Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thai Martial Arts - Krabi Krabong & Muay Boran with Colonel Nattapong Buayam

He's cooooooooooming!!!

My Thai martial arts master, Col. Nattapong Buayam is coming to LA starting on March 9, 2009, for just over a week of hardcore Thai weaponry (Krabi Krabong) and old-style empty hand fighting (Muay Boran). I'm going to be one happy (and probably quite sore) Chinaman for the time that he's here!

Wanna talk about a badass? Col. Nattapong taught hand-to-hand and weapons tactics to the Thai Special Forces, some of Southeast Asia's most rough & tumble warriors.

I last saw the Colonel in November 2007 in Thailand, where I spent just over a week training with him. The picture above is of us just after my discipleship ceremony with him immediately following my last training session with him. I went from barely having any experience with weapon sparring to being able to freestyle with him just hard enough to see sparks come flying off the swords in the broad daylight of Bangkok.

Right now, we have ONE public workshop scheduled for Saturday, March 14th, but the details on that are still being hammered out. Keep checking back for more details!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

UPCOMING KETTLEBELL WORKSHOPS for the first half of 2009!

Wow... 2009's off to a seriously busy start. Boy, was I stupid to think that it'd be otherwise. A Chinaman's work is never done.

To answer a few of the e-mails that I've been getting lately requesting a blogpost of upcoming kettlebell or Functional Movement workshops where I'll either be teaching or appearing, here's what you asked for!

Hope to see you at one or more of them!

2/20-22/09: San Jose, CA / Russian Kettlebell Challenge Instructor Certification Workshop

3/15/09: Irvine, CA / REBOOT! - Movement Patterning & Corrective Strategies Workshop, hosted by Kettlebells Orange County

3/25-29/09: Seoul, Korea / "Hanguk Hard Style" - Russian Kettlebell Challenge Instructor Prep Course - Contact Kenneth Lee at for more info or to register

4/5/09: Riverside, CA / "Hard Style, High Density" - Please visit for more info or to register. Contact Com. Gary Toppins, RKC at to register

4/17-19/09: Tempe, AZ / SFMA II w/Gray Cook

5/11-19/09: Copenhagen, Denmark / Russian Kettlebell Challenge Instructor Certification Workshop

5/27-31/09: St. Paul, MN / Corrective Kettlebell - Functional Movement Specialist (CK-FMS) Workshop w/ Master RKC Brett Jones and FMS founder Gray Cook

6/26-28/09: St. Paul, MN / RKC Instructor Certification Level 2 Workshop

Stay tuned for more info and upcoming dates and locations near you, including RKC event appearances! We're working on finalizing dates for Europe, the US East Coast, the Middle East, Hawai'i, and points in between. Man, every time I think I've listed all the locations that I'm supposed to be teaching in this year, I realize that I've left one off.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Friends and Kettlebells

The morning started off with relatively dry ground and a negligible drizzle, and it blossomed into a great training session with the sun shining down on us for a respite from the rain!

I'm sure everyone else must've thought that there was no way I'd be out holding class, but I woke up with the drive to move some iron, and anything short of a downpour wouldn't have stopped me.

RKCs Dr. Jeff McCombs & John Spezzano and one of our regulars (Carl) joined me out at the park this morning for what was a fun, and surprisingly challenging workout. Since the crew was small and everyone was fairly experienced, I decided not to teach, but just to workout for a blessed change.

The rules were simple. Everyone picks a bell that we're not afraid to do anything with for reps. Each person picks an exercise & reps that won't require us to lie down on the wet grass (i.e., Turkish Get-Up or Armbar), and sets reps that are considerate of the possibility that the next guy in the rotation will call something out that will be challlenging in another way.

With a smorgasbord of Swing variants, Clean & Jerks, Clean & Presses, Snatches, Overhead Walks, Hot Potatoes, Goblet Squats, and Squat Cleans, my legs left a little more rubbery than when they arrived, and my upper body felt grooved. I'm glad to be spending more time training lately. With such a focus on the integrity of teaching, it's proof positive that "change of activity is a form of rest"!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Training in the Rain - Catharsis

"Lord, wash away my iniquities and cleanse me from my sins."
- Invocation during the celebration of Mass

Generally speaking, you will almost never hear me say anything good about any sort of precipitation. I tend to dislike rain, and I have a violent allergy to snow.

