Archive for March, 2010

Beginner Workshops

March 31, 2010

With the recent success of the HKC I have been asked by many people when I plan on running beginner workshops for those not interested in becoming instructors but just keen to better use kettlebells and train safely. Well, the wait is over!!

I am pleased to say that I am actually going to be running these workshops in two cities – Melbourne and Brisbane.

Here’s the deal:

I will be running two workshops on Sunday 11 April. These will be run from Dragon
Door Australia at 555 Victoria Street, Abbotsford, Melbourne.

Session 1 will run from 9am-12.30pm and teach the swing, get up and squat – the
centres of athletic movement and effective kettlebell training. Cost is $200 per

Session 2 will run from 1.30pm-4pm and will teach the clean and press and the
snatch. But… You have to have attended the first workshop to come to the second.
Why? Because frankly most people can’t swing well enough to be able to safely clean
and snatch so I need to know that you’re not a hazard to my insurance before you
come along. Cost will also be $200 per person.

The following weekend, April 17, I will be in Brisbane being hosted by Tim Uljarevic of the Krav Maga Training Academy. I will be running the same two workshops there for the eye gougers and groin pokers of KMTA. However, they are also open to anyone in the area who wants to come along and learn from the best about how to safely and effectively add kettlebells into their own training. If you’re interested I’d be quick – the last time I ran these workshops they sold out in a day!

Anyone interested can email me through the site – and I can take payment over the phone. Don’t miss out, this is a great opportunity to learn from the best in the country how to maximise your training time with kettlebells.


HKC Melbourne, March 20, 2010

March 24, 2010

So much has happened this past weekend I don’t know where to start.

For starters I got to spend three whole days with Senior RKC Shaun Cairns. As one of Pavel’s elite Senior RKC’s Shaun has such a wealth of knowledge that I feel safe to say that the jumps I have made in my own understanding and in my own training have leapt me forward at least six months compared to what i could have done on my own. I was lucky enough to get to know Shaun slightly at my RKC where he acted as my Team Leader But getting to spend time with him one on one for three days was simply amazing!

But enough about me. He came to conduct the HKC…

Melbourne HKC Group Photo

Saturday morning started with a bang. The RKC runs with military precision and when I turned up at Shaun’s hotel he was already coming down the stairs with a beaming smile on his face – clearly as excited as I was! With a bag full of manuals we jumped into my van and went to the venue. We had organised for people to start arriving at 8.30am but the first prospects turned up at 8.15am – clearly as excited as we were! The first two people through the door I’m happy to say were clients of mine – Yaron Mehr and Shannon Scullin. Yaron (Ron) was actually the first person I ever started training that I exclusively used kettlebells with. He has gone from not being able to press a 12kg for multiple reps to doing ladders with a 24kg and is now thinking about becoming an RKC. Watching his progress over time has been amazing. He has literally doubled in strength in that time. It’s hard to get an adult to gain that much strength but Ron has done a tremendous job despite some injuries that a lesser man would have hidden behind. Shannon has only been training since the start of the year. But as a PT she has ability and fitness that have helped her adapt to training quickly. Just like Ron she has doubled her strength too and is training with me five days per week.

Shoe Get Ups

Teaching the deadlift

Shaun and I were joined by another local RKC, Warrick Hanby. I was delighted to have Warrick along for two reasons – one, having another pair of eyes is always good, but two, because more significantly to me he was the guy who started me on the road to the RKC in the first place! When I met him he was such a good advertisement for the RKC methodologies and its way of practice that I was immediately hooked. Not to mention that his tales of what he endured at the RKC made me want some of the same! So the event was great for me – on one hand I had my Team Leader and on the other the guy who started me on the path – seemed very fitting!

For anyone who has attended a Dragon Door event you know that the expectation is set high. Dragon Door don’t run “how to” workshops, instead they run instructor workshops. The difference is that “how to” workshops are what we, as instructors, run while teaching the general public how to lift kettlebells safely. In Australia there seems to be a massive misconception that these “how to” workshops somehow constitute instructor training. What this has led to is widespread poor teaching of kettlebell technique along with a bunch of instructors who know less than most of my clients!

