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Kettlebells, Towers and Bunkers

Well, did you read it?

Did you see Monday’s post about the launch of my Certification Program?

Well, this is where I’m supposed to go on some sort of marketing drive, but to be fair, I can’t stand when people send me sales pitches, and I really suck at writing them for my own stuff.

So here’s about as much marketing bollocks as I can manage, before we go into a regular blog post about something useful:

The WG-Fit Kettlebell Instructor Program will be:

  1. Bullshit free

  2. You will learn to teach

  3. You will learn how to design workouts and programs

  4. Everything will be taught from a principle based standpoint, not style based

  5. It is very possible to fail this course, you will be examined and scored according to:

  6. Physical Fitness 15%

  7. Technical Proficiency 25%

  8. Teaching Competance 30%

  9. Structuring a class 15%

  10. Program Design 15%

This is not about your physical ability to train, it is about your ability to pass on the skills and bring up other people.

If that sounds like the kind of cert you wish to hold, HERE’S THE LINK!

Now, back to the normal distribution of awesome reading material. Today though, I’m doing the writing. This one is from a guy I go to for training, a Self protection expert with whom I share physical training knowledge. Not that he needs it!

Mick, originally posted this on his forum and then shared it on his facebook page. I love the message in it, it is a reflection of the way I think about Training and Fitness.

I’ll hand over to Mick Coup:

Mick Coup talking about the punch

Mick Coup talking about the punch

Towers & Bunkers


I’m a huge believer in traditional training practices – and all the truly effective training I have ever seen is traditional in approach believe it or not, no matter how ‘modern’ it purports to be. Unfortunately the mere word ‘traditional’ seems enough to send most ‘progressive’ types into shock – yet a great deal of them, the ones that get the best results anyway, are a lot closer to using these so-called ‘outdated’ methods than they believe.

Before getting into the meat of this article, let’s establish exactly what I mean by the term ‘traditional’ lest there be any misunderstanding. It’s actually easier to define what ‘traditional’ isn’t – I feel that when many people hear the ‘T’ word they think of highly stylised and historically-orientated methods, which I feel is more accurately described as being ‘Classical’ in nature as opposed to ‘Traditional’.

Traditional systems and methods, as I understand them, originated for a definite purpose, and when we compare them to our ‘modern’ efforts it must be considered that they were just as ‘modern’ in their day and possibly more practical due to their immediate requirements. Give what we do now a few decades to evolve and it will become traditional compared to future approachs will it not?

I’m guessing it will, so where is the actual benchmark? It obviously has little to do with time/date issues if the above is taken into account – that term would be ‘vintage’ I suppose – so what defines this traditional approach that I put so much stock into?

In a word – basics. Building foundations is the primary task, above all else – the majority of work is channelled into the perfection of the underlying core skills, the essentials that support all future endeavours. This to me epitomises the traditional approach, the repetition and constant drilling of the primary tools and skills, and – wait for it – everything is progressive in nature, structured and organised, each component building on the last in an integrated fashion.

Before I’m swamped with critics claiming how ineffective various traditional styles are, especially when compared to their ultra-modern ‘combative super-system’ (I actually teach one of these myself, so there is no bias here!) just bear in mind that truly traditional systems work – that’s what they were designed to do – it’s the ones that have become ‘classical’ that lose effectiveness, through becoming over-stylised and aesthetic.

Ultimately it’s all about application in context, and about how the training is conducted, and finally about the person. If all three are on-track, everything will be effective – if not, then nothing – even the high-speed modern stuff – will fail.

The title of this piece? Not an attempt to be cryptic I assure you, but rather a parallel that can be drawn to illustrate my point – using the construction industry as an abstract analogy.

I prefer not to build upwards in all truth, but to dig deeper in the same spot. Once I have a basic structure that suits my needs and requirements in place, then I want to concentrate on the footings, the foundations – not add rooms I’ll rarely use or decorate the place to make it look nice!

