Posts Tagged ‘Pavel Tsatsouline’


June 30, 2011

The tax year is done.

The year is half over.

Are you halfway to achieving your goals?

If one of your goals was to become better at your job as a personal trainer, to dominate your area as a kettlebell instructor and to educate yourself with world leading knowledge then you need to attend the July 30 HKC in Melbourne.

It’s no secret that Dragon Door are the world leaders in kettlebell training. It’s also no secret that if you’re currently training with kettlebells, and not living in Russia, that it is all down to one man- Pavel Tsatsouline. Since he arrived in the US he’s taken the fitness world by storm with his Russian Kettlebells. Having been named “Hot Trainer of the Year” by Rolling Stone magazine, featured in strength training journals and now recognized as a subject matter expert in strength and fitness by SEALs, Marine Special Operations, the FBI…the list goes on.

In 2001 he created the Russian Kettlebell Challenge, although these days it’s better known as the Russian Kettlebell Certification. It’s held up as being the number one, gold standard, kettlebell instructor’s course anywhere in the world. However, the RKC is tough – so tough that up to 30% of attendees fail. It’s a three day, grueling test of strength, stamina and mental toughness. And not everyone who is interested in teaching kettlebells is ready for that.

And that’s where the HKC comes in.

The HKC is a one day course that contains the key elements of kettlebell instruction that made the RKC so famous, without it being quite so tough. Don’t get me wrong – the HKC is still hard work. In fact, for most people it’s up there as one of the hardest training days they’ll ever have. Dragon Door don’t just hand out instructor status. We expect our instructors to be among the best in their field – to lead from the front. And the only way to do that is to earn it in sweat and hard work.

I often get comments from people about the HKC being “only” three lifts. The problem is that we’re not teaching you how to do these lifts. Oh, you’ll learn how to do them better than you ever thought was possible – with a great amount of detail and a high level of skill you may not have realized was even possible in lifting. But what we’re really going to do is teach you how to teach those lifts to your clients. And that takes time. The Swing alone can take hours to go through the myriad of drills that we have in our manual, updated continually by Pavel, to help you trouble shoot, diagnose and maximize your clients’ training. These drills will enable you to get your clients swinging as easy as “1,2,3” and they’ll never even guess at how detailed your knowledge is of these backbone, foundational kettlebell moves.

Unless they’ve trained with another instructor first. Nearly all of my current PT clients are refugees from other trainers. They love kettlebells, but they were sick of being hurt and made to do movements they knew were hurting them. So they seek us out at Dragon Door Australia. And when you apply Pavel’s RKC methods, even on “simple” moves like the Swing – you get massive results. It’s funny – when people think beginner they think of Swing, Get Up, Squat and then all of a sudden there’s a rush to learn the Clean, Press and Snatch as well as a bunch of other moves. But if you don’t know the Swing you’ll never get the Clean and the Snatch (certainly never well enough to pass the Snatch Test). And if you don’t have a solid Get Up you’ll probably hurt yourself Pressing or Snatching. And then when you become more advanced you realise that most of your training should stay centered around Swing, get Up and Squat – in fact, they’re all I’ve done for the last month!

Don’t waste any more time – the $100 discount on the July 30 HKC ends in 3 days on July 3! Click the link below to joint the number one kettlebell training group worldwide!

Dragon Door’s HKC (HardStyle Kettlebell Certified) Instructor Workshops- U.S. and Worlwide
Click here for Certification Course Information – Register now!


RKC St. Paul April 29- May 1

May 4, 2011

Three weeks ago I wrote about my incredible experiences at the first RKC for the year. I was able to catch up with friends I don’t get to see more than once a year, absorb more of the RKC wisdom and even got a chance to teach a section and run a workout! Now, two weeks later I have just returned home from the second RKC of the year where I again got to catch up with some of my best friends, assist teaching again and make a whole new batch of friends and colleagues in the process!

Team Toomey after testing.

