Monday, December 29, 2008

Do YOUUUU understand the words that are comin' outta my mouuuuuuth?


It's amazing that there's always someone who'll wait 'til close to the 11th hour and then email people in a panic, wondering how to cover their arses.

The updated RKC certification requirements have been out for a while now, folks. Get to know them. Start to love them. We've posted these new requirements on the main RKC website, on the Dragon Door forum, and on the instructor forums. More than a few RKCs have sent these new requirements out in emails and posted them on their blogs & websites. If information is light, then this updated RKC prep information should be downright blinding at this point.

If your instructor doesn't know these and prepares you to take the snatch test differently, fire your instructor! If you told your instructor that the RKC snatch test requirements were anything other than what you see posted below, fire yourself. [Have I heard of both of these situations happening at RKC certifications where I taught? YOU BET!]

I was thinking of cutting & pasting the entire page on here for such folks to read, but then I realized that they were missing the "bottom line". So here it is... taken directly from the RKC website.

Kettlebell Snatch Test Requirements
An RKC candidate is required to put up the number of reps matching his or her weight in kilograms, up to 100 repetitions.

Students heavier than 100kg are still required to do only 100 reps. For instance, an 60kg student needs to perform 60 snatches, an 82kg student 82 snatches, a 100kg student 100 snatches, a 122kg student 100 snatches.

Kettlebell Sizes

Men Open Class 24kg
Men Masters (50 and Older) 20kg

Women Open Class 16kg*
Women Masters (50 and Older) 12kg

* Women under 50kg /110 pounds in the open class may opt to perform 80 repetitions with a 12kg kettlebell instead.

You will be given 5min to complete the test.

You are allowed to make as many hand switches as you wish. The sum of both arms is scored.

You are allowed to set the kettlebell down and rest. If you have let go of the kettlebell before it has touched the ground (dropped it rather than set it down), your attempt will be disqualified. This applies to the last repetition as well.

You are allowed to make multiple back swings.

FINALLY... one last piece of advice: Don't "eyeball" anything. If you think you had good form on your snatches, you think you got your reps done in 5 minutes, you think you weigh a certain number of kilograms, and/or you think you were using the right kettlebell, then CHECK, CHECK, CHECK, and RE-CHECK until you are ABSOLUTELY SURE.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

To each and every KBLA blog reader out there,

You've all been tremendous gifts to me throughout the year. 2008 has brought me more blessings than I could have ever dreamed of. For a nobody kid from central Delaware, I've seen more of LA International Airport (and a others) that I'd have ever imagined in my wildest dreams this year... Scotland, Denmark, Hungary, New Zealand, countless trips domestically, and plenty more to come in 2009.

Your comments, your e-mails, your instructor reviews, your phone calls, your text messages, your handshakes, your pats on the back, and your hugs have made me and my mission heartier, higher, and HARDer, and I can't thank you all enough for that.

My thoughts are never far from the men & women who are serving their countries overseas, far from their families and loved ones. May God watch over them and bring them home safe, sound, & sane.

My martial arts teachers & masters are due their special respects, especially Master David C.K. Lin & his son Sifu James Lin (Combat Shuai-Chiao) and Master Arthur Y.S. Lee & his son Sifu Harlan Lee (Sil Lum Fut Ga). I remain lifelong in your debt.

I'd like to express a very special note of thanks to one man who changed the course of my life with a few introductions that he made. Guro Daniel Inosanto introduced me to both Prof. Roy Harris (my BJJ and Kalis Ilustrissimo mentor & big brother) and to Pavel Tsatsouline (my human performance & kettlebell training mentor). Pavel, in turn, introduced me to Gray Cook, and the two of them have turned the direction of my life and my life's passion inside-out, upside-down, washed it, dried it, and ironed it to military spec.

To my students and readers around the world, thank you for opening your hearts and minds to what I've had to say, to teach, and to share. I've had unique blessings to drink directly from the fountains of knowledge that are shaping our understanding of orthopedic medicine, physical therapy, elite human performance, and combative martial arts. With each time you open your worlds to me, you allow me to share the experience with you. And I get the greatest satisfaction when I get to see you all share that message with your clients, students, and patients. This is why the KBLA RKC instructors are my greatest professional joy!

I wish you and your loved ones a VERY Merry Christmas! May 2009 bring us all a STRONG YEAR!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Shoulder Series - Part V: Secondary Compensations


Image courtesy of Lauren Keswick at www.medicalartstudio.com

Just one look at the lattice work of soft tissue and bone that makes up the shoulder and its neighbors, and it's little wonder that damage or injury in one area can lead to a ripple effect in others nearby.

Many of you have heard the orthopedic saying - "If you injure the neck, the shoulder suffers too; and if you injure the shoulder, the neck suffers, too." Well, that's just the tip of the iceberg...

Let me give you a few examples of how a problem elsewhere in the system can manifest as a "shoulder" issue. Looking at the shoulder anatomy image above, it's not too hard to see how these situations might arise.

1. Neck: Some sort of soft tissue trauma occurs with the neck, whether from a car accident, a fall, or a stiff jab to the face. Even a bunch of swings done improperly such that the shoulder is raised to try to pull the bell upward will cause strain to the neck muscles! The soft tissue will recover from the strain/sprain and knit more easily when it's in a shortened position. However, that means that the shoulder will be drawn up closer to the neck. This can lead to what Gray Cook refers to as "stabilizers acting as prime movers and prime movers acting as stabilizers." As the neck tries to regain its stability, it recruits the shoulder into helping with extra stability. That, in turn, forces the muscles of the shoulder and arm to work harder to create "ordinary" arm & hand movements.

2. Elbow: Just as Gray Cook and Brett Jones used the tagline that "The hip is a bad neighbor", so too can we argue that the elbow is that way too. Movement pattern issues in the elbow can manifest either as wrist or shoulder pain. As regards the shoulder, if the elbow doesn't have its usual ranges of motion in an unfettered manner, the nervous system will recruit other muscles nearby to create the movement that's been compromised.

3. Thoracic Spine: The T-spine is a source of mobility for the shoulder. No two ways about it. If the muscles that move your T-spine start to exhibit the length-tension imbalances that are usually part & parcel of a sedentary lifestyle (office worker, long distance driver, etc.), then you're going to lose ranges of motion when you try to do overhead work with your arm. If you just try to lift your arm straight overhead without moving your T-spine in the slightest, you'll notice that you've probably maxed out at something like 20-30 degrees away from vertical. If you remove the limitations in the T-spine and do the same ROM test, you'll notice that ROM improves towards the vertical if not achieving it!

All of the above mechanisms create patterns of compensation. And compensation's like fire. It spreads and spreads until everything that can be burned is burnt out.

What's the long & short of this as relates to the RKC's HARD STYLE kettlebell training? Simple...

1. Mobility is a pre-requisite to stability. If you're going to do strength work, make sure you have unfettered ranges of motion. If you don't, then work on achieving them.

2. If you're injured, you can still train around your injury, but you have to make VERY sure not to feed any compensations.

3. NEVER push yourself past the limits of your form. If you lose form on one rep, put the bell down. If you've not lost form so badly that you can still regain perfect form on the next rep, go ahead & continue. If you do 2 reps with poor form, put the bell down.

People immediately get defensive when I say to "put the bell down", but that doesn't mean that you have to go and check yourself into an ER or give up your beloved way of training. Rather, it means that you need to cease the exercise you were doing when you lost form, and change your activity temporarily.

- If you were doing Swings, then go to the Turkish Get-Up.
- If your hands are too tired to even grip the bell, then go for a jog.
- If your legs are too shot to hold you up, then do the cobra stretch.

There are always options in intelligent training. So please go back and re-read all of the installments of the shoulder series and think about how the neck, upper back, hand, or shoulder discomfort that you or one of your clients/patients might have could be avoided or addressed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The KBLA brain trust


photo courtesy of Coach Ron Jones

Below are some excerpts of an e-mail I sent out to my RKCs last night. I have to say that the talented group of individuals that are KBLA continues to awe and humble me time after time.

The sheer fact that so many people would get out of bed on a cold Sunday morning, load their iron into their cars, and drive out to Santa Monica (sometimes from as far away as San Diego) is a testament to how great you've all made the Kettlebells Los Angeles family. From Singapore to San Jose, from Auckland to Arizona, and from La Mesa to Los Angeles, we're going to continue to improve as much as we can, bringing the most methodical, progressive, and safe kettlebell training methods to make you faster, stronger, leaner, and healthier..... HARD STYLE!!!

Thank you all for what you've made Kettlebells Los Angeles into!

---
RKCs ---

This past Sunday morning, as I looked around the class and made introductions to our Kettlebells Orange County RKC Candidates, I was awed by both the sheer number of RKC certified instructors who continue to train and learn and improve with me. This e-mail was addressed to only my fully-certified RKCs, of which there are 22 of you... That's nothing short of amazing when you consider that in December 2006, there was only me!

And while this e-mail isn't addressed to the RKC Candidates who were also in attendance, I can't help but be awed by the accomplished group of people in their ranks as well.

The KBLA roster boasts a brain trust & skill set like no other... elite athletes, world class martial artists, sports performance specialists, doctors of all sorts of specializations, wellness coaches, physical therapists, and plenty of "just ordinary folk" who are anything but ordinary.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Shoulder Series: Part IV- Pain Compensation

It feels good, or it hurts.

Those are the 2 main reasons why we do what we do. If an action elicits a pleasure response, most organisms gravitate towards repeating that action. You can think of this as the "Club Med" response. Contrarily, if an action elicits pain, then most organisms tend to avoid reproducing that action. This is the "Yipes!" response.