While obviously nervous the mood in the room was set at ease by Shaun’s easy manner and clear understanding of the drills that were used. while I’m sure everyone in attendance thought they knew how to swing a kettlebell I’m even more sure that by 10am most realised they knew almost nothing! We spent over three hours dissecting the swing into component exercises and how to correct each part. The students then drilled each component until correct technique was established. Unlike most types of exercise Pavel’s Hardtsyle system is composed of very technical postures that a lot of people struggle to get into. If you don’t sit at a desk for work then you probably won’t struggle to hold correct posture under load or while moving at various joint angles. But if you’re like many you sit at a desk all day long and you can barely stand upright. If that’s the case then you’re really going to struggle with many of the positions. Add in to that many people suffer from years of bad habits learnt in the gym training their bodies in isolation and what you get is a lot of people who really aren’t yet ready to undergo kettlebell instructor training!

Shaun demonstrating the pendulum swing

The day starts with the swing of course as that is the centre of the kettlebell universe. Master RKC Mark Riefkind says that “90% of people should spend 90% of their training time on the swing”. As someone who has seen many people benefit from a diet of steady swings I wholeheartedly agree. We took about three hours to teach the swing in its component parts. It’s amazing to watch people go from poor posture to good posture to good swings over the course of just a few hours. The swing drills comprise some of the fastest ways I’ve yet seen to teach the swing. In fact, I’ve now changed the way I teach it as I feel that the progressions are faster than what I was using before. Not only that but the feedback offered from some of them as well as the quick results lead to benefits all round for both me as a trainer and the clients.

We then had a quick break for lunch. When I say quick I mean quick – we barely had time to shuffle down to the nearby food court and grab some sushi before heading back to get into the get up!

Swing practice

By this stage everyone had performed around 200 swings and we weren’t done yet. A constant theme throughout the day was swings as “punishment”. Punishment for coming back from lunch late, punishment for poor safety protocols, etc. Before lunch everyone had to crank out 80 swings and because two people were late coming back from lunch they got another 90 for good measure! Once the punishment was done we got onto teaching the get up.

Many will be familiar with the “shoe get up”. In a  normal class situation when people are learning the get up we usually just laugh when the shoes start hitting the ground when people come out of vertical alignment. However, for potential instructors when the shoes hit the ground they get swings! For anyone who has never experienced this its areal treat – for every safety infraction, whether it’s a kettlebell behind someone’s feet, poor lifting technique or a shoe dropping, the group gets 10 swings. By the end of the get uo section we had marked down over 300 swings! However, people recognise that the real reason for these swings is not true punishment, rather it is to groove technique. The more swings you perform the better your technique becomes. For many, who started the day with really tight posture and various technical problems this is a fast way to get them doing things well.

Once the get up had been taught we ran through the goblet squat. I find squatting to be a pretty easy action. Despite many injuries I can still squat full depth without a warm up manage to keep my back neutral. Too bad I can’t say the same for the others… Many people with overly tight hip flexors and poor posture struggle to hold a goblet squat position. When you add in that by the end of the day everyone had undergone hours of swings and correctional drills there was starting to be some pretty stiff and sore people! Despite that everyone seemed to mostly get the hang od the squat.

And then onto the testing…

The HKC comprises of two main tests (plus a chin up strength test to begin). The first part is a teaching test. This is kind of wierd because unlike the RKC where they bring in randoms at the HKC you train people who you have been training all day long. Everyone is familiar with the drills, everyone is familiar with the corrections. So its kind of strange as by this point everyone is doing it fairly well and there aren’t any “clients” that are total newbs. It was interesting watching various methods of communication though – some people are just natural-born teachers while others don’t really have the personality for it. The second test, the technique tes, is really the backbone of the course and is pass/fail for the three lifts. Here are the standards for the lifts:

Swing –

Yaron Mehr, HKC, demonstrating the Swing

Swing a kettlebell back between the legs and then in front up to chest level for 10 repetitions, switch hands and do another 10.

