Category Archives: martial arts

An Amazing Weekend of Katori Shinto Ryu

Last weekend we had the privilege of hosting a Tenshinshō-den Katori Shintō ryū seminar at Wild Geese Martial Arts.

Jeffrey Balmer (Menkyo, Shidosha) travelled all the way down to Dublin for a full weekend training program with the Dublin study group.

Beginners were introduced to iai-jutsu (sword-drawing art) and itsusu no tachi (the very first combat paired sequence in kenjutsu, sword art), the more advanced students had the chance to train and improve bōjutsu (staff art).

People had the chance to learn about the tradition of the school, the different weapons that it masters and a glimpse of the real application of the techniques hidden behind the sequence of movements called kata.

Tenshinshō-den Katori Shintō Ryū includes in its martial curriculum:

  • Iai-jutsu
  • Kenjutsu
  • Bōjutsu
  • Naginata-jutsu (glaive art)
  • Jūjutsu(flexible art)
  • Shuriken-jutsu (throwing blade art)
  • Ninjutsu (espionage art)
  • Sōjutsu (spear art)
  • Senjutsu (tactics)
  • and Chikujō-jutsu (field fortification art).

Even today, the ryū retains the traditionally strict custom in which a candidate for study in the ryū is required to execute the keppan, signing, in the person’s own blood, a solemn oath to abide by the policies of the ryū.

In this way, the Tenshinshō-den Katori Shintō ryū has been able to maintain the originality of its teachings, both in spirit and form, precisely as Master Iizasa Chōisai Ienao, the founder, detailed these matters over 600 years ago.

The Tenshinshō-den Katori Shintō ryū has become a well-known and much sought after traditional martial art in many countries around the world.

Regrettably, a number of people are teaching and using the name of the ryū without written authority.

A Kyōshi (teaching) license does not signify permission to teach in Katori Shintō Ryū; in fact, no one is permitted to represent in any way, or teach the techniques of this ryū without a written Shidōsha (instructor) license from Ōtake Risuke Shihan.

Thank you guys for an amazing weekend.

Giancarlo Sanchez

Katori Shinto Ryu Seminar – Free to Beginners

Good day,

I’m a student of the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto ryu bujutsu under Menkyo Shidosha Jeffrey Balmer from Ireland. We are all students of Otake Risuke sensei.
This email is to cordially invite you to the Katori Shinto ryu seminar to take place on Friday March 20, Saturday March 21, Sunday March 22 and Monday March 23 here in Dublin.
This 4 day event is going to be free for beginners.
We will count with the presence of Menkyo Shidosha Jeffrey Balmer.
We expect to have the pleasure of welcoming you to this seminar. Find the timetable below
– 10:00 to 17:00 with most advanced training from 18:00 to 21:00. (Times may vary)
The location:
– Friday and Monday:   
The Liffey Trust Studios, Liffey Trust Centre, North Wall, Dublin 1.
– Saturday and Sunday:
Wild Geese Martial Arts, 14 Magennis Place, Pearse St Dublin 2.
– If you do posses Navy keikogi and navy/black hakama and a bokuto would be ideal, if not, comfortable clothes would do, we will provide the needed equipment.
– Confirm your booking by emailing me back saying you are interested (we have only 10 spots left).
– If you cant make it to the start of the session, tell me what days and what times you can come, do not drop without letting know first!
– Bring the best of you to this training session, leave your ego behind.
Contact Details:
Giancarlo Sanchez – 0899514362 –

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

Strength, Conditioning & Martial Arts

Ever since my Karate instructor turned to me and said “Dave, you’ve got to get strong” I’ve known that to be an effective martial artist or, in fact, athlete of any sort, we need to do some form of strength and conditioning.
This was around 20 years ago.
Yet, to this day so many instructors still tell their students not to strength train, instead telling them that endless sets of push ups, sit ups and running are enough.

This is not, never has been, and never will be the case.

You need to add in a structured training program if you want to be competitive, or even if you simply want to reach your potential.

Our own kickboxer, Chris, has just come to this realisation. After taking to strength training for the first time he recently had the best fight of his career, an easy win.
He told me that he never felt as fresh, as explosive and focused. He was able to recover faster throughout the round, and so able to keep his punches sharp and accurate.