Now, let's say that something you might do (whether in sport, in work, in daily life, in whatever) causes you some sort of injury or discomfort. Guess what's going to happen? Your neurological system trains you to avoid it like the plague. You either mentally associate some sort of distaste with the action, and/or find some way around it if you have to continue to move the affected joint(s).

In the case of the shoulder, I've heard it described by former professors as the body's loosest joint when compared to the loads that are placed on it. If you look closely at the skeletal anatomy of the shoulder, there's not a lot of support for it. The bones that make up the shoulder interact with thin, relatively small surfaces that are tied together with thin ligaments and relatively narrow muscles (with the exception of the lats... This is sorta giving away the ending already, but I have to mention it here). That relative looseness allows the shoulder to achieve incredible ranges of motion compared to other joints, but the construction sometimes gets pushed beyond its limits thanks to either excessive forces or faulty movement patterns.

In fact, most of the time, you see patients whose injuries result from forces that would NOT have been excessive if the proper biomechanics were being followed. Let's look at a few examples...

- A martial artist or boxer throws a hard punch on a heavy bag that jars his shoulder because his shoulder was too protracted at the point of impact. Instead of keeping his elbow in FRONT of the plane of his body, he wound up for the punch by drawing his arm way behind it. Additionally the shoulder elevation further weakened the stabilizing ability of the shoulder girdle muscles, most likely straining both his rotator cuff and his pec. The next time he hits the bag, the strike will be more painful and probably less committed. If the round continues, there will be more guarding, reticence, and compensation.

- A young mother is holding her young toddler for extended periods, but she leaves most of her shoulder stabilizers too relaxed. The shoulder can't handle the load of her child's weight for such long stints, and the muscles become congested and fatigued.

- While training with his trainer, an athlete is playing catch with his trainer using the medicine ball. The trainer throws the ball short once and the athlete bends forward kyphotically to reach for the ball. His shoulders are loose, slack, and unbraced, and the medicine ball jerks his arms forward as it drops.

That's how the injury happens. The compensation mechanisms for those same 3 individuals might look like this...

- The martial artist's punches start to become more grazing rather than heavy, penetrating blows. Instead of reaching forward with that injured side or attacking with it, he chooses to block or shield with it instead. Additionally, while training or sparring, the injured shoulder is drawn in tighter and tighter as a protective response. That, in turn, manifests as pain and limited range of motion during the rest of the day.

- The young mother starts exhibiting neck & shoulder pain. Her neck becomes her core, and she tries to lift the sagging child by shrugging her shoulder up and also by kicking her hip out underneath the load. Eventually, if the problem is left to go on long enough, she'll feel pain, numbness/tingling, and/or weakness down the affected arm and into her hands, not to mention lower back pain (which sorta takes me towards my next installment).

- The athlete will likely start getting closer to try to catch the medicine ball more conveniently. However, when throwing the ball back, he'll be trying to generate the forward momentum in ways that allow him to protect that injured shoulder. He'll likely recruit muscles that shouldn't have a role in stabilizing the shoulder for a throwing motion. As Gray Cook would say, "The prime movers become stabilizers, and the stabilizers become movers." No good can come of that.

As you train yourself and watch those around you, keep your eye on the shoulder mechanics you see. You might find that you start noticing connections between certain movement patterns and certain aches and pains that people complain about. And then you'll hopefully start looking at your own movements with a keener, sharper, more disciplined eye.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

NOT GOOD

The shoulder analysis will continue this weekend, after I've touched down in PHX. Just too much to do in too little time right now. But this little bit of news alarms me, and again, makes me glad that although I live & work on the Westside, I won't be at home defenseless!

Police plan raises fears on Westside
LA Times

Residents worry that fewer patrols and the shift of LAPD officers elsewhere could mean increase in burglaries.

By Richard Winton and Martha Groves
December 2, 2008

A plan to slash the number of Los Angeles police officers who patrol some Westside neighborhoods has reignited long-standing political tensions over the priority the department gives to nonviolent property crimes in affluent neighborhoods.

The Los Angeles Police Department plans to move 26 officers out of the West Los Angeles Division as part of a citywide reorganization designed to free up officers for police stations opening in the West Valley and Koreatown.


One reason given for the reduction in Westside patrols was that there is so little violent crime there. But residents argue that the far-flung canyons and hillsides of upscale homes need regular patrols to deter home break-ins, robberies and other property crimes.

"It unfairly disadvantages our whole side of town," said Richard G. Cohen, chairman of the Pacific Palisades Community Council. "It's a particular problem for the Palisades, which is geographically remote so response time will be jeopardized."

To Councilman Bill Rosendahl, it is the latest example of how those who pay among the highest taxes and garbage fees in the city are getting shortchanged because their streets aren't teeming with gun violence. He and some residents wonder how the mayor's trash fee hike to pay for an extra 1,000 police officers is being used when the city cannot maintain 241 officers in West L.A., the largest geographic division in the city.


"I'm upset about it. We are the ones who put in the most tax dollars, yet we're getting fewer patrols," said Rosendahl, who will meet with Chief William J. Bratton next week on the issue. "They say they are not singling us out. But to me it is unacceptable. We pay good money for good protection. We are not happy."

LAPD officials said the reductions in the West L.A. station were necessary because the new stations would require 75 officers for each 24-hour period. But Bratton said the decreases in staffing were not limited to the Westside. The shifts were made with help of a computerized formula that considered crime types, response times, distance and 22 others factors at stations across the city.

For decades, the LAPD, in a city with vast geography and hugely different demands, has had to carefully balance the need to patrol the more upscale Westside and Valley neighborhoods against the demands in the decidedly more violent areas on the east and south sides.

Bratton said the shifting staffing levels were designed to put officers where they were needed -- including in some Westside areas that sometimes need extra troops.

"We put significant numbers of officers in Venice Beach each summer," the chief said.

Councilman Jack Weiss, who represents parts of the Westside, backs Bratton's approach, saying: "The best way to protect low-crime areas is put the cops on the dots in high-crime areas. That protects us all."

He noted that when Bel-Air and Brentwood experienced a string of serial robberies last year, the LAPD created a task force to deal with the crime wave.

But that is little comfort to homeowners in Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel-Air and other communities.

Cohen said it took Pacific Palisades residents years of "arguing and fighting" to secure a dedicated patrol car that the police agreed not to pull out except in emergencies. Cohen said the department has pledged to keep the dedicated patrol car.

"Otherwise, it just would be open season," he said.

Shirley Haggstrom, president of the Pacific Palisades Historical Society, is also concerned about having fewer officers around. "I think good police protection prevents us from having violent crime," she said.

Michael Moore, senior lead officer for Pacific Palisades, said residents have a point that response times could rise.

"Realistically, one car is not enough" to cover an area the size of the Pacific Palisades, he said. "Generally speaking for West L.A., there is a tendency to have cars assigned to huge amounts of territory they couldn't possibly hope to cover. . . . You look at it and say, 'Why is it that such a big area is left almost unprotected?' "

If the number of police officers is reduced, senior lead officers such as Moore could be ordered into patrol cars, limiting the amount of time they could spend dealing with a neighborhood's particular issues or speaking at community meetings.

Phillip Enbody, Brentwood's senior lead officer, said the potential loss of officers in the area worried him.

"I like to have 24-hour coverage," Enbody said. "We are a property crime division. When a person comes into an area to break into cars, they break into multiple cars. In one night, I can have 10 to 15 crimes."

Winton and Groves are Times staff writers.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Denial again - Turning a blind eye to compensation

We'll get back to the Shoulder series when I'm back stateside. I'm about to get a quick workout in before showering up & hopping on the plane, but I just saw this article, and I think it sums up a lot of what's at issue with a lot of the world.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081130/ap_on_re_us/students_dishonesty

We do it in our training, too. We're too quick to allow errors in form or compensations to slide under the radar. And with each successive rep, we "add strength to dysfunction"... allowing our stubbornness to be substituted for sensibility.

Remember what Ohshima Sensei said about having the strength, honesty, and courage to look inside and cut out one's weaknesses? Let's get back to that... HARD STYLE!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Shoulder Dynamics - Observation & Mimicry: Part III in the Shoulder Series


Still here in NZ and taking a quick moment to try to append the blog and finish this discourse on the shoulder. Since I'm trying to do this in between running out & doing touristy stuff, teaching, and God-knows-what-else, I'm doing this sorta piecemeal, so please forgive the briefness of these posts.

Human beings learn through one or more of 4 basic routes of input - visual, audio, tactile, or conceptual. Let's define each of these as they apply to functional movement, strength, and potential dysfunction.

Visual means that you see a movement, and you mimic it based on what you saw. This is perhaps the primary means of learning for the vast majority of people... Thus the phrase, "monkey see, monkey do". I don't say that disparagingly, however. Sight offers us perhaps the quickest means of making a "rough copy" of someone else's movement pattern.

Unfortunately, sight relies on our brains to take the information we saw and comprehend it as completely as possible almost instantaneously. Once it's comprehended, then the actual motor neurons and muscles have to interact properly for the observed movement to be reproduced correctly and effectively. If it wasn't this way, everyone would be Bruce Lee after watching Enter the Dragon.

However, I can't tell you how many times I've seen someone try to reproduce a motor pattern after seeing it and managing only the crudest sort of facsimile. In my own experience, I must've tried countless times to imitate Agassi's forehand, Becker's canon-like serve, Sifu James Lin's unstoppable throws, Grandmaster Arthur Lee's thunderous hand speed, Prof. Roy Harris's BJJ positional controls, or Kenneth Jay's pressing technique. Yet more often than not, even after repeated practice, I fall well short.

It's in falling short yet trying stubbornly to achieve the same results that I've often found myself afterwards dealing with some sort of injury, usually due to strain.

