Tuesday, August 26, 2008

HELP! Doc needs Tech advice

Normally I'm the one who's doling out some advice here on this blog, but I'm man enough and smart enough to know when to ask for help when I'm in over my head.

Here's the situation...

I need a device (cell phone) that will allow me to essentially do all the same things I'd be able to do from my laptop (PC), and do it on a screen that won't cause me total blindness.

Right now, I have a Samsung Blackjack (which I've liked for the most part). Unfortunately, Yahoo has changed some of its sync technology, so I'm looking for a new way of having calendar, contacts/address book, e-mail, web browsing & cell phone functionality all in one. I don't mind switching to Gmail or whatever other system, as long as it allows me to edit appointments via my phone and keeps my address book entries sync'd properly (unlike Yahoo Go! has been for well over a year now).

I've heard good things about the iPhone 3G, but also heard a good deal of complaining. Not being too enlightened on the pros & cons of all that's out there, I figured turning to the more experienced folks in my audience might lead me to something better that I wouldn't have ordinarily considered.

Any ideas from the tech-savvy folks out there? THANKS for your help!! I'm looking forward to reading your replies & comments on this one in a big way.

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!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Crush Your Enemies...

Yup... if you haven't already guessed it by the "Party Line" blogpost, the Chinaman's on the warpath.

I can't remember the dude's name whom I heard it from, but during my short stint at Caltech, I first heard the memorable quote from Conan the Barbarian, albeit modified with artistic license - "Crush your enemies, burn der villages, und hear da lamentations of der vimen!"

The original quote is "Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women."

No matter how you spin it, it's a good one. It's inspiring, it's rousing, and it's unmistakeable.

KBLA's on the warpath now... Just as Mel Gibson's William Wallace said, "Ahve come to pick a fight", we're gearing up for some serious conquests of our own. For those of you who've seen my e-mail tagline, it's "The Red Plague powered by the Yellow Fever."

Now I'm thinking of changing it to "The Red Plague powered by the Yellow Fever with Danville moonshine in the tank."

KBLA and it's dozen-plus deep crew of RKCs have never been more inspired, more skilled, or more blessed to have the ability to draw on not only the Gospel According to Pavel, but also the Gray Matter, and the Brotherhood of the 'Bell.

If you think anything we've done so far is cool, we're gonna rock your socks off!!!... Well, maybe more than just your socks. ;-)

Man, after a post like that, I must've been hanging around Cpl. W2 and the Viking for too long!

Monday, August 4, 2008

KBLA rocks the house Hard Styyyyyyyyyyyle!!!

The UCLA Russian Kettlebell Challenge Instructor Certification saw 11 members of KBLA join the exalted ranks of the RKC instructor consortium! By the end of this month, that number'll be 12. By any stretch of the imagination, no matter how you measure it, regardless of how you slice it, dice it, or crush it...

We came...

We saw...

We kicked some serious A$$!!!!!!!

Through the zillion & one overspeed swings, the RKC snatch tests, the VO2Max training, and the sheer brutality of the overhead sun, you guys represented me and the clan in truly incredible fashion.

My houseguest, the Dane of Pain himself, Kenneth Jay, received his promotion to Master RKC on Sunday. He and many other Team Leaders, Sr. RKCs, and Assistant RKCs commented to me on several occasions about how well the KBLA crew was prepared, how well they carried themselves, and how well they represented.

For those of you who stayed for the post-RKC cleanup effort, your attendance at all subsequent KBLA Sunday classes is completely free-of-charge for the month of August.

Also, I've made some modifications to the KBLA website, but there are a LOT of updates that need to occur as far as listing the new RKCs. Please send me your bio info and a digital photo of you in KBLA gear as soon as possible for inclusion. We're raising the bar for the entire RKC community, people, and as a result, we're raising the bar for ourselves as well. ANY and EVERY RKC instructor under the KBLA mantle will be expected to train directly with me either once a month in the Sunday group class or once every other month privately. Among the higher-ups, we've had plenty of conversations about how to enforce stricter quality control, even among the Team Leader ranks, and I'm starting with every man and woman in my own house... KBLA.

Also, a special congratulations to Guro John Spezzano for becoming the first in-house RKC-certified instructor at the Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts! Guro John is my martial arts tutor, my dear friend, and one of my finest kettlebell students. We're pictured above right after he was granted his RKC certification.

Another special congratulations goes out to newly minted Master RKC Mark Reifkind. As many of you know, Rif is a very, very dear friend to me, like an older brother, and his promotion and the minutes we got to spend together will be priceless memories to me.

Let's get back to work!!!!!! The CK-FMS is this coming weekend!!!