This time I was to be on Mark Toomey’s team. Mark is somewhat of an RKC legend. Along with his role as Team Leader he is also the Operations manager for Dragon Door and brings with him considerable business and military experience. I have had a few instances in the past to get to know him and was eagerly anticipating working alongside him. Along with Mark I was also going to get to spend time with Jay Armstrong, RKC Team leader and 6th Dan in Taekwondo, who I met at Level 2 last year and got along like a house on fire. Jay is a great guy, old school and to the point and I really love spending time with him. Also in attendance were my two best kettlebell friends Andrea Chang and Zar Horton. I consider these two among my very best friends anywhere in the world and it is always such a great joy to be able to spend time with them, shoot the breeze and just hang out. When you add an RKC event into the mix it just makes the whole thing that much better. Also at the event were Dustin Rippetoe, Jason Marshall and Master RKC Jeff O’Connor. One of the things that inspires me so much about this community is that the leaders are all such great people to be around. Happy, generous, kind, smart and funny. You’d be hard pressed to find a better group to hang out with for a weekend.

Mark Toomey RKC TL, Andrew Read RKCII.

One of the things that set this weekend apart from the previous one was a massive change in format. The RKC is a constantly evolving beast and Pavel is a very smart guy who is always looking to improve on the previous version. In particular one of the things that really set this event apart from the previous one was the timing of the snatch test. But I’ll start at the beginning…

Let’s get this straight – I love the RKC. When people say things to me like “You must like the RKC because you travel so far” they have no idea. None. If you cut me I will bleed RKC red. Nothing on this planet fills me with as much joy, passion and emotion as the RKC. To have the opportunity to help out at not just one event, but two in quick succession was a dream start to the year for me. To become part of such a great, amazing group of people is something that nearly defies explanation. The collective worth of the RKC is so much more than the individuals that make up its parts. With Pavel, who is quite simply about the most amazing person I have ever met, setting such a strong example of how to act all the senior ranks lead by his example and the organisation takes on the air of something very special indeed. I think many of the candidates are a little surprised by how the RKC team works and it is interesting to see how people react in the early hours of the course.

I was in St. Paul a little early this time and organised with the Dragon Door staff to be there early to help set up. This involves unpacking crates of kettlebells, assembling the TAPS units for the Strength Tests, organising manuals for the instructors and general moving stuff around. Mostly this was done with Tim Spencer, all round great guy. Tim has been to many RKC events and is a blast to hang out with. He’s funny and smart which is always a bonus as well super nice – another perfect example of how everyone in the community should be. Always in the background is Dennis Armstrong and Tammy Drury – these two are the backbone of the RKC and anything that needs doing will be directed by them. It’s great to get to know them better as I have frequent email interaction with them. They’re just like the rest of the crew – happy, passionate, funny and  a blast to be around. Everyone should take the time at an RKC to go and thank these guys because without them the event would likely not be as good.

Everyone starts to assemble at the Thursday night meet and greet. I somehow managed to herd most of our team into a small group in the corner so Mark could weave his magic and settle their nerves. I was super excited to have four Australians attending this time, with one of them being a client of mine Sam Johnson. Sam came to us about a year ago. He’s a great young man and destined for big things in the training world. In a year he has attended and passed the HKC, helped out at two more HKCs and now passed the RKC! He’ll hate me for saying this, but when he came to us he could barely manage an hour long workout with a 16kg bell. Now he can kill three days with 24s! (And people wonder why they should come train with us…)

Friday is always a hectic start, although this time a decision had been made to swap the scheduling of the Snatch Test to the last day. I had some very big reservations about this quietly but reasoned that any direction I could argue it from had already been thought of by Pavel and all the Masters, Seniors and Team Leaders. In other words, if they believed it to be a smart choice it probably was going to be and so I waited to see what the outcome would be. Chief among the benefits was going to be additional time grooving the Swing and fine tuning Snatch technique so that the test would be easier and not rip people’s hands to shreds, which makes the rest of the weekend hard. The change meant that we were into Swing progressions early on the Friday morning.

At the previous RKC I have to be honest and say that I thought the Victim Teaching was poor. I think this was largely due to not enough time being spent on the Swing in the Friday which in turn meant that not enough time was spent trouble shooting the Swing for people and giving them corrective drills to do. One of the things that makes the RKC unique is the use of repetition as a teacher. Traditional martial artists will understand the benefit of this, as will people such as swimmers. Eventually, you find the optimal position for your body to make the most power, but it takes a few reps to get there. Because we started so early on Swings on Friday we got a lot of reps in, and a lot of opportunities for people to see how to fix the Swing. Ultimately this improved people’s Victim Teaching enormously overall and the general standard I saw in our team was much higher than the previous weekend. Given that the RKC is all about making people the best instructors they can be that’s fairly important and I am glad that we are constantly evolving to help get people the best result we can for the weekend.

