Tuesday, February 23, 2016

RKC ... Almost

Last weekend I attended the Dragon Door Russian Kettlebell Certification (RKC) course in San Jose. We were lucky to have great instructors leading the event: Dan John, Dr. Chris Holder, Chris White, Robin Sinclear and Seth Munsey.

The workshop was nothing short of PHENOMENAL.

2016 San Jose RKC
Photo: John Du Cane
I will spend time in another post to describe how working with kettlebells has improved my health and running fitness. I highly recommend that if you want to work with kettlebells to seek out an RKC instructor or workshop. The insights you gain will be invaluable.

The RKC is the gold standard for learning and teaching the hardstyle kettlebell, a three day workshop where you drill the six basic kettlebell moves and are taught instruction and programming with this wonderful tool.

  • Swing - Two-arm and one-arm versions
  • Clean - Swing movement where the bells end up in the rack position (at the collarbones)
  • Press - From the clean press overhead
  • Getup (or Turkish Getup) - From a lying position holding a kettlebell get to a standing up position with the bell overhead
  • Front Squat - with two bells in the rack do a below parallel squat
  • Snatch - Swing movement where the bell ends up overhead
The amount of information we received can best be described as "very dense." The RKC manual is 128 pages of excellent material devoted to the six fundamentals, mobility complexes, additional exercises and programming. 

I took 16 pages of notes over the three day weekend. We spent 2-3 hours working technique on the swing and getup alone. We also spent a fair amount of time on flexibility and mobility in order to help improve these basic moves.

Going deep on the goblet squat
Photo: John Du Cane
Each morning and afternoon we ran a solid workout to groove the lessons we had learned to that point in addition to the technique work we were doing throughout.

What made the RKC all the more special is the one-on-one work you get with the instructors. Five instructors would monitor the 17 participants to cue and work on technique as we practiced. I pulled Dan and Chris aside to work on my getup and snatch technique specifically. The one-on-one attention received through the weekend is what makes the difference in what a quality workshop this is.

OK, so for the "almost" part.

In order to get the RKC you must:
  • pass the skills test for the six movements with a snatch-sized bell (24kg in my case)
  • pass the teaching requirement (volunteers are brought in on the final day for an hour long instruction session)
  • pass the snatch test - 100 snatch reps in 5 minutes or less with snatch sized bell
I was not ready with the 24kg on my snatches and currently have no plans to teach so I came into the weekend pretty sure that I was not going to take the snatch test.

The first thing that Chris Holder told us was: 
Don't stress about the snatch test. You have 90 days to complete it after the workshop.
The last thing Dan John said to me was:
Pass the snatch test. You have 90 days to get it done.
Grooving the press technique with Ben Fogel
Photo: John Du Cane
Here's the thing: last fall I was pressing 16kg for light volume and could not press the 24kg at the end of the year. After six weeks of RKC training (and really five as I tested myself a week before the cert) I was pressing the 24kg four times just working with the 20kg bell. 

Over the next 5-6 weeks I plan lots of heavy (28-32kg two-hand, 20-24kg one-hand) swings and Right of Passage presses with the 24kg. I will work on snatch technique and start to focus on the snatch test protocol once I'm feeling comfortable with the weight.

So, Dan and Chris, here's to getting the snatch test done. 


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