Category Archives: motivation

How to Improve Beyond all Expectations

If you’ve been keeping up with the goings on at the Wild Geese Boot Camp (it’s all on , you’ll notice the guys are making incredible progress.

Why and How?

Two reasons, one is that this program is new to them all so they are all enjoying huge gains simply because of neural adaptation.
The other one, the main one is summed up perfectly in the following quotes form powerlifting, bodybuilding and all round serious lifter Matt “Kroc” Kroczaleski in this T-Nation article. I’ve includd the relevant sound
bites below:

* It’s not about the program. It’s about how hard you train and how consistent you are. The mental aspect is much more important than the physical.
* Hard work, the right mental outlook, and the desire to win. You have to be willing to do what your competitors aren’t. That’s how I look at my training: I’m gonna take it one step further. It’s like Larry Bird or
Michael Jordan-they were always trying to be the hardest training guy in their sport. I remember reading about Larry Bird staying after practice for hours to shoot free throws in the dark, wondering if there was some guy out there who was training harder than he was.
* No disrespect to Louie Simmons, but I think the success of Westside wasn’t necessarily due to the programming. It was the atmosphere, man. If you get a bunch of huge guys in the same gym competing against each other I don’t care what program you put them on-they’re all going to improve. Everyone wants to be top dog. That’s what drives them. I’m not knockin’ Louie’s programs, because there’s a lot of good stuff in there. But the environment is key. When I recruit guys to train with, I want them to push me. I’m gonna try to increase the distance I have over them and they’re gonna try and close the gap. That’s how it should be.

Do you see the theme?
Mindset. Get your right and you’ll blow your goals out of the water, having a good crew around you will help, the wrong crew will hinder.
Wild Geese is a great place to come and train, not because of the great coaching, the equipment or location, it’s because of the people we attract.
Whoever is in beside you on any given day will look to help and encourage you regardless of what your goals are, some one will muck in.
If they don’t, they probably won’t last long, they’ll leave and head down the road to Curves.
The next Boot Camp will start 2nd August, there are still a couple of spots available. If you’re the type that is hungry for improvement, looking for that “kick up the arse” or just wanting to find some great training partners and an atmosphere of camaraderie, hard work and progress, then drop me a line.
If not, I hear there’s a new body pump class starting up the road…
Dave /

Out with the Dodo

In conversation this week two things have become a recurring theme. Two things that seem to have gone out of fashion and are in danger of being relegated to the history books, just like the Dodo.

The two items in question have been essential tools in the furthering of our species since time began, they are two of the things that made us top of the food chain and without which we will start to slide back down it again. We may no longer be worried about a sabre toothed tiger hunting us down, but we sure as hell ought to be concerned about a mugger, rapist, junkie or scumbag having a go.

So what two things am I talking about?

Common Sense and Personal Responsibility.

We’ve spoken about common sense on many occasions, it is the master sense, the 6th sense that allows us to act appropriately to the information gathered by the other 5 senses.Without common sense we are stupid and irrational, impulsive and illogical, which is all well and good in a safe environment, but ridiculously dangerous and irresponsible any where else. Such as on the streets on a Friday night.

So what about personal responsibility? What’s that got to do with anything?
Simple. You are responsible for your own safety. You alone, nobody else.

As a society we look to blame everyone else for everything. A person scolds themselves with a coffee they’d just bought from a fast food store, so they sue the store and win. Read that back, THEY scolded THEMSELVES with a COFFEE that THEY had just bought.Yet they were allowed to pass the blame onto the vendor. They took no responsibility for their own actions. It is common sense that coffee will be served hot, you must use this common sense information appropriately and take measure to ensure you do not scold yourself, failure to do so will result in injury.

Now the coffee incident is not a life threatening situation, but it does highlight the problem.
You MUST open your eyes, ears and mind, you must engage the brain and utilise common sense, if you do not then it is your fault that you become the victim.

In other words, should you find yourself face to face with a mugger, it’s your fault.