  • Back must be flat
  • Heels planted and the knees track toes
  • Working shoulder packed
  • Working arm is straight in bottom position
  • Kettlebell handle stays above the knees during the backswing
  • No forward knee movement on upswing
  • Body forms a straight line on the top of the swing: the hips and knees extend fully, neck neutral
  • Biomechanical breathing match
  • Abs and glutes visibly contract tat the top of the swing

Get Up –

Ben Cook, HKC and Shannon Scullin, HKC, practicing the Get Up

Lie on your back, pick up the kettlebell with both hands and press it with one. Slowly stand up while keeping your loaded arm straight and vertical. Assist yourself by pushing into the ground with the free arm. Slowly reverse the movement.

  • 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
  • Wrist on the kettlebell side is neutral/straight
  • Elbow on the kettlebell side is locked
  • Shoulder on the kettlebell side is packed
  • Shoulder of the free arm does not shrug up
  • Heel of the front foot on the kettlebell side stays planted
  • Knee touches the deck silently when descending into the half-kneeling position

Goblet Squat –

Pick up the kettlebell by its horns and hold it next to your chest. Squat below parallel, rest your elbows inside your knees pushing the latter out, pause, stand up. Repeat 5 times.

  • Back is flat
  • Shoulders are pressed down (scapulae depressed)
  • Neck neutral
  • Heels planted
  • Big toes planted
  • Knees track the toes
  • Elbows push out against the VM in bottom position
  • Ascent initiated with a grunt
  • Hips ascend at the same arte as the shoulders
  • Hips and knees extend fully at the top of the squat

The scoring for these is simple. A student essentially gets 2 “misses”. Say you were looking at the Swing; a student could For instance not pack their shoulder and have forward knee movement yet still pass the swing. However, if they had an unpacked shoulder, forward knee movement and didn’t extend their hips and knees fully they would fail. The system actually works pretty well as most of the common flaws – such as not extending hips and knees into a straight line – are usually caused by another problem having a knock on effect. It would be very hard to have your two “misses” and still pass. The Swing was undeniably the thing that most people failed on. There were one or two who struggled with the Get Up and the Squat but overall the thing people failed because of was the Swing. Like I said at the start – many people think it is a basic exercise but few do it correctly. I have seen many different styles of swings in Australia – from downright dangerous to safe but not really effective – and by and large it comes down to one thing, poor teaching.

Heath Bowman, HKC, Goblet Squat

Now, with a brand new batch of six qualified HKCs to go out and start teaching the right way to do things there will be a new batch of kettlebell users who can benefit from training with bells and not risk injury while getting a true Hardstyle workout. Many groups here proclaim to teach Hardstyle. All I’m going to say on that subject is that Hardtsyle was invented by Pavel Tsatsouline and if you haven’t trained with him, or one of his Seniors, then you haven’t learnt Hardtsyle. Instead you’ve learnt someones interpretation of it that they learnt from a book. While that may be close it will never be the same thing as learning from the source.

A big congratulations to the 6 who passed –

  • Heath Bowman
  • Maurice Burrows
  • Ben Cook
  • Yaron Mehr
  • Albert Owens
  • Shannon Scullin

Convict Conditioning

March 18, 2010

Paul Wade’s Convict Conditioning has now claimed the #2 spot on Dragon Door’s prestigious Top 10 List, just four months after its publication—a phenomenal achievement and a great testament to the quality of its training advice.

The early adopters of Convict Conditioning have now posted 149 reviews of a title that is rapidly being hailed as an Instant Classic.