So... the easiest way to change the likelihood of injury is to change the focus or redefine the goal. We can see an example of this very clearly with the kettlebell swing. Instead of trying however to get the kettlebell to swing up high and to keep it moving in "Malcolm X" style (i.e., "by any means necessary"), the goal gets redefined to create a swing with a Hard Style Lock at the apex, a symmetrical and pain-free Deep Squat pattern at the bottom, and a well-timed backswing that loads the hips and unlocks the hips and knees only at the last possible millisecond.

That combination of attributes, especially when focused on one bit at a time, creates a process through which we can learn more effectively and safely. The audio cues we get from more advanced movement experts, such as our coaches, masters, and instructors, help us more completely comprehend the facets of movement that need to come together to create ideal technique. Tactile feedback, whether as simple as a smack on the head to remind a fighter to keep his hands up or as subtle as Gray Cook's Reactive Neuromuscular Training methods, help further reinforce the total learning process. With input from the visual, audio, and tactile routes, the conceptual "fermentation" process becomes more rich, and the actual applied skill improves dramatically.

With shoulder specifics, this deals a lot with awareness. At the outset of learning, there's no real depth of awareness that's going on... just crude mimicry.

For example, a pitcher might wind up his arm too far, a tennis player may over-relax the stabilizing muscles needed during a powerful serve or overhead, a martial arts student may lift his shoulder up towards his ear before throwing a punch, and a kettlebeller might swing the kettlebell up so high that his or her neck becomes the core instead of the midsection.

The awareness and understanding of what constitutes proper form (in this case, when stabilizing the shoulder via the lats while in motion) is a HIGHLY necessary step in the process of learning movement that should be emphasized more than upping the number of reps, adding weight, or increasing measurable output. The last thing we should be doing is "adding strength to dysfunction" as Gray Cook would say.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shoulder Stabilization & Dysfunction - Part II

Kia Ora from New Zealand, mates! The Chinaman's once again hit the ground swinging, teaching Combat Shuai-Chiao on the first night and Functional Movement Systems repatterning & Hard Style Kettlebell Essentials on the second night.

As many of you know, my passion in kettlebell training & teaching revolves around using kettlebells as rehabilitation tools. Over the past 2 nights of teaching, I've had the chance to convey to my Kiwi audience that proper functional movement patterns are essential for REAL performance. While people often tend to dismiss movement fundamentals as necessary for those who have the inability to perform exercises. However, the strongest are sometimes the most injured, as they compensate their way through the tasks at hand.

Back to the shoulder...

In my last post, I talked about some of the signs & symptoms of shoulder pattern dysfunction. But let's talk a little more about WHERE these problems originate. The next post will talk about HOW those problems come about from a pathophysiological perspective. [I'd write on it all right now, but I've still gotta shower up and get ready to roll around Auckland & do touristy stuff within 30 mins.]

Dysfunctional movement patterns can happen all sorts of ways. When it comes to the shoulder, these patterns can be learned or developed through:

1. Observation & mimicry - seeing someone else do a movement and learning to reproduce their dysfunctional pattern or mimicking someone else's proper movement pattern improperly

2. Pain inhibition - pain at the site of movement (usually from some sort of injury) creates a pain inhibition situation, where the motor neurons that guide muscle firing patterns are being overruled by pain signals arising from injury

3. Secondary compensation - pain or limitation in range of motion somewhere else in the system creates a compensation pattern in an otherwise unaffected joint.

OK... crap, I'm running later than I thought. I'll expand on each of those 3 concepts in my next posts. If you're enjoying this series of posts on the shoulder, please feel free to either drop a comment here on the blog or shoot me an e-mail. For those of you who've already e-mailed me with such appreciative comments, I thank you too. You're the reason why I do what I do and the reason why I continue to love what I do!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shoulder Stabilization & Functionality - Part 1

Amazing how hectic it gets right before a trip... a zillion & one things to check & double check, and the on-the-fly prioritization that always seems to go right out the window. This afternoon, I've gotta get this blog entry done and wrap up an overdue article, hopefully all within the next 2-3 hours.

One topic I've been meaning to blog about for a while is shoulder stabilization. As I mentioned in a previous entry, there are times when I write posts to give advice to others and there are times when I write them more to remind myself. This is one of those that's more of the latter than the former.

Throughout most of my life, I've had shoulder, neck, & upper back problems. Whether from rotten posture (years of playing the piano, nerding out, & full-contact sparring), traumatic injury or strain (from a twist serve in tennis or overly enthusiastic joint locks), or just downright rotten movement patterns, my shoulders have given me years of grief.

It wasn't until well after I'd earned my RKC and started studying Gray Cook's materials that I realized how much neck and shoulder damage I'd been suffering senselessly. Here are some symptoms to look for in yourself or your clients... I'd suffered almost all of these at one point or another.

1. Neck stiffness
2. Headaches
3. Tight traps (or shoulders)
4. Achiness between your shoulder blades
5. Numbness & tingling going down your arms or in your hands
6. Throbbing in the shoulder joint or upper arm
7. Pronounced weakness in one arm/hand compared to the other
8. Chest pain
9. Jaw pain

Now while some of these may seem a little "left field", bear with me. For right now, all I want you to do is think about these symptoms and start opening your mind as to how they might arise from shoulder dysfunction.

OK... off to crank out the article. For those of you who're interested, let's just say that it has to do with a certain legend in the martial arts world and one of mankind's most primitive weapons.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Smoked Out

The air outside tonight is downright unbreatheable. If you're looking here to see if we're training tomorrow, the answer's NO WAY!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hard Style Kettlebell Training & RKC Prep in Phoenix, Arizona


As if you thought we weren't hardcore enough, the weekend after I teach in Auckland, New Zealand, the Hard Style Gospel is coming to Phoenix, Arizona!

On the morning of Saturday, December 6th, 2008 I'll be giving TWO (2) HIGH-DENSITY, IN-DEPTH workshops - 1 on how to get the most out of the least by using Pavel Tsatsouline's "Program Minimum" and the other on the RKC's "Final Four". As anyone who attended my more intimate workshops in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Los Angeles, or San Diego can tell you, you'll leave my workshop with a whole new level of comprehension and ability... REGARDLESS OF YOUR PRIOR SKILL LEVEL!

The morning workshop on Program Minimum will be some of the most enlightening 4+ hours of your life, dealing with the 6 most useful exercises you may ever encounter. The first three "NAKED" bodyweight exercises set the stage for perfect movement in the next 3, accelerating your learning process and solidifying your understanding more than any other instruction you'll find out there.

As revealed in his Enter The Kettlebell textbook, Pavel Tsatsouline laid out a deceptively simple plan called "Program Minimum" for making extraordinary gains with kettlebell training. Those gains are not only in the sense of bodysculpting, strength, and wicked endurance, but also in terms of remarkable rehabilitative and rejuvenative results!

Because the KBLA teaching method is so powerful and so detail oriented, we're keeping registration numbers FAR lower than any ordinary kettlebell workshop. The material covered in this workshop will blow your mind as far as fitness, strength & conditioning, flexibility, spinal health, athletic performance, and injury rehabilitation.

Whether you're a personal trainer, an aspiring RKC candidate, a wellness coach, a chiropractor, a martial artist, a tactical operator (police, military, EMT, firefighter, etc.), an athlete, a soccer mom, or a weekend warrior, this workshop's going to have all you want & more.

Pre-registrations are being accepted right now, so don't be late. We are trying to coordinate an adequate number of kettlebells for everyone, as well as making top-of-the-line Dragon Door brand kettlebells available for those who are interested when pre-registering. If you have one or more of your own that you train with, please bring it (them) since you'll want to be learning on the same tools that you're going to be using when you get home. If you don't have one, we'll e-mail you once you've registered to discuss which is the appropriate size for you to pre-order based on your weight, sex, goals, and any pre-existing physical conditions.

Early bird registration ends on November 21, 2008 just before midnight so sign up via Paypal now to reserve your spot. If the spots sell out before the 21st, we're not adding more. Make sure to let us know if you don't have a kettlebell of your own and need to purchase one from us on site.








That afternoon is an RKC-prep workshop from 1:30 - 5:30pm. We'll be covering the RKC Final Four techniques that come after Program Minimum. They are the Clean, the Press, the Snatch, and the Front Squat. For those who are interested in becoming RKC certified kettlebell instructors, this workshop is an absolute MUST. Even if you think your technique is airtight or you're already certified as an RKC instructor, this is going to be some priceless review and correction.

As with all of my workshops, we'll be covering not only the proper execution of these techniques, but also revealing teaching and coaching tips for the ultimate in higher performance and rehabilitative results!

Please click on the buttons either in this post or on the side of this blog to register for the Hard Style KBLA-Phoenix workshops! If you sign up for both, you'll get a $50 discount!








Location details will be announced after 11/23/08 to all registered participants.

I look forward to seeing you there!

And if you're in the Australia / New Zealand neck of the woods, I look forward to seeing you at my workshops there!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

VETERANS!!!

The ranks of gireviks around the world are filled with men and women who are either Armed Forces veterans or active duty from their respective countries. If you come across one today, whether in the line at the mall, pressing two 24kg kettlebells in your gym, asking for change on the side of the street, meeting you in the executive boardroom, or praying at church, please (at the very least) give them a smile, a nod of respect, and a "Thank you so much for your service and sacrifice."

Friday, November 7, 2008

Dogs, Destroyers, and Dragon Door

As I was putting dear friend and Dog Brother Mike Florimbi through his snatch test preparation, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver walked by. After a quick "Good morning, Governor", answered by nods & smiles from both of them, the man who played Conan the Destroyer watched the Dog Brother snatching the 24kg Dragon in Hard Style while his wife looked on with interest.

OK... Back to the book. More in a few, God-willing.