Team Toomey

As is normal in any group situation we had many different levels of ability and attitude. One of the things about the RKC is that it attracts strong individuals. I’m not speaking about physical strength here, but strength of character and resolve. While this means that we attract the very best, it also sometimes means that people need to readjust their attitude so we can help them. By the end of Friday it had become clear that a few of our team, while physically powerful and strong, were just not letting us help them. They were just holding onto their own beliefs too strongly and not letting us show them what the RKC expects. And this is where a strong, experienced Team leader like Mark Toomey comes in.

Electing to give up a few minutes of team practice on Saturday morning he instead chose to speak about how students are graded on professionalism, not just their ability to heave a couple of kettlebells. And this is a massive difference between our organisation and most other fitness groups. We genuinely care about our community being filled with good, decent people and will work to seed out the undesirables early. I won’t lie and say that Toomey was all hugs and smiles. He basically told people that if they wanted to leave with the RKC letters after their names that they needed to empty their cups, so to speak, so we could fill it with our way. After all, why go to the RKC if you aren’t keen to learn all things about the RKC and adopt our methods?

This speech was so amazing that it saw three members of our team come and apologise to the instructors in the minutes after and one girl burst into tears when they realised how they had been acting. But the change in everyone’s demeanour was instant. Where we had been struggling with some to get them to listen, now you could see them fervently trying to follow our suggestions. One of the things that strikes me most about the leaders of our community is their great communication skills and after the two RKC events I have realised I have much to work on and will strive to match the amazing calm that both Jon Engum and mark Toomey possess.

The final day at this event started with Technique Testing and then the Snatch Test. I had been speaking with Pavel the night before about how much I thought this weekend’s format was an improvement over the previous one’s and was keen to see the result turn up in the teaching and technique testing. I have to say that I was holding my breath somewhat as we started the Snatch Test. The Snatch Test isn’t fun the first couple of times you do it, but once it’s been done a few times the fear factor should subside. The bottom line is that it’s only 100 reps and everyone knows what they are getting themselves into before they come as the standard is widely known. The result of the test being Sunday and not Friday was probably about the same, but with some definite benefits –

  • No torn hands to cope with all weekend. Let’s face it, despite the RKC being an instructor event people turn up without having spent enough time learning technique first. It’s pretty simple to pass the tests and the course if you have spent some time with an RKC prior. They should get your technique dialled in, ensure that you are strong and fit enough and give you a strategy to carry through the weekend.
  • Better technique during the test. At the previous RKC I had to fail three people during the test for breaches of the rules. The rules are set out in such a way as to make the test as safe as possible for people. At this RKC I only had one person “no count” out. There were people who could not perform the 100 reps in the time limit, however that is not a technical deficiency, rather a conditioning deficiency.

So overall we had less hand trauma, better technique and about the same pass percentage as before, which when you factor in fatigue is an amazing result! Another example of forward thinking by Pavel in his perpetual quest to make the RKC as good as possible.

Team Toomey gets ready for battle.

The weekend, as always at RKC events, was better than you could reasonably hope to expect. I have been to seven RKC events in the last two years and hosted four HKCs. Every single one is better than the last. I get to spend time with my great friends, learn form some of the smartest men in the world in terms of strength and conditioning, make new friends and then I get to come home and share it with everyone! Who could ask for anything more? This weekend though was more than just a little satisfying as it saw three new Australian RKCs. Massive congratulations to Sam Johnson, who ended the weekend by finishing fourth in the Grad Workout! Also to Dragon Door Australia customer Frances Bridger – great to finally put a name to the face. She was one of only four on Team Armstrong to pass on the day and was even nominated to assist at  laster date, which is quite a rare honour. Also to James McConnell who I have done some work with prior. One of the things that strikes me most about this is that since we started Dragon Door Australia just over a year ago we have now seen a 50% increase in the number of RKCs in the country with all of them coming from my home town. Coincidence…? Not to mention that I know there are a few more going later this year who have all gone through the HKC previously. The HKC continues to be the best way to prepare for the RKC with the pass rate for those attending the HKC very high.

Dragon Door’s HKC (HardStyle Kettlebell Certified) Instructor Workshops- U.S. and Worlwide
Click here for Certification Course Information – Register now!

