A Forgotten Viewpoint on Fitness

Fitness is an odd word.

confusedFrom time to time I ask people what their definition of the word is.

It’s a question that is often answered by a look of confusion and a drawn out, “Errrmmmm….”

Then you ask them to define “Functional Fitness” and they seem to have an easier time. Easier that is as they at least have a shit load of marketing spiel and buzzwords they can drop here.

Now without pulling out the text books and dictionaries to get the modern definition of fitness, let’s have a think about what it could mean.

One of the greatest summations of fitness comes from the oft referenced Georges Hebert.
Hebert is credited as the founder/inspiration of Parkour/Free Running and also the MovNat system.
So he’s a pretty good influence.

Georges Hebert walked the talk

Georges Hebert walked the talk

He broke fitness down as follows:

“The final goal of physical education is to make strong beings. In the purely physical sense, the Natural Method promotes the qualities of organic resistance, muscularity and speed, towards being able to walk, run, jump, move on all fours, to climb, to keep balance, to throw, lift, defend yourself and to swim.”

No mention of any specific exercises or tools, just attributes that ought to be developed.

And that to me is fitness.

It’s not about the kettlebell, the barbell, the TRX or the Bosu Ball.
It’s not about the Squat, the Deadlift, the Bench Press.
It’s not about the size of your “gunz” or the tightness of your “bunz”

It’s about being strong, mobile and enduring enough to tick all ten of his boxes.

Walking is the most fundamental of all Human movement, we practice it even before we are born and spend the first year of our lives with the sole goal of achieving bipedal locomotion.

Running, is the next step up from walking. We can jog with almost the same energy efficiency of a walk meaning we can cover serious miles. Not only that we can put in a fair turn of speed when we need to.

Moving on all fours, or crawling, is very much back in vogue with the rise of Movement type practice. But not only that being able to get low and utilise four points of contact to locomote with is exceptionally practical in rough terrain.
And there are those that tell us crawling is a reset for our system. It certainly feels good in the hips, spine and shoulders.

"The Daddy Bear is going to eat you!"

“The Daddy Bear is going to eat you!”

Climbing. Here’s an experiment, put a child next to some rocks or a tree stand back and watch. I’ll bet in no time at all there will be an outbreak of climbing. It’s like crawling but on a more vertical trajectory.

Throwing, both hands, forwards, backwards, whatever. It’s fun as well as an expression of full body explosive power.

Lift. Picking up heavy things. Obviously.

Mind Over Metal Seb

Swimming is a life skill as well as great exercise.

Defend. This is the one I was getting to.
Up to this point Heberts fitness standards would be fairly common, most people run, walk and lift. Many Climb and Swim. And pretty much all of us would throw from time to time, even if that’s just the kettlebell ballistics.
But defence. The ability to stand up for oneself and those that you care about.
The ability to give and take a punch, to be courageous in the face of danger?


Could you?

Would you?

Mick Coup explaining the punch

Mick Coup explaining the punch

The reason Heberts list speaks to me is that it was the element of Defence that got me into fitness and training in the first place.
It’s 26 years now since I walked into St Martins Junior Karate club. 21 years since I added strength work to my Karate (defence), Running and cycling. 18 years since I added climbing. And even today my training still is still directed towards being effective in self defence scenario.
It’s something I’ve spent time in as a professional, as a martial artist and more recently a coach.

This weekend I’ll be sharing genuine, tried and tested Self Defence information and training over tow days.
There are a few spots left for late comers, details can be found HERE

See you on Saturday


Dave Hedges


The Art of Fighting Without Fighting

It’s no secret that my love for fitness training and passion for human efficiency grew out of my martial arts training.
It’s also no secret that I spent several years working as a full time Pub & Nightclub doorman.

Every now and again I run a self defence workshop, I almost always run one at the end of the year as this is when the streets go wild and the number of assaults rise as the silly season kicks in.

This year though will be a little bit different.

In my gym I have several people who work in the Social and Health services, who from time to time stay back after training to ask me questions about dealing with aggression and aggressive behaviour.

This means I have to lecture them on what we call “Non-Violent Conflict Management”


Lets be realistic for a moment.
I’m 6′ 2″, 90kg, strong determined and trained.

Do the maths.

Do you think you could stop me without taking damage?

What if I was armed?

This is where the non-violent methods really stand.
It’s the art of preventing the assault happening in the first place. It means that the 5’5″, 65 kg female doesn’t have to deal with me throwing her around like a rag doll.

Non-Violent Conflict Management is non sexy but it very often works and not just in a professional environment.
It may be the key to preventing a situation from escalating into physical violence.

