Category Archives: martial arts

Escrima Concepts Seminar

Quick note, Steve Tappin of Escrima Concepts has confirmed he will be coming to Ireland to teach a seminar for us.

If you’re an eskrimador, martial artist or security professional, don’t miss this opportunity to train with one of the best in the industry.

Steve agreed to take time out from his busy schedule (check out the calender page on his website) travelling to teach all over europe, to come to us for the weekend of May 2-4th.

Call back for more info, as soon as I get the artwork sorted out I’ll have info posted here.

Wild Geese Martial Arts
any cause but our own

Strength Training in Martial Arts

Happy New Year to you all, I’ve been a bit slow off the mark getting back into the swing of things in 2008, but I’ve got one more Xmas party to attend and thats it, back into good hard training.

The subject of strength training has been debated long and hard in the martial arts world for a number of years. Many instructors simply refuse to accept that it is of any use at all.

How they justify this is usually weak cop outs like:

“It slows you down”
“Strength doesn’t matter if you have good technique”
“Your time is better spent practicing punches/kicks/etc…”

And many more, but you get the idea.

In my experience, many students come to me wanting not only to learn a martial art/self defence but also to get fit.

Many senior students I see are unable to perform optimally because of a lack of strength and conditioning.

How do we fix this?


Look back into old style training methods and you’ll see Japanese Karate-ka performing a high tension kata called Sanchin (also see seishan), have a look at Tai Chi masters training with huge heavy weapons and see the Shaolin Kung Fu stome lock training.

These are all forms of strength training.

Sanchin, and similar forms/kata, are methods of High Tension training. Since tension = strength, the practioner is actually learning to recruit more muscle fibers into each movement. Much the same as a power lifter. This type of training is often refered to as Dynamic Tension and is a variation on Isometric Training.

An Isometric contraction is basically a muscle trying to contract but being prevented from doing so.
Question: Whats the heaviest weight you can lift?
Answer: One you can’t

Try this, place your hands together in a prayer possition, palms pressed together infront of your chest. Take a deep breath and as you slowly exhale push your hands together as ahrd as you can for about 7 seconds or a 10 count.
While your arms don’t move, you’ll feel massive tension through the chest. Next time you try it, your muscles will respond with even greater tension, in other words you get stronger.

I will write more on isometrics at a later date but for the moment may I refer you to an associate of mine at

The Tai Chi master that is training with a sword thats bigger than he is performing slow, graceful movements is also strength training. Although he’ll never admit it.
A muscle held under tension for an extended time, will adapt and get stronger. That means when a smaller, lighter weapon is used, you’d better look out, he will be lightning fast and massively powerful.

And finally the Stone Lock. There is a Russian equivalent called the Kettlebell, I’ve spoken of these before, and will again in future articles. Put Stone Lock training into YouTube and you’ll see footage of chinese ma’ers lifting and throwing these mad looking objects around. Then look here and you’ll see many of the same excersises performed with kettlebells.

Why do I not mention the standard type of training you see in most gyms today? Why do I not advocate doing 10 sets of bicep curls on monday, 10 sets of leg extensions on tuesday………etc???

A bodybuilding type split is of next to no use to you unless your goal is to get big and slow. Plus the time you need to spend training will leave you exhausted for your Martial Arts training. My training partner did just this. He needed to put on size, so quit martial arts for 6 months and dedicated himself to a bodybuilding programme.

While this worked for him at the time, he realises that it is counter productive to spend 6 months of the year not practicing his Martial Arts. Now he uses much more effecient methods, and while he isn’t putting on size, he is stronger than ever, and when he hits the bags, they stay hit!

What all the above methods do is work the whole body as a unit, there are no isolations for the rear delts or the long head of the triceps. The whole body including the deeper supporting and core muscles, is worked quickly and efficiently, often a complete workpout will last around 30 minutes and will leave you stronger and more energised for the rest of the day.

I will post more on my favorite strength training methods over the next few weeks. I’m also building more pages dedicated to this subject for the website.