I am already looking forward to our next HKC in Melbourne, There are a few surprises in store for people at both the event and the workshops the next day. I will just say that we are about to enter a new era in Australia of professional kettlebell instruction and anyone wishing to get in on the ground floor and dominate in this area needs to be thinking about coming and seeing us for training advice, attending the HKC and workshops in July and then working towards the RKC.
Congratulations to Team Toomey for a great weekend and to Donovan Hellkamp, Sharon Nelson and Cory Jirak on a job well done with our candidates. You guys were the icing on the cake for the weekend and I hope to get to see you all agin soon. Special thanks to Mark Toomey who was an inspirational leader and spent a lot of time with me discussing the ins and out ofs leading a team as well as, always, to Jeff O’Connor and Pavel who never cease to amaze and inspire me.

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).

Kettlebell Extravaganza!

January 4, 2011

Last year saw the first time ever that a Dragon Door ketttlebell certification was held in Australia. Now, with a growing army of expertly trained instructors, and having run three Hardstyle Kettlebell Certifications, each better than the one before, I am proud to announce what will be the best ever kettlebell event in the country.

Here’s what is going to happen:

On Friday March 18, Senior RKC Shaun Cairns and I will be running 90 minute FMS/ PT sessions. There will only be a very few of these available – 5 at most. We did the same thing in Sydney for Master RKC Dave Whitley and they sold out in a day. Every single person who attended those sessions raved about them and how good they were and many people expressed interest in attending future sessions so we’re doing them again! These sessions are being run by the top two kettlebell trainers in the Southern Hemisphere! Shaun is the only Senior RKC and I’m the only RKCII/ CK FMS! With the FMS component being done by the top trainer in Australia, and the PT session being run by one of Pavel’s elite Senior Instructors, and the only Senior in this half of the world, you are going to have the best 90 minutes of training you’ve ever had! With the first 30 minutes being used to pinpoint and fix your weaknesses, you’ll feel the best you ever have as you begin your training session with Shaun where he’ll go to work on whatever you want to work on. This combination – FMS/ movement then performance is the same as the model used by leading sports coaches and trainers to get their athletes ready for elite competition.

To read more about Shaun Cairns and Andrew Read just follow the links.

March 19 will be the HKC.

March 20… Hold onto your hats….

The day following the HKC we will be running a series of four workshops. Here is the short version –

Clean and Press –

  • How to get the most out of your press – while putting the least amount of strain on your shoulders.
  • How to stop strength “leaking” from your knees and hips – and what the pros do to prevent that.
  • The key characteristics of a good press.
  • How to instantly increase your pressing strength using these Russian secrets.

The Snatch –

  • Learn the ins and outs of the Czar of kettlebell lifts.
  • Learn how not to bruise your arms while snatching.
  • The Snatch is a 3 stage rocket – unlock the secrets to finesse the stages to get more from your training.
  • See why the kettlebell rules for elite conditioning.

Kettlebell Program Design –

  • Learn the key principles of strength development and how maximise them with the kettlebell.
  • Learn how to recognise when to push and when to hold back for elite level conditioning.
  • Discover the hidden strength secrets of the RKC elite.
  • The basic laws of successful progress and how to make gains on top of gains.
  • The perfect number of reps for greater strength.
  • How simple and basic mean successful and strong.
  • Learn how a single kettlebell can be used to take you from ordinary to extraordinary!

RKC Preparation –

  • Learn how to get strong and not burn out!
  • Hone your technique to a new level.
  • How to pass the snatch test in four easy steps.
  • Learn the secrets to get in shape – don’t waste time on show off exercises that won’t help you pass.
  • Take away proven programs to get you ready for the big day and how to use them for maximum effect.

Like I said – it’s going to be a big three days! Shaun is an amazing instructor. This is the guy who is a benchmark for strength amongst the RKC, the first ever Beast Tamer and a guy who accomplished all that using just a 32! Prices will be up in a day or so, but I wanted to give everyone a head’s up so they can start to plan their New Year for maximal strength! Click the link below to reserve your spot in this amazing instructor course!

HKC Certification

Good Instructors Wanted

December 12, 2010

I get emails and calls daily from people saying “swing hurt their back”. My answer is always the same – swings don’t hurt your back. How you swing, or were taught to swing, hurts your back.

