Category Archives: power

The Art of Power

The weekend that just passed saw yet another great workshop at Wild Geese Martial Arts.
This time we had world renowned Self Protection expert Mick Coup in to teach a two day workshop on Power Generation.

Over two 4 hour workshops Mick presented his view on how to create a seriously powerful punch and kick.
Now this wasn’t just his opinion, the information he teaches has been very carefully scrutinised, analysed and tested.
What Mick finds true, he teaches.

More so than that, Mick’s goal isn’t to show you a system or a style, rather it’s to help you understand, as he does, the in’s and outs of a particular movement. Or as he quipped, “I’m giving you the fishing rod, not just a fish.”

Oddly enough for a 4 hour day, only a small portion of it was spent actually banging the pads. How can this be on a power generation workshop?

Mick has the eye of an engineer. He takes apart movements and looks at the underlying principles and processes involved.
He then looks at which areas are most important and which need the most work to improve them.
He then re integrates the parts and tests.

Sound familiar? It’s exactly what your mechanic does when you take your car to get fixed. He doesn’t just get in it and drive it around, he takes it apart to find and fix the problem before driving it to ensure the fix is good.
This is the same way in which Mick Coup looks at his training and encourages you to look at your own.

This eliminates everything except logical, evidence based improvement. There’s no blind loyalty to any one system, style or instructor. All that matters is the result.

So after 4 hours, with only a small portion of that actually punching the pads, every person in the room made significant improvements in striking power. How do we know this? Well, there is only one way to tell how powerful a strike is and that’s to ask the target.
It was a unanimous decision amongst everyone who held pads that they were feeling the effects. It is this feedback from the pad man that tells you how effective your being, its not how much effort your using. Often when the guys were told to “not try” or to simply concentrate on their feet, or their hip rather than the target, they felt that they moved with far less effort yet the pad man always reported an increase in power. Or at least they did when they recovered their wind!

The second day reviewed some of the information from day 1 allowing the guys to ask questions, before moving into the “Low Line” strike aka low kick.

The same processes and principles were applied and the same results were seen.

As an aside to the technical information, Mick also gave out some training tips to develop the body. He’s a advocate of hard physical training saying that we should look to the world of athletics for our inspiration. He showed methods for developing explosive power, starting strength structural strength. He talked about tricking the Central Nervous System into over delivering and recruiting more muscle fibres and therefore more power.

All in all the weekend was excellent. And I highly recommend you spend some time training with Mick Coup at some point, regardless of your style or system, he will improve what you do.

The next workshops/seminar to be held at WGMA will be:

Rapid Response Knife Defence Skills – Nov 4th with Dave Hedges
Tuhon Pat O’Malley, CQC and empty hand FMA street combatives – Nov 24 & 25
Iain Abernathy, date TBC, this is being run by Kevin Callan of Kyohushin Karate, WGMA are hosting.

Get in touch to get involved, simply email: or better still, join our Facebook page and sign up to receive our email newsletter here:


Wild Geese

The Sound of Power

As a kid learning Karate we were encouraged to shout so loud we try to make the roof rattle.
It was called a Kiai.
All we new back then was that it made your stomach hard so if got hit it wouldn’t hurt.
What we didn’t know is that it is an essential part of generating insane amounts of power.

Fast forward to the present day and my knowledge and understanding has grown.
The word Kiai comes from the Japanese and translates roughly to “Life Breath” and it actually doesn’t need to be loud, we can Kiai silently, but where’s the fun in that?

But Kiai’s also go by the less glamorous names of “grunt”, “yell” and “scream” and one of the most famous Kiaiers of all was not even a martial artist but a tennis player.
Do you remember Monica Seles, put her name into google and you’ll surely get to hear her ear splitting yell as she struck the ball.
Plus, the Olympics have just finished, did you hear the noise the weightlifters make when the going got tough?
Or the shot putters? or the javelin throwers or any other power athlete?

