Category Archives: core strength

Strength Training & Injury Prevention Seminar

Mixed Martial Arts is the fastest growing sport in the world, it’s popularity has spawned hundreds of MMA clubs, each churning out potential fighters.

But are these fighters really ready?

Training for MMA is a new art, few coaches really have the answers. This is reflected in the rate of injury we see amongst the more experienced MMA athletes.
Knees, shoulders, backs, all damaged. Need this be the case?

Is this the future for all who take up this excellent sport?
Are all MMA fighters destined to be crippled with injury?

We believe this does not have to be the case. Fighters and coaches just need the right tools in their tool box to help prepare bodies to become resistant and resilient to the rigours of the sport. And on September 24th, we aim to provide these tools.

Wild Geese Martial Arts have lined up 4 great coaches, each with an excellent knowledge of the body and it’s workings to help provide some of this information.
We have:

  • Paul Cox
    Paul is the founder of Wild Geese, a martial artist and world champion in his own right. He currently defies the odds as he continues to train and make improvements despite a seriously arthritic hip. His doctors are befuddled at how he is able to walk, never mind Squat heavy barbells, kick heavy bags and practice takedowns in Judo.
    Paul says much of his success comes from the use of kettlebells. He will show how to keep the body strong and resilient, regardless of what happens to it.
  • Dave Hedges
    Co founder of Wild Geese, also a life long martial artist who has had his fair share of injuries. Dave has a huge knowledge of strength and conditioning techniques and hopes to show the difference between the Body Building style of training common in our gyms and an effective strength program for athletes.
    He’ll also teach some of the most effective bodyweight drills that can be used anywhere, without equipment, to forge a lean and powerful body.
  • Mark Sexton
    Mark is a Physiotherapist, Acupuncturist, Martial Artists and friend of Wild Geese. His insight into martial arts along with his insatiable thirst for knowledge has lead to Mark becoming one of the leading Physio’s in Ireland.
    He’s the first person we recommend when any of our members gets hurt.
    Mark will be talking about the body and how best to prevent and recuperate from injuries.
  • Anne Dempsey
    Strength and flexibility are two sides of the same coin, you can’t have one without the other and remain an athletic and an effective fighter.
    Anne is a yoga instructor with a unique teaching style. She blends Somatics, which are excellent for prehab and rehab, Pilates for core strength and Yoga for flexibility, all which she teaches and demonstrates without any of the wishy washy nonsense usually associated with the art.

All four instructors will be open for questions through the day.

What: Strength Training & Injury Prevention for MMA
Where: Wild Geese Martial Arts, Pearse St, Dublin2
When: Sat, September 24th. Time TBC
How Much: Prices to announced shortly
How to book: email, but do it soon, priority will be given to all who actively fight under the Wild Geese name, limited space is available for outside interest.

Wild Geese

Janda Sit Ups – Core Training for Big Boys

When a member of the Wild Geese coaching team issues a challenge, it rarely goes unanswered.
On this particular occasion the challenge was to find an efficient way of doing a Janda Sit Up, without the need of a training partner or specialised kit.

Participants in this challenge were:
1 – Dave G, the challenger
2 – Dave H, the challenged.

Dave G is our resident Meat Head, if somebody can lift something, he has to better it. So far his max effort Deadlift is 200kg, why only so far? Because when our next delivery of equipment arrives, he’ll have more weight to play with and therefor undoubtedly go bigger. He also teaches Muay Thai.

Dave H is our resident conditioning coach. One of Dave’s specialties is problem solving, finding new and unusual training methods and working out how to get as much training done with the least amount of equipment.

The Janda Sit Up is a quite possibly the ultimate in training for the Rectus Abdominis, or the 6 pack muscle. Normally when we do a sit up or crunch style movement the hip flexors (Psoas muscles) are heavily involved. The way to remove them from the equation was discovered by Dr Janda.
The good Doctor realised that he could use reciprocal inhibition to stop the hip flexors firing. He saw that if the exerciser was to fire their Glutes and Hamstrings (the hip extensors) then the Psoas (hip flexors) would not fire.
For a quick and easy example of recipricol inhibition, take the bicep and flex it, this will bend the arm. It’s opposite number, the tricep relaxes to allow the arm to bend. The hip flexor and extensor muscles are no different.
The problem has always been to get the hip extensors working while in a position to work the abdominals. Usually a training partner is on hand to hold the ankles while the exerciser tries to pull his heels in towards his backside.
We don’t like having to rely on a training partner, so we look for methods of doing it without.
After a few false starts, Dave H stumbled across a solution.

