So How Do You Train for Self Defence?

The scene that got me so pumped, the following day  I joined a Karate club!

The scene that got me so pumped, the following day I joined a Karate club!

Only a couple of weeks left until I put on my other hat.

Most of the time you read my blog posts or attend my gym for the fitness info, but before I was getting people strong, I was training like a maniac in the martial arts.

I got pretty good at it too!

A huge part of my own training motivation revolves around being fast, strong and agile enough so that if shit comes to shovel, I’m well prepared.
And while I have accumulated somewhere in the region of 25 years worth of training under a variety of instructors in various martial arts systems I don’t teach any of this, other than to a handful of private students. Basically because being able to effectively apply many of the martial arts tactics in the real world requires hours and hours of practice.

In my life, I run a business, coach a stack of classes, clients and groups and have a family to spend time with. So I don’t have the motivation to put in the hours any more. I’d rather be home mucking about with the kids!

So what do I train and what is it I’ll be teaching on the Self Defence Course in a couple of weeks?

In short, when I train for self defence, I hang the bag and I drill heavy hits. Really heavy hits. I focus on the body mechanics required to create the best leverage and get my bodyweight into every strike.
I have three strikes that I train with umpteen variations that can be applied from each of the three.
I train a couple of kicks too, but not as much as the hand/arm strikes.
I also practice two defences.

And that s about it.

But most of the time, this is all that’s needed.

Self defence is about stopping an attack. It’s not about scoring points, it’s not about punishing the attacker. It’s about getting the most effect in the shortest time frame and getting home to cuddle the missus.

There’s no medals.
No glory.
No refs.

Simplicity is the key to getting out of trouble quick.

And that’s what I train.
It’s what Mick Coup, founder of the Core Combatives (C2) system teaches, and it’s the essence of Pat O’Malley’s Rapid Response system. Two lads that I’ve spent time with and hold in high regard. Both teach from experience and their core methods revolve around the idea of simple, effective principle based training.

Mick Coup talking about the punch

Mick Coup talking about the punch

If it’s principle based, it has universal applications.
If it’s simple it can be kept sharp even without regular training, although the more training you do, the better you will become. Simple techniques built upon solid body mechanics and supported with simple tactics.
And that’s exactly what I’ll be teaching on Sunday 29th July.

One question that always comes up is “why don’t you kick more?”

This was asked when I taught the Rapid Response knife defence module in Tramore a while ago, the guy I’m using to illustrate the point is a classically trained dancer and also a Thai Boxer, so he can kick.

I’ve given him my arm to hold onto and all I’m doing is moving him around while he attempts to carry out my simple instruction:

Kick me as hard as you can!

Here’s what happened:

That doesn’t mean kicking doesn’t work, just that hand strikes are far more efficient.

And in the one day course, we’ll break down the strikes and rebuild them to ensure that when you hit, you hit with everything you have,

The course is running on July 29th at Wild Geese from 1000 – 1600.
Get further details and book a spot CLICK HERE


See you there


Dave Hedges


Knives and Glutes

Happy Friday!

The week is almost over, unless of course you are joining me for the weekend training, our regular Saturday Bodyweight/Kettlebell class, the Squat session and of course this Sunday, the Rapid Response Knife Defence course.

Sunday is going to be fun, the Rapid Response is one of the few self defence courses I find genuine value in as well as the fact that it’s always great fun working with people and seeing how they respond as we ramp up the pressure!

On Saturdays, we usually take the time to work on some bodyweight and agility drills. We usually open with 15 to 20 minutes of animal movements and maybe some rolling.
This week we are going to try out a new drill that Max Shank has shared with us courtesy of T-Nation.
Here’s a link to the article:

Click the image to read the article

Click the image to read the article

I can see massive value in just the basic level of this, as thoracic mobility and glute function suck in a huge portion of the population.

I’ve written about glute function before in THIS POST, I’d recommend you have a look over it and see what you can take for your own training. The chances are, your glutes are not working to their potential and as a result you are losing power and increase the risk of back and/or knee injury.

And of course, you can’t mention Glutes without mentioning Mr Bret Contreras, AKA the “Glute Guy”
His website is full of great info, much of it about his favourite bodypart, get over for a look.

Thats it from me.

See you over the weekend


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.




Workshop Updates:

Quick heads up on some workshop details for the remainder of 2012:

This weekends Kettlebell workshops in WG have been cancelled, I have some family stuff to attend, but I’ll try and get another on going before the end of this year.

