Archive for October, 2010

Martial Power Workshops

October 31, 2010

Owning a dumb body is like owning outdated software. Close to useless. Only worse, cos with your own body you’re talking serious or TERMINAL hurt.

And in competition or in conflict, a dumb body spells danger for you and danger for your buddies. You’re a walking liability.

Well, what if there was such a thing as a “Smart Body?”

smart body—programmed with state-of-the-art neuro-software guaranteed to rocket your power, strength and speed far beyond its original capability?

And what if you could get hold of these neuro-software secrets yourself and:


Can you imagine? The same day you learn them—secrets that make you immediately 30% stronger and faster.

For the first time in Australia I will be running workshops specifically for martial artists, combining Pavel’s world famous hard-hitting combat secrets from the Russian Spec Ops with his gold standard Russian Kettlebell system.


  • Why the mastery of progressive calisthenics is the secret to raw strength and power through the forgotten art of bodyweight training.
  • Discover how a simple push up can double your punching power when done correctly.
  • The futility of gym machines and the charade of high rep low weight bodybuilding training when it comes to power and speed.
  • Unlock the 6 rules for power packed push ups and the hidden benefits of this lost exercise.
  • 15 secrets to impeccable squatting and how the bodyweight squat will do more for your kicking than barbell squats.
  • Discover the magic of GTG – Grease the Groove – to develop crushing power using the RKC principles of strength.

Combine this with the RKC system for kettlebell training to learn:

  • Understand why mastery of the kettlebell swing will give you stamina and resilience.
  • Learn how to recruit the powerful lat as a core muscle, to protect your spine and add power to your punching and kicking.
  • The concept of rooting and how to use it to increase your striking power.
  • The two hundred year history of the Get Up and its uses for combat sports.
  • Develop simultaneous mobility and stability to develop awesome power.

These two workshops are being run for the first time ever in Australia in Brisbane and Melbourne on December 18 and 19. Due to the amount of information contained these are five hour workshops running from 10am to 3pm. For more details see the website, for Brisbane click here and for Melbourne click here.


The 5 Ps of Passing the HKC

October 26, 2010

With our next HKC coming soon, and with this event being the 92nd HKC held world wide I thought I would take the time to help some people out. As someone who grew up working in the service industry I simply can’t stand it when people don’t get what they’ve paid for. I really get upset when people pay hard earned money to attend an event, work hard all day long and ultimately leave without the bit of paper they wanted. In most cases this can be easily solved with doing the right preparation beforehand. I’m a big believer in the 5 Ps of success – Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. So, in order, here are the 5 Ps for HKC success:

1. Spend time with an RKC.

It seems so simple, but so far out of the people I have seen attend an HKC and pass on the day (because don’t forget, just because something isn’t correct on the day doesn’t mean that you’ve completely blown it as you have three months to get it right. Although nothing beats passing on the day) they have all spent time with an RKC prior in all but two cases! So, while it is possible to pass, the question you need to ask yourself is are you that rare person, with such great mechanics and athleticism that you can just wing it on the day and pass, or are you like most people and need some coaching beforehand?

2. Know the movements already.

As much as the HKC is an ideal learning tool for people looking to get serious about their training, it is also an instructor certification. As such we expect that you should already have an idea of what you are about to do, and should have already spent a fair amount of time learning about and training with kettlebells. Ideally, you’d have familiarised yourself with the following list of technical points:

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 –

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

3. Be Physically prepared.

The day is long. We start at 8.30am with sign in and the course starts at 9am sharp. The last one ran until just after 6pm with only a 30 minute lunch break. That’s a lot of training! Within that we spend about 4 hours teaching and breaking down the Swing so that you can teach it and trouble shoot it well. While we expect you to do it perfectly, you also need to be able to teach it too. To be honest, 4 hours seems like a rush when you consider that nearly the entire first day of the RKC is about the Swing (yet another reason why the RKC are so good at what they do – devotion to perfection of movement and detail). Then we split the remaining time between Get Up and Squat. Along the way you will be doing lots of Swings. You will do them in drills and you will do them to grease the groove and perfect your technique. My last count at an HKC was around 800 Swings for the day. If you struggle to do 100 Swings now, what makes you think you’ll be ready for the big day?

