Sunday, September 28, 2008

VERY Special Seminar - Sunday, October 5th

For 4 wicked hours, we are going to rock you, sock you, sweep you off your feet, and then de-sissify you 'til you scream "More!!! Gimme MORE!!!"

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5th, 2008 from 10am - 2pm
At the world famous Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts

Yup, 4 of the Inosanto Academy's finest are sharing their A-games with you to help raise some funds for a colleague of ours who is in need due to failing health. This colleague of ours is beloved for many reasons. He's an armed services vet, a law enforcement officer, a senior martial arts instructor, a father, a husband, a counselor, and someone who will give to others until it hurts, and then give more. He has served our country in ways that even the most hardened wouldn't even want to fathom. So when we tell you it's for a good cause, rest assured that we mean it with all our hearts.

Who's coming to teach?

We're starting the lineup with Damon Caro. A little background on Damon... When I first got to LA back in 1990, I barely knew a thing about martial arts outside of the Shaolin fundamentals & Tai-Chi that my father taught me. I met Damon after he'd done a Chinese New Year demo, representing the Inosanto Academy. Watching that demo was an eye opener, and I got to see sticks, blades, and limbs move in ways that I hadn't even seen in the movies. At that time, Damon was already one of the instructors at the Inosanto Academy, and he gave me one of my first glimpses into Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do and southeast Asian martial arts.

Since then, he's gone on to achieve things in martial arts that most of us will never even dream of. He choreographed the battle sequences and fight scenes for the blockbuster movie "300"... YES, THIS 300!!!

The man's so busy these days, you're lucky just to meet him, nevermind learn from him. So if you want to have a chance to work with one of the elite among the elite, he's teaching Panantukan - the Filipino forefather to Western boxing. This rare art ties in perfectly with the Filipino weapons arts as well, so if you want to learn a multipurpose movement science, here it is!

After Damon, Suzanne Spezzano will be teaching Indonesian Silat. I could say a bunch of things about Suzanne and the highly effective real-world fighting art of Silat, but I'll let her video speak for me. She's hot, she's articulate, and she'll kick your a$$.

And yes, she's married... to John Spezzano, RKC, who'll be teaching Muay Thai boxing's inside game. If you've seen people fight, you know that a clinch is almost inevitable. John will show you how to make the inside game a House of Pain for anyone who dares to enter in on you.

Me? They saved the Chinaman for last since he's got the wicked iron for you! We'll be covering two of Pavel Tsatsouline's most useful all-purpose kettlebell exercises in high definition - The Swing and the Turkish Get-Up progression. For a grappler, a striker, a stickfighter, a soccer player, a pitcher, or a total nerd, these two exercises will fast-forward you to the next level in strength, endurance, and injury prevention. If you wanted to know what the hype is about with kettlebell training, here's your quick & serious intro. If you already think you know what's up with kettlebells, come and get a real education!

You'll get to learn from and work with all four of us for only a $75 donation. And if you've got a bit more to donate, we'll gratefully accept it. If you don't have time, but you'd like to make a donation, contact John through his website:

Now with the exception of yours truly, the three other instructors are instructors certified under martial arts legend, Dan Inosanto - the man who single-handedly carried on Bruce Lee's legacy after The Little Dragon's passing. For those of you who missed the 300, have no clue about Kali, and only remember Bruce Lee from Enter the Dragon, here's a little flashback clip for you from the backyard days.

We're looking forward to seeing you at the Academy on Sunday, October 5th at 10am sharp! The directions & Mapquest link are available right here. If you're part of the KBLA family or just a fan of anyone or anything we've mentioned above, come on out & show the love. And if you live outside of So Cal, but have friends who might be interested, please forward this info on to them. Thank you!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Hard Style Lock

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!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Teaching, Training & Travelling - A Self-Contained Life

I hate to admit it, but there are some times that the weak part of me longs for a sedentary life. Those times don't really last for much longer than a passing thought, so I get back to my travel schedule with little delay.

Right now, I'm planning out my travel schedule for 2009, and so far, it's looking pretty calm. Then again, I said the same thing about this time of year in 2007, and look how 2008 turned out! For most of this year, I was at LAX at least once a month, and sometimes a few times!

