Archive for March, 2011

HKC Wrap Up 2

March 29, 2011

With the most recent HKC now done and dusted I have started getting a new round of emails all about one thing – the RKC. Allow me to get all misty eyed for just a second as I recall a time when people didn’t even know what it was in contrast to the present where I answer emails daily about the best way to prepare, when, or if, it is coming here and a bunch of other questions. So I thought it’d be easier to write about it here, as well as detail some things so I don’t have to answer all these questions all the time.

Preparation and Training

What’s the best way to get ready?

The technical standard at the RKC is incredibly high. In the last two years I have met two people who came close to meeting the standard without having ever trained with an RKC. I’m not sure how many people I trained during that time, but my average would be around fifty per week, so in a time where I trained five thousand people, I met two who could have done it on their own. So the first question you need to ask yourself is – am I the one in two and a half thousand that doesn’t need help, or am I (most likely) just like everyone else and would benefit from spending some time with an RKC?

Best place to start?

In terms of training the best place to start is easy – that would be Enter the Kettlebell. I have used the programs within to get myself ready for RKC, RKCII and continue to use it as my fall back program whenever I come to a halt with other training. It is simple to follow, gives fantastic results and gives ample time for rest and recovery as well as time to fit in other moderate activities if you wish. Quite simply, there is a reason this program is the one we talk about the most within the RKC.

I don’t view the Rites of Passage from ETK as “finished” to an RKC ready level until clients can complete it with a 24kg bell in under an hour (12kg for girls with the only caveat being performing single chin ups instead of the pull up ladders). Once they do that I know they have the requisite strength and conditioning to train seriously. Anything less than that means we need to keep focusing on development of General Physical Preparation qualities. Once this has been achieved we look at dates and start serious training.

How long does it take to get ready for the RKC?

It generally takes people around six months to really be ready for the RKC once they have achieved the benchmark with the ROP. During this time we hone technique, continue working on GPP and start steadily increasing the amount of snatching we do. I follow a tried and tested workout formula that was developed by Brett Jones that is 100% successful for the main workouts along with my own snatch programming. I’ve had a client go from not being able to get eighty snatches in five minutes two weeks before the course to nailing the snatch test on the day! At this point I’ll remind everyone about how beneficial it is to get in front of an experienced trainer/ RKC to help you figure out how to get over the line. When you’re trying to figure out which way to go in having someone who has travelled the path before, or in my case helped other people get there too, training becomes more about consistency than anything else. Just showing up and doing what you’re told by a smart trainer will have enormous effect on your own fitness. One of the best things I ever read was the simplicity in simply doing as you’re told. “Coach says so” is gold. I just have to turn up and do it. It leaves me free to worry about my meals, my appointments for the day, etc. But training…? Easy. Coach said…

What training options are available at Dragon Door Australia?

At Dragon Door Australia we run an Advanced class. This class is invite only. It has started to turn into the RKC Preparation class. And being the only RKC in Australia who has actually trained anyone to go to the RKC, and having 100% success rate with it, word is starting to get around and currently it has three HKCs in it (all RKC bound) and an RKC. To say the standard is high is an understatement! This class is a three day a week commitment and we obviously only take those who are 100% serious about being the best they can be. This same class has also produced numerous Pan Pacific BJJ champions too.

And this leads me to my next point – I will cop it for this, but not all RKCs are created equal when it comes to preparing people for instructor events. So far in Australia we have seen sixty-seven people attend the HKC courses. Of those sixty-seven, thirty-nine have passed on the day with twenty-one of those being my students (and representing 100% of the people I have prepared for the HKC)! Of the others who passed only three were trained by other instructors. However, at the same time those other instructors also sent three others who didn’t pass on the day! (Please note that for ease of reference I am only speaking about people who have passed on the day as it makes it much easier to see who really was ready for the course or not). And when you look at the next step – sending people to the RKC – I am the only one who has had any students go and pass. To see what others say about the training at Dragon Door Australia go here.

We also run regular Beginner classes. Our last class sold out with fifteen people. The great thing about this class is that it is run twice per week over four weeks to give you the best return for your training time. I’ve seen and run plenty of single day workshops and to be honest the standard reached is usually not so good. For HKC readiness it usually takes around eight to ten hours for someone to be “ready”. Your single day “Beginner workshops + HKC Preparation” just doesn’t work. So our eight hours of classes allows you to learn a new skill at each class, while reinforcing the skills previously learned. It has already proven itself effective as an HKC Preparation class too, with two of the guys attending the recent HKC and easily passing! We will run these classes again starting early in May.