Having seen instructors from various other organisations attend the HKC and fail it is no surprise to me that people are getting hurt. I am yet to see an instructor from any other fitness organisation who is able to pass an RKC standard technique test. I’m sure there are some out there, I just haven’t seen them yet. So it’s no surprise that if their own concept of good form is so poor that they are unable to convey to their clients what good and safe form should really be.

Given most certifications spend about three hours on six different lifts how deep are they really teaching technique? Not only that but with no technical testing or entry requirement how good are their instructors really going to be? All they really are is three hours more experienced than their customers. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t go see a doctor who had only three hours more medical experience than me! I want the guy who has been in the trenches and has had to sweat for his piece of paper. The guy who not only knows it but can do it himself.

Let’s compare a three hour “instructor workshop” to the HKC:


3 hour course




Length of course All day All Day
Number of Lifts Learnt



Course run by

Master or Senior RKC


Who taught them

Pavel Tstatsouline


What you get
  • A deep understanding of the true benefits of kettlebell training—for both yourself and your clients
  • A solid knowledge of vital kettlebell training safety procedures
  • A workmanlike grasp of the fundamentals of biomechanics—to ensure your clients move with perfect form and avoid injury
  • A grasp of the key HardStyle skills and principles of strength
  • The ability to competently perform the three foundational kettlebell exercises (the Swing, the Get-Up, and the Goblet Squat)
  • The confidence you can now correctly teach the three essential kettlebell exercises—and troubleshoot common technique problems
  • The unique HKC template for designing an unlimited number of effective kettlebell workouts.


  • A comprehensive manual with pictures and detailed descriptions of the exercises you learnt, plus kettlebell training programs
  • Wholesale prices on all our equipment if you are a personal trainer
  • A listing on our website, which gets over 30,000 unique hits per month, as a Level 1 Kettlebell Instructor if you are a personal trainer
  • A copy of an instructional DVD
  • Access to a website with a further 42 exercises.
  • Ongoing support – you can contact us at any stage with questions about kettlebell training
  • Access to a private forum to discuss kettlebell training with other workshop attendees and workshop instructors
  • A pair of sweat bands to protect your wrists when training with kettlebells


See how one group worries about giving you sweat bands and the other worries about giving you the best in-depth tuition you can receive? Which one makes more sense? And is it better to have a book showing you another 42 exercises you don’t know how to teach or implement or really, truly understanding three that form the basis for all human movement?

Not only do we want to be the best at teaching movement we want to perform each lift a particular way to maximise the benefit of Pavel’s world famous RKC system. The kettlebell is a tool we use to make your body function better. If your goal is just to lift it up and down then why use a kettlebell? You may as well just use a bar or a dumbbell. Because of our aim we have a list of very specific standards. How do you know you are doing it right if you have nothing concrete to compare your form with? Here is our list:

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

With the next HKC fast approaching in Melbourne on March 19, 2011 we are agin looking for smart, dedicated trainers to join our ranks. We want the best. If you think that is you then sign up here!
HKC Certification

Also, if you are keen to become involved with Dragon Door as a certified instructor then you will benefit greatly from attending one of our workshops. With a 100% success rate for those attending it is well worth your while to come and learn from the local expert resource for all things Hardstyle! For more information on why you should train with Dragon Door Australia go here and here. To be the best, train with the best! Don’t leave it to chance.

Sydney HKC Wrap Up

November 16, 2010

Sydney HKC Group photo

Wow. That pretty much sums up the most recent HKC held in Sydney, Australia. Let’s look at some of the amazing things that happened to create such a great day:

For the first time we had a Master RKC come to run the HKC. Usually people are blown away by the level of knowledge that an RKC has when it comes to training, correcting movement and maximising their efforts. Then, they meet a Senior and are again blown away. Then they meet a Master…and… well, you see how it goes. There is a very good reason why Dave Whitley is regarded as one of the top six RKC instructors in the world in Pavel’s RKC system. His breakdown of the Swing and Get Up were great and he ran an incredible day of training.

We had the start of a teaching community here. At RKC events overseas people come together to help out, assist teaching and continue learning themselves. Previously, with so few instructors here this was not really possible. Now, with a growing legion of instructors we were able to have 6 assistant teachers on the day. With a Master at the front of the room an RKCII/ CK FMS, Australia’s first female RKC and 4 HKCs we had 7 instructors on hand! This ensured us a good result with everyone and we were able to help more than 50% of the people pass on the day, which is quite a high number.