November 1st – Rapid Response Knife defence Skills:
Once again I’ll be putting down the fitness coach hat and teaching a self defence workshop.
This is a 6 hour, very physical, no nonsense look at knife defence skills. The methods have been developed and taught in the real world. The system was originally shown to me by Pat O’Malley who licensed me to teach.
Here’s what some said about the last workshop:
“I found this 6-hour module to be extremely well-structured and well-paced and very clear in its objective. It was made clear from the beginning that the point of the workshop was not to train heroes or to instill in us a false sense of confidence or security against a knife attack; it was a lesson in how to respond quickly and effectively to an ‘end-of-the-line’ situation. Emphasis was given not only to blocking and striking techniques but also to methods of creating distance and space from the attacker to facilitate escape. I think the realism of the final pressure-drills – which were designed to train our ability to interrupt or disrupt the flow of a frenzied attack – rattled everybody, but were all the more valuable for that. Dave is a born educator and gave exceptionally clear demonstrations and explanations. His mordant sense of humour also went down very well. I am very keen to see how this module develops and certainly intend to take it again. I was also happy to meet a super bunch of people. Thanks to Dave and all who took part for a very enjoyable day, for the bruise-badges of honour, and for a good workout!

Shane McMahon”


10th November – Bodyweight Workshop, Galway Kettlebells
Last time I ran this in Tramore where it was very well received from a group including several other coaches.
The day revolves around proper technique on the basics, looking to move towards more advanced versions of the Push Up and Squat.
We then move onto more fun and seldom seen Animal and Martial Arts based movements that train the whole body.
The workshop is detailed, so a pen and paper is useful.


Kettlebell Workshop – Crossfit Causeway
Still waiting on the guys finalising the date for this, but it looks like early december.
This will be based on Kettlebells for general fitness, with the emphasis on beginner level technique. This means that while beginners can come along and learn proper kettlebell technique, more experienced lifters can brush up on technique and coaches can get the teaching ques and methods I use daily with hundreds of people.

For more details on any of the workshops, or to see about hosting me at your own facility, please drop me a  line on +353 87 672 6090 or email




3 Hot Topics from the Weekend

Been a busy boy this last while so not much action on the blog last week. I’ll try to make up for it this week.
The hot topic for me this weekend was three-fold:

  1. I’ve been invited to help out in 2 exciting new projects
  2. Writing for other publications.
  3. Knife Defence skills


Have you heard the rumour going round that obesity is on the up and up?
It’s no rumour, and guess what a recent study published in the Lancet says that inactivity is the no. 1 non communicable cause of death. Hows that? Your sofa is killing you!

Actually I know that if you read this blog, you’re not who the study is talking about. But you ARE who the Get1Active needs to get their message out.

So, lifters and fitness enthusiasts of the world, time to pay it forward, time to set an example, time to lead from the front.
It’s time for each and every one of you to encourage someone within your sphere of influence to get active.
In Ireland the figures show that 50% of Irish folk qualify as inactive. That means 50% ARE active. If each of us helps 1 other person become physically active then we will gradually become a healthier nation. Think pyramid sales but without the catch.

The Get1Active crew have set up a facebook page, it’s only a week old so there’s lots to be done on it, but click on the screenshot below and show your support. Then find someone who you can help.

Click the image and “Like” the page


Martial Arts Fitness Article for My Mad Methods Magazine

I just finished a cool new article for My Mad Methods magazine, this one was a real labour of love, I just couldn’t get it right. The theme of the next issue is Ancient Training methods and I was given the task of writing about the old martial arts strength & conditioning practices, something that is close to my heart.
In doing so I learned a lot about myself and the kind of coach I really ought to be.
I can’t tell you too much, just make sure you pick up a copy from their site (HERE)

Click to enter M3 Website


Rapid Response

I got to wear my other hat this weekend. Yesterday I wasn’t Fitness Dave the Kettlebell coach, this weekend I was self defence & martial arts coach Dave.
Due to time constraints I don’t teach martial arts very much at all these days, but yesterday I was running the Rapid Response workshop.
The syllabus was originally set by one of my instructors Pat O’Malley but I’ve “Wild Geesed” it since then and added extra elements to the course. It went down extremely well, so I’ll no doubt be running more in the near future. Look out for it on the side bar, or maybe in a martial arts gym near you….

Here’s a quick clip on the last segment of the day, Pressure testing:


But Dave, you said 2 exciting new projects, Get1Active was one, whats the other?

Ah, well, you’ll just have to wait and see on that one…..