Monday, November 26, 2007

Do your homework!

The RKC invasion is a beautiful thing. But with all the throngs of people signing up for the instructor certification workshops, there are FAR too many who come without an inkling of the most requisite of tasks they must perform... the snatch test.

Read the bloody rules and now your numbers at the very least!!! The following page is text heavy, but there's nothing extraneous. Read it, re-read it, train it, know it, and DO IT!!!

RKC Certification Requirements

If you're an RKC candidate from the KBLA camp, you are expected to hit your snatch test numbers confidently 2 months before your certification. If you cannot hit them within 1 month of your cert date, you will be asked to reschedule your attendance.

The Russian Kettlebell Challenge instructor certification workshop is not for the unprepared. We want you to go with as much training as possible so that you can REALLY learn the finer points of the Level 1 RKC system from Pavel and the seniors in as much detail as possible. If you're still banging your forearm while cleaning or unable to pass your snatch test, then you need to prepare MORE before the RKC.

This is like going back to college. If you've done the reading before the lecture, you'll be able to appreciate the salient information that wasn't in the reading. If you didn't bother to prepare for the lecture, you'll be scrambling to jot down everything and really learning so much less than your more studious classmates.

Friday, November 23, 2007


This guy, Buakaw Por Pramuk, is my inspiration when it comes to stand-up fighting.

And the song by Tupac Shakur, titled "Holla At Me" is one of my favorites in training music. As with many of Tupac's raps, the lyrics are rich with meaning.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Living in Mecca

Over the past few days, actually past few weeks, I've been reflecting on how to make improvements in my lifestyle... trying to see where I can make changes that will raise my quality of life and allow me to do more with less effort.

And this week, I realized that I'm barking up the wrong tree.

Speaking with Rannoch Donald, RKC, the head of Kettlebells Scotland, and with Guros John Spezzano, Mike Wise, and Jeff Imada, some of the senior instructors at the Inosanto Academy, I came to truly appreciate that I'm living in Mecca... so to speak. With all the resources that I have within arm's reach here and all the work that I've done to be able to access those resources, I'm a fool for every minute that I don't spend working diligently to be able to make the most of my opportunities. I see Pavel Tsatsouline, train with James Lin and Dan Inosanto, and have access to some of the best & brightest in every field that I've chosen to investigate or excel in almost every week.

While there are certain aspects of my lifestyle that I'm not thrilled about, particularly that my wife & son spend most of their week at least 45 minutes away (without traffic) because my wife's going through her residency, there's a silver lining to that cloud. While I've been more preoccupied lately with wanting to spend more time with my baby boy, I also realize that if we were to be living under the same roof right now, I wouldn't have the time to study, train, and do the kind of concentrated self-improvement that I'm focusing more on now.

To that end, I've decided to set a new goal or two for myself.

1. By 2007's end, to be able to press the 70 pounder again with my left hand, and to make the most of EVERY day in training with KBs in a grease the groove format,

2. To get the most out of my martial arts training opportunities- Inosanto JKD/Kali/Muay Thai/Silat, Roy Harris BJJ & Grappling, James Lin's Combat Shuai-Chiao, Harry Wong's Wang Shi-qing Yang style small frame form, and Gee Yung's Fut Ga & lion dance, as well as Krabi Krabong, etc.,

3. To make a bigger, better contribution to the 3 fields of endeavor that I'm involved with - martial arts, kettlebells, and medicine,

and 4. To stop thinking about what life is like on the other, "greener" side, and live more powerfully on my this side of the hill.

To live in Mecca, one has to recognize the gifts that God lays out before them. Instead of griping about how we wish we had other things or other resources, let's all make the most of ourselves with what we do have and show our appreciation for others that way.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

T'was the night before Veterans' Day

And all through the apartment,
Not a creature was stirring,
Aside from a very restless Panda...

Why was the Panda restless? It might have to do with the radio and TV features he saw that left him bitterly sleepless. Read on, folks....

Earlier, as I was driving back from a morning of teaching from 7-12noon, I heard an AM radio interview with some veterans talking about the Iraq & Vietnam Wars. What I heard troubled me so deeply that it left an ache in my heart all day long. One veteran from the Vietnam War said that he was deeply disappointed in the Veterans Administration and the government, saying that he expected his government to treat him with honesty, fairness, and good faith. Those three things are the cornerstone of any relationship, let alone how a government should treat its own soldiers, and his words troubled me so deeply that I had to sit in my car for a while reflecting on them after I'd pulled into my driveway.

