1- Seeking Out The Demons
by IKFF Director Ken Blackburn
“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism” – Norman Vincent Peale
Feedback is a valuable tool in any endeavour. However, as the above quote states, people tend to solicit compliments as opposed to seeking out constructive feedback. The reason is simple – praise feels good and criticism stings. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Another variable affecting this dynamic is the person giving the feedback – not always an easy thing to do depending on the person you are interacting with. We all know the person who needs a huge dose of “honesty” but it’s not worth the emotional explosion that follows.
A starting point is yourself – have you done an honest assessment of your strengths and development areas? If you can’t be straight with yourself, there is a high probability you won’t be receptive to direct advice from others. Write out what you see as your talents and weaknesses – be specific.
As an example, if you are looking to improve your k-bell competition lifting, evaluate yourself in the following areas:
• Grip endurance
• Leg drive
• Hand position
• Bodyweight (too high or low?)
• Anxiety levels during competition
• Frequency of training
• Volume/intensity of training sessions
• Attitude toward training
• Hours of sleep per night
• Mental toughness
The above list can be more detailed/specific depending on the person, and of course, it has to be objective, otherwise it’s a waste of time. In addition to the above, video your competition lifts and evaluate your mechanics, alignment, breathing, k-bell trajectory etc . Often times, you will be surprised at what you see. Another incredibly value tool is a training journal. The numbers don’t lie and will be your best indication of what direction you are heading.
So, you are now being honest with yourself. From this point, it’s a great idea to solicit feedback from others. Seek out people who really know you and aren’t afraid to be direct. Avoid people like your Grandma…“Ken, you are such a handsome young man”……and instead ask your Dad….. “Ken, don’t mean to bust your ass but you are no Tom Jones. Developing your personality will be critical.” …ha ha…My dad is a great guy and his point was well taken. Thus, that is why at that time (I was around 18), I chose not to emulate Tom Jones (who would really??) and opted for Jean Claude Van Damme instead. My closet was loaded with “Van Damage!” – cowboy boots with silver tips, dress pants and tank tops with clips. Oh yeah! Couple that with some jump spinning kicks on the dance floor and I had found my niche. All good things come to an end though. The outfit is now retired to a dark area of my closet like some old superhero costume. Makes me misty thinking about it….
Okay, way off topic. When getting feedback from others, make it easy for them. Getting in their face and yelling.. “Go ahead, tell me something I suck at” may not be productive. Same thing for… “Hey, my set looked good right?”. Intimidation and fishing for compliments isn’t what we are looking for.
Instead try the following:
• Have a list of questions that are specific to your activity and have the person rate you on a scale of 1-10 in each area. Target the questions you scored low on and ask for greater detail
• Encourage super honest/objective responses
• For some, verbal interactions are uncomfortable. Thus, you could e-mail the above instead
• Ask the person if they can re-evaluate your performance again in a month (measure progress)
• Don’t limit this to just one person, have others do this as well
As it relates to the k-bell sport world, attend a competition. This will give you feedback on where you are at and it’s a great environment to get an evaluation of your performance from lifters you don’t normally interact with.
The more you repeat this process, the more comfortable you will become. Make a habit of being honest with yourself and continually making it easier for others to be honest with you as well. From there, reflect on the information you’ve gathered and make the necessary adjustments to your game plan. The data you gathered is of no use if you don’t apply it. Of course, it goes without saying that you will have to filter the feedback you get – not all information is valuable. Some folks are too critical or simply just don’t have a clue.
Be truthful with yourself, solicit honest information from others and watch your performance skyrocket!
Keep on truckin!
IKFF Director of Operations www.ikff.net
Follow Ken on Twitter at: twitter.com/kenblackburn
Facebook Page: facebook.com/ken.blackburn
2 – To Grade or Not To Grade.
Miguel, our rep in Florida recently started doing Guba Doce Pares with GM Danny Guba’s blessing and has asked us how his students can be graded.
This made me realise that since starting WGMA I have not graded anyone in Ireland in Kenpo or Filipino Martial Arts (FMA). As a result some people think that we don’t do gradings. This is not quite correct, as a 3rd Dan black belt in Ed Parker’s Kenpo I can grade up to black belt, as a Doce Pares black belt I have no idea wether I am entitled to grade people or not as I have never asked. This is because gradings just don’t interest us anymore.
My attitude to gradings has been influenced by the styles I do, Kenpo and FMA. Without going into too much detail, or bitching of your prefer, I feel that gradings have been degraded in Kenpo by people awarding themselves Dan grades every chance they get. Basically, there are far too many 10th degree Grandmasters for my liking.
As for FMA, gradings are fairly irrelevant. One thing I learnt early on was that if you want gradings, a Philippine master will give you whatever you want. If you want knowledge, he will give you knowledge, if you want a belt, he will give you a belt. Some people criticise the Filipino’s for this, but when some fool westerner comes over and offers you 3 months wages for a certificate, what do you say?
Maybe if I was training in a style that had a standardised grading system I would feel differently. I remember how important each stage up to my first black belt was and I will never forget my first black belt grading, this is why I wrote earlier that gradings don’t interest us…..any more.
I think many students also are less interested in gradings then years ago. Students have told us that they have enough pressure in their lives and simply want to train. Maybe the advent of MMA has helped change peoples attitude to grading just as it has changed peoples attitude to martial arts styles in general.
This absence of gradings has also lead people to believe that we don’t have a syllabus. This is also incorrect, how can you teach without a syllabus? I teach Parkers Kenpo syllabus, slightly changed because I always thought it was designed to make it easier for a professional instructor to teach than for a student to learn. I teach the Guba Doce Pares syllabus and because I have trained in the Philippines I teach the Doce Pares International syllabus. We also have syllabuses designed for specific purposes, eg Control & Restraint for security personnel etc.