Chris had been training 3 mornings a week for 40 minutes to an hour, lifting heavy weights, performing hard circuits and high-octane cardio.
He put on a small amount of weight but looked leaner and harder.
When he attended his regular training you could hear when he was on a bag, his strikes echoed through the building.

After 6 weeks of strength and conditioning he became the fighter he always wanted to be. He had the skill, he had the speed, he even had power. But no matter how much running and skipping he did, he coud never go the distance, until now.

The entire training program he followed is detailed over on the Wild Geese Facebook page, in the notes section (here: but over the next week I’m going to spend time at the keyboard and I’m going to write out a PDF document for download detailing the workouts that we used and also how you can personalise and vary them to suit your individual fighters needs.
Hopefully this will allow you as a coach help better prepare your fighters and competitors. If you’re an athlete looking for that edge, this will be just that.

We called this training program “The fighters boot camp“, but really it is for anyone willing to work hard and push themselves to the next level. Here’s some of what goes on:

The next Boot Camp starts October 11th.
The eBook will be ready before then.
Drop a comment if you have any questions.



Strength Training for Fight Training

Recently some of the Wild Geese Kickboxers have been coming to me asking for advice on getting stronger.

And I have to admit, I’m delighted.

Right from its inception, Wild Geese have been offering conditioning training for its fighters. But various coaches are a little set in their ways and the lads often think that what they do in class is enough.

The coaches I can understand. They’ve done what they’ve done for years and have gotten great results, why change?

Simply since the rise and rise of MMA and the UFC franchise, conditioning has become ever more apparent. The old adage in the martial arts that strength doesn’t matter has been thrown out the window. On the TV show “Ultimate Fighter” you see the contestants go through rigorous conditioning sessions as well as their actual Martial arts training.

And very often, the man who works harder at getting stronger off the mat is the victor on it.

This trend has been noted by other martial artists now and it’s creeping into the wider world.
I see this as a good thing.
For years I’ve been advocating strength training for martial arts. Those around are just starting to listen.

So what do I recommend?

Well that depend on the fighter and the fight.
But nearly always I see weaknesses in fighters backs and hips. Hours and hours of crunches, stretching and cardio often leave them with weaknesses here.
This leads to power leakages when they strike and a greater potential for injury. The answer is simple, Deadlifts for strength and Kettlebell Swings for power endurance.
The strength coach must be carefull to ensure that the conditioning training doesn’t take away from the fighters technical training. They must be fresh enough to work with complicated techniques and combinations, yet building the ability to do these techniques in a fatigued state.

Some method of periodisation then is necessary.
I’m about to put a fighter on a low rep strength program. He has little need for extra conditioning, I’ve seen him knock out around 300 pressups in sets of 50!
Obviously he has endurance.

His 6 pack maybe impressive but his back is weak, therefore his core, as a unit is weak. Which means that whatever power is being generated by his hips isn’t necessarily getting through to his shoulders for that knock out punch.

For this individual a low rep heavy training scheme could be the answer. Build that dense muscle, train the body to function as a unit and build the absolute strength that so often serves as a foundation for both power and endurance.

He is merely one example.
Other fighters, especially if their fight is still a few months out would benefit from building strength and endurance at the same.
Here’s a cracking circuit I perform some days, particularly when short of time:

Perform the following exercises back to back:

1 rep Deadlift
15 Rep Kettlebell Jerk (each arm)
20 Rep Sledgehammer slams into a tyre (alternate left and right)

Take a minute break, add weight to the deadlift and repeat. I usually work towards 5 rounds, with the 5th round being just shy of my 1 RM deadlift (fatigue prevents a true 1 RM)

This one circuit trains all aspects of the fighter, max strength and hip extension through the deadlift, transferring power from lower to upper body via the jerk and then some abdominal work on the tyre.

Play around with it, it’s only one example.
There are many other exercises you could choose.

The key is to work the whole body through a variety of rep ranges in a variety of angles.

Careful dieting and mobility work will keep the body within its ideal weight category and ready to fight at a moments notice.

If strength turns out not to be an issue, I also have a foolproof method of building non stop conditioning and will power, using only One Exercise.
But more on that another day.

