Author: D C
Not the usual martial arts seminar
By Dave Chesser
Last summer I had the chance to attend sifu Ed Wong’s level 1 Urban Survival System certification and I really enjoyed the experience. I started martial arts at the age of 15 and came to Taiwan to study traditional Chinese martial arts and even after all those years of practice, sifu Ed’s material was some of the best I’ve seen. Here’s what made it special.
1. The goal was learning to survive a fight, not win a sport match or a form competition. Some of the martial arts I’ve done didn’t really address violence in any way even though they thought they did. In fact, we sometimes ignored that it existed. The USS seminar starts with the fact that you will have to be extremely aggressive to survive getting assaulted on the street and focuses on that instead of exotic, obsolete weapons or laying on the ground in guard position.
2. The techniques were all realistic. The 100 forms I learned in traditional arts won’t help you defend yourself. The material we got at level 1 contained no fluff, no fantasy moves that could only be pulled off in movies. The material is actually very simple because as Ed explained, complex moves don’t work when you’re pumped full of adrenaline and struggling with an attacker. Because the moves are simple, most anyone that trains them can do them. I came home after the seminar and taught the techniques to my 9 year old son and he could execute the moves well within two days of learning them.
3. Aggression was the key. This was something completely missing from my martial arts experience. Peace, love, and universal harmony sounds great but when someone is trying to cut you with a knife on the MRT, then you need aggression to survive the assault. That mindset needs to be developed, it doesn’t come naturally for most people.
4. Anaerobic fitness was a key component of the training. The same kind of fitness developed by hard kettlebell and bodyweight circuits played a key role in the training. As Ed explained, you have to go all out for :15 to maybe 3:00 in order to get away from an attacker. Add in weapons like knives and multiple opponents and you’ll see very quickly that having anaerobic power is absolutely necessary to pull off the techniques. Just having the techniques by themselves isn’t enough without having the fitness to pull them off. Again, this was the clearest connection I had ever heard between the type of fitness we do at the gym and training for fighting.
5. The intensive format really appealed to me. I’ve taken and enjoyed regular martial arts classes for years. But getting a full system that you can practice at home or at the gym in a weekend appealed to me because I’m too busy with family and work to take regular classes. Get the full system in a weekend and then go practice on your own or with friends instead of having to attend classes for months.
If any of the above sounds appealing to you then consider joining us for the level 1 and level 2 cert that we’ll have with Ed in April. We’re only taking 14 people for each because we want you to have lots of exposure to Ed and to clearly see what he does. That’s a lot smaller and more intimate than a lot of local seminars.
We are honored to be hosting this seminar and I hope to see some of you there.
The American Swing and the Missing Posterior Chain
A video of a client doing the American swing is floating around. One of our trainers did a good job saying what’s wrong with it, but I want to address some of the points specifically. The trainer that taught this client said that the client’s hamstrings were so loose that she could not feel the swing with the hip in the normal position so he made a mistake by teaching her the swing with the knees locked into position. Apparently this client had come to our kettlebell seminar twice.
First of all, I appreciate everyone’s effort to learn and get things right.
Second, I’m glad this client attended our seminars and we thank her for that. Unfortunately, many people come to our seminars with problems so severe that once or twice doesn’t fix the problems. Many people we see will need more training, however some people that watch our videos before the seminar do quite well. Sometimes it’s the people you least expect to do well.
A huge part of the problem is the lack of knowledge of personal trainers. I taught a kettlebell seminar at the annual meeting of the largest personal training organization in Taiwan. Everyone knows who this group is. Out of 70 or so trainers that took the course, only about 5-6 had good hamstring development. Sorry, but that’s just a fact. Most of them teach group aerobics that greatly overuses the quads and under-uses the hamstrings. Most of them teach yoga, which acts like your hamstrings and glutes are things to sit on and to stretch but never strengthen those muscles. I later trained a head trainer certed in this organization whose hamstrings felt like tofu. Imagine a fat lady’s tricep that hangs off her arm. That’s what this head trainer’s hamstrings were like. It was nearly impossible to teach this head trainer the kettlebell swing. The fact is that she is certified under an organization and trains in a gym that simply doesn’t value what you can’t see in the mirror and you could see it from her movement skills.
I mention those trainers and that head trainer specifically to show that many people and even many trainers have exactly the same problem – practically non-existent hamstring and glute muscles. I’ve been saying this for years. If you start kettlebell training with nothing back there, then it will be extremely difficult for you to swing the kettlebell correctly. That isn’t fixed in one or two seminars. Some of the people that come to us have never worked out in a gym before so they don’t know. But a surprising amount of the people who can’t do it not only come from gyms, they have personal trainers but it doesn’t help because hamstrings and glutes aren’t mirror muscles that mainstream personal trainers focus on.
If you have so little hamstring and glute strength that you can’t swing the kettlebell correctly, then the American swing is the absolute worst thing you can give to the client. The American swing takes out what the swing is good for in the first place: training the hamstrings and glutes. Instead, it replaces those muscles with the arms as can be seen in many American swing videos. Most Crossfit people use the American swing as one big delt front raise with a little momentum thrown in. This ruins the movement pattern we’re trying to fix or create in the first place if you don’t have it. People raise things using only their delts naturally. They must be taught to use the hamstrings and glutes. You can’t have it both ways – if you’re using the delts to raise the kettlebell, you WILL NOT use the hamstrings and glutes.
No one should be doing the American swing unless you want to compete in the Crossfit games. I keep telling trainers that you should know what every movement contributes to the client’s goal. If the goal is fat loss, the American swing is the wrong choice because it ignores the larger hamstring and glute muscles in favor of the smaller delts, which burn a lot fewer calories. The American swing with it’s terrible overheard, bottoms-up position limits how much weight you can use. That also limits the amount of calories you will burn. For most people, the swing should be used to build up the posterior chain. But again, the American swing largely skips that, making it a poor choice. So if your goal is anything other than competing in the Crossfit games (where it must be used) then the American swing is a poor choice.
