Friday, March 28, 2008

Re-evaluation: Goals for the rest of '08

Being sick has some advantages, I suppose. It forces you to put the brakes on and re-evaluate where you've been, what you've done, where you're headed, and how you're going about it.

Sometimes, I let the excitement of living my life get the best of me, and I run myself a bit ragged. Maybe it goes back to all those years living under the roof of a Chinese mother... hearing constantly about how the other kids are working harder, getting better grades, achieving more athletically, have more friends, until later it turns into stuff like getting better jobs, marrying someone from a more prominent family, making more money, etc., etc., etc.

Thank God that it's not like that these days with my Mom, but I guess some of that is still hard-wired into me. I remember hearing my Mom talk with great esteem about my Chinese godbrother and how he was such a stud in social & athletic circles and how he went on to work internationally and fly here & there and jet-setted around Asia for a living. He even married a Hong Kong starlet in a posh ceremony in Thailand.

So what do I find myself doing now, even when the stimulus is gone?

Making lots of friends, doing elite martial arts & kettlebell training, practicing and teaching Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), flying all over creation to do these things, and making damn good money in the process.

So what's the problem?

There's no real problem per se, but it may be time for me to re-evaluate what my goals in life are. Talking with one of my former students from the UCLA Kung-Fu days, I realize that so much of what we spend our energies on these days revolves around our kids. Family's undeniably important. And no matter how successful someone is professionally, the public always wants to know about their inner personal life.

How you live your family life defines you. How you treat those who are closest to you speaks volumes about who you really are. And what you do to nourish the good points and weed out the bad points in your family life decides TONS about how the rest of your life will turn out.

So while I've been saying it for a long time, I'm going to be forcing myself to nourish the good and weed out the bad with my own family. That's priority #1.

What comes after that? My own health, and it's actually a tie rather than a subordination.

And what's involved in my understanding of health? - the triduum of mind, body, and spirit.

- 1. More focused study of Gray Cook's FMS technologies
- 2. More diligent research into optimizing business practices
- 3. More disciplined review of Pavel's extensive writings & the RKC system

- 1. Optimizing athletic fitness (getting back into prime fighting shape through a combination of MA & RKC kettlebell training methods)
- 2. Learning & internalizing new neurological combative skill sets: Combat Shuai-Chiao, BJJ, & both traditional & non-classical standup MA
- 3. Eating more cleanly

- 1. More family-nourishing time
- 2. Regular endurance training
- 3. Focusing more energy on nourishing those who themselves nourish the social synergy that is needed to succeed

Let's see how much of that I can accomplish for the remainder of 2008!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

When Nature Strikes...

Sometimes, you just have to bow down to a greater power.

For me right now, that's Nature. Squealie caught a cold/flu, which turned into an upper respiratory infection, and Nature's law of communicable disease spread poor Squealie's cooties to his Dad.

I've been feeling a little less than 100% since this weekend, but this morning was the kicker... woke up with all the classic symptoms - chills & fever, sneezing, mild cough from post-nasal drip, and the wonderful body aches. There's no way I'm flying in this condition, and the TSA would probably lock me in a plastic room for months if I showed up at LAX.

The New Zealand workshops are regrettably postponed for the time being, but rest assured that they will be rescheduled and done with absolute panache before the year is out!

Now to crawl back to bed after downing a jug of water, some Chinese herbs, and 2 stone worth of Vitamin C.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Recap on Scotland - Kettlebells, Castles, & Camaraderie

What a trip!!!

I'm glad to be back home for a bit, and I'm looking forward to seeing my family this weekend, but what a GREAT trip this was to Scotland. What was essentially a few hours more than 4 days worth of time in Scotland turned out to be far more productive than I'd have ever imagined.

Wednesday evening - As blogged below, I spent the first few hours off the plane by teaching a basic level Combat Shuai-Chiao workshop to Krav Maga Edinburgh.

Thursday - Reviewed Level 1 RKC techniques with my outstanding host Rannoch Donald, RKC, introduced the Level 2 techniques, and then got the physio treatment (also as blogged below).