Is that a bit harsh? Maybe.Is it justified? Yes.

Unless you are attacked completely at random, there will be a sequence of events leading up to the attack. You will have been selected as a potential victim, targeted, maybe followed, possibly approached, all before anything gets physical. It’s very much like the nature programs on the discovery channel, the Lions don’t attack the Alpha male in a herd of wildebeest, instead they go for the weak one that’s not paying attention. Joe Scumbag will do just the same.

If you present yourself as a target, you will be treated like one. It’s your fault.
If your head is down and Joe Scumbag approaches you, then you haven’t seen him coming, that again is your fault.

If you find yourself in a situation where you must physically defend yourself, have you trained yourself to do this? Are you fit to run away? Are you strong enough to push him back? Are you skilled enough to escape his grasp? Are you aware of the vulnerable targets on a body? No? Guess what, it’s your fault that you were unable to defend yourself.

That’s a hell of a burden to carry.
The alternative is simple, do something about it.

Leave the iPod at home and listen to what’s going on around you, walk tall, keep the head up so that you can see around you, be aware of your surroundings. Train a little (or a lot) to be physically able to at least run away, at best throw a knock out (or knock down) strike and then run away.

When we take some responsibility for what happens to us, we can look for ways to change what happens. We can start to take control of our lives, our health and our safety. Once we have control of our own selves, we can then help others either by looking out for them or by inspiring them to better themselves.
Take action today, it will become a habit, you owe it to yourself.

Wild Geese

Total Self Defence

Go to a self defence course and you’ll usually get taught a hundred ways to damage a body.

Go to a self protection and you learn probably fewer ways to hurt people but also get a load of ways to avoid getting into trouble in the first place. Oh, and learn how to not be too upset about the ordeal afterwards.

Go to a martial arts class and you’ll get taught whatever interpretation of whatever some dead, probably Asian, guy used to defeat countless enemies.

But then take a look at the older and more esoteric systems. Particularly the Okinawan, Chinese, the lesser known Thai arts and Indian martial arts.
You’ll see a vastly different approach to what is often espoused today.

With the rise of the UFC, and “mixed martial arts” we have developed a blood sweat and tears mindset, an “if it don’t work in the ring/octagon, why bother with it” attitude.
Many non MMA’ers have turned to the so called “Reality Based” Self Defence, where the same blood sweat and tears mindset prevails. They think sports are silly and instead train for the fateful day society breaks down and we all have to wear combat pants, shave our heads and be dead ‘ard.

But there is something missing still.

The “real as it gets” MMA or the “Reality” self defence are still incomplete as self defence systems. They lack the elements made that the “old fashioned” systems complete.
Systems that these modern “warriors” seem to think are usless.

But self defence, and indeed the martial arts, are about much more than hurting people and fighting.
The term Self Defence can be defined as:

Defending oneself from harm using whatever means necessary

The word harm could be anything that would adversely affect your well being.
Not just a violent attack, but health issues, environmental issues, stress. Self Defence is about being ready and prepared to deal with anything.

Many of the more esoteric arts include support systems or training protocols that are designed keep the body and mind agile and strong, even into old age.
Meditation, Chi Gung and Yoga type programs would go hand in hand with the physical kick/punch training.
Hard would be balanced with soft.

It is these support systems that seem to have been forgotten in the quest for greater speed and knockout power. Yet if you wish to still be training well into your twilight years, it is these systems that will get you there.
The meditations and chi gungs will assist the body in recovering from the abuse of hard training, they will calm and focus the mind, they loosen and relax tense muscles and maintain a strong will and a disciplined, agile mind.

The esoteric or holistic systems start with the individual. There is no focus on anything external, be it opponents or muggers until the student has first gained mastery of themselves.

After all, are we not our own worst enemies?


Wild Geese
+353 87 672 6090


Did anyone see the “Gladiators: the Legends” on sky one yesterday?

It was a Gladiators soecial where they brought some of the original Gladiators back to face down the new ones.