And I personally don’t care what people see on Youtube, as apparently this young lady wanted to learn it because she saw it there. If I had a client tell me they wanted to learn the American swing because they saw it on Youtube, I’d suggest they watch better videos or not watch Youtube at all. I certainly would not teach them something I knew was wrong, as this trainer said he did.
The American swing also causes people to hyper-extend the back and hyper-extension is already a problem for hyper-flexible people with no hamstring or glute strength. Again, the problem with these women (and 90% of the time it’s women) is that they were hyper-mobile and hyper-flexible to begin with then they started doing “fitness” like yoga and aerobics that totally skipped hamstring and glute training, leading to even more hyper-flexibility and hyper-mobility than when they started. So the American swing takes a pre-existing condition and makes it even worse. Look at the video and you’ll see she’s pulling with the arms because the hamstrings and glutes aren’t involved enough with the swing. And she almost loses the kettlebell over her head several times. She can’t control the kettlebell because she’s hyper-mobile and because the American swing puts her body in a bad position. It’s hard for anyone to control the kettlebell overhead with the handle pointing down and the heavier body of the kettlebell above the handle. With a hyper-mobile person, it’s a recipe for disaster.
So tell clients to turn off Youtube or point them to better stuff, stop pandering to clients by teaching them whatever they want, teach them instead what they NEED, work on their weaknesses even though you can’t see them in a mirror, and stop getting your information from bad sources.
30 Day Push Day One
Why wait until the new year to push yourself? Let’s be honest — 99% of people who do that fail year after year. Don’t be like them. Let’s skip that and push hard now! Are you where you said you would be in January 2014? Then let’s get busy and use the end of the year to bring the pressure. We got 30 (okay, 31) days to make this happen.
The push has two components and this is the way I do it. Others do it differently but I don’t care. Here’s what’s important:
1. you workout as many days as possible to maximize results. I will be doing 6 days a week. 2-3 days a week likely won’t cut it but if that’s your maximum then push those days hard.
2. You will improve on at least ONE exercise EVERY DAY. Keep track of all your exercises, each rep and each set. On at least one exercise, do one more rep on that first set each time you do it or go up in weight, or improve your form.
Both of these are crucial. Contestants on Biggest Loser work out for hours every day so do you think that you can’t? Programmed wisely, you can do a whole lot more than you think. Getting 10,000 steps a day, every day is a great start. The next level is to get 10,000 steps not counting your workout. Walking is good because it won’t interfere with anything other exercise you do but it’s just one idea. Be creative.
Improving on at least one exercise every single time you work out is how you make progress. It’s called kaizen — Japanese for never-ending improvement. Using this principle, you will slowly increase your workout capacity over time, leading to big results. I recently worked out for 6 days a week for about 5 weeks straight and I took my hip extensions from 3×15 with bodyweight to 3×15 with the 32kg kettlebell and now I’m doing 5×5 of the mush harder glute ham raise. What got me that was constant, slow improvement.
Post a brief comment on your progress each day with me over at the Formosa Fitness Facebook page.
So today I did:
strict chins 13, 8, 8, 8, 7
dips 16kg 6 24kg 17 (a new PR by 5 reps!!), 13, 11 bodyweight 10, 10
grid curls 32kg 10, 10, 34kg 7, 7,
cat vomit with ground claws 10, 8, 7, 6
ball curls slow 10, 8, 6, 6
Boobies and New Gyms
So I see lots of people are upset over a new gym chain showing a female trainer pushing her boobs into a gymgoers face while he’s doing the pec deck machine. (sorry but I can’t publicly name the gym)
First of all, people from the gym are saying she’s not a trainer. Then why is she wearing the gym’s shirt? Why is she and a lot of other cute little girls wearing the official gym shirt featured on their Facebook page? Do any real trainers even work there? Why aren’t any videos or pictures of them being displayed? Is it a brothel or a gym? I can’t tell.
I see comments about this video from mainland China like, “Is this how gyms in Taiwan do things?” Let me tell you, China is a big place and lots of bad stuff goes on there. Before anyone over there starts saying bad stuff about the Taiwan fitness industry, they need to first look in the mirror and look at what their colleagues are doing pretty much everywhere. It’s widely known that most trainers in the mainland use the job just to pick up women and sometimes men. So clean your own house before you comment on ours.
Finally, what do people expect? How many so-called professional female trainers put up pictures of themselves in their panties? Maybe the girl in the video has bigger breasts than them so they’re upset. The biggest gym in Taiwan also covers its walls and DM with lesbian pornography and hands it out on the streets. Didn’t they set the standard?
I agree this gym chain should be criticized and I’m glad to see people upset. But if trainers want to be seen as professionals, then let’s drop the porn pics and set a higher standard.
Training vs. Exercising? Do my DVD and you’ll get it
I’ve given up talking about training instead of exercising because I often feel like I’m wasting my breath. Instead, I’m working personally with people that are likely to understand the concept. But I also wrote the Kettlebell Quest DVD for people at home that want to train instead of exercise. The point of the DVD program isn’t just to lose fat or entertain you or anything else. The point of the program is for you to MASTER the exercises and the entire program. You train each level in order to reach the next level workout. You then progress through the program until you reach the end. Not one…single…exercise is in there randomly. Everything was planned out very meticulously to help you reach kettlebell mastery. The goal is to reach the last workout. That’s why it’s called Kettlebell Quest.
And when you reach the end, what is the result? Outstanding fat loss and conditioning. The result comes from the process of training!