If you’ve taken one of my courses you’ll have heard me talk about the Self Defence Continuum, which is a fancy term that simply rounds up the basis of my teaching.
The continuum is:

Avoid – Evade – Confront

The first two points, Avoid & Evade are where the Non Violent  training sit, the third option, Confront is for when force becomes the only option.


So this is going to make up a good section of this years course. Most of the first day to be fair.
This means on day one we’ll look into:

  • The Self-Defence continuum of Avoid-Evade-Confront
  • Non Violent Conflict Management
  • Situational Awareness
  • Body Language
  • The “Fence” concept
  • Introduction to the hard skills

Then on Day 2:

  • Quick review of day 1
  • Developing the hard skills
  • Determination drills
  • Intro to “anti-grappling”

It’ll be a busy 2 days, but valuable.
With luck I’ll have with me on day 1 an expert in the field of social services who’s worked with young offenders and the mentally ill. Her presentation alone is worth the rest of the course.

For details on booking, follow THIS LINK


Dave Hedges
http://www.WG-Fit.com & http://www.WildGeeseMA.com



Ask Dave: Where’s a Good Place to Do Some Meditation?

This one came from one of our Thai Boxers.
We were discussing an injury he’s been carrying and then afterwards he asked the above question.

Meditation, it's good enough for Leo....

Meditation, it’s good enough for Leo….

My answer:

At home.


Most things usually are simple.

Meditation has been a part of the martial arts for as long as martial arts have been around, and for damn good reason.
There’s no better way of settling the mind, relaxing the body and attaining focus than spending a few minutes each day in some form of meditation.

The science community have done many studies on people in a meditative state and pretty much all agree that for brain health, it’s one of the best things we can do for ourselves. (here’s a couple to get you started: Psychology Today wrote THIS, and THIS one is from Harvard Medical School)

The problem arises when you look at all the bullshit and bollocks that’s espoused by the new age tree huggers when they wax lyrical about meditation.
They insist on having rituals and props all in place before beginning any sort of practice. They tell you to sit in a particular way, burn a particular incense, chant a particular sound bite.

Not all tree huggers are bad....

Not all tree huggers are bad….

Is any of this necessary?


Do you need those DVD’s and CD’s?


Whale noises?


So what do you need?

Are you ready for this?


And that’s it.

How much time?

Well, how much can you spare?
5 mins? Ok
10 mins? Better.
2 mins? Hell. that’ll do
20 mins? Probably ideal, if such a thing exists.

Anything comfortable. Sit, lie down, kneel, squat, recline, walk.

This is important. You must breathe deep into your abdomen,
If you’re a chest breather, your going to struggle, so for you I suggest training the breath prior to attempting to meditate, here’s how

Everything Else:
Try to ensure you won’t be disturbed. If you like music, play some. If you like incense or smelly candles, go for it.

The key is the breath and your conscious mind.

warrior meditation

This simple method of meditation is called the 100 and is the simplest place to start.
It goes like this:

Each time you exhale, count.

The “goal” is to count 100 exhales.

The word goal is in inverted commas as it’s not really a goal. The goal is to remain focussed on the task of counting the breath.
Should you lose count, so what? Simply start counting from 1 again, no stress, no panic.
If you get caught up in a thought from your busy mind, so what? As soon as you recognise the fact, start counting again from 1.

It’s that simple.
Not easy.
But simple.

It’s so simple it can be done on the bus or train as you commute.
It can be done in bed to help you sleep.
It can be done walking in the park.
It can be done anytime your mind starts racing with uncontrolled or anxious thoughts.

There are many other forms of meditation, but as a start point, this is possibly the best of them.

Try it for yourself.


Dave Hedges


Are You Ready For A Night on the Town?

friday-night-workout-weights-04072011It’s friday!

This means most of you will come into me nice and early to get your training out of the way for the day, then as soon as the whistle blows to finish work, you’ll be into your glad rags and out on the town.

And fair play, you possibly earned it.


For the best part of 10 years I was one of those people you walked past with barely a nod on the way in and out of your pub of choice. I stood in the shadows around the dance floor as you danced, oblivious of the people around you.
For ten years I was a Doorman, not just in Dublin either, but in Andorra in the Pyrenees  Dubai in the UAE and Canberra in Australia.

And regardless of the location, the story always went the same.

Each and every shift, myself and the other lads would watch as the alcohol kicked in, guards dropped, egos inflated and before we knew it we’d be in. If we got there in time we’d be diffusing a situation, if we didn’t we’d be pulling two or more bodies apart and physically removing them from the venue.

A lot of the time it was just something stupid, a silly argument that got heated. Sometimes it was more sinister.