Friday - Reviewed more Level 1 fine points, and then continued with Level 2 again with Rannoch, then went off to interview Vadim Kolganov. Vadim is a rarity among folks. He's a high ranking Sambo practitioner, a spinal rehabilitation specialist who trained at the Valentin Dikul Institute (yes, the same paraplegic turned strongman Valentin Dikul that Pavel talks about all the time in his writings), and one of those rare individuals who is TRULY a good human being. Despite his skill, achievements, and depth of knowledge in many fields (including kettlebells), Koganov is deeply humble and highly analytical.

He knew of Pavel before I got there, did his homework, and already had both Enter the Kettlebell and Naked Warrior.

I'd already seen video of Kolganov doing kettlebells on Youtube, so I wondered if he might be quite set in his ways. Rannoch, however, was quite sure that Vadim was not the type to be so close-minded, and he was certainly correct.

Anyways, we did a somewhat impromptu photo shoot and interview for Black Belt Magazine, focused on his understanding of Sambo. Kolganov explained a LOT of very good detail to me, as I knew very little about Sambo. Our conversations covered Sambo history, development, tradition, and strategy. I also found out that the founder of R.O.S.S., General Alexander Retuinskih, is one of his teachers.

Saturday - Glasgow Workshop: A sold out appearance for the KBLA/KBS tagteam, and Vadim Kolganov showed up. Not only did Vadim participate as a student, but he also helped a couple of the absolute newbies as well. The Glaswegians did an amazing job with not only duplicating the technique, but also being able to demonstrate their understanding of the finer points. Any professor will tell you that you know how much the students are paying attention to what you're saying by what kind of questions your students ask, and the participants in the Glasgow seminar were absolutely dialed in.

The day finished with Vadim giving me my first pair of Sambo boots, a magazine, & DVDs and encouraging me to come back some time to train.

Sunday - Edinburgh Workshop: ANOTHER SOLD-OUT performance! :-) This was a good end to a busy few days. Edinburgh saw a packed house getting the same treatment as Glasgow... highly detailed information coupled with lots of practice and constant thinking.

The attendees were as varied as they were in Glasgow - young studs who were looking to make a name for themselves in NHB fighting, trainers, physiotherapists, athletes, and retired folks who were simply looking to stay in shape. Both workshops had instructors under Guro Inosanto, and both had fighters. The Edinburgh workshop was graced by a professional British boxer who was perhaps the most intent on improving his form and developing his technique. I was surprised how many people came up to Scotland from England on both days.

After the workshop, Vadim came over to Rannoch's house for a second interview, and brought another slew of gifts - a calendar poster of his teacher, a Russian doll, several more Sambo DVDs, a Russian Imperial Eagle hatpin, a SCOTROSS pin, a Russian bear sculpture, and a bottle of REAL Russian vodka. The writing on the bottle's completely in Cyrillic, so I have no doubt that it's gooooood stuff.

We talked extensively about his feelings about kettlebells, about the Hard Style RKC system, and orthopedic medicine. With Kolganov's background as a spinal rehab specialist trained at the world-famous Valentin Dikul Institute, he had a bag of modalities VERY similar to my own Tui-Na. He told me that he was inspired to look more closely at kettlebells as rehabilitative tools after my seminar, recalling the many feats that Dikul used to do with kettlebells.

For those of you who are dying to get to an RKC post haste, you're in luck. The May RKC in Copenhagen, Denmark is still not yet sold out, and Vadim Kolganov himself has now enrolled. If you want to train HARD STYLE in the land of the Vikings and meet a serious Soviet badass, then REGISTER NOW!

After a great Sunday workshop, a long shower, and a short nap, I woke up early to have Rannoch see me off at EDI, as I began the multi-legged journey home (EDI to London-Gatwick, to Dallas-Fort Worth, and finally to LAX).

Just a little over a week, and I'll be back in the air... This time to Auckland, New Zealand, where Mike Capper, RKC, is preparing a blockbuster workshop. If you're going to be in NZ or have friends in Australia or New Zealand, please send them to THIS page!

Looking forward to seeing you all in the VERY near future, wherever you are in the world!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Kettlebell Whirlwind Gains Speed!