To sum up, if any of our students want to learn, we teach them. If at any time, any of our students want to grade, we grade them.
I have never taught anybody from white to black belt, not because I am against it, I just haven’t. Maybe someday I will, and it will be a special moment for me as it will be for them.
Wild Geese Founder & Chief Instructor
3- Wild Geese Boot Camp Survivors Speak Out
If you’re a fan of the Wild Geese Facebook page you will have had the opportunity to read the workouts performed on the last boot camp.
We had a mixed bag of participants, from an overweight mechanic, a female office worker approaching 40, a business graduate and of course some of our fighters.
On the first day everybody looked nervous, a little bit scared, they’d read that I had no intention of going easy on them and that this was not going to be like any other Boot amp that is currently being run in Ireland.
On the last day everybody (well, the ones that had survived that is) looked determined and were actually asking “So, what’s in store for us today then Dave?”
On the first day everyone was a little shy and reserved.
On the last day they were cheering each other and pushing each other on.
The Camp was run over three days a week, each day had a theme. Monday was strength day, this included Front Squats, Pull Ups and Military Presses, all for sets of 3 reps. Tuesday was Cardio day where we alternated conditioning drills, mostly bodyweight, with a short run. And finally on Fridays we hit the circuit, which included heavy lifts, bodyweight drills and more.
If you want to read more, visit the Boot Camp page or hop over to the Facebook page and have a read of the actual workouts.
It makes me proud to report that everyone made serious improvements over the course, most have signed up to repeat the course.
Here’s what they said in their own words:
“You know you said we’d end up hitting harder, watch this….” – Eoin, Kickboxer
“I ran a 5 mile race the over the weekend. I ran my fastest ever time, and I’ve not done any running, only this.” – Clara
“The Holy trinity of Boot Camps” – Karl
“Brilliant – Tough, but Dave was very encouraging & motivated. I could physically feel the results, stronger, fitter. Will be back for more punishment”
“Training was very tough but got through it. Never thought I could but the trainer and other worked hard to keep me going. It was a great experience” – John
There are limited spots left on the next Boot Camp starting the 4th August, but we are taking bookings for the September Camp commencing Monday 6th.
Drop us an email on email@example.com to book a place.
4- 1st Irish Kettlebell Lifting Competition and Upcoming Workshops
Wild Geese conditioning coach, Dave Hedges, was away over the
He was down in Kilkenny where the Kilkenny Kettlebell Club had organised the 1st Irish Kettlebell Lifting
While the Kettlebell is enjoying a huge amount of popularity at
the moment, few seem to be aware of the competitive aspect of
Kettlebell lifting. For many the bell is simply a tool for fat
burning, for some it’s way of building enormous levels of
conditioning. But for a few it’s a way of competition, a way to
push themselves and test themselves against their peers.
How does it work?
In the Biathlon there are two lifts that must be completed, the
Jerk and the Snatch. Under the World Kettlebell rules men jerk 2
bells, women 1.
You compete in the jerk first, where the bell(s) are bumped from
the chest to a lockout position overhead. The lift is done with
the power of the legs, the arms and shoulders only come along
for the ride.
After a break, which is a minimum of 30 minutes you are called
back on for the Snatch event. For this the bell is swung in an
arc from between the legs to an overhead lock out position, you
may only change hands once.
The winner is the person who lifts the biggest total, ie number
of reps completed x weight used. If you head over to
www.kilkennykettlebellclub.com you’ll be able to see a full
results sheet for the event.
Dave himself put up 78 Jerks with 24kg bells, only managed 53
snatch with the 24 before he lost his grip but then went on to
lift the 36 kg bell and jerk it for 24 reps each side.
If you want to know more about kettlebells and the related
training methods Dave runs regular workshops at Wild Geese, or
is available for workshops at your own gym or facility.
Kettlebells are also available for you to buy.
Dave will be conducting the next Kettlebell workshops at Wild
Geese HQ on the following dates:
You may also book a Kettlebell workshop at your own gym/club.
These workshops can be specifically tailored to your groups
wants and needs, you’re not limited the levels 1 – 5 we use as
our syllabus. For more info on the types of workshops available,
5 - Wild Geese Pro Shop
Wild Geese Martial Arts training gear is now available!
We’ve searched for the highest quality of goods and I think we’ve succedded in finding a manufacturer that has the same high standards you have come to expect from Wild Geese.
In stock we have:
14oz Boxing Gloves
Wild Geese Hoodies
Shin & Insteps (These were snapped up in a heartbeat and are currently sold out! We’ll have more in soon)
All are available through our shop page
Much of the kit is flying out the door, the shin pads are already sold out and the Boxing Gloves are nearly all gone. The feedback we’re getting from the fighters using the gear is all good.
One heavyweight kick boxer states: "3 days per week, hard bag work and sparring over the last month and they still look brand new. They’re as good as my old Top Pro gloves”
On our next order we will be offering even more gear. We’ve been testing a JuJitsu uniform, using it in both Judo and BJJ classes, so far it still looks brand new. We’ll also be bringing in Cotton T-shirts with a broader range of designs on them.
Which brings me to my next offer:
Bespoke training apparel.
If you have your own club logo and wish to have Hoodies, Tshirts, rash guards etc branded up, please drop us a line. There is a minimum order of 25 pieces per design but I can assure you the price and quality will not disappoint.
To arrange to have your own designs on your training gear, simple send through the logo as jpeg or similar, along with some design info, such as placement, colours, etc. Let us know what items you wish to have the design on, T shirt, Gi, Hoodie etc. And then we’ll get back to you with the best price. Enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
All Proceeds go to the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Society
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