The Lat Pull Down, a machine we never use. The cable is just long enough with a couple of extra karabiners to allow the bar to be hooked under the knees. With some weight added the Hip Extensors have to work to keep the feet in contact with the ground and the Psoas are effectively switched off.

In the video Dave G does a few reps with 10kg, Dave H jumps in and attempts 20kg on the pulley. Dave G then just shows off with 20kg at the end.



Wild Geese

Inside Out – Vacuuming your Way to better Health and Powerful Abs

If you’ve read the two previous Inside Out articles you’ll have learnt how controlling the breath can help you both mentally and physically in the pursuit of a better you.
I wish to add to that now with one of the most beneficial abdominal exercises available.

It fits the Inside Out concept because this drill requires you to control the breath, in fact if you use the “Power Breathing” described in part I, it becomes an extremely tough exercise.
It also trains the Abs quite literally from the inside out, it is one of the few exercises that directly works the Transverse Abdominis, the bodies natural girdle.

One other benefit, and the reason it is used by Yogi’s and martial arts masters alike is the internal massage you get while performing the drill. For beginners to the exercise, don’t be surprised if you get some bowel action soon after training.

So, enough yapping, what actually is the drill?

It’s called the vacuum. Why this name? That will become clear in a moment.

It is best to learn this drill standing for the moment, but at a later stage you may perform it seated, or even lying down.
Here’s the breakdown:
1- Take a deep breath
2- Exhale this breath entirely until there is nothing in the lungs
3- WITHOUT inhaling, maximally expand the rib cage
4- Hold for a second or more
5- Relax and inhale
6- Take a full breath (in and out) before repeating from no 1

It is important that you do not inhale as you expand the chest. Think about sticking the chest as far forward as you possibly can.
As you have no air in the lungs, they will have shrunk in size. In normal breathing, expanding the chest will create a vacuum, the lungs will draw in air as they expand to fill this vacuum.
By not allowing air to enter the lungs, they are unable to expand, something else must move to fill the void. That some thing else is your abdomen.

The vacuum formed by expanding the chest will draw the diaphragm upwards, this will in turn pull the abdominal walls inwards, the waist will shrink to almost nothing, the organs will be compressed and lifted upwards.
This compression of the organs will stimulate them, massage them. As mentioned earlier this may stimulate the bowels into action.

You must try to remain relaxed as you perform the drill, it is done by air pressure, not muscular action.
Here’s how the early 1900 strongman Maxick describes it in his book Muscle Control:

“Complete Relaxation of the Abdominal Wall
Before any of the exercises of abdominal control can be successfully mastered, complete
relaxation of the abdominal muscles must be secured.
A body pose should be sought wherein all strain is removed from the abdominal muscles (Fig.
When there is proper relaxation, the muscle will offer no resistance to the touch. Feel the
muscles, and alter the balance of the body until all the muscles are quite soft.

Fig. 16 – The Vacuum

Depression of the Abdominal Wall
This is affected entirely by external atmospherical pressure ; and this exercise is the key to the
control, double, and one-sided abdominal isolations.
Deflate the lungs, and then thrust the chest forward (but not upwards), as shown in Fig. 16. If
the abdominal muscles are properly relaxed, the atmospheric pressure from without will push them
back in the manner shown in Fig. 16, the lungs being empty, and the chest thrust forward.
There must he no abdominal muscular effort to effect this. It is repeated that they must be in a
state of complete relaxation, offering no assistance on their own account, and no resistance to the
external atmospheric pressure.
If the chest be lifted Upwards, the abdominal muscles will not have sufficient play to be pressed

Maxick was a huge proponent of isometric training or “Muscle Control” and was well know for having great strength despite his small size, often outlifitng much larger competitors.