Keep an eye open for updates. You can also come to train with us, click here to find out how.

Till next time

Wild Geese Martial Arts
any cause but our own

12th Anniversary of the Black Eagle Society

Post taken from the Rapid Arnis forum site, view the original posts here

The Black Eagle Society

The Black Eagle Society was founded in the Summer of 1996. The inaugural meeting took place in a wood in Barnet, North London.
The meeting had been arranged by Pat O’Malley and Simon Wells (of LaPunti Arnis de Abaniko) who first tried to get this format of fighting off the ground back in 1992, also in attendance at this first meeting of the Black Eagles were, Jonathan Broster, Shiraz Hussain and two of Wells’ students.
Pat O’Malley and Simon Wells are known as the two original founders of the Black Eagle Society. Simon, after only a short time, left the group leaving Pat in sole charge of the organization which still hosts events to this day.

The name Black Eagle Society was chosen to pay tribute to the influence on the founding members of the Lapunti Arnis de Abaniko style because both Pat O’Malley and Simon Wells were training with Lapunti at the time, the emblem of Lapunti shows a black eagle clutching two sticks.
The group’s first logo was designed by Jonathan Broster and shows a cartoon eagle holding a stick in its winged hand. The motto of the group is “Vera Est”, Latin for: “It is real”. The cartoon eagle logo was later replaced with a Celtic designed eagle to also depict the fact that the group originally comes from the Celtic region of Great Britain.

The group was formed in response to the desire among some members to move beyond the WEKAF style, armoured stick fighting events and incorporate a higher degree of realism in the bouts.
The rules and equipment used were, and remain, minimal. Curiously, no winner is declared after each bout; instead, it is for the two contestants and those watching to draw their own conclusions and learn what they can from the match.

Rules & Equipment
Put simply, each fighter should be able to walk away from the bout as friends. Bouts are fought over one three minute round, with either fighter having the right to end the bout at any time. Each fighter wears a headguard of their choice (routinely a WEKAF helmet), light gloves, such as cricket gloves (if desired) and a groin protector.
The rules permit any thrust or strike with one stick, two sticks or any combination of wooden weapons, together with any punches, kicks or other blows, as well as throws and ground-fighting techniques.

At the inaugural meeting it was decided that full membership of the group would be open to those who had participated in no less than three separate official Black Eagle meetings.

Since its inception many other Filipino martial arts styles and practitioners have participated and many top FMA notables including John Harvey, Phil Norman and Neil McLeod have participated in society meetings on previous occasions.

An interesting comparison has at times been drawn between the bouts of the Black Eagles and those of the Dog Brothers.
Where the Dog Brothers have a heavy grappling influence, by way of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there has always been less emphasis on ground fighting in Black Eagle Society bouts, where striking, fast stick handling, blocking, footwork and evasion tactics of the traditional Filipino martial arts have been more evident. More importance is placed on the use of the weapon and all in the Society accept that if there were no headguard and the stick were to be replaced with the more traditionally used sword, grappling would very seldom happen in a real Eskrima Kali Arnis bout. All players (as the participants are known) try to stay as close to the traditional Eskrima Kali Arnis as possible, unlike the Dog Brothers who are known to mix various arts from other countries in to their format.

Celebrating it’s 12th Anniversary, April 15th 2008 will see the biggest ever meeting of the Black Eagle Society.
This is the UK’s Original NHB FMA event with just head gear, light gloves and groin box that has over the last 12 years attracted many top UK FMA practitioners.

With each bout timed to a maximum of 3 minutes the meets are open to all serious non egotistcal FMAers who wish to test their skills up against like minded afficianados of the Filipino martial arts.
This meeting will see both novice and expearianced Black Eagle Society members coming together to enjoy that days sparring. This event is only open to those FMAers who wish to participate in the days sparring matches, no casual spectators allowed.

All players may also video both their own and other bouts on the day.

The event will be held in Dartford, Kent. Venue to be announced in the new year to all those who wish to participate.

If you would like further details, get in touch.


Pat O’Malley
Co-Founder of The Black Eagle Society.