I think we've started something...

Scotland's been a blast thanks to Rannoch Donald, RKC, and there'll be another post in the coming days about what I've been up to here. But as I've got just a few hours before I hop on a plane to Gatwick, then Dallas, then finally back to LA, it looks like my travel plans have suddenly gotten REALLY interesting.

My next two trips were going to be to New Zealand with my family (to teach KBs & martial arts also) and then St. Paul, MN for the April '08 RKC. Due to a personal promise and a friendship I've made over here in Edinburgh, I agreed to head off to the Danish RKC in Copenhagen at the beginning of May. Pavel just invited me to come to the Hungary RKC as a Team Leader, so that's on my radar as well.

I never imagined having this many opportunities to travel, and I never dreamed I'd be part of an organization with leadership that I respect so much.

Life's good. :) More coming soon! Time for a quick nap.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Scotland - Day 1.5

Landed in Scotland, dropped some bags off at Rannoch's and went straight to Krav Maga Edinburgh to teach some Combat Shuai-Chiao. I'm demonstrating the set-up for the "la" pulling throw in the picture above. The reception was a warm one, and I'm pleased that the martial arts are thriving here in Scotland.

After class, I gorged on fish & chips and then went to sleep far too quickly. The next morning, did some minor adjusting of the Hard Style form with Rannoch and started going over the Level 2 lifts. Training then moved out of KBs and back into martial arts later in the day, as we covered some of the fundamentals of Kalis Ilustrissimo as taught to me by Prof. Roy Harris. Rannoch's elder son, Pete, did wonderfully at it, as did Rannoch.

The late morning saw me visiting the same physio who treats Inosanto Academy representative Guro Rick Young. Kim's excellent. On a par with LA's finest for sure. She had me so knocked out that I could barely stay awake in the car on the way back to the house. Thinking that I'd take a quick nap for an hour and get up to walk in the hills, I ended up sleeping like a brick for +4 hours. Serious therapy.

This morning (now Friday at 9am here), we're going over a bit more kettlebellery and then have an interview with Vadim Kolganov, the Sambo expert featured on Human Weapon. It's going to be quite a fun day!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chinese Spec-Ops Combatives

Back in the day when relations between Nationalist Chinese Taiwan & Communist Mainland China were at their diciest (immediately following the Communist Revolution), both sides were eagerly in pursuit of anything that would give them the combative edge over their rival. My parents had to flee the mainland because of the war, and they had no shortage of vignettes to tell me about the atrocities that one Chinese committed on another during those dark years.

In spite of the hundreds of martial styles and schools that were at the disposal of both Chairman Mao and Generalissimo Chiang, I understand that both men employed high level Shuai-Chiao experts in the training of their most elite special operations troops. Shuai-Chiao is the most primitive of the Chinese martial arts and perhaps the most tested by sparring and real-world combat. The last undisputed king of Shuai-Chiao, Grandmaster Chang Tung-Sheng, was known to have killed men in combat with nothing more than his Shuai-Chiao skills. This art is no place for theoreticians.

Yet in spite of its viciousness, Shuai-Chiao is a remarkably complete system of physical culture. The fundamental training methods include a yogic system that strengthens & aligns the body, in addition to power training methods that include everything from twisting reeds and holding bricks to training with stone padlocks, which function like Chinese kettlebells.

The combative side of Shuai-Chiao is full featured as far as stand-up arts go. With kicking, punching, throwing, and joint manipulation, and because of its emphasis on NOT going to the ground, Shuai-Chiao is a remarkable system that goes well with the multiple-attacker realities of modern troop warfare and civilian self-defense.

Combat Shuai-Chiao was systematized in the 1990s and headed by Headmaster David C.K. Lin, who is my teacher. Master Lin taught the Spec Ops troops in Taiwan until he immigrated to the US, at which time he was retained as a Hand-to-Hand instructor for counter-terrorism operatives. He was the preferred demonstration partner for his master, the late Grandmaster Chang Tung-Sheng. In the picture above, Master Lin's got me hurtling toward the ground with both of my arms trapped. That's Shuai-Chiao.