Everything to me is about function, the form is a by-product – have you ever seen an old Naval cutlass, a heavy plain blade with basic fittings? Nothing about it has anything to do with looking nice, just so long as it is manageable and durable in combat – the ornamentation is absent, it’s designed to kill human beings with – nothing more. When it was no longer used for this purpose, replaced by firearms, it became beautiful, decorated and stylised to be pleasing to the eye – a modern officer’s dress sword will still be bad for you if it runs you through, no doubt, but nothing like it used to be!

Sticking with the firearms subject for a little while, definite parallels can be drawn between ultra-modern ‘high-speed’ firearms training and traditional martial arts – again all hinging around the basic skills and the disproportionate attention that they should receive, compared to the more ‘advanced’ techniques.

I come from a military background predominantly, and I recall basic weapons training being a real anti-climax after all I’d anticipated – I’m from the UK and didn’t grow up around guns, apart from what I saw on TV anyhow so I wasn’t expecting what seemed to be so exciting turn out to be boring, or so it felt at the time!

Spending hours in the classroom, everyday for weeks on end just going through the motions – by rote – of handling and loading, making ready, making safe, unloading, stripping and assembling, clearing malfunctions, etc etc before going anywhere near a shooting range – what was all that about? When we were finally deemed competant enough to shoot real bullets, we only got five at a time, and practiced getting the holes in the target as close together as possible, lying in a comfortable position with a convenient sandbag for support – nothing more exciting than that!

Still the classroom lessons continued, learning how to transfer the basic skills from one weapon to another, using universal concepts that seemed more obvious the more we understood them, and this was the light-switch right there – understanding. Once you knew why something was happening, everything just slotted into place – no longer were you trying to remember, always one step behind – now you were doing the thing on your own. This was only possible because we started slow, worked progressively and concentrated on mastering the basics above all else. This all progressed into the ‘high speed’ exciting stuff I’d initially expected – but only when we’d done enough of the basics, and the intermediate, to enable us to not only perform the advanced material but actually get something out of it.

In essence we built a foundation, and getting back to the construction analogy this wasn’t just having the ground cleared and levelled before building – that isn’t enough, you have to then dig down and pour some concrete into the hole, and only when it has set properly can you even think about starting to build. The quality and quantity of the foundation determines many things, not least how high you can build and certainly how stable and long-lived the structure will be. It is the one process that simply cannot be skipped, or even rushed – it really is that important. I see a great many ‘structures’ on the horizon that don’t have much depth in my opinion – lots of height at first inspection, but built too soon on ground that has only been cleared, and little more. Everyone, almost, seems to be in such a hurry to dive into the advanced training that the basics get little attention. Building too high, too fast, without a good foundation is never a good idea.

Like I alluded to earlier, personally I don’t build ‘towers’ these days, I build ‘bunkers’ instead. I don’t need, or want the extra rooms, and neither do the individuals and groups that I teach – function is everything, and this is where I concentrate my efforts. The ‘structures’ might look minimal above ground, but this is far from the case when you step inside and press the ‘down’ button in the elevator!

Do I get bored? Do I ever want more? To be honest – no. It’s all there anyway, across the full spectrum. The only thing missing is the ‘trim’ that makes other pursuits only appear to be more comprehensive, and instead there is a more efficient and ergonomic user interface that makes the whole thing seem simpler and more accessible – just as technology is striving to achieve with even the most complex systems elsewhere. Complex does not, and should not, have to be complicated.

The only thing that ever gets ‘boring’ is the result, the end effect, the performance, and this is what I want more of, this is what I want to add to to change for the better – and it’s truly a long time time in the making if you do it right!


Check out Mick’s website, especially the forum where there are many articles of this quality. His site is


Dave Hedges

Next Workshop: Kettlebell Lifting Levels 1 & 2 September 8th, 1000 – 1600 At Wild Geese Fitness, Dublin 2 Details HERE.

Kettlebell Instructor Training Certification: October 5th & 6th, 0900 – 1700 both days. Details HERE

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