Wild Geese Kettlebells

At the risk of sounding like I’m jumping on the Kettlebell bandwagon, I think they are great pieces of kit.

If you don’t know anything about them, here’s a the brief:

Shape: A cannonball with a thick handle

Weight: You choose, they go up in 4kg increments, however the 16, 24 & 32kg are the most popular.

What do you do: Train!!

Now while their detractors will tell you that there’s very little you can do with a KB that you can’t do with a Dumbbell, I’ll agree with them, but they’ll never tell you that the reverse is also true.
It’s the shape and grip of the Kettlebell is what makes it hard, and the ballistic exercises, that can be done with dumbbells, were originally done with KB’s or Stone Locks (for all you Chinese Martial Artists).
Plus, they are so much more fun, I look at my KB’s and I just want to lift them!!

There is nothing magic about them, as some would have you believe, but I find that when I train using KB’s, I always work hard, they just don’e seem to allow you to go easy, this maybe the magic.

The Basics:
Swings, High Pulls and Snatches.
These will work your lower body, glutes and back and increase grip while at the same time frying your Cardio, in double quick time. Use a heavy enough KB and you’ll be crying for your mummy (at least I was, and probably will be on wed when I’m swinging again!)

Clean&Press, Military Press, Floor Press
The first load of exercises are your pulling moves, these are your push. The Clean & Press is the daddy, get a heavy KB, pull it from the floor to your shoulder then press to lockout, then call me to tell me a muscle that wasn’t invloved…

Add into the mix your Turkish Get Ups and Windmill for the “core” and you have a strength and conditioning routine that you can do in a corridor!!
All with a single Kettle bell.

Since my time schedule went nuts, I can’t spend an hour a day doing a weights split down the gym, so when I was looking for quick and effective home workout Kettlebells just turned up, and I’ve never looked back.

My shoulders are more mobile and stronger, my waist tighter and my legs durable and powerfull, in only 3-4 sessions per week, at home, the longest session is never over an hour.

Try them for yourself, here are some resources:

Or give us a call

Wild Geese Martial Arts
any cause but our own

British Council FMA Festival

Wild Geese Martial Arts have a close affiliation with the British Council of Kali Escrima Arnis Instructors ( and attended both last years FMA festival and this years massive FMA festival.

Fortunately, Peter Lewis of Zu-Bu Kails Illustrissimo has saved me the trouble of writing a review, have a look at this special edition of the FMA Digest:

Read and enjoy. This event, and the growing strength of the British council shows us that martial arts and martial artists from different styles and backgrounds can get along and work together.

Lets drop the politics, were too much a minority to be fractured.

Oh and news just in, Steve Tappin of Escrima Concepts (read about him in the report) has confirmed that he’ll be coming to Dublin to present a seminar. I’ll post more details soon.

Wild Geese Martial Arts
any cause but our own

Wild Geese Mexico & Cuba

Paul Cox, co founder and chief instructor of Wild Geese Martial Arts was recently in Mexico and Cuba.

It was a few years since Paul and I were in Cuba to grade 2 lads up to Black belt in Ed Parkers Kenpo, the first of their kind in Cuba. Paul had spent a lot of time in Cuba training the already talented Miguel and Chino his brand of Kenpo/FMA, so he and I went over to Grade them and perform a few demo’s.

Miguel has subsequently moved on and set up clubs in Mexico. Paul was invited over to teach. He was extremely well received by the local martial arts fraternity and by the LEO’s that attended his seminars. Paul was also asked to Demo at a police training center where they were very impressed with the adaptability of FMA/kenpo to almost every possible scenario from civillian self defence, through police arrest and control to military extreme combat.

We are working on updating our website ( to include sections dedicated to our Cuban rep (Chino) our Mexican Rep (Julio Loaiza) and Miguel Arroyo. Keep an eye out for updates.

Wild Geese Martial Arts
any cause but our own

New Class opened

We’ve just opened a new class due to special request.