Here are typical comments:

Master your body!
In 2 weeks, using just the beginning steps of this program, I have seen a dramatic increase in grip strength, usable upper body strength, and even noticeable changes in body composition. It’s a dynamite book, a masterful and complete program, and results WILL happen!!!Christof Harper – Davis CA

Brutal Elegance.
I have been training and reading about training since I first joined the US Navy in the 1960s. I thought I’d seen everything the fitness world had to offer. Sometimes twice. But I was wrong. This book is utterly iconoclastic.I have read virtually every calisthenics book printed in America over the last 40 years, and instruction like this can’t be found anywhere, in any one of them. Convict Conditioning is head and shoulders above them all.– Albany, NY, United States

Who should purchase this volume? Everyone who craves fitness and strength should. I’d advise any athlete to obtain this work as soon as possible.–Bill Oliver

Thank you Coach Wade for creating the perfect blueprint to build a truly functional body.
If only this book was available when I first thought it was time to start using dumbbells and barbells 20 years ago?!—Shawn Reed – Pittsburgh, PA

An UNBELIEVABLE superstrength manual
My training partner turned me onto this book. I really, really, really love the contents of this book. All the prison-based stuff aside, the method itself is something beyond belief. My mom could pick this up and start tomorrow at her own level and so could a world class strength pro! Stunning. A magical, once in a life-time training manual. If it inspires and informs you the way it did for me, you’ll gladly pay ten times the cover price, I PROMISE.—Mike C – Corpus Christi, South Texas

Beyond The Hype
I was astonished by the volume of data in this book, and a huge amount of it has changed the way I look at training altogether. I commend Dragon Door for having the guts to publish this man’s work. The book is a rare, wonderful find; the kind of jewel of a book you can really use and learn from, which only comes along a few times in your life. The book really is a complete encyclopedia of a massive and incredibly sophisticated training system. Buy, borrow, loan or steal this book, and you’ll still be reading (and using) it ten, twenty years from now. Wonderful stuff!Greg A – CA USA

I’ve packed all of my other training books away!
I read CC in one go. I couldn’t put it down. I have purchased a lot of bodyweight training books in the past, and have always been pretty disappointed. But not with this one. The information in this book is AWESOME! I like to have a clear, logical plan of progression to follow, and that is what this book gives. I have put all of my other training books away. CC is the only system I am going to follow.—
Lyndan – Australia

A must for all martial artists
As a dedicated martial artist for more than seven years, this book is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Finally this book has come along. At last I can combine perfect body movement for martial skill with perfect body exercise for ultimate strength. This book is a complete textbook on how to max out your musclepower using only body movement, as different from dumbbells, machines or gadgets. For this reason it belongs on the bookshelf of every serious martial artist, male and female, young and old.Gino Cartier – Washington DC US

Old school for the new revolution
This is a great book. The best part about this book is the 10 steps to mastery. These steps alone are worth the price of the book 10 fold. This is a MUST HAVE BOOK.—eddie sanders – Raleigh, NC USA

A Real Break-out Book on Strength Training
No doubt, the best book I have read on bodyweight training & I have several dozen on my bookshelf.—Mike – Orange,Calif. USA

This is the exercise regime I’ve been waiting 30 years for: easy build up, highlights weak spots without over-stressing (i.e. avoids injury), practice virtually any where, no equipment to buy or lug around, very accessibly written. Brilliant!Norman Duff – Seattle, WA USA

Really good value
Nobody is going to complain about the value of this book. As someone fairly new to training, it’s all in here, everything from warm-ups and programs to every exercise under the sun, plus guidelines on how to move forwards. Sell your gym membership and six second abs machine and buy this book. It’ll actually save you money.Tania Gould – Portland OR USA

Great tool and reminder of “total body mastery”
This is a phenomenal book and a book I bought and also gifted proudly to others, including family members, and I do like my family —Philippe Til Tomaszewski – Los Angeles, California

Finally the prison system DELIVERS!!!
As a hardcore bodybuilder and a longtime fan of strength training, I was skeptical when I first received this book as a christmas gift from an American friend of mine. But what can I say? Clear, entertaining and amazingly logical. The book will become a Classic for raw strength purists who will love it greatly.J.C. Marrin – Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada

Power to the prisoners?
This book really, really, REALLY does deliver. Once I’d read page one I knew I was hooked and read the rest in pretty much one go. There was waaay too much to take in, so I’m going to be reading it again (and again) through the weeks to come. Once I got my skull round the coach’s basic idea-that body-weight work should be used for muscle and power, not stamina-the rest of the book was a real eye opener. It’s changed EVERYTHING for me. But be prepared to hate yourself for not having this book when you started your training. Another unbeleivably hi quality book from the people at Dragon Door. Well done.Chris Machin – Boulder, CO