It's been quite a buzz for me since Fall '07, though. Bangkok, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Budapest, Indianapolis... plenty of places I'd never been to before, and I'm sure '09 will have some more of the same.

However, this year has taught me the unparallelled lesson of having everything that you want & need right by your side at all times. Part of that revolves around packing light, and the other part revolves around packing smart.

The packing smart bit deals with bringing along those things that will serve your quality of life while you are away from home.

DIET: For me, travelling means that I'll be eating irregular meals, and usually ones that are at the discretion of my hosts. Generally speaking, I LOVE the food that I get to eat while I'm travelling - and the pasties in Scotland are at the front of that list. However, there are times when the time change, hustling like mad from one place to another, and the change in food just makes me feel like my intestines decided to go on holiday too.

Metamucil just came out with these Fiber Singles that are awesome. If your travel diet is a little light on soluble fiber, this stuff is beautiful. A packet dissolves in a bottle of water just like a packet of Emergen-C and you're good to go. Give it a few hours, and you won't have to travel with that heavy, slow stomach feeling. It's a beautiful thing.

EXERCISE: I never realized how crucial it was to keep to an exercise regimen while travelling until this year. In years past, when I travelled, it was to train, so I always got to get the blood flowing & the muscles pumping a bit. This year, my travel has predominately been for teaching. And as almost any higher level instructor in movement sciences can tell you, teaching & training are usually quite different endeavors. My body certainly got that message hammered home in a big way this year. How? I came home from a bunch of trips feeling depleted, slow, and softer than when I'd left.

Target Focus Training's mastermind, Tim Larkin, mentioned that he travelled with a copy of the Naked Warrior. Most of you who read this blog are familiar with some or part of the Naked Warrior training protocols, having seen or been taught them through me or other RKC instructors. If you haven't already gotten the book or DVD, I strongly suggest that you get it.

When you travel, unless you're filthy rich, you generally don't always have training equipment with you. Certainly, travelling with your kettlebell isn't usually a reality, especially now that the airlines are adding fees for heavier or extra luggage. With the Naked Warrior training methods, you have an equipment-free, space-efficient means of training and getting a great workout in a minimal amount of time. With even just 10 minutes in the morning, you can get a sweat-filled workout that will leave you feeling pumped and primed for the rest of your day in no-time. Don't believe me? Try it.

The packing light bit was always a bit elusive to me. And there are still some points of packing light that I'm working on, but I have to credit Pavel Tsatsouline for really clueing me in with one tip that revolutionized how I travel now.

TRAVEL CLOTHING: Wanna be able to roll with just the pants you've got on? Pavel told me once to try a pair of Patagonia khaki pants. The material was ultra lightweight, stain resistant, flexible enough to kick head-height in, and true "wash & wear". I never really understood the whole "wash & wear" thing until he put it to me like this. "Doc, no matter how sweaty or dirty you get during the day, you can put these in the sink with a little bit of soap, rinse them out well, and hang them to dry at the end of your day. By the next morning, they'll be dry," he said.

True enough, I've tried it, and it's true. After teaching at a Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) instructor certification course, where we're in the dirt, covered with chalk, and dampened with sweat, I was amazed to verify that with just a bit of soap and a good rinse, the same pair of pants served me beautifully through the entire 3-day workshop. They're comfortable enough to move well in, and stylish enough to wear out to dinner at an upscale restaurant.

The downside of the Patagonias is that they're damn hard to come by. Other companies have made smiliar attempts at wash & wear pants, but the fit, tailoring, or workmanship just doesn't cut it for me. My assistant, Anton Summers, RKC, got a pair of wash & wear pants (not Patagonias) at a local outdoor store, and he split the crotch seam after less than 10 days. Not good.

Not having to pack 3 pairs of thick cotton pants already lightened my packing considerably, but having a week's worth of underwear taking up the same amount of space as a cell phone was an even more serious coup!


Figuring that I'd try to see how far I could take Pavel's wash & wear convenience, I decided to try these Ex Officio underwear. If you've ever tried to wear cotton underwear that's been washed and hang-dried, you might as well just put a few strips of sandpaper in your briefs. It's not a comfortable experience, and 7 days worth of underwear takes up space!

