HKC Review

The following is a copy of a post made on the main Dragon Door forum regarding a recently held HKC.

BTW, Six out of the 13 candidates at this HKC failed. –JDC (John du Cane)

Junior Member

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Los Alamos, NM
Posts: 23
Blog Entries: 5

My HKC Cert and what I think you should know.
First and foremost, I am a newly minted HKC Instructor and I freaking earned that damned t-shirt!

About myself, I am a 37 y/o software developer for a DoE contractor in Los Alamos. I am not a trainer, I don’t own a gym (or a gym membership for that matter!) . I have a man cave chock full of ‘bells and other implements of destruction. In other words, I am your average kettlebell fanatic (with an eye towards training folks in kettlebells.)

The cert was taught at Komrade Keira Newton’s (RKC II) facility in Santa Fe, NM. ( They even took down the barbwire and let the guards take the day off for this event! Keira rocks and is worth every shekel. If you live in NM and you want to learn hardstlye, she’s the go-to gal!

So to begin, the manual says that the HKC “requires no previous kettlebell experience…” I will say this: It would take an exceptionally fit individual who is VERY quick at learning new moves to pass this cert w/ no experience.

There was an individual in my class who is a trainer and admitted that with no formal hardstyle kettlebell instruction, he thought he would breeze through this cert. He had his eyes blown wide open with in the first hour. To his credit he dug deep and soaked up as much as he could in the time that he had. He did not pass the final, but he said that he got his money’s worth out of the training.

This is not a paper tiger certification. You are attempting to gain an INSTRUCTOR rating in three basic moves. Small technical errors that you get away with in your daily workouts or during a workshop will fail you in this class. How can you instruct others if your form is not ONE HUNDRED PERCENT PERFECT?

I don’t know the exact pass fail ratio for my class but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was 50%.
Now this is not the end of the world for those folks. They can visit their team leader or send a video to the Master/Senior RKC demonstrating that they corrected what was wrong. But you only have 60 days to do it.

A great quote from Andrea: “To pass this class I need to be able to trust you to teach my mother or someones grandmother.” She looked everyone of us in the eye as she said it. What a great way to make this personal. Damn straight I want someone who has perfect form and instructional ability to be teaching my mom!

Post HKC notes from myself and w/ Master RKC Andrea DuCane. (I conducted an impromptu interview w/ her after class. I did not think to bring a digital recorder to get her exact words, so I will synthesize what she told me and try to impart it to you.)

Greatest weakness each gender needs to work on prior to any cert:
Men: Not having explosive enough hip drive.Make that pelvis pop at the top of your swing!
Practice your 1H Swings, and Hand-to-hand swings. There was at least 1 student who admitted that he practiced mostly 2H swings. I totally understand why. For me 2h swings are easier. It won’t help you pass the final exam.
Use KB deadlifts to get a feel for how to recruit your hips & glutes.
Tip: do some “cross-country ski” stretches to loosen your hip flexors up before you practice your swings. She noted that a lot of times, the hip flexors throw the brakes on before the final pelvic pop.
General Conditioning: Men tend to do well on the strength related work, but do poorer when it comes to gut busting conditioning.

Women tend to be weaker in the squats. Get your core activating; fire the glutes. Practice!
Strength: Women tend to do well on the conditioning related work, but do poorer when it comes to the challenges related to strength.

Both: TGU. These were hard for all of us. It is a VERY technical drill. All I can say is visit and RKC before hand. There are at least a dozen minor tweaks to have a perfect TGU.

Why the Low Sweep TGU instead of the RKC style High-bridge TGU?
This mostly has to do with effectively teaching the TGU in a reasonable amount of time. There is also less of an issue with shoulder stability in the low sweep method versus the high-bridge position. Once you master the low sweep, learning the high bridge for your RKC will be easy.

My own thoughts about appearance.
I looked at this cert as a job interview. I mean, how often am I going to meet w/ a Master RKC? I wanted to be damn sure she remembered me. And to remember me as a professionally dressed kettlebell enthusiast who is serious about representing HKC and dragondoor style training.

I could have easily showed up in my utilikilt and a wife beater t-shirt and all my tats showing. Instead I went to Sams Club and bought a nice moisture wicking shirt and long shorts for $20 total. I do recommend the moisture wicking fabrics. I sweated like a pig. Although I’m not really sure pigs sweat. But if they do, they should buy some of these new shirts, the freaking rock. Nuff said.

I also chose long shorts over pants so that the instructors would be able to see if I was activating my hams and quads like they told us to do. I really wanted to learn this, hiding poor form behind dark or bulky clothing would serve no purpose in making me a better instructor. There is a reason people who carry concealed firearms like to wear loose dark clothing!

Finally for those with an eye towards the RKC, Andrea cautions you not to overtrain the week before the cert. She has seen too many people fail because the were burned out from an earlier training session.

With permission I am posting a list of what you need to succeed:

Men: 5 Pullups/Chinups
Women: 25 Sec flexed-arm hang (this may have changed to 15 sec but I was too focused on myself to notice what the Amazons were doing.)

A decent amount of conditioning. Why? Its an all day course and the test is at the very end.
Whats the first thing to go to hell when you are gassed? Yup, your form. Make sure you are ready to spend 8+ hours training/learning.

I am not 100% sure about this, but I believe you fail if you blow 2 or more bullet points in any one exercise.(some bullet points have more weight associated with them.)


* The back is flat
* The heels are planted and the knees track the toes.
* The working shoulder is packed.
* The working arm is straight in the bottom position
* The kettlebell handle stays above the knees during the back swing.
* There is no forward knee movement (increasing ankle flexion) on the up swing.
* The body forms a straight line on the top of the swing: the hips and knees extend fully, the spine is neutral.
* The kettlebell forms an extension of the straight arm at the top of the swing.
* The bio-mechanical breathing match.
* The abs and glutes visibly contract at the top of the swing.

Turkish Getup (Low sweep version)

* Use both hands to lift the kettlebell from the ground at the start of the exercise and to return it to the ground at the finish.
* The wrist on the kettlebell side is neutral.
* The elbow on the kettlebell side is locked.
* The shoulder on the kettlebell side is packed.
* The shoulder on the free arm does not shrug up
* The heel of the foot on the kettlebell side stays planted.
* The knee touches the deck silently when descending into the half-kneeling position.

Goblet Squat:

* The back is flat.
* The shoulders are pressed down (scapulae are depressed).
* The neck is neutral.
* The heels are planted.
* The big toes are planted.
* The knees track the toes
* The elbows push against the VM in the bottom position.
* The ascent is initiated with a grunt.
* The hips ascend at the same rate the shoulders.
* The Hips and knees extend fully on the top of the squat.”

For anyone who is coming who isn’t sure about their form, you should come attend the HKC preparation class. Dragon Door certifications are demanding both physically and technically. Without having the right amount of skill/ technique and conditioning there is little chance you will pass. Don’t waste the money you’ve spent on the course by having to redo it at a later date. Spend the time now to learn everything correctly from the ground up and make sure that you pass the course.


Tags: , , ,

One Response to “HKC Review”

  1. Does your kettlebell course make people do this…? | HKC and RKC Kettlebell Courses Says:

    […] this post was made on the Dragon Door forums not long after the HKC was started just over two years […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: