Core Combatives Subject Management Workshops


In the past I’ve written blogs featuring one of my instructors, a man named Mick Coup.
Coup is a self defence expert, and by that I don’t mean your average internet expert, I mean a man who has walked the talk his entire life and now gets requests from across the globe to train civilians, Police and Military teams with his principal based method.

I’ve trained with Mick on a number of occasions now. Over the last 26 years I’ve learned from dozens of high level martial arts guys, and even more low level martial arts guys. But Coup is different. In a good way.
There is no room for nonsense, for filler or for bullshit in Micks courses. Everything taught is tried and tested, and the expectation is that you will also test it.

In September I’m bringing Mick back to run his Subject Management courses.
While these are ideal for Security & Police professionals, they are open to everybody, but places must be booked.
Here’s the details:

SUBJECT MANAGEMENT #1 (PROVEN-FORCE)

Aim:
The Proven-Force Subject Management Seminar will introduce the innovative operational model of ‘Approach-Contain-Control-Restrain’ phases that concentrate upon probable tactics over possible techniques. This seminar takes into account the realities of actual situations involving hostile fully-resisting individuals, where there is a proven requirement for direct and immediate physical intervention.

 Content:

The seminar will cover comprehensive and progressive subject-matter, which remains specific to the designated remit in order to achieve tangible same-day results.

Content includes:

• Four-Phase Operational Model: Proven-Resistance Format
• Emergency On-Scene Assessment & Planning
• Tactical Communication & Observation
• Proven-Risk Contact & Cover Team Procedures

 Scope:

This is the initial instructional seminar covering ‘force necessary’ subject management tactics, and as such addresses only ‘worst-case last-resort’ scenarios to provide an emergency default option. Dealing with actively and aggressively-resisting subjects will be the full focus of the seminar, using a team-based, progressively-phased operational model to achieve full compliance with a minimum injury-potential to the subject.

 Format:

All material is practical and hands-on, and will progress to increasingly physically demanding force on-force training exercises during the course of the day.

 Duration:

Five hours, including breaks.

 Eligibility:

All material is presented at a fundamental core-skill level, and is not dependent upon specialist personal equipment. As such the material can be easily adapted to the specific remit and role requirements of law enforcement and military personnel or security professionals without compromise.

 Dress & Equipment:

Participants can wear standard training attire, or uniform if preferred. Mouthguards, groin protection and water/towel are recommended. Optionally, personal protective equipment and operational equipment can be worn as required.

 

SUBJECT MANAGEMENT #2 (POTENTIAL-FORCE)

Description:
The follow-on Potential-Force Subject Management Seminar will further cover the concept-based model of ‘Approach-Contain-Control-Restrain’ phases. This seminar addresses the realities of actual situations involving potentially hostile, unknown-intention individuals, with an option to immediately transition into proven-force tactics if increased levels of resistance are encountered.

 Content:

The seminar will cover comprehensive and progressive subject-matter, which remains specific to the designated remit in order to achieve tangible same-day results.

Content includes:

• Four-Phase Operational Model: Potential-Resistance Format
• Pre-Incident Preparation & Policy
• Personal Presence Factors & Threat Indications
• Potential-Risk Contact & Cover Team Procedures

 Scope:

This is the successive instructional seminar covering ‘force possible’ subject management tactics, and as such addresses first-resort scenarios, with a ‘best-case first-resort’ escalating-force focus. Managing subjects who are not immediately resistant, but may potentially prove hostile will be the focus of the seminar, using team-based, phased, strategies and tactics.

 Format:

All seminar material is practical and hands-on, and will progress to increasingly physically demanding force on force training exercises during the course of the day.

 Duration:

Five hours, including breaks

 Eligibility:

All material is presented at a fundamental level, and as such can be easily adapted to the specific requirements of the law enforcement officer or security professional without compromise. It is highly recommended that Subject Management #1 is completed prior to attending this seminar.

 Dress & Equipment:

Participants can wear standard training attire, or uniform if preferred. Mouthguards, groin protection and water/towel are recommended. Optionally, personal protective equipment and operational equipment can be worn as required.

Tickets are being sold via Eventbrite, THIS LINK will take you to the booking site.

Please spread the word

Thankyou

 

Regards

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

Ask Dave: How to improve the signal to noise ratio and Avoid Information Overload


So here we go with another “Ask Dave”
This one is an email from an occasional client and long time friend, the guy who edits my eBooks Mr Peter Madden.

Edited by Peter Madden, so any typo's are his fault!

Edited by Peter Madden, so any typo’s are his fault, not mine!

Here’s the email:

“I was trying to convince a college mate to come train with me this evening. He doesn’t have any specific goal in mind and he’s been training in a scatter shot manner at some machinery globogym somewhere. A smart bloke, he’s done some research online and has fallen victim to info overload.
So here’s the question – how to improve the signal to noise ratio? How do you cut through the static to set a friend/client/family member/bro on the path on the path of righteousness? What are the hallmarks of simple, well – reasoned advice and how can one avoid the lunatic fringe, the charlatans and the crossfit mafia?”

This is a damn good question as his buddy, the smart fella with a membership to a standard gym suffering from information overload, is pretty much most people.
He’s the guy I saw when I worked in commercial gyms, the guy doing the latest workout from whatever magazine. Badly.

I also have a large portion of my clientèle who WERE that guy. Many who come to me have run the gauntlet of commercial gym and mainstream fitness advice and got fed up, looked to the fringe and found a small place down a side street that offers kettlebell fitness alongside a host of martial arts training and never looked back.

So lets go point by point through Peter’s question and see if we can come up with some answers:

1: Information Overload.

keyboard warriorYeah, this is a biggie.
Never before has there been so much info so readily available. It seems that every dick trainer has his or her own blog (erm….like me for instance) non of which are answerable to anyone, there’s no reason for average Joe reading these blogs to doubt the information he’s reading.

Same for the magazine articles promising 6 pack abzzzz and bigger gunzzzz.

These articles and blogs answer to no one. Except the next blog or article that seemingly contradicts it. You know, “Squat for Bigger Gainzz” only followed by “Squats Destroy Knees and Back, Never do Them” Or the Whole Body vs the Body part Split Or the “Use Kettlebells” “Use Olympic Lifts” “Plyo’s for Fat Loss” “P90X changed my life” “Crossfit or Die” “Piloxing” ← yes, that’s a real thing!
No, really, someone has combined a shitty watered down interpretation of Pilates and combined it with a shitty watered down version of Boxing to ensure that you get none of the unique benefits of either! Fucking Genius!

Get your vomit bucket’s ready, this Ladies and Gentlemen, THIS IS PILOXING:

Sorry about that, I promise never to show that again.

Anyway, before I loose the run of myself and start ranting, lets get back to the point.
As soon as you read one thing, something else will contradict it, then something else will contradict that. So what are we supposed to believe?

Well apart from me of course, why not look at those people who are doing the stuff you want to do or those who look the way you want to look and work back from there.
If you want big legs, go to the biggest legs in the business, non other than Tom Platz.

Too....much.....awesome.......

Too….much…..awesome…….

And what does Tom Platz say about legs?

Squat.

He goes on to say “If you only half squat, you only build half legs”

So there!

Lifting more weight? EFTS.com, AndyBolton.com
Building a bootilicious badonkadonk? Bretcontreras.com

This is the advantageous side of the gamut of information available. Everything is accessible, you can look up and even contact the very best in the business instead of simply relying on what the spotty teenage personal training in the gym says or the latest blown out of proportion headline on the web.
But if you still can’t separate the wheat from the chaff and still struggle with information overload, stop reading!

Simply stop.

Instead remember this simple salient point:

The difference between a beginner and the advanced is that the advanced guys do the basics better. <- CLICK HERE TO TWEET THAT!

And regardless of what you think, you’re a beginner, so stick to the basics which everyone knows:

Push Ups
Squats
Pull ups
Deadlifts
Overhead press

Hang on, if I take that list, do three sets of 8-12 reps of each of those, in that order, maybe reverse the order when I repeat it a couple of days later, will I see results?

Yes, my friend, you will.

In fact for a beginner hitting the gym twice per week, you’ll see better mates than all your mates combined!

2: Signal to noise Ratio

I’m pretty sure I already covered this, but…..

But really, to tune into the information that is relevant to you, you need to know what is relevant to you.

Be the blue line

Be the blue line

If you’ve no goals in mind, how do you know which sources to go to?
There’s no point reading my site if you want weight loss, I’m just not relevant to that market and will simply add to the noise (unless you do the above workout twice a week, eat a stack of veg with your meat and maybe run a bit that is……..)
So do a little soul searching.
Do you want to be bigger? Smaller? Faster? Pain free?
Until you narrow the bandwidth, all you’ll get is white noise.

3: “What are the hallmarks of simple, well – reasoned advice and how can one avoid the lunatic fringe, the charlatans and the crossfit mafia?”

Whoa! Big and loaded question!

The hallmarks of simple, well reasoned advice are that it is

a) Simple
b) Well reasoned

First off, does the training revolve around the basics?
And by basics I mean the central core paradigm of fitness training which is Progressive Resistance
The resistance can be any number of things, from external load to time under tension, from speed to duration, the specifics are not in question here but the underlying principle is.
If an exercise program fails to progress a person, if there is no discernible improvement in some form or other, then really that person is just spinning their wheels.
If you’re not getting stronger, moving more fluidly and developing better endurance, what are you doing?

All these things are easy to track and test.

Strength, well that’s simple, can you pick up a heavier weight now than this time last month?
Endurance, how many reps can you do with a given weight in a set time frame or has your 10k time come down?
Moving fluidly, ok this is a little harder to quantify, but if you are more comfortable sitting in a deep squat, if you can touch your toes easily, lift your arms straight over head and have no issues turning your head to reverse the car into a parking spot, then you’re probably ok.
If you end up barely able to reach your toes, if you end up getting stuck halfway into your squat and if a flight of stairs starts to look like Mt Everest, then chances are the training program is not for you. It’s probably fine for a pro powerlifter, but not someone who simply wants to be a better Human Animal.

Next is the well reasoned question.

Which I guess is where Peter is going with the “Crossfit Mafia” comment.

I’ve talked about crossfit many time, most commonly I’m heard to say that it’s a great idea that is badly executed.

What does that mean?

Back when I started gym training at the tender age of 16, I went to the school rowing team who I was friendly with, and asked to join their gym sessions. Fortunately the coach agreed to let me in and the journey started.
The training we did back then is very much in line with the layout of training offered by most crossfit gyms these days. Ie strength work which revolves around a few basic lifts and a metabolic circuit which varies in it’s exercise selection.

Regular members of my gym will also recognise that format, I still use it.

The difference back then was we did the metabolic work first and strength second, which is heresy in most strength coaches eyes. But what was the reasoning?

We needed to be strong and powerful while under fatigue. Power Endurance was more important than max strength. And using a variety of movement patterns reduced the overall risk of injury that single plane specific movements do as it exposes the body to varying stimuli causing a more rounded adaptation to occur.

All sounds very crossfit eh?

But it also makes perfect sense. It is well reasoned.

So why is Crossfit badly executed?

It’s the fact that amongst the growing number of gyms, there is only a small portion of coaches who actually do use reason. I’m fortunate to be in fairly regular contact with a few Irish Crossfit guys and they’re smart puppies that know what they’re on about.

But I also have members who’ve come to me from other crossfits around Ireland and they’ve told me about their experiences and why they’ve left (in all but one case, it’s was down to injury or seeing their mate injured through bad practice).

The problem is quality control.

quality control

It’s left to the individual coach. Whereas McDonalds is a franchise, so every service is identical, Crossfit is just a licence, so the gym owner can do what he likes within his walls.

And if that means handing a lad a 24kg kettlebell to swing on his first visit because he “is big enough” then that’s what happens (true story, the lad, a regular gym bunny looking to try something different, took a session in a crossfit where one of my lads was “moonlighting” said lad was on in visiting his physio the very next day, my boy returned to me and the world returned to order)

Asking questions is the best way to feel out a coach or a gym. See if you can take a trial session, talk to the existing members and then talk to the coach/owner. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, but if the people there move well, perform well and there’s a general atmosphere of high quality, solid work without ego, then it’s probably fine.

When you ask the coach a question, can he answer it without using big words? If he can, he probably knows his shit, if it turns into a science lecture, or simply sounds like bullshit, then it probably is.

So lets sum up will we?
1 – Think about who you are and what you need from your training, then the research process gets much, much simpler.
2 – Don’t do too much research, training is not a theoretical process. The sooner you get of your arse and get moving the sooner you will get the results you are looking for.
3 – Basics, basics, basics.
4 – Crossfit isn’t all bad, but it is only as good as the coach, the same can be said of ANY gym or class. So quiz the coach.

Hope that answers the question.

Regards
Dave Hedges
http://www.WG-Fit.com

 

Ab Wheel Roll Outs, core strength without the back strain


abwheelgoodA couple of days ago I was watching our Thai Boxers train.

They’d set up a pretty cool circuit with various stations, some just conditioning exercises, other pad or bag work.
It was fairly intense and a pleasure to watch.

Until I spotted them using the Ab Wheel.

The Ab Wheel is probably the best bit of fitness kit ever to appear in an infomercial. They’re cheap and damn do they build serious core strength.

If done right that is

And I wasn’t seeing much done right the other day.

Truth be told, almost everyone I see does them wrong. Maybe thats why so many credit the wheel with giving them back pain

.And yes, I agree poor form on this exercise can do your back in pretty quick. Mostly because people focus on rolling out and back and forget to focus on HOW they roll out and back.

Poor form, notice the arched back and the arms are extended before the hip. There's no loading on the rectus abdominis here, just crushing force for the lumbar

Poor form, notice the arched back and the arms are extended before the hip.
There’s no loading on the rectus abdominis here, just crushing force for the lumbar

Just as you wouldn’t (I hope) just bend over and lift a barbell off the floor, or swing a heavy kettle with no thought for body mechanics, alignment and form, I am surprised at how many just grab the wheel and go for it. Maybe it’s because it’s not a weight, it’s not a lift, but that doesn’t mean it’s without its risk.

So how should be roll?

Watch this to find out:

So key points:

  • Tuck the hip under, ie posterior tilt
  • Engage the abs and glutes before you even start the lift
  • Keep the arms vertical until the hip is extended
  • Roll only as far as you can maintain control, if you by pass this point, simply face plant
  • Try to snap the handle to externally rotate the shoulders and get the rotator cuffs involved.

Keep all this in mind and go for it.
Few exercises are better for developing that anterior core strength.

Regards

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

 

Efficiency


The tag line on this site is “improving human efficiency” a thought that’s been central to my own reasons for training since I was first introduced to a barbell.

Working on specific mobility & postural imbalances

Working on specific mobility & postural imbalances

Efficiency has been a fascination of mine, especially because I am at heart, a lazy bastard.

So lazy in fact that I managed to develop a training philosophy around being lazy, I call it “The Art of Applied Laziness”
And at the core of that is the ability to move well in order to perform well, to identify and eliminate the weak links.

A lifetime involvement in the martial arts has ingrained in me the belief that excess action is wasted in the application of strength and power. But also that shit happens and if we can only work in narrow bands of strength and power, we leave ourselves open to having our arses kicked.

So supplementary training is key.

Supplementary training must be efficient in nature and the best way to ensure this is by taking an honest look at what our weaknesses are.

A look at what our needs are.

A look at what our betters are doing.

And then a good hard look at where we are right now, at this moment.

Sounds like a lot of work, but believe me, it saves a lot of wasted time and effort later.

Are we strong enough?
Mobile enough?
Too strong?
Too mobile?

Is the gym training helping or hurting our athletic performance?
Are we addressing imbalances, or cementing them in deeper?

What about posture?
Hows your breathing?

Thinking along these lines will do more for your performance and health than anything else.
Stepping outside your box, looking at yourself dispassionately and seeing the holes in your armour are the keys to moving forwards.

Join me this Sunday where I’ll be discussing this in detail with a view to helping Create a Better Cyclist.

Regards

Dave Hedges
http://www.Wg-Fit.com

The Best Coaching Cue in the World, Ever!


funny-teacher-blackboard-finalsBeing a coach can be rough.

I was first put in front of a class as an assistant Karate instructor as a wet behind the ears 16 yr old Purple belt.

From that moment until I left town at 19 as a Black Belt I taught with some frequency, and a lot of the time, I was pretty shit at it.

A few years later I was working in the hotel industry and very soon was made the training officer for my department. I still taught martial arts on and off and helped a few guys out with fitness.

I still struggled with the most important part of the whole coaching profession.

You see, like most new to the job depth of knowledge may not be the limiting factor, it’s usually the ability to communicate that is the failing.

Or at least it was in my case.

That was until many years later when I moved to Ireland and actually made a career out of coaching. By now I was in my late 20’s and starting to mature (slightly).
I was also developing my own style of teaching rather than trying to emulate my own instructors.

I also figured out that fancy language and big words don’t impress clients whatsoever.
It’s all about simplifying everything into soundbites, or as I like to tell prospective instructors that come to learn from me, try and use words of one syllable or less.

One lad I said that to really didn’t get it. I could actually see him try to work out a word that had less than one syllable, which we all know isn’t possible.

This act of simplifying things has led me to develop several unique teaching cues that fit me, my teaching style and the clientèle that I work with.

Possibly the toughest thing to get people to do well is to hinge at the hip while maintaining good spinal alignment. Such as needed in the swing, the deadlift or the squat.

After all, you can say “Chest up”, “Shoulders back and down” “Push the hips out”, “Maintain the arch” and all that jazz or you can simply use a simple, single phrase.

A phrase that will stick in their head, it’s simple, has no long words or fancy descriptions.

A phrase that everyone just gets.

“Tits out, Arse out!”

See, she can do it

See, she can do it

Everyone gets it.

You don’t need a degree in kinesiology to under stand this, hell even a prepubescent knows how to assume that posture.

It’s one of the most effective and efficient cues in my arsenal, and I just gave it to you for free.

You’re welcome.

Regards

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

Next Workshop:
Building a Better Cyclist – 27th July, 1000 – 1600, details HERE

 

 

I’m Back, and Gearing up for………


Wow, what a week!

If you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been away.

It was my annual summer holiday. Well, I say annual, it’s the second year in a row, so I guess that counts right?
Truth be told, I’m a bit of a workaholic, something my wife constantly chastises me about, so last year I doubled my holiday allowance, being self employed, I had a hard time clearing that with the boss. But instead of just taking a week at Xmas, I also took a week in the summer.

The family and I visited Donegal where my wife spent most of her childhood holidaying.
Now she’s bringing her kids there for their holidays.
It’s great, a whole week with my missus, the two brats and the dog in a part of the world that has shitty mobile phone signals and shittier WiFi coverage but has stunning beaches and gorgeous mountains.

And I’d rather be on a mountainside with the kids and dog looking over the ocean than sat staring at computer screen.

But I’m back.

Today is my first day back in the gym, back to my regular job of shouting at people for a living.

And a return to the blog.

Today’s blog is really a heads up.

In a few weeks I’ll be running the inaugural “Becoming a Better Cyclist” workshop.
An event that I was asked to create as several of my regulars either ride or have friends who ride.

cyclist

I myself have never ridden competitively, unless you count the group of us that lived together in the English Lake District when we went out mountain biking together…
But I have cycled as my main mode of transport since my early teens.

So I understand the effect the bike has on the body.

I understand the postural havoc the bike can wreak.

And I know how to fix it.

Truth be told, most people when they enter a sport either do so because they enjoy it or because they want a hobby that will help them stay fit.
Few realise that sport and health are divergent goals.

All athletes, in fact everyone who trains in a one dimensional manner, be they a tennis player, BJJ fighter, cyclist or weight lifter will develop specific attributes that correspond with the needs of their sport.
They will also develop specific weaknesses.

For a cyclist we are talking about Quad dominance, terrible hip flexors, weakness in the glutes and abs and shoulders that are crying for mercy.

martinajankov

So it stands to reason that doing some off the bike work is absolutely necessary for keeping the body in check.

Two exercises I strongly advocate for any cyclist are the Bulgarian Split Squat and the Inverted Row.

Regulars of mine will recognise these as two central drills in most training programs I create. But for a cyclist, they’re a near perfect fit.

The Split Squat allows you to strengthen the leg in a closed chain manner without overloading the spine.

The Inverted Row allows you to focus in on reversing the effects of the forward flexed, rounded shoulder position you hold for so long in the saddle.

Both exercises also ask a lot from the core in order to keep the body stable as the exercises are performed.

logo

These are just two of the techniques I’ll be teaching on the workshop.
I’ll also be going over the following headings:

  • Joint Mobility
  • Dynamic Warm Ups that are specific to the individuals needs
  • Postural Realignment techniques for common cycling ailments
  • Breathing & Breath control
  • Identifying weak areas and specific interventions
  • Stretching and whether to use it or not

It’ll be a packed day.
For more details and booking info, please follow THIS LINK

And I’ll see you there.

Regards

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

 

Learning Through Observation


When Dave asked me to guest write for his website I was honored and humbled.
I have admired Dave’s incredible work as a coach for a while now and just two weeks ago spent several days with him.

Over the course of my visit in Dublin we conversed about many things.
We covered topics of fitness, family, our youth, history, science, whiskey, music, and just plain ol’ shootin’ the shit.
Out of dialogue, thoughts and ponderings are born. So when I asked Dave, “What do you want me to write about?” and he replied, “Whatever you want?” the wheels began spinning.
You see, like most writers, I prefer to be given a topic (hopefully something I know well) then go from there but an open platform can be tough.

I remember in one conversation we had we were discussing our kids, Dave has two sons a 3 year old and a 5 year old (nearly 6) and I have one son a 1 year old (just turned).
Of course we talked about the cute and funny things they do. The joys of parenting etcetera, but beyond that we got into the essence of human movement. Movement patterns that begin and develop when we are kids reaching masterful levels in just the first several years of our existence then something happens.

We lose it.

While in Dublin, Dave and I attended a Movement X workshop with Ido Portal. If you are unfamiliar with this great teacher and mover I encourage you to Google him.
To my surprise the workshop was less about movement and more about being a better teacher. I really liked this approach as I have always fancied myself more of a teacher than a trainer and my customers students more than clients. Part of being a good teacher is being a good student.
I have really committed myself to becoming a full time student of movement in the last year and a half or so.
image

As I dove into this methodology and approach to exercise I have to find teachers and inspiration abound.

Movement is not something you can simply learn from a book or a YouTube lecture series.
Its odd because we are born knowing movement.
No really, it is a very frustrating paradox for me and something I wrestle with constantly (perhaps another article for another day).
The title of this article is “Learning Through Observation” and that is why movement becomes a frustrating paradox, because I watch how effortless it is for kids.
Earlier I mentioned discussing child rearing with Coach Dave.

I watch my son with a keen eye daily. He watches me too.
We learn from each other. When I do a handstand in our living room he stares at me and grins ear to ear. He then tries it himself and does something similar to downward facing dog.
Now that’s about all he has learned from me so far. Everything else he just DOES.
Mind you I am a Movement and Strength Coach, people pay me pretty fair wages to teach them how to move. Yet I can barely teach my 1 year old son anything because he is already wired to do so much. So I watch him. I learn.
We actually have a very difficult locomotion at Asylum Fitness called the Ronan Crawl (Ronan is his name). Seriously its tough, but it came from when he was learning to crawl and would go from carpet to hardwood floor and would lift a leg out to the side because his knees weren’t toughened yet.
He climbs stairs, has since 6 months, he dances, he climbs on and off the couch, he squats for everything. Yet no one has taught him any of this.

As a teacher I have to have a keen eye for movement patterns. I watch my students move, some better than others but all patterns tell a story. Learning through observation isn’t a one way street, it isn’t even a two way street. It’s more like a clusterf*!% of an intersection with loads to gain from many different avenues.
In fact if M.C. Escher was a highway commissioner that is what the junction of movement learning would look like. The first way of learning through movement, and by no means is this list limited or exclusive this is just a bit of perspective, is the pattern itself. In some ways this might be the easiest. In this situation you are observing what the pattern is telling you.
Non verbal communication is the key to observing movement as Ido said, “Shut up and let the movement speak.”

What dysfunctions, asymmetries, or glitches are there in the pattern? Are there any?
Or is the movement beautiful, controlled and fluid?
The reason I think this is the easiest is because you more than likely have an idea of what the pattern should look like and therefore if it is off, even a little it will be blatant.

For example, Dave and I partnered up at the workshop for a little brachiation drill, he immediately noticed my right hip was high.
Not very high but high enough for his eye to notice it and his brain to say, “that’s not right.” The pattern told a story, in this case the dysfunction was due to a brutal 24+ hours of traveling the day before. All that sitting and cramped travel had my hip all banjaxed (had to use that word it was my favorite from the trip). So the first aspect of learning through observation is just knowing what’s off about a pattern, person when they are moving. I use this daily with my students as a sort of constant assess and reassessing of the session.

Another way of learning, and this one is big for me is drawing inspiration. As I mentioned before my son seems to have a strong grasp on motor control and development. I can’t tell you how many drills and patterns I have watched him do then taken to my students to experiment with and practice. Go somewhere that has a bunch of kids playing and without looking like a total creeper watch. Free your mind and watch.
Then duplicate.
Then eventually create.
There is nothing more hilarious than taking a group of adults to a playground.
However after a while the self image insecurities wear off and the magic begins.
Then the adults move like kids (sorta) but if they observe kids playing before they try it themselves the results are much different. Mimicry is a great teacher.
I don’t just draw on kids for inspiration though. I look for movement in everything I don’t discriminate. I watch dancers, I watch martial artists, I watch traucers (people who practice parkour), I watch gymnasts, I watch pets especially cats, other animals such as primates, Ninja Warriors and then I try what they are doing. Really anything in motion can be your teacher if you just allow your mind to be free and truly observe the movement. Then give it a try!

Honestly that is my biggest secret for movement, just try different patterns.
Its no million dollar tip, but it will change your life and the way you feel and move if you are constantly trying new patterns and exploring movement.

The final method of learning through observation that I will give you is observing yourself.
Often I have an idea in my head of what I look like doing a movement. On film it usually looks way different, most of the time for the worse but sometimes better.
Too often we are so concerned with criticism and we just want to be told good job.
It is really hard to critique yourself because this takes a certain level of integrity and honesty.
My movements started getting much better and much cleaner when I stopped patting myself on the back for sucking and was able to comfortable look at a video of myself and say it was complete shit and practice some more. Seriously, you have to be ok telling yourself that a pattern is shit or else you will perpetually exist in a cloud of delusion.

The end game as a coach/teacher is to make someone better, however I can’t make someone better if they don’t think they need work.  
Beyond just the quality of the movement you should also be able to learn more about creating movement and expression through movement through watching yourself.  Often when I watch myself I see moments where I can add this or connect that. The possibilities are endless and the result is freedom. Move more and you will be free.

Mark Smith
Asylum Fitness

Putting Quality before Quantity


I’ve yet another pearl of wisdom inspired by the Ido Portal the other week.
I know I’ve been like a broken record with “Ido said this…” and “Ido said that…” like some star struck fan boy.
But when you spend time with someone who has made an art of his work and talks such sense, it’s hard not to be impressed.

But today I want to talk about quality.

In the strength world the deadlift is considered the truest test of strength. This is largely because there is no real way to cheat it. You take a weight that is sat on the floor and you either lock it out or you don’t.
There’s no question on depth like there is in the squat, there’s no question on bouncing the weight like in the bench press. It either goes up or it doesn’t, in this respect it is pure.

This is why all strength sports have rules in place. An Olympic lifter can wobble and step as much as he wants at the top of the lift, but the judge wont accept it until he is rock still and unmoving until all three white lights are on.
A power lifter must get the hip crease level with the knee to have his squat counted (at least that’s the official story….)
A kettlebell sports athlete must wait for the rep to be counted before releasing the bell from its lockout.

510kg-wpo-finals-2006

These are standards that are in place to ensure a fair competition.

But in the world of the Ido Portal method, they have standards for their bodyweight drills. And as they were explained to me, little lights went on in my head. And one of them was, “I’m actually a little soft with my guys sometimes”

The story starts when Ido and his crew took us through their upper body strength protocols which revolve around the Chin Up and the Dip.
I joined the beginner section so I could learn their progressions and regressions on the basic exercises, while my buddy went into the more advanced section so we could have a complete set of notes between us.

The first thing Odelia did when discussing the Chin Up was ask for a definition of the lift.
Where does it start?
Where does it end?
If neither of these points are met, can we call it a rep?

Odelia Goldschmidt just hanging about

Odelia Goldschmidt just hanging about

Much like the deadlift, it starts on the floor, it ends when the hips and knee are fully extended, anything else, and it’s a no count.

For Ido’s guys the chin starts in a dead hang and ends when the elbow joint is completely closed and the body is touching the bar.
And that’s final!

If you don’t have the strength to touch the bar at the top, then this is isolated and worked on until you can. Much like a power lifter will do lockout work or speed work.

This thought process and discipline is the key to progression and success.
If the rep doesn’t meet the predetermined standards, than it’s a no count. If it’s a no count, you need to work at it until it gets counted.
When enough reps can be strung together, each one identical, each meeting the predetermined standards, only then can you progress by adding weight or complexity.

So to this end, I ask you to reconsider your 50 rep sets of push ups or your 100 burpees or that max effort squat. Ask your self, did every rep look the same? Did every rep start and end in the same place?
Did every rep count or were some of them no counts?

Define everything.
Be disciplined.

It is only then will you see real progress in your performance while reducing the injury risk.

Regards

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

Next Workshop:
Building a Better Cyclist – 27th July, 1000 – 1600, details HERE

 

What can Metallica at Glastonbury teach us about Fitness?


So, Metallica played at Glastonbury and the world didn’t end!

I’ve been a huge fan of the Metallica boys since my youth and this song has always been one of my favourites, when this came on my walkman when I was cycling home from my mates house I’d go round the block an extra few times just to listen to the track play out.

I still play it to this day and it’s as fresh as it was 20 years ago.

Which gets me thinking about things that stand the test of time.

In the time I’ve been involved in the martial arts and fitness worlds, many things have come and gone, fads and failures, but other things have stood the test of time, never going away.

1 – Bodyweight Training
It’s as old as training itself and as much as people try to reinvent the wheel and sell you gadgets and gimmicks, all you need is a few square feet of floor space and something to hang from and you have everything you need to develop strength and fitness.

This was made exceptionally apparent at the recent Ido Portal seminar where he explained how the gymnastic rings were the only tool he used to develop his and his students impressive upper body strength.

2 – Lifting Shit of the Floor.
Be it a deadlift, a clean, a snatch, an atlas stone, a child or your elderly mother. There is never a time where being good at lifting stuff of the floor is a bad idea.

3 – Lifting Shit Overhead
The overhead press gets a bad wrap, but again, it’s essential. These days there are few enough reasons for us to raise are arms over head in day to day life. I’m “full size” ie over 6′ tall, so the overhead compartment in an aeroplane, the top shelf in the supermarket and most other things are all within easy reach for me, so when would I ever need that strength over head?
Truth is, I almost never need it, except for the times when something out of the ordinary happens and suddenly I’m thankful for it.
Now if you’re less than full size, you better get your press on!

Ok, sizeist jokes aside,  overhead pressing, especially with the kettlebell is great for the rotator cuff. As are turkish get ups and windmills, two old fashioned lifts brought back to life by the ole Kettle.

4 – Endurance.
“Cardio Kills” yelled out several recent article headlines.
Yeah? So does not doing cardio.
As an animal of the genus Homo Erectus, I find that I have an extremely efficient cooling system, long legs with these magic springs on the end called feet. These feet are fitted with arches that act like the leaf springs in a Landrover and the bungee cord that is my achillies tendon.
I can breathe independently of movement as I don’t need to severely compress and expand my abdomen to stride out.
Yet apparently, the wisdom touted by strength coaches (who might just be biased…) and the medical community (who’d have us sitting down taking medication if they had their way) seem to think we shouldn’t run.
Bollocks I say.