One of the tests is a Pull Up test. While for most people it is no big deal the Pull Up is not everyone’s favourite list so here are some clues to help you master the test:

  • Lose weight. Really. If you’re carrying a few kilos too many it makes Pull Ups really hard. Dropping even 2-3kg can make a substantial difference. So ditch the poor food choices and get leaner and watch your Pull Ups improve instantly.
  • Practice static holds at the top position. Do not do these to failure. Jump up, put your chin over the bar and hold it there for a few seconds. Slowly lower yourself down and repeat a few times. Try to do this daily, greasing the groove of your Pull UPs. Allow the volume of your work to help you with this rather than a small number of gut busting painful workouts. Each week try to add time or reps to your efforts.
  • If the static holds are no problem try band assisted Pull Ups.
  • Use Pavel’s ladder method to increase your Pull Ups without fatiguing you. (See either Beyond Bodybuilding or Enter the Kettlebell for more details, available from

4. Swing!


The centre of the RKC universe, and the lift you’ll do the most on the day, is the Swing. If in doubt in your own training add more swings. Sigrun Bishop, who passed at the Brisbane HKC, notes that she did “roughly 4,000 swings in the 5 weeks leading up to the HKC”. And you could tell on the day. She looked rock solid and killed it all day long because of the work she had done prior. My basic instruction for people is to train 4-5 days per week and try to get in 200-300 good quality Hardstyle Swings each time.

5. Practice the movements in your training.

If you can’t figure out what to do in training try a workout like this, which is actually a Dave Whitley workout called the Furnace:

  • Overhead Lunges right
  • Two hand swings
  • Overhead Lunges left
  • Two hand swings
  • Kneeling windmill right
  • Two hand swings
  • Kneeling windmill left
  • Two hand swings
  • 1/2 Get Up right
  • Two hand swings
  • 1/2 Get Up left
  • Two hand swings
  • Full Get Up right
  • Full Get Up left

All exercises are 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off. The final Get Ups should take a full minute each side with 30 seconds up, 30 down. As you get more advanced you could replace the two arm swings with single arm swings on the same side. Alternatively you can replace the swings with Goblet Squats for alternate rounds.

For anyone keen to attend Dave’s workshops and learn more of his brilliance and great programming go here

Why Choose Dragon Door for Your Education?

October 12, 2010

I often get asked what is so special about Dragon Door when it comes to teaching kettlebells. While there are a great many reasons, I will try to sum them up here:

The reason you have likely even heard about kettlebells can be traced back to one man – Pavel Tstasouline. Together with Dragon Door he has created a unique system of training centred around the kettlebell called the RKC, or Russian Kettlebell Certification. What makes this unique is that even though RKCs use kettlebells as their primary training tool we are not kettlebell instructors.

We are, in fact, students of human movement and strength. Pavel’s unique system allows us to reteach essential skills of movement to people who have lost them due to being sedentary or through injury. While many other schools can and will teach you how to lift kettlebells, they are focussed on this just as a means of resistance training. In the RKC you will find as many of us power lift and olympic lift right alongside our use of kettllebells using the lessons learnt from the RKC to boost our strength in other areas of strength development.

The lessons of movement are as applicable to one skill as they are to strength training. Our’s is a system of principles and movements, not of workouts and exercises. This allows us to apply techniques to other areas such as sports performance or martial arts as easily as we apply them to fitness related training.

The Yin and Yang of strength development is that you cannot be all about heavy training as that leads to injury, asymmetry and poor movement. Within our system is the strongest assessment and rehabilitation tool anywhere in the fitness community. The Functional Movement Screen developed by Gray Cook is light years ahead of any other physical assessment tool used in our industry today. With a complete set of testing tools, corrective exercises and checks in place this allows clients to progress faster and safer. Included within our set of “soft” techniques are tools to teach relaxation, flexibility and joint health. The total training package available to an RKC is so complete even the most advanced RKCs talk of how much they get out of rereading or re-watching one of Pavel’s books or DVDs.

We care about two main things – strength and movement and safety. I am yet to see another school of thought in the fitness community that pays as much heed to safety as the RKC. In the manuals for our courses, the first sections all relate to safety! Normally in the fitness community there will be a page devoted to “safe lifting” or maybe just a few words said about it at a course. To us, safety is tantamount to performance and without safety there can be no training long term for performance. What good is being shown a lift if the teacher cannot pinpoint your weakness via FMS or a corrective drill? I can tell you that even though many people are taught to swing, that it is no surprise that the majority of people who swing still end up hurting their backs even though taught by a “certified” instructor. I have to question people’s certification standards – when instructors are able to go and attend a single day workshop and become qualified with only that day’s experience, how much can they really help  their clients when they have only a single day’s more experience than they do? Instructors need to be experienced and without having entry and testing standards all they are doing is handing out pieces of paper to people. Is it any wonder that I have so many clients personally that come to me after an instructor from a another group has been training them? The difference is that I have spent $18,000 on my education this year alone to go and train with Pavel and learn from him directly along with his elite cadre of top instructors. If your trainer has learnt from someone who has learnt from a book, well…

Our instructor courses will get you ready to teach. Full stop. We will show you how to break down and perfect technique so you can train nearly anyone. The level of detail is renowned. Dragon Door rightly have become known for having the gold standard of training in kettlebell courses world wide.