Our FMS based PT is another excellent option. As Australia’s first qualified FMS practitioner, training directly under Gray Cook and Brett Jones, as well as being the most experienced RKC locally, our clients are seeing massive improvements in their own abilities, and fast! Just last week I worked with a US College basketball player and added two inches to his vertical jump in under twenty minutes. Every PT client at Dragon Door Australia uses the FMS system to make record progress. If you’re keen to make huge steps in your training, and you’re trainer isn’t using the FMS system…well…what are you wasting your time for?

Other News

When’s the next one?

July 30 in Melbourne. It’s not up on the Dragon Door main site as we just finalised the date last night, but it will be there soon.

I’ve heard that you can now get education credits for attending the HKC?

Completely true. I had confirmation yesterday from Kinect Australia that the HKC is now PDP approved and participants will get two PDPs for attendance. I also heard from Fitness Australia that the course is in the final stages of being approved and expect to hear that it will be CEC accredited shortly. This will mean that our events will book out faster than before as more and more people will see the merit in attending the number one kettlebell course currently in the country once it has points attached.

How do I assist at an HKC?

Up until now I have asked the top students at HKCs to help us out. There have been a number of standouts from the first few and these people have become my go to team here in Australia. My first criteria is that these people all had to pass on the day at their HKC, meaning we only allow the best to come and help. However, we will soon have a new batch of RKCs and from the July course onwards the assistant instructors will all be RKCs or higher such as RKCII. We may still allow an HKC to come and help out in a limited capacity on the proviso that they have booked an RKC close to the HKC date. This isn’t written in stone though as first priority will always go to the highest ranked instructors available who demonstrate their desire to help others and live our Code of Conduct daily.

What about the HKC/ RKC discounts?

Once you’re qualified as an HKC you get $250 discount off your RKC. Additionally, HKCs get 10% off on selected items from Dragon Door and Dragon Door Australia and RKCs receive 20%. Smart trainers use this discount to purchase bells, books, etc. for clients and take the profit. This is just one way of improving your revenue stream via simple leveraging of your RKC/ HKC status. (Believe me, there’s plenty more!)



Melbourne HKC Wrap Up

March 23, 2011

All good things must come to an end and so it is with the recent Melbourne HKC. This was the 107th HKC run worldwide and the fourth in Australia. I’m not too sure what is going on in the rest of the world but I know that this was by far the best event we’ve run in Australia.

Led by Senior RKC Shaun Cairns and assisted by RKCII Andrew Read and RKC Shannon Scullin and Alby Owens this HKC was the best we have run.

The weekend really starts on the Friday with Shaun Cairns and I planning out the HKC as well as the advanced workshops the next day plus the one on one PT sessions that people come early for. These PT sessions included an FMS done by me along with corrections, then onto a one hour training session with Shaun. All four of the PT sessions went great, with people making sure to iron out any technical kinks they may have had the day before the HKC and, in some cases, get him to have a look at their form before they head over for the RKC.

The HKC is a long day. In Australia I have undertaken to make the standard as high as possible at every single event. Because of that we start our day a little differently to everywhere else. We start with a technique test for those assisting. With that beginning at 7.30am and with the first students arriving at 8am for their strength test we were off and running early! No one struggled with their strength test and at 8.30am we started the introduction and warm ups. It’s always good to hear who has done what and this time was no different. With people’s backgrounds ranging from gym management to those looking for the best training for themselves as well as people who have done other certifications (more on that later) there is always a wide variety of experience.

Everyone seemed a little intimidated by the kettlebells. Like cannonballs with a handle, they destroy weakness!

Dragon Door is always striving to move their business ahead. There is a very good reason why our courses are held up as the gold standard of kettlebell training worldwide. And the HKC is no different to the flagship RKC course. One of the first things Senior RKC Shaun Cairns said to me was that the course had been changed to better allow people to successfully perform the movements. One of the things I like the most about our system is Pavel’s never ending quest to make it better. The new changes don’t change the exercises at all, nor do they change any of the teaching progressions, but they do change how easy it makes people to learn how to properly do the exercises. Most trainers, and courses, concentrate only on developing the strength requirements to perform the lifts. However, we are concerned with developing adequate mobility and stability before adding strength. This three-pronged attack is a much better way of teaching exercise to people and the small changes made had a big impact on the day.

