I was given the opportunity to participate at the International Kettlebell Sport & Fitness Academy certification course recently in Frisco, TX held at BJ & Kori Bliffert's Full Throttle Athletics gym. BJ and his wife Kori were such great hosts and overall the weekend was one of the most amazing times of my life. Here's the tale of my IKSFA experience.
DAY 1 Part 1: JERKS
All morning on the first day we studied the Kettlebell Jerk and broke the movement down to the tiniest detail.
Both Sergey Rudnev and Sergey Rachinskiy, top Russian Kettlebell Sport coaches, told me I have perfect Jerk technique and that I'm a rising star. They said that they don't say that compliment very often. :) I told them that it was from watching hours and hours of their own videos so the compliment is back to them.
They said with the right program I could be Master of Sport (high rank in Kettlebell Sport & one very few Americans hold) in about 6 months. I very humbly replied with a big gulp, a thank you very much, it's an honor to hear them say that, and I will do my best.
We finished the Jerk Module with a Team Jerk Relay where we had 7 team mates going for 2 minutes each against another team of 7. We lost by 265 (them) to 246 (us) reps, but our team worked VERY hard and never slowed one bit! We were all heart! :)
The rest of the day we focused on breaking down the Kettlebell Snatch. I was definitely saying my prayers because the Snatch and I haven't really got along too well! Ha ha :)
DAY 1 Part 2: SNATCH
The second half of the day I heard A LOT of "No Bob", "Put bell down Bob" coming from the mouth of Sergey Rudnev. LOL Kettlebell Snatch has never been something that I've done very well so I was ready to be ripped to shreds... and I welcomed it. By critique is the only way to learn that we're doing the right things. So bring on my nemesis!
Backing up here for a moment, and to my credit, other than some brief demos here and there in some of my Synergy Kettlebell Training classes, I haven't ever devoted my time to practice Snatch. For the last couple years it's solely been Long Cycle- which created, from what I found out today, some bad habits when transitioning into Snatching. Coach Rudnev & Rachinskiy told me I've got to break them. The habits I have did me decently well with the Cleans and Jerks, but definitely not Snatch mechanics. I had to break down and rebuild. In the process of them correcting me I even became more economical in my Clean and Jerk technique. Remember I said we REALLY analyzed these movements with the finest tooth comb.
I only started practicing the Snatch about 2 weeks ago, with before-mentioned bad habits, just so I didn't look like a total slouch at this course in front of the best and most decorated Russian Kettlebell Sport coaches/ athletes in the world.
I think I didn't do all that bad overall AND I even practiced all day today without wristbands, and with their technique tweaks, it didn't bother me one bit where before, due to inefficient technique, my forearms would be on fire if not for the wristguards. Doing it that way actually made things easier for me during our 10 minute Snatch set WITH MASON (kinda like gardening gloves) GLOVES on. It makes the bell you're using feel like one step heavier. The purpose is to train grip since that's usually the first thing to go when Snatching. I've used the gloves before, but just not for 10 minutes. It really wasn't too bad as long as you stayed on pace.
So the Snatch module took me from a grim look on the coaches' faces to smiles when we were all done. Of course an afternoon is not nearly enough time to master anything- ESPECIALLY FOR THE SNATCH AND I TO MAKE NICE (if that's even possible LOL)- but I am well on my way. Ultimately I think Long Cycle is still the event for me and where I will stay until I reach my personal goals.
Day 2: Long Cycle & GPP
The second day was right up my alley. I've been practicing Long Cycle, around injuries that were not brought about by Kettlebell Sport, pretty much exclusively for the past year and a half. So I was quite confident this day would go much more smoothly then did the latter half of day 1 with my enjoyable nemesis the Snatch.
Since we analyzed the Jerk on day 1 we spent the entire morning breaking down the Clean into the smallest grain of sand details.
Going into this I knew that all aspects of my Cycle felt good, but there were just a few small details that held me back from making my technique more refined. Since my last competition I've dropped about 15lbs and these bells have seemed to just be feeling heavier and heavier. I absolutely knew that if anyone could help me make them lighter it would be Sergey Rudnev and Sergey Rachinskiy. They are the Masters and I am their grasshopper.
To give you some perspective of who these two men are, in the case that you do not know, the following are there personal credentials.
Sergey Rachinskiy, IKSFA president Honored Master of Sport Master of Sport World Class Honored Coach of Russia 9-Time World Champion 12-Time Champion of Russia
Sergey Rachinskiy is the author of RELAY Discipline In Kettlebell Sport and this is has been used since 1999 in all competition programming. This discipline is approved by the All-Russian Federation of Kettlebell Sports.
Sergey Rudnev, IKSFA Master Coach Honored Master of Sport Master of Sport World Class Honored Coach of Russia 9-Time World Champion
Sergey Rudnev is a professor of Department of Physical Education and Sport, Girevoy Sport Specialization, at the Far East Military Academy. He is also the trainer for the Far East High Military Command School Team, of the Amur Region Team, and of the Russian National Team.
So these very brief achievement resumes should give you the impression that they, of anyone, know what they're talking about when it comes to Kettlebell Sport and exactly the reason why I leaped at the enormous opportunity and honor to learn from the best of the best.
After putting everything they taught us over the weekend, when it was my time to be tested, they told me that watching me perform was like watching a professional... it was perfection. Although I feel I have much work to do, and thousands of reps of practicing before I'll actually and truly believe those words, it was sure very nice to hear them say that. A couple of the other students even went as far as to nickname me "Baby Rudnev" because of my technique being similar to his and he and I being in the same weight class. I'll humbly take that as the highest compliment. I've got a ways to go before I can ever even attempt to fill his shoes, but I will keep doing my absolute best to keep progressing and never stop until victory is achieved.
This weekend was so amazingly awesome and honestly one of the best weekends in my entire life. That's not simply because of what I learned during its 2 days, but because of the people with whom I spent it. We all endured the super humid and hot days in BJ's Full Throttle Athletics gym WITHOUT ANY air conditioning and survived. The pic to the left is both Sergeys taking their after lunch food coma nap brought on by both the wonderful heat and tasty treats.
If you ever get the opportunity to learn these skills, hone your existing, and network among the great people making up the essence of Kettlebell Sport, I highly, highly recommend it. Your experience will absolutely change your life. It has mine.
Thank you Aleksander Khasin, Sergey Rachinskiy, Sergey Rudnev, BJ & Kori Bliffert, Jason Dolby, and John Buckley for everything!
The weekend culminated making it official!!
I passed and this is a VERY proud day! :)
Good friends and fellow Kettlebell Sport coaches from both Texas and California, Sincere Hogan, BJ Bliffert, Mike House, Jason Dolby, & John Buckley.