The Difference Betwen the Old Time Greats and You

I’ve just been reading through some old time strength manuals and yet again I find their foresight and knowledge to be incredible.

One thing that jumped out at me and inspired this post is the use of Isometrics.

In “Strength & How to Obtain It” by Eugene Sandow, regarded by many to be not only the father of Physical Culture but also the best built man in history, Sandow states that:

“As I have already said, it is the brain that develops the muscles. Brain will do as much as Dumbbells, even more.” He then goes onto recommend that people ought to spend a little time every day contracting their muscles merely with their will power. In doing so “You will find it will have the same effect as the use of dumbbells or any more vigorous form of exercise”

Sandow then continues his statement by saying that isometrics contractions are of value in strength building but “it is perhaps more valuable owing to the fact that it improves the will power and helps to establish that connection between the brain and the muscles which is the basis of strength and condition”

It is this will power and the mind-muscle link that can be the difference between average and exceptional. Sandow knew this back in 1897 when he wrote the text. Most of the elite athletes know this instinctively, but what about the rest of us now?

It seems all but forgotten.

Everyone is looking for a quick fix to their fitness and physique worries.

Perhaps this forgotten method of muscle control, or isometrics, is part of the puzzle in bringing people back to fitness.

For a long time I’ve been an advocate of training from the inside out. Anyone who comes to me as a beginner soon becomes familiar with Planks and Bridges, two drills that build strength in the supporting structure of the body. They then move onto the Kettlebell Swing, another great drill that targets the most common weak links in the body. These drills are chosen as the train the core first, the limbs can be looked at later.

But what if we can go deeper?
Train the mind muscle link. Train the nervous system?

Now training the nervous system is nothing new, but it usually requires heavy weights, explosive lifts or expensive technology (Acceleration training, as made popular by the PowerPlate works on the nervous system). These methods, while commonly available, today are a little impractical. Can we train our nervous system at home, in the car, at home?

Well yes. And it’s isometrics that will do it.

Power Breathing and the Vacuum drill are perfect examples of Inside Out isometrics. Remember these drills have stood the test of time, they’ve been around far longer than your “Shakeaweight” or your “Stairmaster”. They’ve been used by martial arts masters and Old Time Strongmen since training began.

If you want more here’s a link to a free Isometrics giveaway available for download. And this is a video of power breathing and Isometric tension in action:

Dave Hedges

author: No Equipment, No Excuses – Bodyweight Training for the Home, the Office & on the Road

email info /

+353 87 672 6090

No Money? No Gym? No Problem!

I’m sure most of you reading this blog are aware of the other side of the Wild Geese.
We’re not just about strength, conditioning and general fitness, no, we are also involved in the overlapping worlds of Security and Martial Arts.


Yes. You see the Wild Geese founding members both grew up practicing martial arts, this led them to learn about conditioning training to be better able to compete. And then both instructors found themselves working in the security field, where again having strength and endurance can be life saving.

Our boy in Africa is no different.
Wild Geese founder, Paul Cox, met Samir (Sam for short) in the Gambia when Paul was away working. The two became friends and it turned out that Sam was as passionate about the martial arts as Paul is.
Over the course of a few years, Paul would travel over and stay with Sam and they would train. Eventually Sam earned the title of Wild Geese Representative. A coveted honour that has only be handed out to 4 people in the world, and we took it back from one of them.

Well it seems Sam has been doing well for himself. He’s training many of the Gambian security forces in unarmed combat, but now they want him to train them to be stronger and tactically fit.

You can imaging that in Africa, Gyms are hard to come by.

So Sam got on the phone and called up Paul’s for help. Paul came to me. We sat and had a think, here’s what we thunk:

We have already sent Sam a copy of No Equipment, No Excuses, the Bodyweight Manual. But this failed to impress the Gambians as they want all the shiny gear that they see on the telly.
So we have to do something else.

We sent over links to some other peoples sites, people like Josh Henkin and Ross Enamait. People that like ourselves, use basic equipment, and they both strongly advocate the use of the sandbag.

The sandbag is the ideal substitute for a gym. It’s easy to change the weight, but it always feels heavier than the equivalent weight on a barbell. Plus it offers movements that are just not possible with a bar, moves that for a tactical or combat athlete are vital.