The next thing on the news at 9pm was a story about how some folks are celebrating their Veterans' Day by packaging a bunch of little care packages for the soldiers in Iraq & Afghanistan. That story, while not exactly lifting my spirits, made me want to do something more to show the people of the US Armed Services that their innumerable sacrifices are not in vain.

Many of these armed forces personnel leave (and sometimes lose) their jobs, their friends, and most importantly their loved ones to serve our government's interests. Now while you may not be a fan of the current administration, you cannot fault these valiant people for doing their duty. Like it or not, they are the ones who, as so well put in one e-mail, put their lives on the line and suffer every day so you can enjoy your designer tea at Starbucks and whine about how bad things are.

I'm not over there with them, but I'll put it down in print on the internet as this. I'm honored to say that I've been one to try to do whatever I can for the people who do whatever they can to take care of our safety and our freedoms. Whether you're part of the police, the firefighters, or the active duty or retired military personnel, I want you to know that I and the people of Kettlebells Los Angeles appreciate you.

For the first 5 active duty personnel from Iraq and the first 5 active duty personnel from Afghanistan, e-mail me a clear picture of you in uniform with Dragon Door kettlebells from wherever in Iraq or Afghanistan that you're stationed. I'll send you an Enter the Kettlebell DVD, an Enter the Kettlebell book, and 1 martial arts or H2H DVD from my personal martial arts video collection. I will pay all shipping, all handling, everything. This offer ends on 11/17/07, since I want to try to get these packages out to you before Thanksgiving.

For the veterans who are back stateside, you train with KBLA as my guests for the remainder of 2007 completely free of charge. Just show me proof of honorable discharge, and you're welcome to train as part of my KBLA family.

I'm not a loaded guy. But I deeply appreciate the sacrifices you're making for us. I look forward to showing you that some of us are here at home are more than willing to give you the honesty, fairness, and good faith that you so truly deserve.

With respect and gratitude,
Dr. Mark Cheng, RKC II

Sunday, November 4, 2007


I'm not the most patient guy on Earth, so let's just get the Thanksgiving thing with over NOW, and here's how we'll do it...

In SoCal, after all of the fires and insanity we've just gone through, ANY firefighter (whether actively serving or retired) or their immediate family members can train with me at KBLA's Sunday class free of charge for the month of November. Just show some ID, and we'll be glad to extend the offer to you!

What the hell... Let's take it a little further......

I will do a 2-hour kettlebell training workshop for any fire department in the SoCal area that would like one COMPLETELY free of charge this month. All you have to do is drop me a line at

Firefighters put it on the line for us all the time. Now I'm going to give them & their families a chance to take a little back.

Respectfully & gratefully,
Dr. Mark Cheng, RKC II

The best is yet to come!

This morning, we had an OUTSTANDING Sunday beach class! And I say that for several reasons...

1. Mark Toomey, RKC II, took the time out from his LA vacation to come by and teach with me this morning. Toomey & I have ended up at almost every RKC event together, with maybe 1 exception. He's a great friend and a top-notch instructor, and the senior students really got a chance to experience his expertise this morning. Many of the more experienced students, like RKC candidate, Guro John Spezzano, even commented to me after class, saying that they picked up several valuable technical tweaks from him!

Toomey demonstrated the bearcrawl pushup, which left a few of the harder comrades in our group groaning at just the sight of it.

2. The newer students REALLY stepped up! Dr. Jeff McCombs, an RKC candidate, went from struggling on his snatch last week, to demonstrating it with confidence and teaching others how to achieve theirs as well. And our youngest member, Patrick Barnett, demonstrated some manly technique, cranking out his snatches in true Hard Style fashion with a rock solid shoulder and systemic linkage at the top of each repetition.

3. Grace & Adam Chiplinsky, also RKC candidates, returned from Australia, bringing their diligent work ethic and incredible focus to the group. There were several newcomers as well, along with the stalwarts, making for a large and very fun morning! While the circuit at the end of class was hard, many still had plenty of energy to complete a solid trifecta afterwards.

While "the evil Russian" didn't make an appearance as hoped, this morning's class was proof-positive that no matter what the time, time change, or fog, the KBLA group is rockin' Hard Style!

Week after week, I'm so amazed at the progress I see in the group. And I always leave more excited about this great group of people that I'm so lucky to have the chance to work with! The best is yet to come!