Even on the route home after a shift, I’d see the same things happening on the street. I’ve seen pickpockets tailing some of the people that had left the bar not long before I did. One night I turned a corner and saw a woman on her own with three youths attempting to snatch her handbag. They succeeded, but ran the wrong way. They ran towards me, when they should have run the other way.

Now I’m not writing this for the glory, look at me the hero doorman, no I’m kind of reminiscing over people innocently landing themselves in bother or people setting themselves up as victims almost inviting a predatory attack.
I’m thinking, could these events been avoided or handled differently.

And the answer is a resounding yes.

With a few simple pointers, these people may never have gotten into these situations.

I’m also looking at the Central Statistics Office website at the Assault figures and seeing the number rise year on year going from just over 13 thousand to over 15 thousand cases. Cases of trespass have nearly doubled from 2004 to 2007 and has continued to rise.

This is why from time to time I run a workshop looking at the simple and basic elements of self defence.
It’s kind of what the cool kids call “Reality Based Self Defence” or “Self Protection”
I’m not cool and rather call a spade a spade, so to me the title of “Basic Self Defence Skills” is good enough.

The next one of these will take place on the May Bank Holiday Weekend.
You have the chance to join me from 1000 – 1600 on Sunday 5th for Basic Self Defence Skills and again on Monday 6th for Rapid Response Knife Defence.

Here’s some of what we’ll look at:

Sunday 5th May:Basic Self Defence Skills

  • Environmental Awareness
  • Situational Awareness
  • Avoid/Evade/Confront Continuum
  • Fundamental Body Mechanics for Power Generation
  • The Three Fundamental Arm/Hand Strikes
  • Wedge Defence


rapid responseMonday 6th May: Rapid Response Knife Defence Skills

  • Flinch Response
  • Blocking, Parrying, Passing &Trapping Skills
  • “Safe” position
  • Counter Offensive techniques from safe position
  • Simultaneous Cover & Counter

Each day will cost €50, or attend both for €70.
No entries will be taken on the day, so drop me a line about putting down a deposit.

This workshop will not turn you into Jason Bourne, but it will give you the baseline skills, which if practiced and applied can and will keep you and those you care about safe from harm.
I won’t try to baffle you with bullshit.
I will teach you high quality, time proven and field tested information.
This is not a martial arts course, it is pure self defence, like martial arts used to be before competitions were created.

Till then, enjoy your weekend.




Extreme Training Proves to be Harmful, Who Knew?

I just came across an interesting article highlighted through the power of facebook.
This isn’t an unusual occurrence, quite often I open facebook, scroll through the home page and within a few minutes I have a dozen windows open each one featuring a new article on fitness or strength & conditioning.

But this one caught me, I figured it was worth, not only sharing, but actually discussing.

If you click on the image below you can read the article, for those who can’t be bothered I’ll highlight the key points below:

Click the image to read the full article

  • Running can take a toll on the heart that essentially eliminates the benefits of exercise.
  • But among the running cohort, those who ran a lot—more than 20 to 25 miles a week—lost that mortality advantage.
  • no mortality benefit for those who ran faster than 8 miles per hour, while those who ran slower reaped significant mortality benefits.
  • “Chronic extreme exercise appears to cause excessive ‘wear-and-tear’ on the heart,”
  • “If you are running more than 15 miles a week, you are doing it for some reason other than health,” said Dr. Kenneth Cooper (the blokey who kickstarted the whole aerobics thing)

So what can we take from this?

The key point as I see it is the word “extreme”
Anything taken to the extreme will be detrimental, maybe not immediately, but certainly over time.
Look at any high level sports meet and you’ll see broken people all over the place. Hell, I’m one of the broken people, I took body to the limit far too many times over the years to be anything other than broken!

Perhaps this is why I choose to train my guys the way I train them. I’m all for extreme challenges, I’ve a rake of endurance athletes training under me, I’ve high level martial artists and generally a generally nuts population who all attend WG-Fit on a regular basis, most of whom would happily train themselves into an early grave and do so with a smile.
But my job, as coach, is to moderate them.

And this is the key factor for anyone training for health and longevity.
Yes, if you’re a professional athlete, health is secondary to performance. You know that you push and push and eventually you won’t be able to push any further, but that’s the nature of the beast. The best know to retire before the sport eats them up entirely.

If you’re not a pro, then why?
Why not take a more moderate approach, build up, back off, build up again, back off again. Some call this periodisation, I call it common sense.
If you’re an endurance athlete, such as those I used to admire back when I lived in the English Lake District, mix up your training. The guys in the Lakes would simply go out and run, it’s a lesson that took a while for me to understand, but eventually I got it. Running isn’t exercise, it’s a natural function of being alive, so enjoy it.
Take the time to look around, enjoy the scenery (this why I no longer run much, if I returned to the mountains I’d definitely be lacing up once more), enjoy the experience of flowing with the terrain.