Bodybuilders can often be seen performing the Vacuum in their pose downs, although I prefer the real world applications of improved organ health, core strength and body control.
Working this drill will increase total core strength, quite literally from the inside out leading to increased stiffness when striking or lifting and durability when taking a hit.
It will go a long way towards alleviating nagging back pain and can enhance the health and function of the internal organs.
Not bad for a simple, almost forgotten, do anywhere drill.

Give it a go, your abs’ll be sore in ways you never felt before.


Wild Geese

Doce Pares Ireland / Kenpo Karate / Self Protection / Security Training
+353 87 672 6090
subscribe to our newsletter simply send a blank email to:

Combat Core coming to DVD

I have talked about Jim Smith’s recent masterpiece, Combat Core, Advanced Torso Training for Explosive Strength and Power

It’s now about to be released on DVD. I haven’t seen it yet but here is the trailer for it:

I have however read the book cover to cover and back again, I’ve added some of to my own training and made some of my studnts/clients do some of the drills. They are fun, effective and uncomfortable, but by god do they work. I’m hitting harder than ever and I’m almost completely pain free from my lumbar disk injuries.

The book comes recommended, I expect no less from the DVD, I’ll be getting it, expect a review on here when I do.

Wild Geese
any cause but our own

Zercher Lifts

I posted an article on Zercher style lifts written by Jim Smith, author of Combat Core on sometime ago. Up until Jim sent me that article I had been using the Zercher style in my own training but didn’t really advocate it to others.

What is it? Basically is used to describe any lift where you are holding the weight in the crook of your elbow. You can securely hold a substantial weight, either a bar or sandbag/punch bag safely. Because you’re front loaded the core is working extra hard to support you without the same back strain you get with traditional squats and deadlifts (great news for my particular injuries, maybe I’m getting old?!)

Why do I like it? Because I usually train in either with minimalist and/or improvised equipment or in a commercial gym that is equipped with the evil Smith Machine, I needed some way to squat and lunge with a bar from the floor. The squat was easy, clean and front squat. The rest wasn’t so easy.

Then I got thinking, I muck around with the junior students by picking them up and holding them in the crook of the elbow while I run around. I’d never (yet) dropped one on their head, why can’t I do the same with a barbell?
From there on in my split squats went through the roof.

A couple of years on I discover that I didn’t invent it, some bloke named Zercher did. I still think the edges lift sounds better.

Wild Geese
any cause but our own

Old School Core Training

Old school seems to be back in vogue, crunches are on the way out and real core strength is on the way back in, hence the popularity of Kettlebells and Jim Smith’s excellent work

Here’s an exercise that’s been around for generations in the martial arts world. Fighters need a strong core, both for generating and for absorbing power. To this end kata’s/form’s such as Seisan and Sanchin were devised, I demo seisan here:

Fans of Dragon Door will recognise the first section of the form is based around “Power Breathing”, the second section is more about releasing the pent up tension. Oh and you get to practice your fighting techniques while you’re at it, how’s that for functional training?

Wild Geese
any cause but our own

The Next Level of Core Support

Since I got a copy of Jim Smiths recent book “Combat Core”
i’ve been posting articles and informatin that he’s been kind enough to send through to me.

Jim is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and an expert trainer who writes for Men’s Fitness and the Elite Q/A Staff etc, he has been involved in strength training as a performance enhancement specialist for over 8 years and has worked with athletes from various sports who compete at various levels and is on of the founding members of a group of lunatics collectivley known as the Diesel Crew.
He has published many articles about his unique training style and innovative methods for many prominent strength and fitness related sites and also the authored of three renowned strength manuals.

I’ve just posted his latest article, The Next Level of Core Support – Dynamic Planks, on my site. In it Jim takes one of those useless mini trampoline things and turns it into an instrument of torture.

Have a look if you dare……

Wild Geese
any cause but our own

Crunches Are Not Core Training – Brett Jones CSCS

Crunches are not Core training…

I’ll keep harping on this until I expire – Crunches are not core training!