---

Back again. So as of maybe 6pm last night, the manuscript got sent out to the powers that be for additional editing and contributions. While I don't feel like I'm completely in the clear yet, I do at least feel like I can go and spend time with Squealie guilt free. Hopefully, I won't find a bootprint from a Good Ol' Boy on my backside after the manuscript is actually reviewed.

Reformulating how I'm going to spend my time has become a major goal, and I plan to make inroads on that this weekend. Using an idea I heard on the RKC Instructors Forum, I'm going to schedule my OWN training sessions and restorative sessions first and then input everything else around those. Let's see how this affects my time management. Once I've battled it out, I'll let you guys know the outcome.

For now, I'm glad to just be home for a couple of hours before heading off to teach at the Inosanto Academy again. This morning's Fut Ga Kuen & Tai-Chi classes were outstanding - solid progress and a deeper appreciation of how the fundamental concepts and movement patterns apply in everything from Chi-Kung to swordsmanship. Days like today are what keep me teaching traditional martial arts.

OH, and before I forget, Nikki Shlosser, RKC, did a bottoms-up Turkish Get-Up this morning with a 16kg bell on both sides. Still think you're hard?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

M.I.A.

Yeah, I know it's been a while since I blogged, but with a book that's long overdue, parents that have been in town for the past 2 weeks, and being under the weather (or fighting to not go back under the weather) for the past couple months, the Chinaman's run the soles off his kung-fu shoes and the rims off his rickshaw.

While I've still been doing my best to keep up with my group teaching committments, I've had to put a lot to the side for the past couple of months. If I can crank out what I need to crank out this week, there'll be a new dawn in more than just American politics.

Keep your eyes peeled, folks..... And thank you all for all your comments, your e-mails, your text messages, and your phone calls of support.

Oh, and by the way, any of you guys good with layout design? Holler at me ASAP if you are, please... kettlebells.losangeles@yahoo.com

THANKS!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Safety, Sanity, and Salutes

Safety: Oft overlooked, never overemphasized. I'm going to give you one rule that will help you develop strength while minimizing downtime. As soon as your form deteriorates, STOP. I can't tell you how many times I've pushed myself too far and suffered some stupid sort of injury from trying to "gut out" those last few reps of whatever. To quote THE Chief Instructor of the RKC, "Change of exercise is a form of rest." So follow that advice and watch your performance take a jump! Change the exercise and the intensity to see how well your neurological system adapts.

Sanity: And in that same vein, change of workload outside of physical endeavors is also an intelligent idea. I've been awfully guilty of overdoing my own workload lately, and it took almost everyone in my circle to tell me the same thing before I realized that I really have been overdoing the pace and intensity of my work. Once this one project's off my plate, I'm REALLY going to fall off the grid for a couple of weeks! (Let's see if I can hold to that.)

Salutes: I'm so glad that many of this blog's readers took the time to email me with positive comments about the prior post. After posting it, I was concerned that some might not read it carefully and misconstrue my remarks as a challenge or disrespect to organizations like the USMC, LAPD, or NYFD (when in fact, those institutions are what I've constantly credited with mad respect and gratitude for keeping us safe). I'm very pleased that everyone who dropped me a line, including some individuals from those organizations, absolutely got the spirit of my message... that we ALL are responsible for creating a powerful, orderly, and effective learning environment.

If you read Power By Pavel Issue #165, Pavel Tsatsouline cites the KBLA offer for first responders in there. We are DEVOTED to creating the safest, strongest, most efficient learning environment for you. You've been good enough to meet the needs of others. Let us meet yours.

I know... it's a short post, but it's 11:15pm, and I've gotta sack out now to wake up early and get some work done. Hopefully this one big project will be off my plate in less than 2 weeks, and you'll get to meet a VERY happy Chinaman. :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rules of Engagement


Ordinarily, I'd not bother writing this sort of thing, but after today, it just needs to be said.

The Social Commandments of KBLA

1. If you come to train with me or my instructors' satellite groups, unless we already know you, get off your a$$ and introduce yourself politely. Don't stand off and expect that someone's going to come up, kiss up to you, and coddle you. Show at least the minimum of social grace. I could care less where you come from or what you've been through. You're in LA now, Dorothy. Get with the program.

2. I don't give a damn what rank of RKC, AKC, PhD, CSCS, ATC, PT, USMC, LAPD, NYFD, or whatever else you are. If you come to my class and screw up, I'm going to call you on it in a tactful manner, usually without embarrassing you. If you think you can sit back on your laurels and just take up space or be "impressive" with how much you think you know, you are nothing but SOL.

Go home and impress your mirror. We're here to learn and to practice improvement.

Remember too that the majority of the corrections I give are for the sole purpose of maximizing safety. If you're just out to lift a KB however, go train elsewhere far away from me. 99% of injuries arise from stupidity - either from carelessness, lack of awareness, or foolhardy daredevil crap. Do that stuff elsewhere and on your own time, not with my crew. And remember that KBs don't injure people. Stupid people injure people (oftentimes themselves). Stupid people who are trainers unfortunately injure the innocent, but not in my crew and not on my watch.

3. If you are spoken to or given direction to, answer in the affirmative if you have heard and understood the command. If you do not understand, ask for clarification. If you want to act like you couldn't be bothered to speak, go find a pasture to play in far away from my crew.

4. If you screw up either a social interaction or training technique, make EVERY effort to fix it either through a meaningful apology or a concerted effort to improve your technique. If you can't be bothered "just because", you're a sheep. KBLA's a gathering of sheepdogs.

5. Review #1-4, especially #4.

This is how we do it..... HARD STYLE!

Clear???

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oh, Squealieeeeeee!


As a guy who used to condition his fists by punching the hell out of very hard things (like steel plates) years ago, I couldn't help but to read & re-post this. It makes me wonder about the possibilities for people complaining about their hands after the RKC snatch test.....

BERLIN (Reuters) - Vitali Klitschko used his son's wet nappies to keep his fists from swelling up after winning his WBC heavyweight title bout against Nigeria's Samuel Peter, the Ukrainian told a German newspaper Tuesday.

Klitschko said he wrapped them around his hands and it helped him recover.

"Baby wee is good because it's pure, doesn't contain toxins and doesn't smell," the 37-year old boxer told Bild after he won back the WBC title Saturday.

"I wrap nappies filled with my three-year-old son Max's wee around my fists," he said, adding he got the idea from his grandmother. "The nappies hold the liquid and the swelling stays down."

Klitschko said Peter should try the nappy trick as well.

(Reporting by Josie Cox, editing by Alan Baldwin)

SAFETY FIRST, FOREMOST, and FINALLY

With any KBLA instructor worth his or her salt, YOUR SAFETY IS OUR #1 CONCERN! That's why I'm so militant when it comes to paying attention while I'm teaching. The details I'm doling out are about safety and optimum performance, not just me railing on you to push harder or being dogmatic about random details. If you don't have the sense to know when to stop or the awareness to know your own limitations and liabilities, our job is to be vigilant enough to see when you can't cut it and to put the brakes on for you. So if we bench you, suck it up. It's for your own good.

If you could care less about your safety and just want an a$$kicking visited upon you, there are better places to express your masochism.

That said, if the fires are still going on in LA County on Saturday morning (which they hopefully WON'T be), there will be no KBLA Sunday training session.

Monday, October 13, 2008

FIRES AGAIN!!!

A.F.F.F.F.F!!!!

Once again, with the advent of the Santa Ana winds, the Los Angeles air is filled with ash.

I remember the first time I saw the air thick with ash was back in the mid 90's. I was shocked to see big chunks of ash coating car windshields, and thinking that I really need to pull my T-shirt over my nose & mouth. After being outside for only like 10 minutes, my black UCLA Kung-Fu T-shirt was littered with white specks, and my hair looked like I could've been the poster child for Head & Shoulders.

Yesterday morning was a milder replay of the same. The 7am KBLA gathering was somberly subdued by eau de le feu hanging thick on the morning dew. [Dear God, have I been reading too much Will Williams lately?!?!?] After teaching for less than 30 minutes, my voice already started getting scratchy. By the 60 minute mark, I was thinking about Halls with Mentholyptus, and by 90 minutes, I wanted to go home and wash my lungs out with soap.

Times like these make you REALLY appreciate the men & women who put it all on the line for us & keep us safe & sound when fan blades meet feces.

HERE'S WHAT'S UP!

1. Coming soon, there will be an LA Firemen's Relief Association fundraiser. Instructor Nikki Shlosser, RKC, will be donating private kettlebell training sessions. Please keep checking her blog for more information as the date draws nearer!

2. As of today, the Santa Monica-based KBLA classes will extend FREE attendance to all firefighters showing proper ID. Anyone who has not trained with KBLA before and comes in to train with KBLA-Santa Monica accompanied by an ID-bearing firefighter trains for half-off. A maximum of two civilians can accompany each firefighter. This offer is good from today until the end of 2008.

If you're a first-responder and you don't understand the importance of strength & conditioning, you're either going to predispose yourself to meaningless injury, fatigue too quickly under stress, or endanger your teammates in a crisis situation. Find out about the wicked edge that KBLA's kettlebell training gives you before it's too late.

3. 5-0... We appreciate you, too. Don't think otherwise for one moment. Thanks to the hard work of people like Ofcr. Mike Prosser, RKC candidate, the Westside is a better, safer place to be. For all Santa Monica Police personnel, you are comped as my guests for the remainder of 2008! Just like the firefighters, show your badge, and you train as my guest.

And just like the last bullet point, you also don't want to find out about the importance of strength & conditioning, agility, and raw power too late. This is hot stuff, and we're giving you a chance to discover it firsthand from some of the best in the West for FREE.