Legendary martial arts icon, Guro Daniel Inosanto, has said that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu's ground game with the power throws and takedowns of Shuai-Chiao would be an unstoppable blend. And unlike many other grappling arts, Shuai-Chiao is predicated off of dealing with a striking opponent. There's no sudden shock of training against someone only grabbing your gi and then dealing with an opponent who's punching your lips into the next county. While you may not train all the time at full-force and full-contact in Shuai-Chiao, you still train against what you're going to have to face in real life: hair grabs, eye gouges, punches, kicks, headbutts, and weapons.

In addition to the Hard Style Kettlebell Masterclasses, I'll be teaching Combat Shuai-Chiao workshops in both Scotland & New Zealand. Timewise, this is going to be the bulk of what I'm scheduled to be teaching in Auckland. And it looks like I'm going to give a "surprise" workshop for the Combat Ready class right after I land in Scotland.

Nice to know that no matter what I achieve in the world of Kettlebell instruction, I still have a home and deep roots in martial arts! Off to Scotland in a few hours! Bring your Advil!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

An RKC weekend in LA

This outstanding weekend completely revolved around the RKC system!

Saturday was the Kettlebells for Rehab & Prehab workshop at the Inosanto Academy. It was both well-attended and well-appreciated. I don't think I've ever received as many calls and e-mails of thanks within 24 hours of teaching any class. There were only 5 exercises on the syllabus, but each of those five exercises dealt with the two most clinically common areas of pain that I see in my clinic - the lower back and the shoulder.

One of the comments that was made to me really struck home. While many instructors can teach you how to use a kettlebell and mimic gross form, it's a whole new ball of wax when you can KNOW that you're using a kettlebell in the proper way. One of the attendees commented to me that the feedback mechanisms and cues that I gave were some of the clearest he'd ever heard (even after working with other KB instructors). That really inspired me to work harder at perfecting my craft as an RKC Team Leader.

The response for that workshop was so good that I'll probably be teaching that same format again in the near future.

Today's (Sunday) beach class was a surprisingly PACKED house, in spite of the time change! At an almost painfully early 6:55am, the quad was already packed with folks, and a few more continued to trickle in on Chinese Standard Time. The class was divided between 2 portions: instruction & workout. The instruction portion focused as usual on perfecting the RKC Level 1 exercises. The workout was two-fold: the legendary circuit & the VO2Max. Normally, we finish with the circuit by itself. Today's circuit was no easy task. The stations were bear crawl, deadlift/swing, hot potato, snatch, tactical lunge, pistol, & front squat (I think).

After going through that circuit twice, the students were then put through another bit of added love by a guest instructor - Diane Lee-Swanson, RKC, from Campbell, CA. Diane was a member of Team Rif during the San Jose RKC, and she put those who still hadn't had enough pain through 10 cycles of 30:30 VO2Max snatches.

What a weekend! What an organization! What a way of life!

Friday, March 7, 2008

GOD, I love this $hi# !!!

It's a beautiful thing when you get a rush from what you do for work. It is an ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL thing!

As many of you know, I started off with my clinic, the Chung-Hua Institute, focused intensely on orthopedic medicine and using the lens of traditional Chinese manual medicine (Tui-Na) as my main modality for healing treatment, with acupuncture, herbal medicines, and Chi Kung instruction as secondary methods.

I love Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and I came to love it through my participation in traditional Chinese martial arts, which I've taught for well over a decade now.

And now that I'm really doing a lot more cutting edge stuff with kettlebell rehab, thanks to my education with Pavel, Gray Cook, Brett Jones, Rif, and guys like them, my workdays are just a buzz for me!

The last patient I just saw this evening came in to see me because he had incredible lower back pain. He's a young guy and was none-too-thrilled about the prospect of not being able to play the sports he loved (basketball, volleyball, & golf) because of the sharp pain and incredible cramping he was experiencing in his lower back. He expressed his dim hopes that he'd at least be able to move without having to suffer those horrible lower back cramps. His MD recommended kettlebell training as a possible means of strengthening and rehabbing his back, but his physical therapist scoffed at the idea.

