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Swing Trading Systems

Presented by Ken Long

Every time I sit through one of Ken’s trading workshops, I make new discoveries. Ken keeps coming up with new trading ideas and continues to push the performance envelope with his trading results. He’s developed some of the best swing trading systems I’ve ever seen. Ken generously teaches other interested traders the methods he uses every day, and many of my Super Traders trade the systems he presents in this workshop. If you could use some great-performing trading systems or need a proven process for daily trading preparation, come see how an advanced student of the markets (as Ken likes to call himself) approaches his craft. -- VKT


We generally feature trades from Ken Long in our weekly newsletter. To view them, please visit our newsletter backissues page.

Van Tharp
A Functional Framework and Effective Systems

Most traders have access to a bewildering number of systems, signals and trading styles. How can you systematically make choices that will improve your chances in this challenging profession?

Start with a strong understanding in three areas:

Your own psychology (Self Knowledge),
The market (Market Knowledge) and
How trading systems work (System Knowledge).

Beyond understanding these areas independently, you also need to identify the sweet spot where all three intersect. Identifying that “sweet spot” is no small challenge in a complex adaptive system like financial markets. How do you consistently find and exploit that sweet spot while the markets keep changing? What processes can help you make consistent profits?

Well, here’s a start: develop (or find) a comprehensive framework that adapts with the changing market, that gives you a way to evaluate opportunities in a disciplined, consistent and efficient manner, and that highlights dominant worldwide trends in plenty of time to take advantage of moves with clear decision points for entries and exits. Also develop (or find) several advanced short-term strategies that function well within that framework will allow you to capture big money flows.

In this workshop, Dr. Ken Long presents just such a framework, five swing systems that function well within that framework, and a myriad of supporting subjects that will help students trade better.

He teaches a basic step by step integrated process that employs the framework and his trading systems. First, Ken starts at a very high level by looking at the market overall and tries to understand it within the context of his world model. His world market model uses a ranking system for broad selection of ETFs (commodities, currencies, industry sectors, geographic regions) to tell him where the institutional money is flowing. Then, he goes down a level to focus on which strategies will function best in current market conditions and where he might find the best trades if multiple opportunities come up. Finally, he goes down to the ground level with a strong trading plan that defines entry points, position sizing™ strategies and exits – every day.


Ken developed five robust swing systems out of this framework that first he presents and that second you trade in a simulator. .

In addition, Ken focuses students on several topics that support trading all of his systems:

• Market Classifications - These have to make sense for the time frame of your trades. Ken explains how he defines and uses his market classification system for employing trading systems.

• Reward : Risk analysis – Ken discusses how he applies this concept to his trade frames- his simple visual method for ensuring the appropriate potential for reward justifies the risk – for every trade.

• Technical analysis – Actually, you don’t have to know a lot. Ken will show how a few simple ideas are enough to help you frame trades better.

• Improving entries and exits – If you have the ability to check on the market intraday, you can improve the performance of your swing systems without day trading. Ken will clarify how you can use intraday techniques for swing systems.

• Analyzing results – Ken looks at the markets and trading through a statistical lens so naturally, he expresses and evaluates system results in some basic statistical terms that he’s able to teach even the non-mathematically inclined.

• Growing swing trades – Often times, Ken’s systems find good trades on the front end of a longer term trend moves. Ken will explain how to consider evolving swing trades into longer term positions – often with minimal or no risk after a successful swing trade.

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Learn and Trade 5 Robust Swing Trading Systems in 3 Days

For each system, Ken will follow this basic format:


1. System overview and philosophy – where he found the original inspiration, why the system works, and how it has evolved over time.

2. Rule set – Ken will send these out prior to the workshop so that students can read them and bring relevant questions to the workshop rather than spending time in the workshop to read them.

3. Representative case studies – Ken will bring the rules to life with charts and videos that show the various decision points in the trade and how the system works for real rather than just on paper.


4. Trading results – Ken has R multiple distributions for the systems based on his personal results.

5. Evidence from forward testing – These are the results that show system performance based on live trades which Ken values much more than backtest data.

6. Sample setups and trade framing – For any material Ken teaches, there are always situational tests for the students to challenge their understanding and accelerate their learning processes.


7. Trade the system – At the workshop, you will trade the rules for each system with actual historical data on the Van Tharp Institute trading simulator.  You can continue your practice in the evenings to get more experience. 



Strategy 1: Washout

This system watches out for overreaction measured on both a short-term and long-term basis, but there are important safety measures in place to ensure that you don’t get caught trying to catch a falling knife. The system usually exits the trades in a couple of days and in many cases benefits from a follow-on or continuation trade.


Strategy 2: 5 Days Down

Ken developed and tested this system after reading an article that mentioned a phenomenon whereby stocks that have fallen for five or more straight days tend to bounce up before reversing or starting back down. The system worked—and still works quite well. Like the washout system, there’s often a secondary and more reliable continuation trade, so this is really two systems rather than one.