IN FACT... There's MORE! Com. Nikki & I are working on putting together a special kettlebell training clinic specifically for Firefighters. Details will be forthcoming, but if you're interested in staying informed about that, please drop an e-mail to trainhardstyle@yahoo.com, and we'll make sure you're kept in the loop.

So what's the acronym all about at the top?

All Fire Fighters Free For Fall! (The SMPD part didn't exactly work in keeping with the alliteration, but you get the idea.) KBLA shows love to Fire, Police, & Military personnel all the time with our standard 50% off discount, but for the remainder of '08, we're giving you ALL our love.

Give us your all, and KBLA gives you ours!

Doin' it... HARD STYYYYYYYYYLE!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cutting through the Gordian Knot

I just read this on a dear friend's blog. It's so good, I just had to repost it here... with her permission of course. Since her blog's currently written anonymously, I'll protect her identity, but she's given me the green light to link to her myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/xucre.

This woman is one of the most insightful and brilliant writers I've had the pleasure of reading on a somewhat regular basis. I aspire to be just that skilled in communicating myself. Enjoy!
-----

things don't have to be. really... they don't.

things are only as complicated as you make it.

or are they?

no, i understand...

there exists factors that make things complicated. but are these factors really real... or are they constructs of our own fears that cause us to hesitate, to stay stuck, to waffle on the fence of indecision, to... not act?

maybe things are for real complicated... where the factors are not limited to our own mindsets, but are real life, real situational barriers that, if breached, will make things... awkward.

and no one really wants to deal with awkward, right?

but maybe the key to making things less complicated is to acknowledge the complications. put them on the table. hold them up like a mirror and face them. and maybe in doing so... in choosing not to ignore them and pretend like they don't exist... maybe things become less complicated.

because maybe by putting them out there, we can wrap our heads around just how complicated things are and determine whether or not the complications are something we can and want to either deal with... or not.

so yes... let's do that then. let's put it all out there. let's take a good long hard look at all the complications and determine what they really are and where they're coming from. and then let's decide ~ yes or no.

can it really be all that simple?

yeah... (sigh)... i know...

it's complicated.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Seamless: The Universal Importance of Mind-Body Connectedness

I say it all the time, but I'm blessed. Don't get me wrong... Anyone who really knows me knows full well that there are certain parts of my life that are absolutely wretched. But on the whole, my life is wonderful beyond all imagining.

WHY?

Because with very few exceptions, the threads of my life are very interwoven. It's hard for me to tell where my work begins and my play ends. Everything that I do for work is something that I'm into, something that I'm curious about, and something that I have a hunger to learn. Notice that I didn't say "something I have an aptitude for". Plenty of people do stuff they're good at but don't love. I love what I do, and even if I suck, I'll still do it because I love it.

Let me give you an example by way of these vignettes...

On Thursday afternoon, I was having lunch with Guro Jeff Imada, one of the seniormost senior instructors of the Inosanto clan and a true expert in Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Kali. We met up at a Japanese supermarket that had a food court, were talking about martial arts, life, work, and all that sort of stuff, and I look up to see Haruo Matsuoka standing in line. Both of us got up, greeted Matsuoka Sensei, brought him over to where we were sitting, and enjoyed each other's company for what turned out to be a VERY enjoyable lunch. Both Imada and Matsuoka had worked with each other on some of Steven Seagal's earlier movies, and both are seriously accomplished martial artists.

Our conversation ranged from just catching up on each other's personal and professional lives to talking about our latest discoveries in training and teaching. Matsuoka spoke about his "A-HA" moments with his aikido and kenjutsu training, and he spoke about the feeling of moving with the whole of one's being... not just one muscle or series of muscles, not just one thought about one movement, but executing an action with the whole of one's being.

I couldn't help but think, "Boy, this sounds oddly familiar..."

Matsuoka continued by saying that he's been discovering that real efficiency isn't about trying to minimize the number of muscles being used, since that actually maximizes the load on each muscle. Instead, he explained that having the energy of every cell in your body working to create an outcome is where real softness comes from. I couldn't help but think of Hard Style and the concepts of commitment and irradiation.

He then continued by talking about how thought gets in the way of effective, natural movement. I can't recall his exact words, but the essence was that if you have to think about moving, then your movement is going to be both contrived and late. You'll be too slow to block, or move, or blend with the opponent's motion, he explained. I was amazed. Immediately, I thought of how Gray Cook would say time & time again not to overcue someone while they're doing the Functional Movement Screen.

I used to think that for good movement, you have to give good directions. And while that's true in terms of instruction and learning, it's NOT true when it comes to tested movement. The Functional Movement Screen is a sort of test - a test to see what your body's going to do REFLEXIVELY when faced with a particular task.

It's like seeing how someone's going to react in a fight, in a sense. In other words, when someone throws a punch at you unannounced, are you going to... stiffen up and scream, stiffen up and gasp, duck and cower, lean back, duck to the side, headbutt the incoming fist? There are so many possible outcomes, but the FMS is trying to discover what your natural movement is like before you have time to prepare or psyche yourself up to do something. It's a test to see what your maximum efficiency level is like.

So you see... all good things, all good bodies of knowledge converge on certain ideas. It's like different threads that come together in a seamless bond. And back to what I opened with... I'm not the top dog in most of the fields I pursue.

I'm not the baddest dude on the mat when it comes to Combat Shuai-Chiao or BJJ, I'm not the closest disciple of my Fut Ga master, I'm not even an apprentice instructor in the Inosanto method of JKD, and I hold no rank in any Japanese martial art. I'm not the dude at the top of the Hard Style Russian Kettlebell food chain, and I'm the newest addition to the faculty of the FMS.

But I'm BLESSED to be a part of what I'm a part of. To have the quality and caliber of people who teach me, invite me to train and study with them, and to simply pass time with them is the greatest gift and my greatest joy. When I was a kid growing up in Delaware, if you told me that I'd be hanging out & having lunch with guys like Jeff Imada & Haruo Matsuoka and on a first name basis with them, I'd have told you that you should've laid off the funny tasting brownies. If you'd told me that two days later, I'd be accompanying Pavel Tsatsouline to teach a kettlebell workshop to some 70 people at the National Strength & Conditioning Association, I'd be checking your arms for needle tracks and looking to see if you had a runny nose.

To be living the life I'm living now, to have the knowledge of what inspires me, to have the opportunity and access to gaining more knowledge from the top instructors in the fields that inspire me, to see those fields converge fluidly, and to get paid for pursuing my dreams is a thing of unbelieveable beauty. To all of you who are part of this dream I'm living, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Addendum: If you haven't seen it already, watch Chris Rock's Kill the Messenger on HBO. Aside from him being ridiculously funny in a way that's somehow both gutter in its profanity and godly in its insights, Rock talks about the difference between a job & a career. With a job, he says, the time just doesn't pass fast enough. With a career, you can't find enough minutes in the day to do what you want to do for your work.

Addendum #2: I just wanted to thank all the people that have come up to me and privately given me such incredibly warm feedback on this blog over the past 4 days. While it never ceases to amaze me how many folks from how many different places leave comments, it floors me even more to know how many people actually read my blog regularly and gain some benefit from it. Your blog comments, your private e-mails, your Facebook posts, and certainly your face-to-face feedback, handshakes, and hugs means the world to me. Thank you for always lifting me up, pushing me to do more, and inspiring me constantly!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

VERY Special Seminar - Sunday, October 5th

For 4 wicked hours, we are going to rock you, sock you, sweep you off your feet, and then de-sissify you 'til you scream "More!!! Gimme MORE!!!"

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5th, 2008 from 10am - 2pm
At the world famous Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts

Yup, 4 of the Inosanto Academy's finest are sharing their A-games with you to help raise some funds for a colleague of ours who is in need due to failing health. This colleague of ours is beloved for many reasons. He's an armed services vet, a law enforcement officer, a senior martial arts instructor, a father, a husband, a counselor, and someone who will give to others until it hurts, and then give more. He has served our country in ways that even the most hardened wouldn't even want to fathom. So when we tell you it's for a good cause, rest assured that we mean it with all our hearts.

Who's coming to teach?

We're starting the lineup with Damon Caro. A little background on Damon... When I first got to LA back in 1990, I barely knew a thing about martial arts outside of the Shaolin fundamentals & Tai-Chi that my father taught me. I met Damon after he'd done a Chinese New Year demo, representing the Inosanto Academy. Watching that demo was an eye opener, and I got to see sticks, blades, and limbs move in ways that I hadn't even seen in the movies. At that time, Damon was already one of the instructors at the Inosanto Academy, and he gave me one of my first glimpses into Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do and southeast Asian martial arts.

Since then, he's gone on to achieve things in martial arts that most of us will never even dream of. He choreographed the battle sequences and fight scenes for the blockbuster movie "300"... YES, THIS 300!!!



The man's so busy these days, you're lucky just to meet him, nevermind learn from him. So if you want to have a chance to work with one of the elite among the elite, he's teaching Panantukan - the Filipino forefather to Western boxing. This rare art ties in perfectly with the Filipino weapons arts as well, so if you want to learn a multipurpose movement science, here it is!

After Damon, Suzanne Spezzano will be teaching Indonesian Silat. I could say a bunch of things about Suzanne and the highly effective real-world fighting art of Silat, but I'll let her video speak for me. She's hot, she's articulate, and she'll kick your a$$.

And yes, she's married... to John Spezzano, RKC, who'll be teaching Muay Thai boxing's inside game. If you've seen people fight, you know that a clinch is almost inevitable. John will show you how to make the inside game a House of Pain for anyone who dares to enter in on you.