I do find that many involved in more tactical sports, and by that I don’t mean these pseudo military crap that are all over the inter web right now, I mean sports that have tactics involved, skills. Sports that are about more than just all out effort.
These guys spend about half their time just practising and the other half training.

What’s the difference?

Lets talk about a fighter as an example.

pic courtesy of Ce’s The Day Photography

I watch our Muay Thai lads training every day. They work for 2 hours, 4-6 days per week. That will easily equate to the training volume undertaken by a fairly serious endurance athlete.
But here’s the difference. Most of the training is done at a relatively leisurely pace. They are practicing skills, and for practice to be effective it must be perfect. So fatigue must be avoided.
Now a couple of times a week they push harder, but most of the time it is practice practice practice. The training really escalates as a fight approaches, then when it’s over, rest.

How many gym goers or endurance athletes take this same approach?
How many take the time to simply practice running, to perfect their technique?

Very few I’ll bet.
And it’s a safe bet, because I was the same.
It took spending time with some older runners, men who were in their 50’s and were awesome, for me to learn that you don’t always need to push. Sometimes you just go out and enjoy the process. And you know what? Like the thai boxer perfecting his kick on the bag for an hour, half pace, no power, then getting into the ring and delivering a bone jarring kick. Your running or whatever sport you’re into, will improve.

Sometimes playing is more important than training.



Closed minds and open gullets

I watched last nights episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, he’s over in LA trying to help improve the quality of food served, especially in the schools.
Usually I have the TV on in the background and rarely pay any attention to it, but I have to say, I was glued to this show. I just could not believe the closed minded attitude of the people he was trying to help.
I could not believe the food that was being given to kids in school, the fact that they were being given flavoured milk loaded with sugar at break time because “milk is healthy”
I could not believe that the powers that be were only interested in money, not health.

The whole show left me sick.

Very often what starts in the US makes its way over here.
God help our species, it’s already in an obesity epidemic. “Adult Onset Diabetes” had to be renamed to “Type II Diabetes” because kids started getting it due to poor nutrition and lack of exercise. Young men are being diagnosed with the female post menopausal condition of Osteoporosis as a result of poor nutrition and lack of exercise

Check this out:

•    In Ireland, 47% of people report being overweight or obese (13% obese, 34% overweight; SLÁN 2003).
•    Ireland has the fourth highest prevalence of overweight and obesity in men in the EU and the seventh highest prevalence among women.

There’s more:

Obesity in Europe is five times more common now, than it was after the Second World War. Recent trends highlight that the number of obese people is doubling every 10 years and the problem is becoming increasingly prevalent in younger people. Increases in obesity over the past 30 years have been paralleled by a dramatic rise in the prevalence of diabetes. In Ireland the prevalence of obesity is greater in men than in women. 14% of men and 12% of women are obese and in certain regions this figure rises to 18% and 15% respectively. This places Ireland in a unique position compared to other developed countries
Obesity – People who are more than 10 pounds overweight have a higher risk for osteoarthritis, especially in weight-bearing joints like the knees. Pressure on joints from the excess weight causes cartilage to break down faster than usual.

(If you want to see where this info came from click here)

Peoples attitudes need to change.

Parents, educate your kids on food and food choices. I you don’t know, find out, it isn’t hard.

Ignorance is NOT bliss.

If you need help with nutrition there is an amazing resource for tracking your food intake available on the excellent LiveStrong website. Simple enter what you eat and drink and it gives you a full nutritional breakdown. There are also plenty of articles, recipes and people willing to give you a dig out.

As for exercise, well I’ll help with that, but only if you’re willing to push your boundaries each and every session.

There are no excuses.
Take control of your life.



Postural Awareness Workshop – 29th May

Highly respectes Rolfing practitioner, Tony Walsh, is giving up an afternoon to talk, demonstrate and teach various techniques that will improve postural alignment.

Rolfing is the brain child of Ida Rolf, one of the originators of Physical Therapy.
Almost every branch of hands on therapy owes it’s roots to the work of Ida Rolf.

This workshop is aimed at athletes and fighters, it will not only help the fighters posture but also help them move the body as a unit to become more mobile and more powerful.

Contact info@wildgeesema.com to book a place.

Date: Saturday, 29 May 2010
Time: 14:00 – 16:00
Location: Wild Geese Martial Arts
Street: 14 magennis Place, Pearse St
Town/City: Dublin, Ireland