This book is fantastic
I can’t speak highly enough of this book. It is jamed packed with useful bodyweight exercise information. Nothing more need be said if you are looking to get strong and healthy for life. Every important exercise is detailed completely. It is a throughly understandable good read. In my opinion one cannot go wrong if one buys this book.Mike N. – BLF Hills, MI USA

This Is A Great Book
I have read many books over the years on physical culture-weights, odd objects, body weight, you name it. CC is the best one I’ve come across. Its a gold mine of information that will never be obsolete. I applaud John for making it happen and would look forward to any other material from Coach Wade.—Steve – Florida,USA

To purchase a copy of Convict Conditioning go here.

HKC Weekend Discounts!

March 15, 2010

With the first ever Dragon Door instructor certification in Australia being held this weekend there’s plenty to celebrate. To mark this event we’re going to have a walk in sale. 

All brand new kettlebells will be 10% off. Dragon Door make the best bells in the world – they are the only company that offers a 100% money back guarantee on their stock and are also the only company that has a five year warranty on the coating of their bells against rust and chipping. Here’s what you’ll pay: 

  • 8kg $60
  • 12kg $70
  • 16kg $78
  • 20kg $85
  • 24kg $95
  • 28kg $110
  • 32kg $120
  • 36kg $135
  • 40kg $150
  • 44kg $200


In addition, any kettlebells we use on the day are going to be sold for 20% off! Here’s what you’ll pay: 

  • 8kg $55
  • 12kg $65
  • 16kg $60
  • 20kg $75
  • 24kg $85
  • 28kg $100
  • 32kg $110
  • 36kg $120
  • 40kg $140
  • 44kg $180
  • Please note, these prices are only for people willing to come pick them up on the day. We will be running the course until 5pm and the bells are available either at 5pm or the following day after Shaun’s seminars at 4pm. 

    In addition to the great deal on kettlebells we will also be offering all our Dragon Door books and DVDs at 10% off too on the day of the HKC. Again, this offer is only available to walk in customers on the day. The course begins at 9am and finishes at 5pm so if you’re interested either be there before 9am to purchase or at 5pm. For details on all current book and DVD prices check 

    Melbourne Kettlebell Workshops With Senior RKC

    March 10, 2010

    Not only does next weekend mark the first time that a Dragon Door certified instructor course will be held in Australia it will now also be the first time that a Senior RKC will be passing on his knowledge in two workshops the next day!

    On March 21st we will now be running two workshops covering the clean and press and snatch. Here’s what you get:

    • Instantly “lighten” heavy weights with little known, dramatic, high tension techniques.
    • Discover the little known breath technique which dramatically boosts power and endurance.
    • Eliminate “power leakages” in your muscles to greatly improve your strength.
    • How to get the most out of your press – without putting strain on your shoulders.
    • Amplify your lifting power with martial arts “rooting” techniques.
    • Understand the crucial value of “slow strength” training.
    • A killer combination one-two for the gym or the ring.
    • Learn the RKC fool proof method for snatch mastery.
    • The snatch is a three stage rocket – how to finesse the stages.
    • How to avoid bruising the forearm while snatching.
    • See why the snatch rules for elite conditioning and how to become a man among men.

     For those attending the HKC these workshops will be priced at just $60 per workshop while for anyone else interested they will be at $100. Just like the HKC these events will be limited to 15 people each and will be on a first in basis. The combination of the HKC and these seminars means for the first time in Australia all the skills needed to pass the RKC will have been taught fully!

     Don’t delay now – reserve your spot so you can boost your training by learning from the original Beast Tamer Shaun Cairns!

    (NB. We opened these workshops up yesterday and already there are only 10 spots left for the clean and press and 11 for the snatch. If you’re keen to attend, don’t delay!)

    Go here to read what others had to say about Senior RKC Shaun Cairns.