Me? They saved the Chinaman for last since he's got the wicked iron for you! We'll be covering two of Pavel Tsatsouline's most useful all-purpose kettlebell exercises in high definition - The Swing and the Turkish Get-Up progression. For a grappler, a striker, a stickfighter, a soccer player, a pitcher, or a total nerd, these two exercises will fast-forward you to the next level in strength, endurance, and injury prevention. If you wanted to know what the hype is about with kettlebell training, here's your quick & serious intro. If you already think you know what's up with kettlebells, come and get a real education!

You'll get to learn from and work with all four of us for only a $75 donation. And if you've got a bit more to donate, we'll gratefully accept it. If you don't have time, but you'd like to make a donation, contact John through his website: www.hollywoodkettlebells.com.

Now with the exception of yours truly, the three other instructors are instructors certified under martial arts legend, Dan Inosanto - the man who single-handedly carried on Bruce Lee's legacy after The Little Dragon's passing. For those of you who missed the 300, have no clue about Kali, and only remember Bruce Lee from Enter the Dragon, here's a little flashback clip for you from the backyard days.

We're looking forward to seeing you at the Academy on Sunday, October 5th at 10am sharp! The directions & Mapquest link are available right here. If you're part of the KBLA family or just a fan of anyone or anything we've mentioned above, come on out & show the love. And if you live outside of So Cal, but have friends who might be interested, please forward this info on to them. Thank you!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Hard Style Lock

Part of what makes my KBLA RKC crew stand out head & shoulders above the rest is our emphasis on teaching a progression in movement. The progression allows us to teach in a way that constantly reinforces the basics. It's how I teach everything - from martial arts to medicine to movement.

The Hard Style Lock is lesson #1 when it comes to generating a Maximum Volitional Contraction (MVC). Most of the time, when people think they're contracting their muscles as strongly as possible, it's nowhere near their potential. It's the same as in other facets of life, too. When you see people who're barely applying themselves at a given task, but they're convinced that they're giving you maximum output, you are faced with someone who has a disconnect between their mind and reality. Getting someone to generate an MVC is a physical reality test. The more of their muscle's contractile potential that's used, the closer the person is to reality.

The Hard Style Lock teaches you not only to generate an MVC, but to do it in several muscle groups with a high degree of coordination. There are 5 points of this Lock:
1. Heels - Drive them into the ground without letting them come off the ground at any time.
2. Knees - Lock them out completely, as if pushing your knee pits backward as hard as you can.
3. Glutes - Without compromising the knee lock, clench your glutes so tightly that your hips rotate forward on your thighs.
4. Abs - Shorten your abdominal plate (from your solar plexus to your groin) as tightly as possible while exhaling a short, sharp breath.
5. Lats - Draw your shoulder blades down in such a way as to shove them down towards your butt.

To train this, stand with your feet shoulder width apart and point your feet ramrod straight ahead so that their midlines are parallel to each other. [Note: When I say midline, I mean the line between the heel of your foot and the 3rd toe.]Bend your knees and hips slightly, as if you were in a very slight crouch on your heels, and then work on generating each successive part of the Lock from the ground up. You begin by snapping the knees straight and staying on your heels. Next, you add the glute clench. The glute clench is central to Hard Style and where most people fall terribly short. Instead of driving the hip motion by clenching the glutes, a lot of people just lean backward, leaving the abs essentially off and dropping the strain right into the lower back. Most people can call it a major coup to just be able to fire these first 3 parts of the Lock simultaneously. For a Hard Stylist, add the abs & lats. Your abs serve as the virtual weight belt to stabilize your lumbar spine, and your lats stabilize your shoulder so that your neck doesn't get conscripted.

The ability to exert neurological force simultaneously through these seemingly disparate parts of your body is what makes Hard Style such a useful training method, regardless of the tool - whether Naked Warrior-style with bodyweight, or RKC style with a kettlebell. To get there, however, you need to have an unflinching awareness of what you're doing and not doing. Then accept responsibility for acknowledging and changing what isn't ideal.

Want more? Get to a KBLA-RKC instructor's class and learn! Nothing takes the place of instruction, practice, & feedback, especially with KBLA at the helm!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Teaching, Training & Travelling - A Self-Contained Life

I hate to admit it, but there are some times that the weak part of me longs for a sedentary life. Those times don't really last for much longer than a passing thought, so I get back to my travel schedule with little delay.

Right now, I'm planning out my travel schedule for 2009, and so far, it's looking pretty calm. Then again, I said the same thing about this time of year in 2007, and look how 2008 turned out! For most of this year, I was at LAX at least once a month, and sometimes a few times!

It's been quite a buzz for me since Fall '07, though. Bangkok, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Budapest, Indianapolis... plenty of places I'd never been to before, and I'm sure '09 will have some more of the same.

However, this year has taught me the unparallelled lesson of having everything that you want & need right by your side at all times. Part of that revolves around packing light, and the other part revolves around packing smart.

The packing smart bit deals with bringing along those things that will serve your quality of life while you are away from home.

DIET: For me, travelling means that I'll be eating irregular meals, and usually ones that are at the discretion of my hosts. Generally speaking, I LOVE the food that I get to eat while I'm travelling - and the pasties in Scotland are at the front of that list. However, there are times when the time change, hustling like mad from one place to another, and the change in food just makes me feel like my intestines decided to go on holiday too.

Metamucil just came out with these Fiber Singles that are awesome. If your travel diet is a little light on soluble fiber, this stuff is beautiful. A packet dissolves in a bottle of water just like a packet of Emergen-C and you're good to go. Give it a few hours, and you won't have to travel with that heavy, slow stomach feeling. It's a beautiful thing.

EXERCISE: I never realized how crucial it was to keep to an exercise regimen while travelling until this year. In years past, when I travelled, it was to train, so I always got to get the blood flowing & the muscles pumping a bit. This year, my travel has predominately been for teaching. And as almost any higher level instructor in movement sciences can tell you, teaching & training are usually quite different endeavors. My body certainly got that message hammered home in a big way this year. How? I came home from a bunch of trips feeling depleted, slow, and softer than when I'd left.

Target Focus Training's mastermind, Tim Larkin, mentioned that he travelled with a copy of the Naked Warrior. Most of you who read this blog are familiar with some or part of the Naked Warrior training protocols, having seen or been taught them through me or other RKC instructors. If you haven't already gotten the book or DVD, I strongly suggest that you get it.

When you travel, unless you're filthy rich, you generally don't always have training equipment with you. Certainly, travelling with your kettlebell isn't usually a reality, especially now that the airlines are adding fees for heavier or extra luggage. With the Naked Warrior training methods, you have an equipment-free, space-efficient means of training and getting a great workout in a minimal amount of time. With even just 10 minutes in the morning, you can get a sweat-filled workout that will leave you feeling pumped and primed for the rest of your day in no-time. Don't believe me? Try it.

The packing light bit was always a bit elusive to me. And there are still some points of packing light that I'm working on, but I have to credit Pavel Tsatsouline for really clueing me in with one tip that revolutionized how I travel now.

TRAVEL CLOTHING: Wanna be able to roll with just the pants you've got on? Pavel told me once to try a pair of Patagonia khaki pants. The material was ultra lightweight, stain resistant, flexible enough to kick head-height in, and true "wash & wear". I never really understood the whole "wash & wear" thing until he put it to me like this. "Doc, no matter how sweaty or dirty you get during the day, you can put these in the sink with a little bit of soap, rinse them out well, and hang them to dry at the end of your day. By the next morning, they'll be dry," he said.

True enough, I've tried it, and it's true. After teaching at a Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) instructor certification course, where we're in the dirt, covered with chalk, and dampened with sweat, I was amazed to verify that with just a bit of soap and a good rinse, the same pair of pants served me beautifully through the entire 3-day workshop. They're comfortable enough to move well in, and stylish enough to wear out to dinner at an upscale restaurant.

The downside of the Patagonias is that they're damn hard to come by. Other companies have made smiliar attempts at wash & wear pants, but the fit, tailoring, or workmanship just doesn't cut it for me. My assistant, Anton Summers, RKC, got a pair of wash & wear pants (not Patagonias) at a local outdoor store, and he split the crotch seam after less than 10 days. Not good.

Not having to pack 3 pairs of thick cotton pants already lightened my packing considerably, but having a week's worth of underwear taking up the same amount of space as a cell phone was an even more serious coup!

Magellans

Figuring that I'd try to see how far I could take Pavel's wash & wear convenience, I decided to try these Ex Officio underwear. If you've ever tried to wear cotton underwear that's been washed and hang-dried, you might as well just put a few strips of sandpaper in your briefs. It's not a comfortable experience, and 7 days worth of underwear takes up space!

With a pair of these Ex Officios on you and a pair folded into a tiny pocket in your laptop case or backpack, you're good to go. Wear one pair during the day, wash it out at the end of the day, and you still have a clean pair to hit the town with at night. And best of all... THEY'RE COMFORTABLE! Brilliant, eh?

There are plenty of wash & wear shirts out there, so that's not even worth commenting on here, but my next coup will happen when I can find socks that are fluffy, comfortable on long hikes & while training, and wash & wear! When it happens, you'll read about it here.

Now get back to those Pistols & Pullups!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Associated Press Kettlebells article

OK... They got part of it right. Then again, they didn't use me as the sole source, so I take no responsibility for anything other than 3 paragraphs.

READ THE ARTICLE.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What do I get if...?

For some reason, it seems like for the past 2 or 3 weeks, I've been repeatedly answering questions like "What do I get if I want to strengthen my back?", "What do I get if I need to keep my knees from collapsing in when I squat down?", or "What can I use to make my rotator cuff stronger since my shoulder hurts all the time?"

I guess it's been a while since I've posted answers to these things, so here's your abbreviated Back-To-School shopping list for items & resources that'll take your training, your treating, and your personal evolution into overdrive.