So Sam convinced his boys this was the way to go. Over the next few weeks Paul and myself will be creating a program based on the Sandbag and Bodyweight drills to turn the locals into unstoppable warriors.

We’re giving you guys the opportunity to follow along, all the resources we send over to Sam will be made available, via or shop page.
Plus there will be plenty of information posted right here for no charge.

In fact heres a favorite session of mine right now:

Based on a Density style program, set a timer for ten minutes. You will perform as many sets fo 3 reps as possible in that 10 minutes. Record the total number of reps and attempt to beat it next time by adjusting the reps and rest.

Here’s the workout:
1A – Hindu Press Up x 10 mins
Rest 3-5 mins
2A – Sandbag Clean & Press x 10 mins
Rest 3-5 mins
3A – Sandbag Zercher Squat
Total training time including rest periods and warm ups should be no more than 45 mins.

Here’s the Sandbag Clean & Press in action:



Last class of 2009


This week was the last week of training I’ll be doing in 2009, also we took everyone out with a bg!
particularly the groups. The Tuesday MMA conditioning group and the Thurs Kettlebell group pushed themselves through some very tough work, no questions, no quitting, just pure grit and determination. They really do make me proud.
So what did we do with them?
Well I’ll tell you now.

Tuesday is the day my MMA group are in, they train most days and this is the only day I get them all to my self so we try to make it count with a good conditioning session, last Tuesday was no different.
We set up a circuit of 8 drills, performed each drill for 20 seconds and took 10 seconds to switch. Basically using the Tabata protocol.

Here are the drills:
1- Ring Push ups
2 – Explosive Medicine ball push ups
3 – Ab wheel Roll outs
4 – Double kettlebell burpees to the rack position
4 – Towel Pull Ups with knee raise
5 – Heavy swings
6 – Shoulder and squat with the heavy bag
8 – Sledgehammer slams

3 rounds of this had everyone breathing hard, a good mix of strength based and explosive based movements.
To finish we performed 90 sec of hindu push ups, 3 min hindu squats and 45 sec neck bridge.
A job well done!

Then on Thursday my Kettlebell group were in, which included some of the Tuesday guys, always nice to see.
I’ve just been reading through some articles I have by Boxing and conditioning coach extraordinaire Ross Enamait ( so we adjusted one of his workouts as our year-end special.
To start we worked the Turkish Get up to a 1 rep max, looks like I’ll be getting in some heavier bells next year, they flew up!
This was followed by the Ross inspired circuit:

12 Burpees
24 Push Ups
36 Squats
48 Swings (here Ross would have you run a 400 meter, but as I’m slap in the centre of Dublin, it’s little impractical, the swings did just nicely though)

This was repeated 4 times round with the finish times recorded.
A race against the clock.
It’s with some relief that I finished first, but the others were snapping at my heels, I’d better do some work over the holidays to stay ahead!!

Speaking of the Holidays, this is where I believe the Eat Stop Eat program I’m currently trying out will come into its own.
I have to say, Tuesday was a very tough day for my Fast, I hadn’t eaten a great deal on the monday before even though I worked on some heavy deadlifts and snatch, so even though the fast didn’t start till after my breakfast, I was struggling against the hunger pangs all day. I still felt very sharp and focused, but the tummy was growling…
Then, joining in with the MMA circuit may have been a mistake, I was strong right to the end and had a cracking workout, but very soon afterwords the shakes came in, I felt hypoglycemic and had to reach for the fruit bowl and a recovery shake fro fear of loosing the run of myself.
This just about sorted me out along with a stack of water, but by bed time, I was hanging. I felt rough so I had to cave in and eat something. I kept it to fruits and nuts, but still it wasn’t a full fast, I managed 17 hours (yes, Tuesday was a looong day…)
After a good nights sleep, I was back to normal and good to go, I’d expected to wake up starving but this wasn’t the case, I was fresh as a daisy and ready for the day ahead.