Strategy 3: 551w

One of Ken’s long-time students came up with this idea and discussed it with Ken at one of his workshops. Ken liked it so much that he actually started trading it the next day. It combines three consecutive setups from his other systems that build off each other for a highly reliable trade. It’s simple to use, and—as with Ken’s other systems—can be applied either mechanically or with trader discretion for some added benefit.


Strategy 4: Channeling

On a regular basis, price pulls away from the primary trend. That signals either a reversal or an opportunity to rejoin the trend with an attractive entry. This system captures those resumptions of trend with a simple set of setup conditions, entry rules, and exit rules. For as simple as the system appears, however, it produces consistently great results.


Strategy 5: Overreaction

Ken likes to say that "the market will never react when it can overreact." Consequently, it overreacts all the time - which offers regular opportunities for traders to profit from these overreactions. These trades, however, require a way to know whether price moves are average or exceptional. Ken has devised such a system and built a robust set of rules that reaps regular returns from the return to “normal” conditions.


Strategies 6+: Ken’s Latest Ideas

Ken never teaches just the material in his workbook. He always goes beyond and talks at length about his latest system ideas, systems in the research stage, new “production” systems and the system development process in general. He will also touch on ideas for taking swing system signals to find shorter term trades though he will only be teaching swing trading systems in this workshop. Ken never fails to inspire and enlighten.

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Eight Money Making Benefits

You will leave this workshop with eight money-making benefits that will help you generate more consistent profits, keep your losses smaller and be more relaxed about your trading.

1. Understand the World Market Model: Get into the details of the construction and application of the framework that provides the common point of evolution for all of Ken’s Tortoise swing and intraday strategies. This broad market analysis enables all of the approaches that Ken uses and teaches.

2. Link Decision Points to Price Signals: Every trade is a hypothesis; it is an experiment to determine the validity of an idea in the market. We’ll look at how to express our ideas with precision so that we can act with certainty. Learn how to remove the emotion from your decision-making process in the heat of the moment.

3. Classify the Market: Everyone has an opinion about what kind of market we’re in. If that opinion isn’t related to your preferred time frame for holding positions, it has little value and worse, it can be downright harmful for your trading. Learn how to assess the market, screen out the trivia and noise so you have meaningful, actionable information.

4. Build a System of Systems: Regardless of market conditions, you should have one or more systems ready to take advantage of whatever comes your way. Incorporate multiple time frames with appropriate systems that coincide with your beliefs and style for consistent profits every week.

5. Excel at Preparation: Preparing a daily trading plan is the most profitable part of the day for every swing trader! It allows you to set up a game plan for likely scenarios, consider alternative outcomes and select from the richest opportunities—all without the stress of watching prices move on the trading screen. Ken follows this discipline every day and requires it of his Mastermind chat room participants because it makes such a huge difference in their results! You will prepare one of these daily trading plans as part of your evening homework on Day 2 of the workshop.

6. Grow with a Mastermind: Ken started a Mastermind group of traders that has evolved into a valuable trading resource for all of the participants. Ken has been absolutely amazed at the acceleration in learning it has provided. Not only can participating make a dramatic improvement in your trading, you get to enjoy the company of other traders. He strongly encourages traders to find and join a group from whom they can share, learn and grow.

7. Frame Every Trade: When you enter a trade, do you know exactly how much you have at risk, how much you expect to gain and the likelihood of the outcome? When you learn how to calculate these trade components, you may find it hard to trade any other way ever again.


8. Trade the Systems: Rather than some intellectual exercise, the simulated trading platform makes each system come alive requiring you to match what you see on the screen to the rules. You already have some experience trading the system when you return home to trade the systems live.

And, as always, you’ll be networking and meeting like-minded traders and investors from around the globe! Attendees consistently rank this as one of the most valuable aspects of Van Tharp Institute workshops.

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Workshop Structure

Day 1: Introductions, Seminar Goals, Market Classifications, Framing Trades

The workshop begins with personal introductions from every trader in the room. Van Tharp Institute clients appreciate the important role networking with other traders plays in achieving long-term trading success. If you choose, you can trade together and learn from each other in Ken’s chat room in the year following the workshop.

Ken always wants to get a sense of what each individual wishes to accomplish at the workshop, so he actually writes everyone’s objectives down and concludes Day 3 with a review of this initial list. If you know Ken, it probably doesn’t surprise you that everyone meets their objectives.
Because Ken keeps evolving his trading and his systems, the workshop keeps evolving too, which keeps people coming back. In effect, these people help "teach" the workshop by discussing how they’ve applied the techniques on a personal basis. Hearing their insights, goals, disciplines and methods helps you develop your own application plan.

You also explore market classification strategies and build a daily trading plan based on the first day’s learning and observations.

Ken dives deep into the critical concept of framing trades. This concept is just as important in short-term trading as it is in long-term trading, but you experience the effects a lot quicker. Ken has you complete a number of trade-framing exercises so that you’re comfortable with the idea by the time you leave the workshop.

Day 2: Refining and Maintaining Your Trading Plan With Systems

Day 2 is mostly about the trading systems. You start the day by crafting a daily trading plan, pulling together various signals and strategies so that you can perform the same exercise on your own.