This today from Eric Cressey’s blog: Discussing the Bender Ball Ab Infomercial…
Eric provided this reference in regards to why crunches are a bad idea – not too mention “beyond the range” crunches…
Drake et al. The influence of static axial torque in combined loading on intervertebral joint failure mechanics using a porcine model. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2005 Dec;20(10):1038-45.
In particular, you might want to pay attention to the following:
“Repetitive flexion-extension motions with low magnitude compressive forces have been shown to be an effective mechanism for causing disc herniations.”

Yes – crunches are an abdominal exercise but they have nothing to do with core stability or core training. And they may even be harmful – especially if you have a history of back injury and disc issues.

Here is a little article I put together for a gym that I work at:
Just Say NO to Crunches…

Brett Jones CSCS

Ask most people what they do for their “core” or abs and crunches will be the typical response. Well, with crunches being the exercise of choice why is back pain at all time high levels?

Because crunches are not a “core” exercise and they train the exact motions that can cause back pain. Confused yet?

I can hear the inner conversations – “But I thought…????”

Much emphasized and touted for their “core” and abdominal benefits crunches are not the – or should not be – the exercise of choice.

Why? According to research from Dr. Stuart McGill ( and his book Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance – crunches produce very high levels of intra-disc pressure and do not train the abdominals to produce spinal stability. Your abdominals are meant to be stabilizers not movers and the rectus abdominus (the 6 pack muscle) is not really a flexor anyway. It is actually there to provide increased “hoop tension” – read resistance to twisting motions.

What’s a guy or gal to do? Learn to produce stability and prevent rotation and use the abs as stabilizers instead of movers.

Planks to the rescue! Get down on your elbows and toes and make a straight line out of your body. Pull your elbows to your toes and create a “superstiff” contraction of your abs, glutes and entire body. Breathe with and through the tension and stay tight. Work hard – do not just hang out – and build up to a 1 minute plus hold.
You can also get into plank position and keeping the body in perfect position lift one foot just a couple inches (keep the glutes tight and do not change body position at all) and hold. Rest and repeat on the other side.
Side planks are also possible.

Ditch the crunches and start planking to improve your “core” stability and see an exercise specialist for questions and/or help with implementing your new “abdominal” routine.

And this is only the beginning – Core activation techniques can be used to target “core” involvement depending on the foot placement/movement pattern (symmetrical, asymmetrical or single legged) and you can get into Full Contact Twists, Chops, Lifts and Overhead lifts….
Just say no…

Posted by Brett Jones on his blog, see the original here:

Wild Geese
any cause but our own

Brutal Wall Walking for Serious Power

By Jim Smith, CSCS

Hand balancing and other gymnastic movements were used by the old-time strongmen such as Eugen Sandow, Otto Arco and Sig Klein. As you know, these physical culturalists had some of the strongest and most ripped abdominals ever displayed. In fact, some of their feats of strength have yet to be equaled. What most don’t realize is that these men used gymnastics and simple bodyweight movements to build their insane strength.

A movement that I utilize with my wrestlers and combat athletes is wall walking. It is one segment of the full execution of walking on your hands. The full version of walking on your hands takes a while to really get the hang of, so working the same musculature but with a more rudimentary movement is easy and quicker to implement.

Wall walking involves having the athlete setup in a hand stand position against a wall. From there, they will walk their hands out until their body is parallel to the ground. To complete the movement, they begin walking their feet back up, returning to the starting position close to the wall. That is one rep. Continue walking out and walking back up the wall for the desired volume or until the athlete collapses!

Building huge upper body strength, elite levels of torso strength and helping to regulate breathing, wall walking will without a doubt provide your athletes with a truly brutal exercise that will have them crushing their opponents.

About the Author
Jim Smith is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and an expert trainer who writes for Men’s Fitness and the Elite Q/A Staff. Jim has been involved in strength training as a performance enhancement specialist for over 8 years and has worked with athletes from various sports who compete at various levels. He has published articles about his unique training style and innovative methods for many prominent strength and fitness related sites. He is also the authored of three renowned strength manuals. For more innovative training solutions, visit

For real core strength, check out:

Wild Geese
any cause but our own