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!