So whats it all about?

Try the following:
Place your hands on your belly and feel it expand as you take in a deep breath. Now exhale as sharply as possible.
Did you feel your abdomen tighten and become like a rock? If you exhaled sharply enough you should have.

By bracing the abdominal and the so called “core” muscles you create a solid connection from the hip to the shoulder. So power generated by the legs and glutes can be effectively transferred to the shoulder and arm in order to lift/throw/strike efficiently.
The same bracing action is also very useful in absorbing a force, be it a punch, kick or tackle, and protecting the important stuff underneath, like your spine and the digestive system.

But why the noise?

If you are involved in Yoga or Chi Gung, you may already know that there are certain syllables that when uttered or chanted are supposedly very good for the mind and body. Probably the best known is the chant “Om”, however this isn’t the only syllable used, there are many others all with difering properties and effects on the body.
It’s something to do with vibration, but I’m not an expert so I’m not going to go on about mystic chanting, but I do think there maybe something in it.

When I deadlift I tend to make an elongated (the deadlift takes time to lift) “eeeeeee!!” noise, when I hit the bag I make an “ush!” sound and today while practicing Kettlebell jerks I noticed myself making a “itss!” on the jerk out and an “huugh!” on the drop to the chest.

Now I’m not the first person to make these observations.
I read it elsewhere, it may have been in one of Pavel Tsatsouline’s works, I don’t remember, and I’m not going to search for it. However the author mentioned how a notable strongman had varying noises for various lifts. On certain lifts he’d hiss, on others he’d yell, these noises helped him put up huge weights.

In the martial arts the Kiai has become something magical, pershaps the result of too much hypothesising and not enough practicing within the modern dojo.
Thankfully we can still see the phenomenon on the tennis court and in the weights room for what it is, without the movie magic and Bruce Lee impersonations. We can see that a good solid shout produces a solid linkage in order to best transfer power from the ground to the arm.

In short, Kiai’s are the real deal. I have several different ones for various occasions.
So next time you don your white pyjamas and coloured belt, Kiai, but do it with feeling, feel the whole body tighten and the mind focus like a laser.
Become the warrior, let your fearsome yell send shivers down the opponents spine, because with it comes power.
The power to cause serious damage.

Wild Geese
every cause but our own

The importance of hitting things

I was covering a Kenpo class there yesterday, I wasn’t too familiar with the student as he belongs to another instructor.
The lad is dedicated and bright, but when I asked him to show me which Kenpo techniques he wanted to go over, I was frankly gobsmacked!!

One of the things that I have always loved about Kenpo, since I first came across it in 2001, was the speed, power and efficiency involved in it’s movement. I’ve always disliked the overly complex syllabus, but we can’t have it all our own way.

Now watching this lad show me a few of the techniques from the green belt, i could barely believe what I was seeing. Now just to clear this up, the lad is able and dedicated, he does what he’s been shown. So the mistakes he was making are purely down to the instruction he has received.

Here’s a fella, comes in 3-4 times a week, is in the intermediate stages of the syllabus and has no concept of body mechanics, power, moving from the hips, pushing from the ground and poor balance. How did I remedy this, simple, introduced a thing called contact.

I took the fella over to the bags, broke the techniques down to simpler combinations and had him spend about an hour repeatedly executing these combo’s with power on the bag.

The result.

1 a greater understanding of the techniques
2 the ability to balance
3 moving from the hip
4 strength delivered from the legs
5 no longer leaning away when striking
6 a big boost in confidence

This lad, like countless other around the world has suffered due to instructor laziness and lack of imagination.
Traditional martial arts already take enough of a slagging because we spend our time waving our arms in the air doing forms and kata. And to a degree it’s deserved. If you teach a class invest in some strike pads, focus mits, punch bags, whatever you have the funds and facilities for and have your students spend some time hitting things, the founders and fighters from your style/system certainly did.

Your students will thank you for it.

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

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