Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Party Line

It seems that there are a lot of folks (RKCs of almost all ranks included) that don't quite grasp the importance of the Party Line in the RKC community.

Let me throw my two cents (coated in C-4) out there...

People who are new to kettlebell training need a logical, safe, and progressive system that can give them all the fine points of movement that are needed in Hard Style Russian kettlebell training.

For the RKC consortium, that means that there is a STANDARD teaching method that is recognized as acceptable for users and Level 1 RKC instructors. And since the RKC is THE GOLD STANDARD in kettlebell instruction, RKCs should be able to both teach AND demonstrate all of the Level 1 techniques within the parameters of acceptable quality. We need to teach BY THE BOOK. What book? The RKC Instructors' Manual. Yes, the huge ZIP file that Dennis takes the time to put together and email out to all of the RKCs who are coming to assist and all of the Team Leaders that are there to teach.

Now some people in the RKC community have taken it upon themselves to backtalk their commanding officers, not only questioning their judgement, but doing so in a less-than-tactful manner. To use a martial arts analogy, it's as if a relatively new blue belt suddenly decides that his bollocks are too big for his belt and he decides to go & pick a fight with a bunch of brown and black belts. The smackdown is comin'.

Here's what's up... The RKC system has always been and will always be an organic, growing, and evolving system. When I went through it, there were all kinds of exercises taught: Deadlift, Swing, Turkish Get-Up, Clean, Press, Front Squat, Deck Squat, and Snatch, including the windmill.

In the times that I've been back to St. Paul, San Jose, Copenhagen, and Budapest, I can't tell you how much variation and evolution I've seen in these exercises and their teaching methods, but the core 6 have always been the same - Swing, TGU, Clean, Press, Front Squat, & Snatch.

So as far as I can tell, there's NO reason for anyone certified as an RKC within the last 2 years (which is the time frame for an RKC to renew his/her certification by assisting or retesting at an RKC event) to be anything less than competent with those 6 basic lifts.

But reality speaks otherwise... a considerable number of RKCs who come to serve as assistants and a CONSIDERABLE number of RKC II candidates at the recent RKC II cert event needed a MAJOR review of the basic lifts.... SO MUCH SO that many of the Master & Senior instructors were fuming at the abysmal level of performance.

I'm far from perfect, but I'm striving for it all the time. I've had to overcome prior injuries, current injuries, lack of sleep, overwork, family issues, whatever, just to get a workout in here or there. But there's a minimum acceptable level when it comes to the 6 RKC basics, and those 6 exercises are what I focus on MOST in my own training; not the bent press, not the LCCJ, not the bottoms-up stupid human tricks. In fact, most of my training centers around Pavel's Program Minimum. And when I really want to dial in improvement, I focus on my Swing, especially the 1-handed swing since that is the foundation for all the other 1-handed techniques, like the Clean & Snatch. The most advanced of my students can tell you that the stuff I focus on teaching them and pushing them on is how to REALLY create depth of knowledge in the simplest of Swings!

Let this be a warning to you. If you're going call yourself a kettlebell instructor or even call yourself a trainer who DARES to use kettlebells, you'd better have a damn solid ability to demonstrate and teach the fundamentals with absolute certainty. For those of you who aren't in the RKC consortium and still dare to teach others to use KBs, don't do it around me unless you're 120% sure of what you're teaching. If I hear of or see you injuring your clients through some p!$$ poor instruction or downright incorrect coaching, you're going to feel professionally like someone beat you on the head with his wok and ran over you with a rickshaw, leaving a pair of chopsticks shoved into a choice orifice.

If you're an RKC and you can't demonstrate the Party Line with absolute certainty, then you'd better approach it with absolute humility. Get with a Team Leader or higher at least once a year and be damn ready to learn... tighten your form, improve your teaching, and master your movements!

The RKC consortium is an evolving clan, and we're pruning some branches now. Some people are freaking out because some of their favorite personalities are demonstrating their inability to evolve, to play with the team, to keep an open mind to the high-quality info that's driving this evolution (like Gray Cook's FMS technologies). Let 'em go!!! Those folks will sink themselves over time, either through overstepping their professional boundaries or by some other faux pas. We, as RKCs, as people who are driven by a true social synergy, are bound and committed to life in Hard Style!

Hard Living

Hard Work

Hard Truth

And as Eddie Murphy said in Delirious during his impression of Uncle Gus... "And if you don't like it, then get the f**k out!"

OK.... I guess I am REALLY that intense.


Nikki Shlosser said...


(Hey, my applause is so much stronger now. Thanks, hot potato!)


mark blakemore said...

why not tell us what you really mean? ;)

not being an rkc but looking in from the outside for 4 years, i agree 100%.

great blog btw!!

Amy Jurrens said...

I tightened every muscle in my body in true Hard Style as I read your post. Thanks for the butt-kickin reminder of the responsibility I have as an RKC. I will continue to strive for perfect technique.

If only I could squat like you! (A girl can dream, can't she!)

Boris said...

Good stuff Doc. I'm working w. a group of personal trainers in the coming weeks - I'll be sure to pass on the wok story (might change it to a teppan though).

Wish I could be at the cert - looking forward to your review when you come back.

Mark Reifkind said...

Yes Sir you REALLY are that intense and that's one of the things I love most about you. Great great post and one that needs to be said( and read) to and by all RKC's. Very solid info man,well done.

Joe Walker said...

Sir, thank you for that post and for the gentle reminder of what it means to be an RKC.

Michael Rendle SFG-Team Leader said...

Nicely done, Doc!
The dialog on the forum did not reach this level but I wanted to scream it. I am not sure what benefit there is to try and out market your fellow RKC's. Extreme KB swing? Extreme KB work out? Give me a break. If your going 'extreme' you probably just went 'stupid'. If your bad mouthing the Senior ranks, You did go stupid. Thanks for the post!!
Your former RKCII partner,

Iron Tamer said...

well said.

Doug Nepodal Sr. RKC said...

I couldn't agree more. Thanks Doc

See you in LA 2 weeks baby!!

Rannoch Donald said...


See, I knew you were into "Plain English".

Rage Hard!


fawn said...

Well said! It is unethical for a instructor to teach what isn't in a personal practiced.

dr. m.c. said...

my dear sifu,
by way of reply,
i wish i could give this text to you on parchment.

It includes the image by the way i was thinking about for having tea.


Taikei Matsushita said...

At RKC II we were expected as professionals. 3 Team Leaders, one of my assistant instructors who taught me last year, and the rest of us were on the same line, same crowd.

Pavel and Brett talked to me as a pro. RKC level 1, I was just a victim.

Franz Snideman said...

Wow. Well written Mark. You have a very clear and effective way of expressing yourself.

Great points....ones we all need to think about and use to examine our own motives and lack of focus!