Now I was a fan of the original series and remember watching Lightning, Wolf and the others week in week out. We all had our favorites and quite often we’d cheer for the Glads, not the contendors.

However this new series has been a bit poor. Not one of the new Glads has a personality to speak of, incredible physiques and athleticism maybe, but character, no.

Now this special, old vs new. It was fun, best episode in the new series. Why? Cos it showed that experience counts. Now I missed the end, but the “Old girls” were destroying the new girls. The lads, well they were mainly mucking about.

But lets really look at it. The old gladiators are all in the age range of 36 (lightning) to 50something (wolf).
Did you see Lightning’s 6 pack?
Did Wolf quit when out muscled by a guy half his age?
Did Trojan look or move like any 40year old you know?
They are an inspiration to any of us.

How many times do you hear women saying “I don’t want to lift weights incase I get bulky”, Ladies, i ask you this did Lightning or Flame look bulky?
Guys complaining about their age and how they’re too old to train. Lads in the original series, Wolf was in his 40’s and he regularly took out opponents much younger than himself. In the special he’s 50+, does he look like he’s about to retire?

A primetime entertainment show has shown us that age only beats us if we let it. Those Gladiators haven’t given in, why should the rest of us?

Paul Cox (aka the Phoenix) is the Chief Instructor at the Wild Geese HQ, he’s 43 and can out train any one of his students.

Steve Maxwell ( in his 50’s, when he is in Ireland this October I’m sure he’ll pass on some of the secrets that he uses to keep himself in the kind of shape that defies most 25yr olds these days.

I’m always inspired by these older warriors, I’m currently 31, I’ve no intentions of slowing down.

Have you?


Wild Geese
every cause but our own

Do you run with the herd?

Ever watch the discovery channel? How about David Attenborough shows?

Do you notice how the predators always pick out the weakest in the heard and focus all of their attacking focus and power onto that single individual.

People aren’t much different. I have my students play games. I give them homework. I ask them that when they are on their way home, look around them and check out the herd, see if they can pick out the weakest, who would they hunt if they were the predator.

The object of the exercise is twofold. On one hand the students are learning what it is that a potential attacker looks for, while on the other it raises their awareness level in order to spot potential threats.

By putting themselves into the mind of a hunter, they can see other peoples weaknesses and learn to avoid the same mistakes that they are seeing around them.
Plus simply being more aware of those around them makes them instantly less attractive to an attacker.

Think about it, two people walking along, identical size, gender dress etc except one has their head down, earphones in and are obviously daydreaming, the other is walking tall and striding confidently.

You are looking for an easy target, which of them would you choose?

Enough said.

Separate yourself from the herd, don’t be a target.

Wild Geese
any cause but our own

Similar Differences

I was just reading a post on the Applied Strength Blog entitled “Contradictions and Situational Correctness”. In it Brett Jones discusses how bogged down people get when discussing training methods.

Now while Brett is discussing strength and conditioning, his comments ring true in the world of Martial Arts.

I constantly hear students talking about the differences between one style and another, but very rarely will I hear a discussion on the similarities. Take Karate for example, you’re either a Shotokan or WadoRyu man. Are you? They both developed from the same source, have mostly the same kata, same techniques and if you look at the kanji, before it is transliterated into English, the same names. But yet the two camps will not see eye to eye.

In the kenpo studio, Ed Parker’s syllabus is lengthy, but if you look at it, most of the techniques are merely variations on earlier ones. Except the counter strike is low instead of high, or you step with the left foot not the right or add this bit off that one to the end of this one. In other words, you explore the possibilities in a structured manner preparing you for the chaos of a real fight.

And yet I constantly hear students and some black belt “instructors” saying how each technique is unique and different to all the others.

