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



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


1 Day Self Defence / Knife Defence Rapid Response Course

Why do we train?

Well for me personally I took up lifting heavy stuff and challenging my body with endurance challenges as a way to improve my performance in the martial arts.

I took up martial arts because I took a beating or two at school.

Later in life as I took to travelling, I began working on nightclub doors, where I not only got to test my training but I also got to see why it was necessary in the first place.

I’ve seen people dropped by ridiculously obvious punches. I’ve seen people get dragged into a brawl that they could have ended quickly if they had the skills to do so.

And I’ve seen people get hurt simply because they fell apart when it came to crunch time.

People like this motivate me to train like a beast

People like this motivate me to train like a beast

This is why I train.

For a few years I travelled solo, backpacking across the globe. I never had a worry, I knew that between my self defence skills and physical training, I could get myself out of a tight spot, even when going places that weren’t recommended for people to travel to.

These days I don’t travel much because I have a young family. Nor do I have the time to spend hours each day training as I have a young, yet busy, business to run. So when I do train, it must be to the point and effective, I don’t train for anything fancy, just to ensure that if anyone attacks my wife or kids. If anyone attacks my kids father or my wife’s husband (yes, I mean me) I wan to know that I can sort the situation as quickly as possible.

So I have looked long and hard to find the simplest methods of training and achieving the biggest bang for the buck.

Two men have provided me with pretty much everything I need these days. Yes I have over 25 years of training under a variety of people, but I firmly believe the information I have learned of these two men is worth more than most of what I’ve previously done.

Mick Coup talking about the punch

Mick Coup talking about the punch

The two men are Mick Coup, the founder of Core Combatives and Pat O’Malley founder of Rapid Arnis and the creator of the Rapid Response System.

Pat showed the Rapid Response system several years ago as a short syllabus for dealing with a knife attack. I liked it, so much so that it became my primary unarmed combat method.
Mick Coup ran his Foundation Course at WG last year, 4 days of intensive training, some theory, some science and a whole lot of common sense wrapped up in some of the highest quality training drills I’ve come across.

Between these two, you really don’t need much more to deal with most of what’s out there.

Simple, effective, proven techniques that are underpinned by rock solid and irrefutable principles. The principles are the key here, techniques are just that, but the principles behind them can be applied anywhere, in any situation. It’s the principle that tells you how to apply the correct technique.

So a week on Sunday I’ll be running a one day Rapid Response course. My method of teaching is heavily influenced by the Core Combatives system and so is slightly different to the way Pat originally showed it and teaches it today. He likes the way I teach it and has implemented some of  my info to his version of the course.

If you want to take part in the course, drop me an email to info@wildgeesema.com, title it Rapid Response. If you click the email address it’ll open your email client for you.

Some of the info we will cover on the day:

  • The Flinch Response
  • Parrying and trapping
  • Body mechanics
  • Power generation for striking
  • Controlling the knife
  • regaining the initative
  • testing

There will be more if time allows.

Now for some details:

Location: Wild Geese Martial Arts & Fitness, Magennis Place, Dublin 2
Date: Sunday 30th June
Times: 1000 – 1600
Cost: €50 pp

Places are limited.

Here’s that email address again:

info@wildgeesema.com, subject “Rapid Response”


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.




1 Day Self Defence Skills Workshop

It’s been a while since I ran a workshop in our own gym.
This year I’ve been to the far flung corners of Ireland teaching, but other than my regular classes and sessions, I’ve done nothing special in WG.

So it’s about time this changed.

On the 5th May, which is a Sunday, I’ll be running a workshop from 10 am to 4pm.

Over the last week or so since deciding this, I’ve been asking people, both in person and on Facebook, what information they would like to receive over these 6 hours.

The answer is an almost unanimous vote for Self Defence.

So for one day only, I swap my hat from the white hat of the conditioning coach, helping other develop their bodies, to the black hat of Self Defence instructor teaching how to destroy a body.

When I grow up, I want to be this cool!

When I grow up, I want to be this cool!

Am I qualified to teach Self Defence?

Well here’s a very brief resume:

1995 – Achieved Black Belt in Wado Ryu Karate and trained in Goshin Jitsu
2001 – Acheived Black Belt in Kenpo Karate, and learned eskrima
2005 – Got the 2nd dan in kenpo, but trained mostly in eskrima
In between those certifications I travelled a fair bit and trained with some top guys in a number of other arts, I also spent a lot of time working on doors, where I got the opportunity to test out certain ideas and principles.
I’ve consulted for ESTS, run by former Royal Marine Special Forces member, Steve.
And more recently trained with possibly the worlds top self defence instructors, Mick Coup.
Oh, and I’m one of three people in the world registered to teach the Rapid Response Knife Defence course to instructor level.

Me getting hurt in the pursuit of knowledge

Me getting hurt in the pursuit of knowledge

So there!

So what can we learn in just 6 hours?

Well, here’s an outline:

  • Situational Awareness
  • The Avoid/Evade/Confront continuum
  • Don’t be THAT Zebra
  • Essentials of Power Generation
  • The 3 Basic hand/arm strikes

That doesn’t sound like much, but I promise, you won’t leave disappointed as we dig deep into each topic.
I can’t abide those courses that teach a million things and by the end of the day, you’ve already forgotten half of them. I’d much rather teach a few things well.
There will be a lot of practical work and I expect questions.

All in, it’ll be a grand day out.

Now the sales bit:

Date: Sunday 5th May
Time: 1000 – 1600 (there will be a couple of breaks)
Location: Wild Geese
Cost: €50 – Booking deposit (non refundable) of 15% or so is needed to secure your place
Max Attendance: 18 people, so get yourself booked!
Experience needed: None
Equipment Needed: Notepad & Pen, Open Mind, Enthusiasm, Water, Groin Protector, Gum Shield (optional)

Get in touch



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…..