The day started with the strength/ pull up test which everyone passed easily, and rightly so. Then onto breaking down the Swing and the variety of correctives and exercises we use to build it from the bottom up. This is a vital aspect of Dragon Door certifications – we teach you using the progressions you will use with your own customers to build them from no experience to safe and effective quickly. No other course in the world can offer as much depth in terms of understanding and breaking down the movements.

After a few hours of Swings we started with the Get Up. It always strikes me as funny when people ay things like “I’ve got the Get Up, it’s easy”. While they may be able to hold something overhead and stand up, there’s a fair chance they are not competent in our eyes as far as the safety of their technique. Small details such as bent wrists lead to a fail and bent arms indicate a lack of either thoracic extension or rotator cuff strength – all easily spotted by trained RKC eyes and all with corrective drills to fix them.

The next part of the day really caught me off guard – I was asked by Dave to teach the Goblet Squat! Now, as a lowly RKCII it was out of the ordinary to be asked to do so. I have to admit to being a little nervous at first but within a minute or so was in my groove and moving forward with the progressions and breakdown. The only hiccup here was my demonstration model splitting her pants during a squat!

Dave’s HKC was a little unusual compared to previous ones I have attended as he had a round of individual practice. This is normal practice at RKC events and personally I find it very useful for honing my own technique. It also gave the instructors a lot of time to work with people on their biggest issues and fine tune their technique before the testing.

The teaching test was among the best group I had seen. With quite a few experienced trainers we witnessed a group not intimidated at all by teaching and largely using the methods set out to build technique with their victims. I believe the teaching aspect of the course to be a strong point and know that no other group in fitness in Australia takes it as seriously as we do. In fact, one of the students who was border line pass/ fail was ultimately failed over what he showed during his teaching test when it was decided that a little more time spent on personal practice would help his teaching too.

After a long and tiring day it is unpleasant for people to hear that they haven’t passed for whatever reason, however I believe that every single person who didn’t pass on the day will become a better instructor for being asked to go and do more work on their individual technique. Unlike other groups we will not just hand over a certificate and we will also not pass you if we feel you are dangerous. As Master RKC Andrea du Cane says “If I don’t feel comfortable letting them teach my mother, I am not comfortable with them passing”. I hope that every single person who attended goes on to pass eventually after fulfilling their retest requirements, whatever they may be. The group this weekend was great and we were quite lucky as everyone came with the right attitude and were keen to learn from a Master RKC.

Dave also ran a couple of outstanding workshops the next day. I am not going to go into them too much except to say that it was the best presentation of the Kalos Sthenos Get Up and variations into the Bent Press that I have yet seen. It was easily a highlight of what has been an outstanding year for me personally. When you consider that I have attended CK FMS, RKCII and RKCIII workshops this year and seen Gray Cook, Brett Jones, Pavel et al present that should tell you how great I think it was. Simply outstanding and cemented the reason why Dave is so highly thought of. Not only that but he is a great guy to work with.

Congratulations to all our new HKCs – Becky Bell, Claude Castro, Ryan Walsh, Rachel Godfrey, Fiona Coutts, Steve Parris, Jab and John Legg. Great work guys, I hope to see you all at RKC soon!

The wrap up wouldn’t be complete without special thanks to the teaching team who came from all over. Shannon Scullin did an amazing job as my 2IC for the day and held things together a few times when it all looked like going pear shaped. Not only that but she is becoming a great teacher and represents the RKC with pride and skill as out first female. The Brisbane boys – Alan Salvo and Tim Uljarevic – also did a great job. Without Tim’s assistance at the previous HKC Sydney might not have happened and Alan is well on the way to becoming an RKC next year in April. The amazing Sigrun Bishop took the time to come from Rockhampton and help out and has grown again in understanding since the Brisbane HKC where she was a stand out. And finally to my student Sam Johnson, thanks very much. While the youngest assistant on the day he showed great maturity and ability in helping people learn and improve during the day. Guys – couldn’t have done it without you!

The teaching team - the best of Australia and Master RKC Dave Whitley.

This was a landmark event for our country. An elite instructor, a group of the best talent in Australia assisting and the continued growth of the world’s best strength system down under. Our next event is planned for melbourne, March 19. If you’re on the fence you’d be silly to miss out on such a great opportunity.

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