I personally have attended lessons in Wing Chun, Wado Ryu, Shotokan, Tai Chi, Doce Pares Eskrima, Rapid Arnis, Balintawak Eskrima, Shaolin Kempo, Goshin Jitsu, Aikido and a few others. And you know what, it’s all the same stuff done differently. Body mechanics are body mechanics, it’s just one mans preference of how to apply them.
Be it the upright Wing Chun or the sweeping circles of Aikido, the hips generate power to either strike or snap an opponent.

Take heed of an old mantra “methods are many, principles are few”, look for the underlying principles and forget about whether your fist is held vertically or horizontally, it doesn’t matter if there’s no hip, no focus or your face is being smashed up while you try figure it out.

Wild Geese Martial Arts encourage students to think for themselves, whatever they are learning from us. If they are learning eskrima, we’ll show them differing styles of doing the same thing, if it’s kenpo we’ll encourage students to explore outside of the strict syllabus. Sure if you watch Paul and I, we even do things different to each other on an aesthetic front. The end result is the same though.

Stop getting lost in the details, as Bruce Lee said (and I hate quoting Bruce):
Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just a punch, a kick was just a kick. After I’d studied the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch, a kick is just a kick.

Wild Geese
any cause but our own

Big Picture

I get all sorts of students coming to learn Martial Arts/Self Defence, many of whom have experience in other arts, even if it was from many years ago. It’s amazing how their former training stays with them.
In some ways this is a blessing, as they will have many of the movements, if not the skills. In other ways this is a curse as it can mean I have to spend so much time breaking their old habits before creating new ones.

One of the biggest obstacles is the fascination with the small details, and the lack of a big picture view.
What do I mean by this? Well, say for instance I show a drill that is based around footwork and body movement (Taisabaki), I’m invariably asked about what the hands are doing, the answer nothing, it’s about the body movement.
Showing a strike, I’ll be asked about the angle of the fingers/knuckles, but never about the feet, knees, hips or shoulders.

There is a fascination with the fine details (this is fine with advanced students who have the basics) but a lack of interest in the larger, more important details.

If your feet aren’t right, your hips won’t follow through, the waist won’t turn right and the shoulder will be out of line, all before you even get to consider the angle of the wrist.

Now but this into the real world. In a real conflict situation, it’s the big picture that matters, the feet will get you out of trouble and the hips will end it for you, concentrate on the big picture and the details will fall into place. Look at footwork and body mechanics, this is how you avoid being hit and generate the power too hit.

How do people become like this? I think much of the blame lies with their former teachers. Instructors that have either misunderstood the art they’re teaching, or simply have never had to use it. Too many styles concentrate on looking pretty, rather than effectiveness. So many students are encouraged to specialise too early rather than understanding the overall art. As a result the students end up earning more of a dance than a combat art.

I ask my students to remember why they are learning martial arts, remember what the arts are designed to do and keep a big picture view of how the let the art turn them into warriors, not dancers.

Wild Geese
any cause but our own


Creating a balance in your training is an often overlooked aspect of training. Constantly working harder and faster, lifting more, hitting the bags more, always pushing.

It’s a mindset that really became popular in the eighties and has never gone away. As a result stress is sky high, stress related illnesses are rife, over training is common and we and up running ourselves into the ground.

Where is the balance?

What really got me thinking was a conversation I had in the gym with a member the other day, he said I’m so tired I can barely face training today. I’ve seen him train, he’s definitely in the train harder, not smarter category.

We had Steve Tappin over, a hard man, loved to fight as a bouncer as a fireman, he was a physical man. Yet he speaks of his instructor, Brian Jones, another hard man, and his daily Tai Chi practice.

Real Tai Chi, not the garbage that you’re local beardy weirdy society spews out.

I started thinking about balance. Training is stress, working is stress, sparring and fighting is stress, where is the anti stress?

For me I enjoy Chi Gung exercises, reading, writing and getting outside (especially now it’s the summer) be it the park, beach or mountains, it doesn’t matter. I find reading a better way to relax that just staring at the goggle box in the corner. I’ve been writing a bodyweight training manual, hopefully due for release in the next two months, the creating process has been phenomenally relaxing.
The Chi Gung is something I learned through the martial arts and there are time I practice intensely and times I don’t do any, but I enjoy the chilled out sessions the best. One of my favorites is the Ba Duan Jinn (8 pieces or brocade) method.