The HKC, the one day course, is a great introduction to teaching kettlebells. Do not think that a one day course is not worthwhile. I have been to many “higher” level courses such as RKC, RKCII and RKCIII and still learn something every time I assist at an HKC. Along with being the best value single day course in Australia – who else can offer one of the top instructors worldwide to run their course – it is a great step forward to achieving the RKC. If you pass the HKC all money is directly credited to your RKC. In essence you get a free day’s training with one of the top strength and movement coaches anywhere in the world, a qualification and a real head start on becoming an RKC! Can any other course offer that?

Now with an HKC only a month away, it is the time to decide how serious you are about your education, your clients’ safety and the type of trainer you want to be. Do you want to be part of the mediocre pack or a leader and one of the best in your field? If its the former I wish you well, but if its the latter then it is time to act – book now to receive a $100 discount before this offer finishes!

HKC Certification

Sydney HKC Update

October 4, 2010

If you’re reading this and you haven’t yet booked the HKC, what are you waiting for? The HKC is the perfect start for many things –

  • It will get you going in the right direction for the RKC, if that is your goal.
  • If you are going to do the RKC, the cost is fully deductible. Essentially giving you a free day of training with a Master RKC to groove technique and learn from the best.
  • The movements taught at the HKC form the foundation of athletic skill. The swing, get up and squat comprise the building blocks of essential athletic movement and power production. Learning how to do these movements correctly will instantly boost the benefits of training for both you and your clients.
  • Just being shown exercises won’t do you any good. You need to know how to break them down, trouble shoot them and build them from the ground up. A monkey can be shown exercises, but a skilled trainer can teach a monkey how to do them. Which one are you?

In addition, the workshops being run the next day are going to be shown for the first time in Australia. Master RKC Dave Whitley is going to delve, in depth, into the Get Up and show why it is so revered in the RKC community as an exercise, movement screen and corrective tool as well as break down how it transfers to other movements such as the Windmill and Bent Press. While not essential to do both workshops, they are clearly built so that the progressions shown in the first lead straight into the advanced exercises in the second. However, as with all physical skills, without a solid foundation of basics trying to build advanced skills or higher levels of strength without a solid foundation will only get you so far before injury occurs.

In fact, if you look at the original Russian Kettlebell Challenge book you can see that the Program Minimum was substantially different to what it is now. It was originally slated as Snatch + Bent Press but had to be changed because he realised that so many people lacked the basic foundations of movement, what Gray Cook calls primitive patterns, to pull these moves off without risking injury. With safety being a prime concern to us in the RKC (remember, we’re not the monkeys) it was important to create a PM that allowed people to train hard, reap big rewards, yet limit risk. So it was changed in Enter the Kettlebell to be Swing + Get Up. Having seen first hand literally hundreds of times how beneficial the Get Up can be in getting clients to move well these workshops will be eye opening to both trainers and enthusiasts alike as Dave explores and decodes how to get the absolute most from this under rated exercise.

To book your workshops go here. Book before October 13 to save $100!

The first step in this process is to get in to see an RKC before it is all too late. I’ll be running a preparation class in Sydney on October 23 at the same venue that the HKC will be held at. So far, I have a perfect record in getting people ready to pass the HKC and the RKC. If you’re serious about attending, be serious about learning correct form right from the very start. The technical requirement for the HKC is exactly the same as for the RKC – in other words we expect perfection. While being taught correct form may only take a few hours, grooving the correct skill, so that you are able to replicate it at the end of the day when you are at your most tired, takes weeks. Don’t wait until the last minute to learn and then try to build your fitness base, give yourself enough time to accomplish all your goals. For more information on the preparation class go here.

Finally, if you are attending the HKC and still don’t know where to stay please contact:

Contact: John (Manager)
Code: Dragon Door Australia
Transport: Free Shuttle from the hotel to the venue on both Saturday and Sunday in the
morning only. Shuttle seats 20 people and will do multiple trips if necessary.
Note: If a reasonable number of people book accommodation at the Comfort Inn they
will organise a shuttle for the evening too

Deal: All clients who book at the Comfort Inn & Suites Burwood will need to ask to
speak to John and quote the above code “Dragon Door Australia”.
Minimum Stay: 1 night
Standard Hotel Room: Friday night $115 & Saturday night $160 (usually $190 per night)
Single Hotel Room: Friday night $95 & Saturday night $140 (usually $180 per night)
Breakfast: Full Breakfast @ $10 per person
Note: The same deal will apply to any Dragon Door Australia client requiring
accommodation for the prep course weekend…