With a pair of these Ex Officios on you and a pair folded into a tiny pocket in your laptop case or backpack, you're good to go. Wear one pair during the day, wash it out at the end of the day, and you still have a clean pair to hit the town with at night. And best of all... THEY'RE COMFORTABLE! Brilliant, eh?

There are plenty of wash & wear shirts out there, so that's not even worth commenting on here, but my next coup will happen when I can find socks that are fluffy, comfortable on long hikes & while training, and wash & wear! When it happens, you'll read about it here.

Now get back to those Pistols & Pullups!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Associated Press Kettlebells article

OK... They got part of it right. Then again, they didn't use me as the sole source, so I take no responsibility for anything other than 3 paragraphs.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

What do I get if...?

For some reason, it seems like for the past 2 or 3 weeks, I've been repeatedly answering questions like "What do I get if I want to strengthen my back?", "What do I get if I need to keep my knees from collapsing in when I squat down?", or "What can I use to make my rotator cuff stronger since my shoulder hurts all the time?"

I guess it's been a while since I've posted answers to these things, so here's your abbreviated Back-To-School shopping list for items & resources that'll take your training, your treating, and your personal evolution into overdrive.

If you don't have some of these items, that's understandable. We're not made out of money. On the other hand, if you train your brain to stay in poverty mode, you'll never make some of the best investments possible for your professional development and your freedom from pain. I can confess to you publically that every hard-earned dollar I've spent on these items has been worth TEN TIMES as much in returns to me with patients and clients, nevermind my own physical performance.

You blow tons of money every week on bull$h!# like a double mocha venti primo frappolatte'chino that you're just going to slam down, p!$$ out, and get fat from. Why not spend that on resources that will increase your understanding of your field, improve your ability to give your people real lasting results, and take your earning potential to the next level???

I'll try to categorize these as best I can, so here goes...

Functional Movement Screen Technologies
Most all of you know I'm a huge proponent of Gray Cook's Functional Movement Screen Technologies. The FMS has changed the face of physical culture and orthopedic medicine, so there's NO reason at all why a trainer, physical therapist, or any sort of primary care physician worth his or her salt wouldn't be versed in any of these screening methods.

If you're an RKC reading this, stop procrastinating! Register for the next CK-FMS workshop. It's Thursday, May 28 - May 31, 2009 in St. Paul... 4 DAYS of the highest quality and most information-packed time of your life! It's September 6th as I'm writing this, so don't use the "I don't have enough lead time" excuse. Gray Cook, Brett Jones, Danielle Cook, and I will be on hand to teach you the ins and outs of what is perhaps the most brain-numbing & revolutionary stuff you'll ever come across. Not one single person that I spoke to during the inaugural CK-FMS workshop this past August came away feeling like they didn't get enough highly applicable information. No fluff here, Baby!

In fact, as of today, I'm going to make the CK-FMS a requirement for any RKC in the KBLA family who's running a satellite group. Within 2 years of you earning your RKC, you're required to attend the CK-FMS, where you can re-cert your RKC with your Snatch Test numbers. Nobody should be training someone else if they don't know how to identify movement problems and can't provide some sort of solution. That's why the old-time Chinese martial arts masters all knew some degree of Chinese traumatology. If it got injured under their roof, they had the responsibility to fix it. KBLA's all about skill & responsibility.

Now, if you're not an RKC, you're allowed a little more room to procrastinate.

TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC: If you don't want to be "bothered" by getting to learn the Functional Movement Screen, buying the FMS Screening kit, and all of that, no problem. Unless you're a fitness, athletic, or medical professional, there's really no need for you to buy the toys and take the courses.

However, you DO need to know how to move from your "core". How do we address that? - The DEADLIFT!

Wait.... not crunches??? Not rolling around on my Swiss Ball??? Not using the electro-stim Bruce Lee ab-shocker thing??? No, Dude.... the DEADLIFT!