I’m proud to say that all the Dragon Door Australia customers again all passed on the day making us the only RKCs in the country who have had a 100% pass rate. Additionally, as the only group who have sent students to all of the Australian HKCs we are the most experienced at getting people ready for these instructor level events. The day finished for us at about 6pm with everyone being assessed and heading off to the airport or to our group dinner.

Here’s some of the feedback from the day:

It’s very hard to find good kettlebell instructor sin Perth. The instructors on the course were all very good and provided clear and concise instruction all throughout the course. Dylan Thompson.

The instructors were the best I’ve ever expereinced in the fitness industry by a long way! Very passionate and experienced and obviously keen to share as much of their knowledge as possible. The quality and attention to detail were better than anything else I’ve encountered. Wade Shean.

The course has been extremely eye opening and inspiring. The instructors certainly walk the walk. They are incredibly supportive yet maintain a great eye for the smallest detail. It packed more information into a single day than some of the three to four day courses I have done. Andrew Walters.

I work in the fitness industry and this course provided far more valuable instruction than anything I have done. The knowledge Shaun and Andrew have is awe inspiring. Educational! Educational! Educational! Tess Hunt.

Shaun has an amazing depth of knowledge that he shares in an easy going friendly manner. Andrew added so much extra depth of information and worked perfectly with him. Just goes to show, even when you think you know what you are doing there is always more to learn! Kylie Pethybridge.

The best fitness course I have ever taken. When compared to the AKI (Australian Kettlebell Instructor) course the HKC demands far more in terms of the execution of the exercises and the teaching of them. Shaun and Andrew are both immensely passionate about giving their best and clearly very knowledgeable. Two thumbs up! Immense attention on the attendees. T C Lee

The location was great – plenty of open space to practice. Both of the instructors had an amazing amount of knowledge and were very approachable. Tabitha Dearle.

I’ve been to many PT seminars and most usually fail to deliver. The HKC really did meet my expectations as the best going around and correlates well with my martial arts experience. Sean Bowring.

Fucking awesome! Fucking awesome! Rod Woglyn.

The last point pretty much says it all. The HKC is Australia’s best and brightest kettlebell training course. Now approved by Kinect Australia for PDP’s we are taking massive steps towards ensuring the highest standard of training with kettlebells can be met within Australia.

The Sunday workshops were fantastic too with Shaun and I delivering eight hours of non-stop detail and information. Covering Clean and Press and Snatch, RKC Preparation and some of our own advanced programming methods to take your kettlebell training to the next level these workshops were packed with even more attendees than the HKC the day before! It was great to see some other HKCs attending these workshops and furthering their knowledge and continuing to grow as trainers and expand their knowledge. We even had two RKCs present who were also keen to learn and grow – good to see guys! I’ve made massive leaps in my own abilities in the last two years, all thanks to my numerous trips to the US to train and learn alongside Pavel and his elite Master and Senior trainers. In less than two years I’ve racked up more than thirty days of training alongside them and I firmly believe this is the best way to keep getting your clients the results they pay for. It’s also the reason why Dragon Door Australia has a 100% pass rate for our students at events like the HKC – we just keep on pushing to get better all the time.

The next event is already in planning stages and there are some big surprises coming for Australia in the next few weeks. Keep your eyes open for a special Dragon Door TV episode and the next issue of Ultrafit magazine. Let’s just say that Dragon Door Australia features fairly heavily in both. This year will be a big year and will set the stage for an even bigger 2012. Keep your eyes and ears open too because some of our events will sell out fast with all the success we have in producing the best instructors and running the best instructor workshops in the country!

The Ten Dollar Spend

March 10, 2011

I used to teach people how to ride motor bikes very fast. I have to admit that before I came across Steve Brouggy and the Australian branch of the California Superbike School I was only moderately quick. But once I started applying Keith Code’s world famous riding system to my own approach my lap times fell very quickly. In one season of racing I dropped six seconds a lap at Phillip Island raceway. Good enough to go from a back of the pack to a top ten finish by the end of the season.

Now maybe because of my military background, or the fact I was educated in Switzerland, I prefer a solid system for getting things done. Code’s uniquely logical system about something physical appealed to me and one of the lessons in particular really holds true for a lot of exercise too. So here it is –

Imagine you have ten dollars to spend. This ten dollars represents the sum total of attention you can give things while performing a task. In the previous example it may be getting through a corner safely on a motorbike, but applies equally to anything including swings, snatches and get ups. Everything you do, from using the brakes, to steering, to changing body position, moving your vision, coming back on the gas, standing the bike up, etc. all use some of your ten dollars. Now, if you go screaming into your corner at a terrifying speed, nearly all of your attention is going to be used up on just getting the thing slowed down enough that you don’t die. No surprise then that you won’t be able to get around the corner well as you’ll have used up nearly all of your attention just on survival. If instead you come into the corner a little slower, under more control, you save vital dollars for picking the best line, feeling how much grip you have and when and how much throttle to use as well as where to place your body to save your tires. Again, no great surprise that this leads to much, much faster lap times.