A few of the lads I work with on the door had just seen the Bourne Ultimatum and were asking me about Krav Maga, I explained the similarities between KM and FMA/Kenpo, plus the fact that in the previous films Bourne had been using FMA so we opened a new class.

Every Monday at 4.30pm we will be teaching FMA/Kenpo at the Pinnacle Gym off Camden St, just behind Copper’s. The class format is based around empty hand and street defence. The ceilings are just too low for full on stick swinging, but we already have 3 classes based around the stick/weapons, so it’s about time we taught empty hands and unarmed vs armed on a regular basis.

So far, my students (largely due to the class time) are security and Garda, this suits us as the Wild Geese are active in the securit field and love teaching to people who may actually find themselves in the situation where they need some of this training. However we are open to everybody.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get some youtube footage sorted out soon showing all aspects of our training.

For those who don’t know pinnacle, it’s a proper Gym. Mick has set this up as a gym for people who want to train, he has plenty of free weights, a selection of machines, an outdoor (covered) section with a powerlifting platform, maize bag, punch bag and boxing ring as well as an upstairs room for martial arts classes, one end of the room features half an octogon for all you mma’ers.

Oh there’s also a treadmill and rowing machine, although they’re a bit dusty!

More on Pinnacle on

Wild Geese Martial Arts
any cause but our own

Irelands First Doce Pares Black Belt

A big congatulations are owed to Paul Cox, instructor at Wild Geese Martial Arts.

Paul was awarded black belt status by Grandmaster Danny Guba during a private training session at Danny’s house.

While the Wild Geese are about good quality, functional martial arts, not grades, we do appreciate when a known and respected master, such as Danny, bestows us with the honour of a rank in his system.

Wild Geese Martial Arts
any cause but our own

Quick Introduction

Wild Geese Martial Arts are are the Irish Reps for Rapid Arnis, Guba Doce Pares and Doce Pares “Original” Eskrima. Although we love all FMA, and martial arts of every style. We’re not into politics and ego’s just training, teaching and promoting martial arts, fitness and health.

The Wild Geese are Paul Cox, 3rd dan Ed Parker’s Kenpo, 2nd Dan Shaloin Kempo, 1st Dan Doce Pares. And myself, Dave Hedges, 2nd Dan Ed Parker’s Kenpo, 1st Dan Wado Ryu Karate-Jutsu.

Our official site is

In the near future (as when we get time) we will be putting together an Irish Council of Kali, Eskrima, Arnis Instructors. This will be based on the British council (, which in turn is based on the Philippine Council of Kali Eskrima Arnis Masters.

The idea of the council is to be a non profit, non political council, made up of genuine FMA instructors, with the goal of promoting FMA in all it’s forms and ensuring that the public is aware as to who are the real instructors.

If you have comments/suggestions/questions put em down here.

Wild Geese Martial Arts
any cause but our own

The Longest Day (Guest Blog)

This Opening blog is courtesy of Geoff Thompson


I am writing this article for a very selfish reason. In fact I write all my articles and books and films and plays and journalism for a very selfish reason. Everything I am writing I need to read. So when I write it, it helps me, and I know that if I send it out into the ether, not only will it help everyone that reads it, eventually it will come back to me, I will read it again, and it will help me again, because by then I may have forgotten the message.

I am prone to forget the message.

The message it about fear!

We all feel it, and every day that sees us spinning and toiling with fear is a long day.

It is Ok to feel scared. In fact there is a hidden benefit from feeling fear, so if I have caught you mid terror, congratulations, you are probably on the cusp of a great discovery.

At the end of this article I am going to ask you all for a huge favour. I hope you will oblige.

There is a lovely old Japanese metaphor about pain and fear and growth. I always recite it to myself when I am up against a wall of fear and easier options suddenly seem like the only escape. It goes something like – The iron ore feels its self needlessly tortured as it goes through the furnace. The tempered blade looks back and knows better.

When my torture starts to feel needless, I remind myself of how many times I have been through this fire and how true this is, that you do always look back afterwards, and you do always know better.

Iron ore and tempered blades! Inspiring. Great words. But without action they remain just that. Words, with no power.