The Deadlift is one of the MOST OVERLOOKED weight-training exercises and fundamental movement patterns. It serves as both a screen and a correction for many individuals with a plethora of pain syndromes and movement problems. If you're a kettlebeller, then the Deadlift should have been the FIRST movement you learned to execute properly with a kettlebell in your hand. If you didn't, go back to your trainer and ask for your money back. The hot, sexy, showy lifts are nothing (and in most cases, dangerous) if you don't have ROCK-SOLID mastery of the Deadlift.

Secrets of Core Training: The Backside by Gray Cook & Master RKC Brett Jones deals with all of the stuff I just discussed, but in crystal clear detail. You get not only the best explanations of what the core is all about, but also a clear cut progression of how to find your weaknesses, discover their component parts, and shore them up into an ironclad body.

Once you've mastered the info on Secrets of Core Training: The Backside and you're moving with more power, ease, and posture, you're ready to move on to Secrets of the Hip & Knee. Here, you'll get even more corrective exercises to shore up even the tiniest issues with your lower body movement patterns.

- "Why are you talking about movement patterns so much? I don't have problems with movement. It's just that my knee hurts when I squat down!"
- "The problem's not my core! My abs are strong and I do hundreds of crunches a day! My lower back hurts!"

Yup, I heard you the first time, and you'd be damn shocked how many of you out there with these sorts of aches and pains actually have those aches and pains because of allowing your body to employ $h!##y movement patterns. You think you know how to sit, stand, walk, run & all that, but your body's been compensating for heinous habits by piling on one cover-up after another. And that pain that you're feeling now? It's your body's way of telling you that your cover-ups aren't going to cut it any more and you've gotta deal with the underlying neurological issues. (Wow, sounds like something that you could extrapolate easily into a psychotherapy session, don't it?) Now let's get back to the discussion at hand.

After you've addressed the "root" of your body by learning and applying all of the information in the first 2 DVDs that I discussed, the next thing you're going to need is command, control, and comfort in your upper body. That's where Secrets of the Shoulder comes in. Brett & Gray pulled the door right off the hinges with this 2-DVD set.

Got shoulder, neck, or mid-to-upper back pain? Get Secrets of the Shoulder, study it like a nerd on speed, apply it like a mad scientist, and then resurface feeling like a new person!

What's so great about this stuff and why the sales pitch? Simple... The quality of information that Gray & Brett are doling out for you is SOOOOO good that most of your doctors won't have a damn clue about this, and they're the people you're going to see for solutions when you have an ache or pain! The problem is that the prescription meds and most of the rehab exercises you're being given are USELESS. So you're wasting money and time and NOT getting any real relief for your rotator cuff tendonitis, your achy shoulders, your tight neck, or the numbness and tingling that's going down your arm.

Now if you've handled all of that with panache and poise, gone through each DVD at least 3 times to pick up all the details you missed during your 2 previous viewings, and you're pushing into the real essence of functional movement, then you're ready for the last installment in the Secrets of series.... Secrets of Primitive Patterns.

Now while there's a ton of other stuff I could recommend to you, any of the info on even the first 3 DVDs is MORE than enough to keep you occupied for a LONG time. Get it, open it, watch it, study it, apply it, and BENEFIT from it! Once you've done all that, share the benefit with others!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gunnin' for it!

Just finished with a client & decided to use his recovery time to grease the groove a bit. Foot-hooked the 16kg and pulled it with ease, sternum to the bar. After the next round, felt strong and decided to try the 24kg. SMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTH... clavicle to bar.

At 160, I could go for pressing the 36kg, but I don't own one. The crosshairs are focused on the Bulldog. If (or rather when) I can get back down to my fighting weight (148lbs) and press an 88lb kettlebell, that'll be a sweet moment for me.

Back to meetings & editing. So far, looks like a strong ending to my 35th year. God-willing, my 36th will be stronger. To all of you that made this past year of my life so outstanding and so memorable, thank you... from the bottom of my heart.

Monday, September 1, 2008


"We defend our weaknesses, our compensations, our insecurities, and our delusions tooth and nail."
- Me, Clover Park Tai-Chi class... 8/23/08

When it comes to the workings of the human body, there are two people who've revolutionized my thought processes - Pavel Tsatsouline & Gray Cook. If you've been following this blog at all, you have a decent idea of who both of those men are.