I am considering running workshops in the Ba Duann Jinn method at the gym in the mornings, I guarantee you’ll feel better and ready for the day after a session (approx 20-30 mins), keep an eye on for updates on this, I’ll have to see what the gym manager says first.

Whatever your method, take time out and chill, your family, your boss and your immune system will thank you for it.


Wild Geese
any cause but our own

Basics, basics, basics!

I lost count of the amount of times Jack Parker would shout this at me and the other kids at St Martins Jnr Karate Club. “Without the basics” he would say “you’re advanced techniques would be worthless”

Last weekend Steve Tappin was over in Dublin showcasing his Escrima Concepts system. He advocated the same thing. “Too many styles concentrate on the flash and fancy stuff,” he said “but if you can’t do the simple stuff, you’ll never get to apply it”

Good advice as Steve teaches serious police, military and security operators around the world. People that unlike recreational martial artists and sport fighters, may have to employ this knowledge in the execution of their duties.

Steve’s Escrima Concepts and Wado Ryu Karate as taught by Jack are very different, but yet the two teachers are so similar in their outlook. This is because they’ve both been at the sharp end and know whats important and what will get you hurt.

Too man arts are so heavily influenced by the flash seen on the competition floor or the goggle box in the corner that they’re loosing their practicality, hence the suddn rise of “Reality” based martial arts. Not that I’ve anything against the good Reality systems (eg Mick Coup’s and Geoff Thompsons methods), but there are as many bad instructors in that world as there are in the “Traditional” world.

As a side note for the fitness folks, Craig Ballantyne, another guy I respect, has a new ebook on sale (I got mine free) focusing on the basic lifts any weight trainer should be doing, regardless of their goals. He calls it the Big 5 Workout (look here for more on it it’s about basics.

Whatever you do, be it Martial arts (from whatever stable), fitness training or any other pursuit, take some advice from three great instructors, Jack Parker, Steve Tappin and Craig Ballantyne.

Never forget the basics.

Wild Geese
any cause but our own

Being Honest

The Escrima Concepts seminar last weekend was incredible we all received some great training and information from a true master of the martial arts, Steve Tappin and his son Wayne.

It’ll take a few days for us to get a full write up on the event but I thought I’d talk about some of the key points.

Steve has developed and teaches a concepts based system, this means that rather than stringing together an endless amount of techniques, he has a number of principles and concepts that when correctly applied, lead to the rapid development of a skilled and effective fighter. This is not some clone system where everybody does the same thing the same way, in the Escrima Concepts system no two fighters move exactly the same, because the fighters are not the same.

This got me thinking. Steve already said over the weekend he wasn’t going to teach us stuff we already new, but rather he will show us ideas that we can apply to our own system to improve what we already do.

Is this applicable to the gym, the office, the home?

Steve put his system together by thinking outside the box, removing the illusion and honestly asking if his training was effective and useful outside in the real world, if your familiar with the Westside idea of training your weaknesses, or have read Geoff Thompson you probably know what I mean.
So ask yourself, does your 100 punches per day, hour on the treadmill or your 3 sets of 10 bench presses really have a carry over effect into the real world, or are you just doing it for the sake of it?

I know I used to practice Kata/forms just for the sake of practicing them. Now I do them with intent and purpose and find that I naturally apply the movements in the real world. I lift weights and train in a manner that will allow me to be more efficient in the real world, not just on the gym floor.

I like to know that I have the strength to lift and carry heavy stuff, the skills to defend myself and others in a tight spot and have the stamina to last all day at whatever I’m doing. This is largely as a result of the training I employ.

So take a long hard look at what you do, in the gym/dojo/office, and ask yourself if you are being honest. Steve did and now he’s one of the most in demand instructors in Europe.