RKC Certification Weekend, October 2008
I hope I am able to do justice to the above topic. It took a lot to get this out. Very hard to describe the weekend and it is best experienced. Prior to going to St. Paul Minnesota this past weekend, I read and attempted to absorb as much as I could so that I could attend the RKC Certification and become an RKC. In addition, In addition to trying to educate myself about the RKC, I strove to become as physically and mentally fit as I could.
One common thread that I read about was that the quality of the individuals involved is First Class. My question is this: Is there something better than First Class? IF there is then the RKC is that things. Everything is A1. Nothing is done half assed and the quality of my teammates on Team Jones was phenomenal. I had prior Internet and phone contact with two of my RKC teammates. Jennifer Bryan and Angela Ramos were even more wonderful than I imagined they would be.
Angela, Jennifer and I went to dinner and had a nice time although I think they would agree that we were all a bit anxious since we had a RKC snatch test to perform the next morning. The RKC snatch test would actually prove to be an easier part of the weekend!
Jennifer and I met for a good hearty breakfast on Friday and we were then off to the RKC Opening Ceremonies on Friday morning. We rode over in the shuttle and checked in and saw the team assignments. After a greeting from Dragon Door owner, John Du Cane and some joint mobility with Pavel we broke into our teams for the RKC snatch test. After weighing in at 196 pounds, I needed to do 64 24 KB Kettlebell snatches. The suggested path was as many as possible on the weaker side and then power through on the strong side. We could switch hands once. (See the new test here. They just changed it!) My test proctor was Mr. Brett Jones, Master RKC. Brett was also the leader of Team Jones, obviously. I was nervous but powered through it with the required reps. I felt good to have that under my belt.
After the RKC snatch test we listened to Pavel teach the foundation of all Hard Style RKC kettlebell training; the swing. Over the weekend each foundation exercise was taught to us and then we would practice each one with our team. In addition, we had three or four workouts each day based on what we had learned. Friday we learned about the Swing, the Get Up and the Clean. The next day we studied the Press, the Snatch and the Squat. In addition, and as importantly, we learned how to steer our power and also learned how to properly apply tension to increase our strength. I was happy to be given all this instruction as my kettlebell movement form needed quite a lot of work. All the instruction given was precise and helped me tighten up their areas of concern. Pavel, Brett Jones, Dave Whitley, Jeff O’Connor and Ron Morris (The RKC instructors for October, 2008) demanded perfection and it we strove to provide it.
Each instructor listed above, except Pavel, had their own team. Pavel went from team to team and was the head coach if you will. I was on Team Jones. As I wrote earlier, Jennifer Bryan and Angela Ramos were people that I had some contact with before the RKC weekend but it was a surprise that we ended up as teammates. Everyone else was new to me and new to each other. Quickly we bonded as we worked side by side for a common goal; the Russian Kettlebell Challenge Certification. (RKC). We were paired with a partner for the weekend. We worked together inside the team for all of our practice and drills. My comrade was Scott Ward of Illinois. Scott was a great teammate and he an Emergency Medical Technician. I don’t know that I would have earned my certificate without him. We were there for each other, side by side all weekend. He is a true gentleman and will be a great RKC!
Our whole team was the most diverse and wonderful group. We had a Medical Doctor, more than a few personal trainers, a bartender, electrical engineer, and a Pennsylvania State Trooper. We were all in Minnesota with purpose; To become part of an elite group of fitness pros. Few, if any certifications require the level of commitment demanded from the RKC certification weekend. I don't think I have ever worked harder for something.
As I mentioned, the RKC Snatch test is a requirement for the certification. As Brett Jones stated it is really just the ticket for admission. After the snatch test and over the weekend, you still have to prove that you have excellent judgment and that you are cognizant of safety, perfect kettlebell exercise form, the ability to teach kettlebell safe practice to a person off the street and then you have to complete the RKC Graduate Workout. Ah, the graduate workout. The graduate workout measures your ability to manage fatigue and be safe as much as anything. You have to see saw press 24 KG kettlebells as you basically lunge forward for twenty seconds and then put a kettlebell down and swing for twenty seconds. There is a ten second rest between each exercise and you have to travel 100 yards. Quitting was not an option but certainly the thoughts crossed my mind. It was brutal and a fitting end to the RKC weekend.
You have to bring it with all you have mentally and physically. We worked together and did our best. Tears were shed. Some of mental anguish, a few of anger, lots from triumph, some of ecstasy, some out of frustration. Lactic acid may have produced a teaspoon or two. All we suffered was worth it. Not all of us left as RKCs. Some need to do a few things to get there cert. Some may never get it. All are better for the weekend.