It took me many years of experience (in the forge) before I truly understood this. Words do not transform us. In the world of metamorphosis action is all.

But words can inspire us to action. And words can weaken fear and better enable us to break free from its bonds. Especially when those words have been tempered by experience. One of the greatest things I learned was from a man of experience who taught me my most valuable lesson; every one feels fear! It’s not just me. This one tutorial above all others inspired me to act. Realising that I was not a coward, that everyone was scared, changed my life.

One of the most debilitating aspects of fear is the false belief that we are its only victim. That for some reason the spiteful universe has decided to give us more than our fair share. I always felt this way as a younger man. But I was wrong, I was not alone, and if I was getting more than my fair share it was not because some Higher Power had it in for me, quite the opposite in fact. The reason I enjoy such a prolific life now is not despite fear, rather it is because I have become an alchemist, transforming the molten ore of fear into the tempered blade of gold.

There are many ways to beat fear, there are a plethora of methods that can hold it at bay, even help you to understand it. The better player actually befriends fear. The aspirant uses it as fuel; the master rises to a level of consciousness where it does not exist because its fire can find no oxygen.

Those that do not develop coping strategies are often cremated by it.

The first lesson in fear is to understand it better. That’s why I write about it, to help others, to help myself (I need to be reminded).

Fear is pandemic. It converses in a universal tongue. There is not a shore where this invader has not landed – I know, I get letters all the time from across the globe. The biggest question I am asked is ‘how do you manage fear?’ Everyone is different of course and each feels they harbour a terror so unique that others might not (or could not) understand. So I try not to be too prescriptive when this question is proffered, I just offer (as honestly as I can) what worked (what continues to work) for me.

I have discovered on my own journey that contrary to popular belief, there are not many fears, there is only one, though it is a master of disguise. When you understand this and you stop being tricked it really helps. Suddenly you are not dealing with an army; you are dealing with just one feeling and if you can become desensitized to this feeling, you can master your fear.

First and foremost to master fear we need exposure, and loads of it, the more the better. With this in mind it might be a good idea to become (what the poet Rumi called) a night traveller. This is what I did. (See my book Watch My back). I went out into the darkness. I hunted down my fears. It is easier, more profitable and less exhausting to attack than it is to defend. The pre-emptive strike is consistently effective in physical, psychological, physiological and spiritual self defence.

I discovered that when I hunted my fears, three dimensional monsters quickly became two dimensional cartoons that turned to sand under my gaze. This continues to be the case.

But, and this is important, I never overcame fear! Another big lesson for me. I was trying to find cure for fear, like it was an illness, not realising at the time the key was not to get rid of it, rather it was to stop myself from being afraid of fear and to teach myself to start using it. As the game got bigger, so did my opponent. Whilst I did overcome individual fears (violence, abandonment etc) and many of them, I found that the moment I peaked one mountain, I was automatically at the bottom of another. You might think this depressing. The opposite is true. I find it exhilarating. Every time the weight starts to feel a little light, my Invisible Supporter slides another disc along my bar.

The universe is talking to us. It wants us to grow, and it knows that there is no growth in comfort. So when the language feels like terror, and my knees are doing an involuntary bossanova I remind myself of this, and I marinate in the fear, I bathe in it until I don’t know where the fear starts and I end. And when I centre myself, when I listen, when I tune into the fear my enemy becomes my engine, my fear becomes my fuel.

The more fear I feel, the better I perform. So when it rears it’s ugly head I go eye-ball to eye-ball, I open the door, I let it in, I sit it down, make it a drink, offer it some food, I sit with it until it dissipates.

Fear feeds on terror. I don’t give it terror, so it starves.

The second thing I did was I wrote about my life, my fears, my journey, and I spun my words across the World Wide Web. Firstly because I know that as a species we all suffer from ‘the forgetting’ so we all need continually reminding. My words go out, they help other people (other night travellers find my notes, it serves them) they come back, they help me. They help me when I write them, they help me when I read them, and they help me when I send them out into the world. The writing is also my catharsis. As you know, fear likes to prey on vulnerable minds, it likes to blackmail; I find that placing my fear in print and putting it out for the world to read stops this from happening.