The same holds true for learning a new exercise. The Get Up is a classic example of this. There are seldom times in modern life where we deliberately hold weight over head and move around through a variety of angles and planes. If, while learning the Get Up, you decide to pick the weight that is the most you can hold overhead then all of your ten dollars is going to be used up just on holding that weight up! However, in the RKC system we focus on principles, not methods. We focus on quality of movement, not on “working out”. We understand that when form becomes second nature then adding load becomes easy. For my part I made enormous jumps in my ability to handle heavy loads overhead in the Get Up by doing lots and lots of Get Ups with  a light weight. In fact, the first time I tried to do a 48kg Get Up I had only been training with a 16kg for over a month! But I had been really working on alignment and positions so that when i added load it would all be the same.  By the time I went heavy, I didn’t need to pay much attention to the movements as they were all dialled in and all I needed to do was focus on the weight.

This same principle can be applied much more practically to our own education too. We all have a very obvious amount of money that we can afford to spend on our own education and training. While I think it’s great that people want to increase their knowledge and understanding some thought needs to be put into where and on what to spend money. So let’s break down the best ways to train –

Attend a workshop with the best instructor you can find. This has to be number one. For me, this means I travel to the US up to three times per year to spend time with Pavel and his Master and Senior instructors. I recognise that not everyone is up to where I am so the choices become a little more practical. There are a number of RKCs and HKCs in Australia now and all are capable to varying degrees of helping you learn and progress. How do you tell who is the best? The easiest way is to check out the instructor pages. The Australian page is here. You’ll note that this lists both HKC and RKCs alphabetically. The bit you want to pay most attention to is how many reviews the instructors have and whether or not those reviews sound like they are from people you identify with. If you’re looking for fat loss, read the fat loss reviews. If you’re looking to become the best you can, look for reviews by other instructors. You get the idea. (And another thing I’ll point out, to highlight the teaching strength we have at Dragon Door Australia – the two most reviewed instructors in the whole country work under the same roof!) Perhaps even something like this is a good place to start

A great way to start your kettlebell education.

Once you’ve started the education process you need to figure on the best way to continue. If you’ve done an introduction class and decided you like the feel of the Russian Iron, then perhaps a Beginner’s Class is just what you need? This class is so good that we offer a 100% money back guarantee if you’re not convinced that you’ve learnt the fundamental kettlebell drills well enough to either train on your own or enter our regular classes safely. And with the two most experienced instructors in the country teaching you can’t go wrong!

At this point there are a few options – if you train on your own then some books might be a good place to start. I recommend Enter the Kettlebell and Kettlebells from the Ground Up. Both are superb and will give you literally a lifetime of training right up to passing RKCII.

If you are keen to become an instructor, then at some point you need to attend an HKC or RKC. If that holds your fancy then simply hit the links to the right ————> and they’ll take you straight to the relevant pages. If this is your goal then you probably need to spend some time with an RKC prior as it greatly increases your chances of passing. Again, given Dragon Door Australia are the only instructors in the country to have a 100% pass rate for our students, where do you think is the smartest place to spend that hard earned cash?

And finally, even if you are an HKC/ RKC the only way to continue getting better is to keep attending events. The best instructors I know – and I count all of the Master and Seniors instructors in this, as well as Pavel himself – continually put themselves out there attending events with an open mind. In the next few weeks in Australia you have choices of quite a few workshops to attend. Now, my very first point was “attend a workshop with the best instructor you can find”. Without doubt that will be the massive eight hours of workshops being run on Sunday March 20 by Senior RKC Shaun Cairns. Getting a Senior here to run workshops is like having the opportunity to get singing lessons from Pavarotti. I mean, these are the top handful of guys in the world, hand picked by Pavel to spread the word about his system and trusted enough to run his workshops for him. So, spend your money attending a small local event, or attend the best quality instruction available in Australia? Seems a simple choice to me.

No matter your needs – Dragon Door Australia have you covered. From workshops to educational books and DVDs to instructor level events. There’s always more in store at Dragon Door (apologies to Amanda Salas for stealing her line).