But the past few days of rain haven't been so bad for drought stricken LA. It's nice to be able to train and do simple stuff indoors, although I sorely (literally & figuratively) miss my training sessions with Taekwondo coach Scott Dilalla. I stopped by his apartment (all of 2 yards away from my front door), for a quick check-up on my basic footwork & posture, and all seems good.

The rain's preempted my outdoor classes (Tai-Chi & Kung-Fu on Saturday morning, and probably kettlebells on Sunday morning), but for once, I have no problem with that. Having a daily goal of 100 swings, plus GTG pressing and other fundamental movement patterning to do is keeping me plenty busy. And while I've had to spend the last few months over-teaching and under-training, the soreness feels good... almost cathartic.

So what am I doing indoors? The simplest stuff.

- Knee-ups - Trying to keep my upper body totally still and my neck completely relaxed
- Swings - Whether using a 24 kg or 32 kg kettlebell, I'm making a point of doing at least 100 swings at LEAST 1x/day, on top of my other martial arts training
- Primitive Movement Patterning - If I can't stand properly, I can't lift my knee correctly. If I can't lift my knee correctly, I can't kick efficiently. These fundamentals of movement are so telling, so revealing.

The gift of spending time with my family is a long overdue blessing, and I can't wait to just have the chance to chill out and watch Squealie play with the newest addition to his Thomas the Tank Engine collection. He should be walking in the door soon, leaving a trail of rainwater on the rug, and looking forward to playing with his train before even bothering to remove his raincoat. Simple pleasures.

Have a great weekend, everyone.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Goals require Sacrifice

Mark Humphries, one of the seniors during my freshman year at Caltech, had one of those life changing heart-to-heart talks with me not too long before I made the decision to make my way towards UCLA.

I was having a hard time deciding between the rigors of CIT-level academia and having a more "well balanced" life, which at that time included spending more time pursuing my life-long love of martial arts. Humphries listened intently and said, "You can have it all, but you have to put 100% of yourself into EACH thing you're doing."

Now, you may be thinking that a Caltech grad should have a better grasp of mathematics than that, but he was dead right. Fast forward more than 15 years later to a martial arts academy in San Diego.

I'm listening to Prof. Roy Harris talk about skill sets in combat. "People want it all," Harris said. He continued:

"They want to be good at guard passing, they want to be good at throws, and they want to be good at boxing. I'm telling you that it's impossible. If you want to really own something, you have to focus COMPLETELY on it, almost obsessively. And when you do that, you're going to get some real improvement in that aspect of your game or your skill. But you're also going to sacrifice your level in other aspects. Your knife fighting may not be as fluid. Your kicking may suffer. But you have to know that THAT'S LIFE. You CAN'T have it all at the same time. It's a balancing act of what you want to sacrifice in order to have something else."

For me, that means setting EVERYTHING else martial arts wise aside for the next 2 months and focusing with absolute intensity on Olympic style TKD training and kettlebells.

For you, that might be as simple, but as profound, as sacrificing your own excuses to the discipline of getting up out of bed and coming out to train on a Sunday morning at 7am. Or just getting your arse out of your chair and doing sets of 10-20 swings between emails.

We CAN have it all, but we have to give 100% of ourselves in different directions at all times. Life is about intensity, about passion, about prioritizing, and about not confusing prioritizing with compromising.

Welcome to HARD STYLE... It's just what the doctor ordered!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

There isn't a Monopoly on Common Sense...

From the Harris International website... I just saw this tonight and thought that it goes along perfectly with my earlier post:

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: Knowing when to come in out of the rain; Why the early bird gets the worm; Life isn't always fair; and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an Aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled alittle in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his four stepbrothers;

I Know My Rights.
I Want It Now.
Someone Else Is To Blame.
I'm A Victim.

- Author Unknown

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hard Style, High Density... The Aftermath

I thought the workshop I did at the Harris Academy this past weekend was fun, but evidently the initial reviews are rockin'!

The best moment of the whole seminar was working with a Marine who injured his back on deployment. Just by implementing the basics of proper Hard Style with an MVC, I had him return to doing the swings that had irritated his back and asked him how his back felt afterwards. His reply was as priceless as the Mastercard commercials - "Bulletproof!"

Read about it here:

Wow... I'm flattered! Now to get back to practicing my Press and my Korean. "Hanguk Hard Style" is coming up soon...