I ran some basic orthopedics tests on him, and there were no major problems with nerve root compression, joint misalignment, or anything that would really require intervention. However, his posterior chain was quite weak and his hips were inflexible. From just focusing on Wall Squats, KB deadlifts, KB swings, & pistols, he regained his ability to move in a vital, strong, powerful fashion. Halfway through the second session, I took him out to the balcony and had him sprint, side shuffle, and leap. He was shocked with not only his ability to do those moves at full speed and full commitment, but to be able to do them without pain.

After 2 kettlebell rehab sessions, he could move fully without any sign of pain or hesitation, and expressed his satisfaction with being able to move strongly without apprehension and the joy of being able to function pain-free.

I tell you... Those sorts of moments fill most of my days. How can I not love what I do? :)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Kettlebells with Kiwis - Adventures in Auckland

I know... I haven't even left for Scotland yet, and already there's another trip & workshop series to fill you in on.

The 411 on Scotland... I'll be teaching 2 Hard Style Masterclasses with Rannoch Donald, RKC, in Glasgow (Saturday, March 15: 11:30am - 3:00pm) and Edinburgh (Sunday, March 16th: 12noon - 3:30pm.... and it's after morning Mass & services so there's no excuse for you not to be there). If you're in the UK, we strongly encourage you to come by and get your training on! We'll be covering not only the standard 6 exercises from the Level 1 RKC certification, but also teaching you kettlebell rehab principles, injury screening procedures, combat & tactical applications, and mixed martial art competitor training.

This will be a seminar series like no other you're going to get for a bloody long time! Register HERE!

And then the 411 on New Zealand's kettlebell training workshops...

I'll be teaching 2 kettlebell workshops in Auckland - Wednesday, April 2 from 6 - 9pm (focused on strength, conditioning & rehab/prehab for martial arts competitors and tactical personnel), and again on Saturday, April 5 from 1:30 - 4:30pm (focused on the RKC's Hard Style kettlebell and Naked Warrior bodyweight training systems). To register for those, please contact Mike Capper, RKC at

If you're in Australia or New Zealand and want to have an eye opening and rejuvenating experience, give Mike an e-mail and get registered!

Kettlebells Los Angeles... spreading the Gospel according to Pavel, one country at a time... We bring the pain and the pleasure all in one!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Kettlebells for Rehab & Prehab

Just a quick FYI that I'll be teaching a special workshop on using kettlebells for injury rehabilitation & prehab at the Inosanto Academy this Saturday from 4-6pm.

If you'd like to get some insights into dealing with lower back pain and shoulder injuries, as well as a few other very common pain syndromes & conditions, come on by and jump in!

To register, visit the Inosanto seminar page. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Spilling Clinical Secrets

Don't be fooled by the title of the post. It's not like I'm going to tell you some juicy confidential patient information or post pics of some of the celebs that hang out here. This post is about some of the BEST information that I've seen in clinical medicine.

Man, it's amazing how when you find something really good, you just can't stop talking about it and can't help expressing your enthusiasm about it.

I've been watching Gray Cook & Brett Jones's Secrets of the Hip & Knee DVD, and it's absolutely excellent. I can't tell you how many priceless insights I got just from the Introduction section, let alone the rest of the DVD. This just rocks.

"But I'm not a doctor or a clinician. Why do I need this DVD?"

Simple. If you train yourself as an athlete and want to understand the workings of your body and how to train it with maximum effectiveness and safety, this is perhaps the closest thing to a user's guide that you're gonna get. If you train others, work out with others, or even teach a grade-school PE class or coach a team, this info is PRICELESS!

If your old PE teachers or coaches or workout buddies knew the proper way of training in a way such that you'd almost never complain of a lower back problem or a knee pain, wouldn't you consider that valuable?

How many times have your lower back or knees bothered you after training?

And finally, how much money have you spent on treating those issues?

Compare that for the price of a 2 DVD set that'll open your eyes and your mind to how to best train the hips & knees in ways that'll preserve the stability and mobility of your problem areas in ways that keep you pain free, and it's a no-brainer.

Just awesome. I wish that Gray & Brett were my professors for orthopedics during my medical education, but thank God I've got access to them now!