The moral here I think is to avoid any seriously intense training on the fast day, otherwise, this second week has been great.
With the excesses of the Christmas period coming, I can see having a fast day as being a bit of a life saver. I’ll be staying at my parents so there will be lots of food around, plenty of cake and tons of drink. Taking a day off will actually come as a relief I think. I might not come back with a spare tyre……

To wrap up, I want to wish all the gang a Merry Xmas and Happy New year and I look forward to training with them again in the new year. In the meantime try either of the two workouts listed above, they are short and sweet, and will raise your matabolism to seriously counter the inevitable christmas pudding.

See you in 2010


Tis the Season…….

It’s the countdown to Christmas, many of you will have already started the celebrations with work parties and social gatherings.

This is traditionally the time of year where people pile on a few pounds, with all the rich food, sweets and alcohol, promising themselves that they’ll shift it when January comes.

We’ll get back on track in the new year, you know, make a resolution, and this time, THIS TIME, we WILL stick to it!!

This time it’ll be different.

Oh yeah!

This time…….

Well, that’s grand, your on the right lines at least. As a fitness coach, I may be a little unusual, I love to know that my clients are enjoying life, there is more to living than training and being a size 0 (I don’t even know what size 0 looks like, but it’s in all the papers, so must be the new benchmark?!?). I firmly believe that once a week you should have a blow out, go nuts. You’ve worked hard during the week, eaten well, trained and done everything right, now on the seventh day, go nuts.

Your body and your mind will thank you for it. Rewards are motivating, if you’ve something to look forward to later, you’ll be more disciplined now. December is a bit like that cheat day, only it’s a month.

A lot can happen in that month (think of all the people you know with birthdays in September, my own Son included, funny how it’s the ninth month……..) you can and most likely will put on a few pounds, but seriously, don’t sweat it.

It’ll go on quick, but with a concerted effort, it’ll come off just as quick. If, and only if, you put in the work.

Make your health and fitness a priority. You always say you’ll join a gym, some of you actually do, most of you have stopped training 3 or four weeks later.


Simple. It’s hard work. Even harder is motivating yourself to do the hard work.

And gyms are incredibly boring soulless places (unless your lucky enough to join one of the independent gyms that are dotted around, if a little hard to find..), the classes are mind numbing and impersonal (how can it be personal when there’s 25 of you?) and the results just don’t come fast enough.

So whats the alternative?

Have you heard of Wild Geese? They have a few options……. (Can you tell I’m no marketing guru?)

Here’s a reminder of what you can get from us in the new year. Now remember, we aint a commercial gym, we’re only mildly interested in you cash, unlike the “Fitness clubs” that are actually trying to rob you blind. We are however a small, independent training facility that DOES give a damn about you getting results.

And to get you there we have:

Personal Training
Semi Private Training
Group Training
Online Training

AND some of the best martial arts classes available….

(is that a bit obvious as a sales pitch?)

You are NEVER left to train alone (unless you are an online client…duh!), we are ALWAYS on hand, you are TOLD to ask us questions.

Get in touch with us now to talk about your plans for the new year.


Dave Hedges

author: No Equipment, No Excuses – Bodyweight Training for the Home, the Office & on the Road


+353 87 672 6090

Steve Maxwell in Ireland 2010

Steve MaxwellIt gives me great pleasure to be able to announce that Mr Steve Maxwell, the “Maxercist” has been in touch.

He is in Europe next year and asked if I’d like to set up a seminar with him.
Of course I agreed, Steve has been a huge influence on my own training ever since I came across his work several years ago.

So, just who is Steve?
He’s a man with around 40 years in the Strength& Conditioning industry
He’s one of the 1st to gain a black belt from the Gracie juJitsu school
He was one of the first Americans to win the Brazilian juJitsu world championships
He was one of the first kettlebell coaches in the US
He’s the Go-To guy for UFC fighter, Diego Sanchez
He’s in his 50’s yet shows no signs of slowing down, he can still out perform most lads less than half his age.

He knowledge of Bodyweight training, Kettlebell Training, Joint Mobility and general fitness is unparalleled.

And he will be at Wild Geese HQ, Pearse St, Dublin for the weekend of July 3rd and 4th 2010.
This is a video teaser from one of his other seminars, but you’ll get the idea:
Here’s another video showing Steve training UFC fighter Diego Sanchez:

Please register your interest by emailing with Steve Maxwell in the subject line.


Dave Hedges