We all have days when we think ‘what is this all about?’ Days when that voice (or voices) in our head tells us to ‘give up, it’s not worth it.’ This is the voice of ego. It needs to die. It feeds on attention. You kill it when you take attention away.

Here are a few other tips that I have found helpful in relation to fear.

Do the things you most fear to do. DO them. Stop talking, put your bollocks on the table (or a female equivalent) and start experiencing. Now is the time. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next year or new year. Now! Life is short my friends and it is later than you think.

Meditate every day, yoga is very good because it triggers the parasympathetic nervous system and quietens the adrenals. This will make your fear more manageable.

Train till you sweat. This is also a good trick to take the top off excessive adrenalin.

Physical training is your salvation.

Read widely, read challenging books. Knowledge helps to dispel fear. But it is not the knowledge that you will pick up in a tabloid, or watching a soap on the TV, these will probably only exasperate your fear, because they are laced with negativity, and negativity triggers the adrenals.

Some ideas on reading; if you think you are mobile read Timothy Leary, if you think you are free read Gurdjieff, if you think you’re brave check out the great Mahatma Ghandi, if you think you have integrity read Ayn Rand.

These are just a few of the books that have helped great men and women achieve impossible things.

Spend your money and Invest in yourself. Stop being so tight. Good information is priceless, so what if it costs you silver to buy it, it cost the seller blood and sinew and that one non-refundable commodity; time!. What else are you going to use your money for? If you don’t invest in you, who will? People throw hundreds, even thousands of pounds at beer and take-always, tens of thousands on fast cars, but they will not invest in things that might transform their existence, like books and taking instruction from men of experience. Knowledge will reap you a harvest that is worth more than Solomon’s fortune.

And if you think you haven’t got the money you think too small. Work harder, earn more, or stop wasting money on the ephemeral and redirect your coffers into something infinite.There is a lot of contradictory advice out there. Read it all. Cross reference it with your own experience, this should tell you if it has merit. If you do not have a lot of experience, either go out there and try the information out for your self (and be the proof) or cross reference it with your intuition. A rule of thumb; if it scares the shit out of you it is probably worthy. In my world all red lights are green, large crowds lead away from the light and beaten paths lead to empty lots – and all great gifts come in fuck-ugly packaging. Other than that be inspired only by people that walk their talk (never take advice on diet from a fat life coach! Never ask advise on diamonds from a brick builder), only follow your own maps, and only then for a while, they will keep changing.

And the biggest lesson I have learned thus far (other than to walk always towards your fears, and lean into the sharp edges) is to get off your arse and experience. And if it is a fat arse why is it a fat arse? Do something about it, (there is only so long you can keep kidding yourself that you are big boned). Get out there and get uncomfortable. Growth is not meant to be easy. It is deliberately hard because knowledge demands big shoulders to carry it.

Be a man of experience (do not be an ant pretending to lead a bull) because at the end of the day experience is the only currency. And you will know when you are a man of experience because people will beat a path to your door, when you are a man of experience people will search you out from across the globe, to seek out your advice, to heed your council, to bath in your light, to be inspired by your life.

Let me tell you, people are desperate to be inspired, they are desperate for wisdom that has been born through bollock-breaking hardship, and of course if dollar is your incentive people are happy to pay top dollar for a truth if it has blood and snot as an ccompaniment.

So if you are out there now, struggling with fear, maybe it’s time to change direction. Instead of moving away from the heat, why not turn into it, go through the forge, so rather than feeling needlessly tortured for another long day of spinning and toiling you can become the tempered blade that looks back and know better.

Oh, and if you want to do me that huge personal favour, please send this article out to as many people as you can, because then it will come back to me (and back to you).

Just because I am the man that wrote the words it doesn’t mean that I am a man that doesn’t need to reads the words again.

Be well.

Geoff Thompson

Wild Geese Martial Arts
any cause but our own