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)

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!


waterboy1 said...


I am new to kettlebell training and wanted to say, "thank you" for a wonderful family that you've made at KBLA.

My co-worker and I have attended the last couple of sessions at the park. We both have nothing but kudos and thank you's to your instructors (Anton, Rich, and Lulin). They helped us on our technique and put us through a great workout.

I have been reading your blog and actually saw you at the PerformBetter seminar in Long Beach, but was unable to meet you in person. My loss.

It is good to know that there is some "foundation" in kettlebell training. I am glad that my co-workers and I are learning from the best!

Hope to meet you and chat soon.. Thanks again,


Dr. Mark Cheng said...

Com. Waterboy, believe me when I tell you that it'll only get better. The more you put into your training and your relationships with the KBLA crew, the more you'll get out of it.

This is the model for my group. I look forward to meeting you in person this Sunday. Thank you for bringing your co-workers by. The more, the merrier.

waterboy1 said...


Gotta work this Sunday.. Again, swing and a miss!!

Will you be there the following Sunday?

Dr. Mark Cheng said...

Com. Waterboy, sorry to have been so slow with the reply. I was back at the helm this past Sunday, and will be for some time to come.

I may make a quick trip back east this Fall, but that's all up in the air. I'm definitely going to teach in New Zealand in late November, but more on that as details become available.

Looking forward to meeting you in person, and if I met you this past Sunday, I look forward to seeing you again the next time you can make it.

It never ceases to amaze me that we have people who choose to train with KBLA in spite of a 2 hour (or more) drive from any given direction. It is SUCH AN HONOR for me to teach you!!!

Kenneth Jay said...

Sir, thanks again for your hospitality during the LA experience! I am honored to be your friend!

I wish I was back there with you and not stuck in Spain. Damn I miss LA...

take care brother,


Dr. Mark Cheng said...

Sir, you are my Danish brother, and I'd walk through hell with you or for you.

Looking forward to seeing you again, in May at the absolute latest.

With much love, respect, & brotherhood,

Los Angeles Criminal Attorneys said...

Sir, you really are blessed to have access to good people like these with knowledge so deep. I would love to be as blessed as you!