes probably do not offer much additional value. On the other hand, I've taken groups through similar exercises and even experienced traders have said they learned something valuable. Maybe it's that mind/parachute thing :-)



Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 6:10 pm
by Kiwi
The annoying thing about Van is that he answers every decent psychological question on his board with an advert for another darned course. So whether or not his work is based much on academically discredited NLP approaches or not ... his simple "lets sell another pp course rather than offer open help" approach irritates the hell out of me! ... 895&t=6895


(I havent done the home study course so i cant comment on it but would comment that the money management report is covered and advanced upon in this forum and in the mm sections of Chuck's Bulletin board)

Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 9:12 pm
by alien
Thank all for the valuable answers and I have learn a lot from you all.

Thank you very much

Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2004 3:02 pm
by Mark_et_Lizard
Save your money, I have all of tharps home courses and attended a few seminars. All that psychological stuff is worthless to a system trader. What you need is a good system. When you have a system that makes money almost every month trading is a pleasure, even fun. When your system is mediocre and produces years of drawdowns then you need a shrink and a handful of meds to get through it. If anyone still wants tharps stuff let me know and I'll throw it up on ebay with no minimum bid.

Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2004 8:15 pm
by verec
Van Tharp PP course was useful to me. It debunked a pack of myths. In no particular order:
  • There's no holy grail.
    If there is a secret, that secret is you.
    Position sizing is more important than anything else.
    Exits are more important than entries
    Define your goal. If you don't have a goal, you're not going to reach it.
    Make a plan to reach that goal. Monitor your progress through feedback and modify your course accordingly.
    Trading is a business. Like brain surgeon. You wouldn't expect to become a brain surgeon in 21 days, would you?
Ultimately, the value you will derive from the course only depends on who you are, and what stage of self appraisal you have currently arrived at.
The course may not be right for you (and it does take a sizable amount of time to go through) but it has been for me.

Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2004 12:27 am
by blueberrycake
verec wrote:Van Tharp PP course was useful to me. It debunked a pack of myths. In no particular order:
  • Position sizing is more important than anything else.
    Exits are more important than entries
How exactly were these two "myths" debunked? There are certainly people, such as Van Tharp, who assert that these things are false, but that's hardly proof thereof.


Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2004 5:58 am
by Kiwi
Very well spotted BBC :-)

One of the really interesting things about trading is that one myth is often replacd by another one. As in any guru game this is an important element. Another is the assignment of what were sometimes another persons ideas to the guru. A clever guru lets his acolytes do this and simply neglects to inform anyone of the error.

One of the joys of our association with c.f. is that he has avoided this sort of ego building exercise. Seriously Forum Mgmnt, a very genuine "well done" from one who dislikes lickspittles almost as much as spammers.


Entries and Exits

Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2004 10:49 am
by Christian Smart
I don't recall Tharp making the claim that exits are more important than entries in his PP course, but somewhere in either PP or his Trading System Development course he shows backtest results for a random entry system with traditional trend-following exits that shows profits consistent with other long-term trend following systems. So maybe the hypothesis should be that for long-term trend following systems, entries don't matter , or don't matter as much as exits. But I think Tharp's point is that most systems sold to the public emphasize entries, sometimes to the exclusion of exits and money management. He points out that this is a commonly-held bias: that people want to have the right entry and that they don't worry as much about exits and money management.

Chuck LeBeau also tells a story (in Tharp's Trading System Course, and maybe several other references) about a successful trader who claimed to receive entry signals from Mars via a coke bottle that had a piece of wire sticking out of it. Since the trader's entry signals were random, his success over the long-term had to be due solely to his exits and his money management.

Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2004 1:20 pm
by edward kim
Christian's statements about Van Tharp are accurate. Many of those examples are from his Money Management Report.

Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2004 4:15 pm
by verec
Kiwi wrote:One of the joys of our association with c.f. is that he has avoided this sort of ego building exercise.
That is certainly true, though this doesn't imply that Van Tharp did. Like the proverbial "beauty in the eye of the beholder", cult following belongs at least as much in the eye of the follower.

Which means that my comments on the PP course belong to me, and are therefore not intrinsic to the course nor to Van Tharp himself.

I may have mixed-up the two Van Tharp books and his PP course when quoting the myths referred to above. My apologies.

Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2004 4:18 pm
by Ted Annemann
Here is a little data


Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2004 4:35 pm
by Kiwi
Hmmm. I certainly wouldnt suggest that Van had started a cult or even had a cult following -- the trading tribe would have more chance of achieving that status (just the cute name guys, no offence intended to followers).

I think that there is a lot of useful material in Van's stuff although it is dangerous to raise it or anything else in trading to the status of "the truth". You also often get the idea that things that were not his original contributions are his ... just remember that in trading most ideas are recycled. If you are going to trade and be consistently successful I believe that you should work on:

1. One or more systems that provide entries and exits that give a good reward to risk ratio
(its the combination of entry and exit that achieves a good result and the makes multi-system diversification on a single contract possible)

2. A means of determining how much to risk on each bet
(if in doubt try 1 to 2 percent of current equity per bet as your complex formulae will often fail you in real life when history proves an inadequate predictor of the future or you discover what you missed).

3. A means of determining how much risk to take overall (be careful of exceeding 10% on all your bets and head up towards 20% only if you are very confident that the diversification will prove true in future - ask yourself why you can be so confident).

4. The ability to manage your responses to trading successes and failures: try books by Mark Douglas and Brett Steenbarger to assist in this area or if this fails, perhaps courses by Van Tharp or Ruth Barrons Roosevelt.

5. Good goals and workplace discipline to keep you motivated and on track.

Of all of these the first is the most important and this is why it is focussed on so often. Without a strategy for entering and exiting the market which provides an edge with (Chuck's) positive expectancy you will fail. But for most of us consistency will require work in the other four areas as well :)


PS. None of these ideas are mine - they are all recycled :)