Gray has been known to say that "The most talented athletes aren't necessarily the ones who have perfect movement screens, but are often the ones who compensate for their shortcomings better than the rest."

He went on to say ominously, "But that doesn't mean they're the most durable if their movement screen scores are low."

It's that same way for people in general. The people who are often the most successful or the most wealthy or the strongest or the most famous or the most vociferous aren't always the people with the best internal set-up. Oftentimes, we're the people who are just better at compensating than others.

To give you an example, I'm going to speak about one of my acquaintances. To maintain total anonymity, I'll refer to him/her as "Them". Gosh,.... sounds awfully southern, don't it, y'all?

Them's one of the nicest people you'll ever met. Them likes to think of themself as positive & progressive. But when Them views themself in the mirror or is faced with criticism, Them becomes very emotional & defensive, not realizing that Them's tone of voice turns from a rational adult to a whiny little brat, bordering on the edge of tears. The defensiveness, the frustration, and the fear in Them's voice, mannerisms, and body language is obvious to the educated/experienced eye.

Them loves the quality of the information I give out and is eager to be proficient in it and teach it, but Them hates to be on the receiving end of my criticisms. Them may reflexively snap back at me, slink off to the corner to cry, or just outright quit and come back after a few weeks of nursing Them's feelings.

See, here's exactly where Gray's statements come into play for us on a deeper level than just athletic performance. These are truths that apply solidly for who we are as human beings.

People love to be praised, patted on the back, recognized for achievement. But people HATE to stack up as less than someone else. You'll see grown men cry and rational individuals behave like wounded animals when you point out their deficiencies or asymmetries. It's that way for plenty of the seniormost people in ANY field of endeavor, and it's certainly that way for EVERYONE on a human level.

We compensate socially in no shortage of ways... from half-a$$ed, meaningless apologies to Jedi mind trick-style diversions, to politicking, to verbal passive-aggressiveness, to simply disengaging. Depending on your background, your education, your training, and your priorities, you may use any of these "tools" or countless others to protect your paradigm.

But life and the world around us keeps evolving.

Just like the RKC II's certification requirements have evolved, so too does the rest of our world. People who went through the RKC and RKC II before the requirements became as solid as they are now have one of two options - to $h!t their pants in cowardice, and whine and complain about how unreasonable those newer requirements are, OR to accept that the cert is nowhere near as meaningful if it's not earned through real blood, sweat, and sacrifice.

Psycho-social evolution is no different. Everyone wants a pat on the back, a moment in the spotlight, and/or the assurance that all is good. All is NOT good. If you were reading the section above about "Them" and thinking "Is he talking about me?" or "He certainly isn't talking about me", then I'm talking about YOU. Instead of concerning yourself with what I think, why not prioritize your own self-discovery process and developing the honesty, courage, and persistence needed for the self-strengthening process?

As I was cleaning out some old papers from back in my early college days, I came upon a scrap of paper that I'd jotted a quote down on. My first and only Shotokan Karate master, Tsutomu Ohshima, once said during a class that "We need to have the courage to look inside ourselves and see the ugliness and weakness that we try to hide from others and often from ourselves. If you can look inside with honest eyes and have the courage to see your own sickness and weakness, then you can cut those parts away from yourself and become truly strong."

Inertia allows us to make plenty of excuses about why we can't evolve. Entitlement and denial allow us to treat everyone who calls us on our bull$h!# like criminals or lunatics. We should do away with all of that.

Those who are fighting for evolution are the ones who fight to identify their own weaknesses and struggle mightily to overcome them by predicting their defensive behaviors, deciding to put a stop to such cowardice, and executing a corrective strategy.

As the late Rev. Kensho Furuya once told me, "People think I'm preachy when they read my column sometimes, but I often write to remind myself of what I should do." The same applies for me as well. Gray's teachings apply to so many more levels of life than the casual reader might comprehend. Instead of simply adding strength to dysfunction, let's clean out the underlying dysfunctions & pathologies, reboot our systems, and then add beautiful strength to a rock-solid foundation.