5 – Play
Play sports, play games, play with movement.
Fun is considered childs play and has largely been taken out of fitness.
Yet attend WG-Fit and there’s laughing. Yes there’s sweating and grunting, but in between there’s laughter as the guys tell dirty jokes and slag each other.
Go to the local Globo gym and it’s full of po-faced, oh-so-serious dicks getting no where fast with their training.
So play, tell jokes, muck about a bit during rest periods, do fun shit in your warm ups and cool downs, accept silly challenges and stop taking everything so seriously!

Do you notice something about that list?

It’s not easy to sell any of those things.
Bodyweight training means you can go anywhere and train anywhere, I can’t sell you anything (except my eBook that is…..) so gyms don’t encourage you to do body weight training.

Lifting shit off the floor and lifting shit overhead are both frowned on in gyms because yes they’re hard and yes, they carry an injury risk and yes, from time to time you might grunt, squeal, shout, yell, drop the weight and even pass out. But who said getting awesome was easy?

Running, well treadmills, treadmills, treadmills. I hate treadmills. There’s a whole outside for you to run in. There’s parks, beaches, mountains. But you can’t monetize these things, which makes running cheap. Get some shoes and learn to flow. You’re welcome.

And play.
Well, how far we’ve come as adults that we’ve forgotten something we did naturally as kids eh?
repeat after me:

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing”

I want you to repeat that every day. Then apply.

So thanks to Metallica being around for as long as I’ve had the option to pick my own music choices, and they’ve been a constant in that choice. As have all the other points listed above.

They’ve stood the test of time, not just for me but many, many others. And will for many generations to come.

Regards

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

 

 

 

Movement, Thought Processes, Ido Portal and the Asylum


Ido

LtoR: Mark Smith, Ido Portal & Me

Well, it’s been a hell of a week!

And by that, I mean a good week.

Last Friday I collected fellow My Mad Methods magazine writer and friend Mark Smith of Asylum Fitness in North Carolina from the airport.
He’d flown across the pond to join me and many others for a workshop with the legend that is Ido Portal.

If you haven’t heard of Ido, why the hell not?!?!
Watch him and his guys do some of their thing here:

He calls himself a “Movement Coach” and damn does that boy move.
Not only that he’s ridiculously strong.

Better yet, he brought with him three of his students as assistants.

And they could move.
And they were ridiculously strong.

The workshop was titled “Movement X” which is cool speak for “Movement Experience” and was an insight into the Ido Portal Method of training and a glimpse of the thought processes that fuel the method.

While we learned about the Squat as a basic human need, we looked at mobility both solo drills and with a partner. We did what he called kinesthetic puzzles where we had to figure out how to move a stick around with our bodies.
We were shown core strength and full body tension via handstand work.
We were shown how a simple set of gym rings, no people, not that overpriced TRX nonsense but a set of rings that cost a third of the price, are the foundation of Ido’s upper body strength work. This was also a time spent discussing the needs of the scapula, an area Ido has clearly studied in depth.
We learned straight arm strength, we learned bent arm strength, we learned progressions and repressions to both.
We learned locomotion patterns, bipedal low gait patterns and quadrupedal crawling patterns.

But more than that we were offered an insight into how Ido thinks.
The logic in the system, the madness behind the method and the incredible mix of art, science, philosophy and old school grit that really make the method work.

Exercises and movements are merely exercises and movements, but when you add to it the correct mindset and thought process they become so much more.

And that is what I saw over the weekend.

It’s something I look for every time I attend a workshop and often don’t see it presented, but if you earn it, Ido will offer you his soul. In two 9hour days he offered us a glimpse of what goes on behind his eyes, and inkling of how he thinks and a glimpse of what is possible in his world.

And I liked that. That alone made the course worthwhile, the actual training drills are just the icing.
After all, as Steve Maxwell often quotes, “Nothing is new in the world, its how you out it together that counts”

Earlier this year I was introduced to the Anatomy in Motion system which parallels the Ido Portal method in terms of the thought processes even if it has differing goals and methods. Different methods and goals, but a similar global view and overall goal. To help people move better.

This mindset is going to make WG-Fit better. The information will be amalgamated into the WG-Fit methods to further improve the training we offer our clients both in the flesh and online.

Before Mark left to go home to the States, he dropped by WG-Fit to pick my brains on the kettlebell lifts and then teach a class for me. They loved the Asylum Fitness bodyweight and movement stuff, well, loved to hate it……..

Regards

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

Don’t forget:

This Sunday: 1 Day Rapid Response Self Defence workshop, limited places still available HERE

Sat 26th July: Building a better cyclist workshop, details HERE