If you don't have some of these items, that's understandable. We're not made out of money. On the other hand, if you train your brain to stay in poverty mode, you'll never make some of the best investments possible for your professional development and your freedom from pain. I can confess to you publically that every hard-earned dollar I've spent on these items has been worth TEN TIMES as much in returns to me with patients and clients, nevermind my own physical performance.

You blow tons of money every week on bull$h!# like a double mocha venti primo frappolatte'chino that you're just going to slam down, p!$$ out, and get fat from. Why not spend that on resources that will increase your understanding of your field, improve your ability to give your people real lasting results, and take your earning potential to the next level???

I'll try to categorize these as best I can, so here goes...

Functional Movement Screen Technologies
Most all of you know I'm a huge proponent of Gray Cook's Functional Movement Screen Technologies. The FMS has changed the face of physical culture and orthopedic medicine, so there's NO reason at all why a trainer, physical therapist, or any sort of primary care physician worth his or her salt wouldn't be versed in any of these screening methods.

If you're an RKC reading this, stop procrastinating! Register for the next CK-FMS workshop. It's Thursday, May 28 - May 31, 2009 in St. Paul... 4 DAYS of the highest quality and most information-packed time of your life! It's September 6th as I'm writing this, so don't use the "I don't have enough lead time" excuse. Gray Cook, Brett Jones, Danielle Cook, and I will be on hand to teach you the ins and outs of what is perhaps the most brain-numbing & revolutionary stuff you'll ever come across. Not one single person that I spoke to during the inaugural CK-FMS workshop this past August came away feeling like they didn't get enough highly applicable information. No fluff here, Baby!

In fact, as of today, I'm going to make the CK-FMS a requirement for any RKC in the KBLA family who's running a satellite group. Within 2 years of you earning your RKC, you're required to attend the CK-FMS, where you can re-cert your RKC with your Snatch Test numbers. Nobody should be training someone else if they don't know how to identify movement problems and can't provide some sort of solution. That's why the old-time Chinese martial arts masters all knew some degree of Chinese traumatology. If it got injured under their roof, they had the responsibility to fix it. KBLA's all about skill & responsibility.

Now, if you're not an RKC, you're allowed a little more room to procrastinate.

TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC: If you don't want to be "bothered" by getting to learn the Functional Movement Screen, buying the FMS Screening kit, and all of that, no problem. Unless you're a fitness, athletic, or medical professional, there's really no need for you to buy the toys and take the courses.

However, you DO need to know how to move from your "core". How do we address that? - The DEADLIFT!

Wait.... not crunches??? Not rolling around on my Swiss Ball??? Not using the electro-stim Bruce Lee ab-shocker thing??? No, Dude.... the DEADLIFT!

The Deadlift is one of the MOST OVERLOOKED weight-training exercises and fundamental movement patterns. It serves as both a screen and a correction for many individuals with a plethora of pain syndromes and movement problems. If you're a kettlebeller, then the Deadlift should have been the FIRST movement you learned to execute properly with a kettlebell in your hand. If you didn't, go back to your trainer and ask for your money back. The hot, sexy, showy lifts are nothing (and in most cases, dangerous) if you don't have ROCK-SOLID mastery of the Deadlift.



Secrets of Core Training: The Backside by Gray Cook & Master RKC Brett Jones deals with all of the stuff I just discussed, but in crystal clear detail. You get not only the best explanations of what the core is all about, but also a clear cut progression of how to find your weaknesses, discover their component parts, and shore them up into an ironclad body.

Once you've mastered the info on Secrets of Core Training: The Backside and you're moving with more power, ease, and posture, you're ready to move on to Secrets of the Hip & Knee. Here, you'll get even more corrective exercises to shore up even the tiniest issues with your lower body movement patterns.



TIME OUT:
- "Why are you talking about movement patterns so much? I don't have problems with movement. It's just that my knee hurts when I squat down!"
- "The problem's not my core! My abs are strong and I do hundreds of crunches a day! My lower back hurts!"


Yup, I heard you the first time, and you'd be damn shocked how many of you out there with these sorts of aches and pains actually have those aches and pains because of allowing your body to employ $h!##y movement patterns. You think you know how to sit, stand, walk, run & all that, but your body's been compensating for heinous habits by piling on one cover-up after another. And that pain that you're feeling now? It's your body's way of telling you that your cover-ups aren't going to cut it any more and you've gotta deal with the underlying neurological issues. (Wow, sounds like something that you could extrapolate easily into a psychotherapy session, don't it?) Now let's get back to the discussion at hand.

After you've addressed the "root" of your body by learning and applying all of the information in the first 2 DVDs that I discussed, the next thing you're going to need is command, control, and comfort in your upper body. That's where Secrets of the Shoulder comes in. Brett & Gray pulled the door right off the hinges with this 2-DVD set.

Got shoulder, neck, or mid-to-upper back pain? Get Secrets of the Shoulder, study it like a nerd on speed, apply it like a mad scientist, and then resurface feeling like a new person!



What's so great about this stuff and why the sales pitch? Simple... The quality of information that Gray & Brett are doling out for you is SOOOOO good that most of your doctors won't have a damn clue about this, and they're the people you're going to see for solutions when you have an ache or pain! The problem is that the prescription meds and most of the rehab exercises you're being given are USELESS. So you're wasting money and time and NOT getting any real relief for your rotator cuff tendonitis, your achy shoulders, your tight neck, or the numbness and tingling that's going down your arm.

Now if you've handled all of that with panache and poise, gone through each DVD at least 3 times to pick up all the details you missed during your 2 previous viewings, and you're pushing into the real essence of functional movement, then you're ready for the last installment in the Secrets of series.... Secrets of Primitive Patterns.


Now while there's a ton of other stuff I could recommend to you, any of the info on even the first 3 DVDs is MORE than enough to keep you occupied for a LONG time. Get it, open it, watch it, study it, apply it, and BENEFIT from it! Once you've done all that, share the benefit with others!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gunnin' for it!

Just finished with a client & decided to use his recovery time to grease the groove a bit. Foot-hooked the 16kg and pulled it with ease, sternum to the bar. After the next round, felt strong and decided to try the 24kg. SMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTH... clavicle to bar.

At 160, I could go for pressing the 36kg, but I don't own one. The crosshairs are focused on the Bulldog. If (or rather when) I can get back down to my fighting weight (148lbs) and press an 88lb kettlebell, that'll be a sweet moment for me.

Back to meetings & editing. So far, looks like a strong ending to my 35th year. God-willing, my 36th will be stronger. To all of you that made this past year of my life so outstanding and so memorable, thank you... from the bottom of my heart.

Monday, September 1, 2008

TOOTH & NAIL!

"We defend our weaknesses, our compensations, our insecurities, and our delusions tooth and nail."
- Me, Clover Park Tai-Chi class... 8/23/08


When it comes to the workings of the human body, there are two people who've revolutionized my thought processes - Pavel Tsatsouline & Gray Cook. If you've been following this blog at all, you have a decent idea of who both of those men are.

Gray has been known to say that "The most talented athletes aren't necessarily the ones who have perfect movement screens, but are often the ones who compensate for their shortcomings better than the rest."

He went on to say ominously, "But that doesn't mean they're the most durable if their movement screen scores are low."

It's that same way for people in general. The people who are often the most successful or the most wealthy or the strongest or the most famous or the most vociferous aren't always the people with the best internal set-up. Oftentimes, we're the people who are just better at compensating than others.

To give you an example, I'm going to speak about one of my acquaintances. To maintain total anonymity, I'll refer to him/her as "Them". Gosh,.... sounds awfully southern, don't it, y'all?

Them's one of the nicest people you'll ever met. Them likes to think of themself as positive & progressive. But when Them views themself in the mirror or is faced with criticism, Them becomes very emotional & defensive, not realizing that Them's tone of voice turns from a rational adult to a whiny little brat, bordering on the edge of tears. The defensiveness, the frustration, and the fear in Them's voice, mannerisms, and body language is obvious to the educated/experienced eye.

Them loves the quality of the information I give out and is eager to be proficient in it and teach it, but Them hates to be on the receiving end of my criticisms. Them may reflexively snap back at me, slink off to the corner to cry, or just outright quit and come back after a few weeks of nursing Them's feelings.

See, here's exactly where Gray's statements come into play for us on a deeper level than just athletic performance. These are truths that apply solidly for who we are as human beings.

People love to be praised, patted on the back, recognized for achievement. But people HATE to stack up as less than someone else. You'll see grown men cry and rational individuals behave like wounded animals when you point out their deficiencies or asymmetries. It's that way for plenty of the seniormost people in ANY field of endeavor, and it's certainly that way for EVERYONE on a human level.

We compensate socially in no shortage of ways... from half-a$$ed, meaningless apologies to Jedi mind trick-style diversions, to politicking, to verbal passive-aggressiveness, to simply disengaging. Depending on your background, your education, your training, and your priorities, you may use any of these "tools" or countless others to protect your paradigm.

But life and the world around us keeps evolving.

Just like the RKC II's certification requirements have evolved, so too does the rest of our world. People who went through the RKC and RKC II before the requirements became as solid as they are now have one of two options - to $h!t their pants in cowardice, and whine and complain about how unreasonable those newer requirements are, OR to accept that the cert is nowhere near as meaningful if it's not earned through real blood, sweat, and sacrifice.

Psycho-social evolution is no different. Everyone wants a pat on the back, a moment in the spotlight, and/or the assurance that all is good. All is NOT good. If you were reading the section above about "Them" and thinking "Is he talking about me?" or "He certainly isn't talking about me", then I'm talking about YOU. Instead of concerning yourself with what I think, why not prioritize your own self-discovery process and developing the honesty, courage, and persistence needed for the self-strengthening process?