Ken helps you understand not just the details, but how to think about trading systems at a higher level—how to analyze system performance so that you can fine-tune it if necessary and how to make sure that your systems are capitalizing on market opportunities within your time frame. Perhaps the hardest thing in the world to do is look past a system’s positive performance and search for unseen opportunities. You can be so satisfied with the performance of a positive expectancy system that you can miss an even larger opportunity staring you in the face.

After this, Ken goes into great depth for each system. He helps you understand their basic logic, shows you how to find the setups and teaches you good entry techniques, appropriate initial stops, profit-taking exits and re-entry and continuation trades if there are any. Ken provides a thorough trading system document for each system and also shares with you his own trading results. You will not leave the workshop wanting for more information! Instead, you’ll probably be excited to get home so you can start trading!

At the end of Day 2, Ken sends you home to write your daily trading plan for the next day.

Day 3: Applying What You’ve Learned

The next morning, Ken reviews the daily trading plan process and attendees discuss the trading plans they made for themselves the night before. This is your chance to receive detailed and personalized feedback from your growing network of Tortoise traders. It’s a unique opportunity to see your ideas from many points of view and to refine your planning.

The rest of the day is a mix of case study trades, individual work and group exercises. Ken reviews his own daily trading plan and how he intends to trade the next day. Hearing him talk through his framing process, trade entry, position sizing strategies, initial stop and exits is an incredibly valuable experience.

You also break into groups and do some practical exercises to ensure that you have a good baseline understanding of the swing systems as designed. Group work tends to accelerate the learning process and fosters new idea generation.

You return home with numerous important resources:


• The workbook with the market framework and rules for five high-SQN® trading systems.
• A USB key loaded with hundreds of Ken’s trade case studies and comments for each trading system.
• A software tool to help you find setups for the systems taught in the workshop.
• Access to Ken’s Mastermind group.
• A daily trading preparation process that improves your chances for profitable trading days.
• A context for understanding what type of market we’re in and which types of systems will work well in it.
• Ken’s newest trading system ideas and maybe even a new trading system rule set.
• Contact information for the other attendees.

To enroll now, click here.

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Student Testimonials

."Brilliant work! Great courses. I really feel like Ken has filled in a lot of gaps for me on broad market analysis, statistical approaches to the markets and specific trade tactics."—David Smith


“I now have a better understanding of my trading strengths and weaknesses.”—Paul Waldo Laurel, MD


“Great center, great class, invaluable information that I don’t think can be found anywhere else.”—Peter Wechter New York, NY


“Every question I had was answered. Ken is sure to explain everything thoroughly. If you have a question, he will explain in a way you’ll understand.”—Wade Fisher, Lewistown, PA


“Live trading is very instructive. I felt it was an excellent capstone to the Mechanical Swing & Day trading course.”—Kurt Wessels, San Francisco, CA


" You helped me realize the ultimate importance of everything else that is involved in trading..  It was so great to see someone that puts as much work into preparation as you do with years of experience has proven to me that there is no easy way that I was looking for. I have developed some great strategies that work very well with very high percentage win ratios when properly prepared and trades planned out and followed properly." —Ron Mercacante, FL


"Ken, I want to share a trade with you that I was fortunate enough to have positioned myself correctly to reap the rewards, thanks to your teachings. I found VRTX on Sunday night as a 5DD setup (I have to do all of my trading research and setups after-hours because of my job). I framed it as taught and set my entry at $65.10, 0.05 above the previous day's high. Notes from that night in my comments section are "price finding support at MLR90." Got in at 65.10 on Monday. Monday night, I put a trailing stop of $2.14 on it (I used ATR15, which was the middle value of ATR5, ATR10, and ATR15). Notes from that night are "again support at MLR90. Look out for hesitation at the BBmean (69.84, zeno stop for 2R)." I went to work for 12 hours today and came home to find that I had sold VRTX at $96.65! WHAT! umm... MATH... that's a 14.7R gain!
I struggle to find the right words to express the gratitude I feel for you and what you have shared with me.  You are what I call a "life-changer" — someone who emits a high, positive energy, and who is willing to share his expert knowledge and energy for the betterment of those he comes in contact with. Thank you for sharing with me. I believe the right thing for me to do is to pay it forward, and so I am. I continue to learn and grow in life through trading. I appreciate this trade for what it is and how it makes me feel, and now it is time to prepare for the next one. Follow the rules and enjoy the process — the rest is MATH...I would have never known any of this without reading Van's books, taking your at-home courses, and subscribing to your newsletter for the past 5-6 years. So my deepest thanks to all of you guys for what you're doing. Keep up the great work, and hope all is well with you." — Anonymous


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Our Risk-Reversal Guarantee

The Van Tharp Institute guarantees that you will be delighted with this workshop. In fact, we'll take all of the risk ourselves. If you aren't totally satisfied by the end of the first day of the workshop, you can request a full refund. Just return your notebook to a staff member and we'll refund your workshop fee even though you've already had the benefits of part of the workshop.

Why are we willing to assume your risk? The key to our guarantee is that if you are ready to work on yourself, there is no risk to us. We know you'll be delighted.

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