As I was cleaning out some old papers from back in my early college days, I came upon a scrap of paper that I'd jotted a quote down on. My first and only Shotokan Karate master, Tsutomu Ohshima, once said during a class that "We need to have the courage to look inside ourselves and see the ugliness and weakness that we try to hide from others and often from ourselves. If you can look inside with honest eyes and have the courage to see your own sickness and weakness, then you can cut those parts away from yourself and become truly strong."

Inertia allows us to make plenty of excuses about why we can't evolve. Entitlement and denial allow us to treat everyone who calls us on our bull$h!# like criminals or lunatics. We should do away with all of that.

Those who are fighting for evolution are the ones who fight to identify their own weaknesses and struggle mightily to overcome them by predicting their defensive behaviors, deciding to put a stop to such cowardice, and executing a corrective strategy.

As the late Rev. Kensho Furuya once told me, "People think I'm preachy when they read my column sometimes, but I often write to remind myself of what I should do." The same applies for me as well. Gray's teachings apply to so many more levels of life than the casual reader might comprehend. Instead of simply adding strength to dysfunction, let's clean out the underlying dysfunctions & pathologies, reboot our systems, and then add beautiful strength to a rock-solid foundation.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

HELP! Doc needs Tech advice

Normally I'm the one who's doling out some advice here on this blog, but I'm man enough and smart enough to know when to ask for help when I'm in over my head.

Here's the situation...

I need a device (cell phone) that will allow me to essentially do all the same things I'd be able to do from my laptop (PC), and do it on a screen that won't cause me total blindness.

Right now, I have a Samsung Blackjack (which I've liked for the most part). Unfortunately, Yahoo has changed some of its sync technology, so I'm looking for a new way of having calendar, contacts/address book, e-mail, web browsing & cell phone functionality all in one. I don't mind switching to Gmail or whatever other system, as long as it allows me to edit appointments via my phone and keeps my address book entries sync'd properly (unlike Yahoo Go! has been for well over a year now).

I've heard good things about the iPhone 3G, but also heard a good deal of complaining. Not being too enlightened on the pros & cons of all that's out there, I figured turning to the more experienced folks in my audience might lead me to something better that I wouldn't have ordinarily considered.

Any ideas from the tech-savvy folks out there? THANKS for your help!! I'm looking forward to reading your replies & comments on this one in a big way.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The UCLA, CK-FMS, SFMA de-brief


Finally... I know how overdue this is, but, man... what a month!

I think I've been using the excuse that I've been waiting for people to send me photos of me from UCLA & CK-FMS to procrastinate from writing this post, but I'm getting this done today, come hell or high water. (Addendum - the pic above is courtesy of Heidi Rothenberg, RKC, and just received on 8/25/08)

The UCLA-RKC
Most of you've already heard about the adventures that I took KJ on during his stay here in LA, so I'll leave those out of this post. I will, however, say that the UCLA RKC marked my domestic debut as a Team Leader, having made my international debut back in Budapest.

Just prior to the RKC, there were a few hours when Brett Jones, MRKC, KJ & I were sitting here in this dinky little home/office room of mine and powwowing just before the cert. I have to say that that was one of the cooler moments in memory. It's always a good thing when the guys you looked up to as untouchables become your friends & colleagues, but then once you know them, you respect them even more.

The KBLA crew fielded no shortage of personnel for the UCLA cert, and each one of them carried themselves stunningly. I've been hearing from someone almost every other day about how well my students did at UCLA, and I have to thank them for their hard work and their display of pride. With few exceptions and despite their fatigue following the weekend's strain and exhaustion, everyone associated with KBLA stayed after the RKC was concluded to help Dragon Door with cleanup and packing. That kind of team spirit is what makes KBLA so great to be at the helm of. Having people like that makes me want to give my all to them time & time again.

"Trusty" Justin Garfield, USMC, RKC helped KJ & I load, haul, and unload an obscene number of kettlebells from UCLA to my apartment. This place looked like Fort Hard Style for a few days afterward.

In the aftermath of UCLA, I felt completely drained. The blazing sun overhead, the expectations from this being the first RKC cert in Los Angeles AND at my alma mater, and just being on point for 3 non-stop days took its toll, and the Viking & I just crashed out hard afterwards.

Reflecting back, there were several high points along the way.
- Listening to Coach Dan John speak on training methods and high goblet squat presentation. The importance and value of so much of what he taught sailed over the heads of most people there. I know I only caught a modicum of what he was trying to share with us.
- Co-presenting the NGU/TGU with Rif
- Working with Steve Belanger, RKC & Michelle Kilikauskas, RKC II as my assistants. I have NOTHING but high praise for them!
- Sharing the field with other Team Leaders, Seniors, & Masters that I respect and admire
- Meeting so many highly motivated and disciplined RKC candidates and working with them as they developed into RKCs!

One point of discussion was the quality of certain assistants.
The RKC is not a place to strut, to sit around, or to be aloof for assistant RKCs.

It's a place and occasion to do the following, in the following order:
1. to recertify and demonstrate your technical proficiency in all of the RKC I requirements,
2. to demonstrate your ability to teach those skills to others as an assistant to your Team Leader, and
3. to pick up on all the fine points that you missed in your previous excursion through the RKC as a student.

Rest damn assured that KBLA's going to make sure that each & every RKC that we field as an assistant is more than ready to do all of those. Anton Summers, RKC did us all proud at UCLA. There's MUCH more to come from many more waiting in the wings.

And now that we've got representatives in the O.C., we're branching out as Kettlebells Orange County too!

The Certified Kettlebell - Functional Movement Screen (CK-FMS) workshop
What a reunion!

KJ, Doug Nepodal & I were on the same flight out of LAX, and we got the red carpet welcome from Matt Johnson, RKC. Matt took time out of his day to scoop up the Three Amigos from MSP and bring us to the hotel. Big thanks to Com. Matt for such hospitality!

The first moments as KJ, Doug & I rolled out, getting into the Holiday Inn was like being back at the reunion you always wished your reunions were like. We got our rooms and met up in The Liffey (the in-house restaurant) later that evening, and you'd swear you've never seen so much warmth and happiness in one place. That kind of camaraderie left a lasting impression on us all, no doubt.

The CK-FMS workshop itself was a thing of absolute beauty. I'd originally signed up just for the sheer pleasure of being a student, but that was prior to having a couple of meetings with Gray Cook & Dr. Lee Burton, who honored me with an invitation to assist. I'd originally been exposed to the Functional Movement Screen directly by Gray a couple of years ago when he gave Pavel & I an in-depth introduction to it at the Beckham Academy. I'd been practicing it on my own as well, studying bits & pieces here & there, along with the "Secrets of..." series. I met up with Gray & Lee in Long Beach for their Perform Better workshops earlier this year, and then flew out to Indy to go through the full FMS course itself, where I ended up assisting (much to my shock & surprise). When Gray told me that he wanted me to assist at the CK-FMS, I was speechless.

Despite studying the reference materials, I was amazed at how many little fine points I'd missed or overlooked as the workshop progressed. Throughout the weekend, as much as I thought I'd prepared to assist Gray & Brett, I felt like I was just struggling to stay abreast of the knowledge that the two of them were doling out. Danielle Cook, RKC II, Gray's wife and a well-practiced FMS instructor, put me a bit more at ease when she commented that a lot of this material she'd never seen either, as it was the first time Gray & Brett were presenting it together. As the two of them were teaching, I felt like I had my lips on a firehose that was on full-blast. I had to keep checking my skull every few hours to see if there was an exit wound yet.

With even the massive amounts of experience and learning that a high-level coach like Rif has, he too was remarking well before the end of the day, "My brain hurts!"

It wasn't until the last day when Brett confessed that he was taken off guard and blown away by something Gray explained or presented that I started to feel a little more consolation. You can rest assured that for the coming months, I'll be hip deep in the Gray [Cook] Matter.

The Takeaway... Hard Style and the RKC System is an incredible body of knowledge that prepares the human body for ideal movement and true strength. It fits in with the FMS like a hand in a glove, and I'm just more inspired to learn and practice more of both.

The Aftermath... After spending the weekend with people I love & respect like Toomey, the Blifferts, Engum, Whitley, O'Connor, Pavel, KJ, Rif, and the like, leaving was a serious downer. If the Iron Tamer himself hadn't called me and asked if I was back home & bummed out too, I'd have thought someone put a downer in my Cheerios. There's really something to be said for the kind of family that's come out of The School of Strength!

Oh yeah... and if you have pics of me or Courtney, please e-mail them to me!!!

---

OK... sorry about the prior incompleteness. Had to run down to the Inosanto Academy to train the man himself.

SFMA debrief
At Gray Cook's encouragement, I signed up for the Selective Functional Movement Assessment Course, taught by Dr. Kyle Kiesel. This course focused more on diagnostic tools for physicians, while still operating on the same paradigm as the FMS.

There are still basic tests that are scored, and the focus for treatment is refined down to a very formulaic means. Courtney & I had dinner with Dr. Kiesel after the course and both of us gave him the same feedback:

As medical professionals (east & west), we were both taught plenty of diagnostic tests and how to use plenty of diagnostic tools, from pulses to MRIs to serum glucose tests. No matter what branch of medicine you're in, if you're learning from a top-notch mentor and a really skilled clinician, you're taught to go for the keystone, the central point of dysfunction or disease. When you treat that effectively, all the other secondary symptoms will usually improve.

The SFMA & FMS technologies give everyone involved in human performance a means of identifying dysfunction, aiming us toward the key problem, and rectifying it with either corrective exercise, intervention, or referral. This is the essence of being a useful participant in another person's true wellness.

As I said this morning at the Inosanto Academy, I'm so blessed to have access to good people like these with knowledge so deep. Life's good.

Oh yeah... and send me pics from UCLA or CK-FMS if you've got 'em!