Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What is the RKC System? My notes from the cert.

When Pavel asked me three weeks out if I was up for presenting at the RKC for 30 minutes I was a bit overhwhelmed to be honest. Especially when he told me the topic: What is the RKC System? 30 minutes or less please.

uh, yeah. ok.

Just define and encapsulate your lifes work so far. No problemo. But it really made me think. About exactly how I saw the RKC what it was specifically as a system. these are the notes and talking points.
First I needed to define the RKC.

What is the RKC ?
1) The Russian Kettlebell Challenge. The exercises, movements ,techniques and methods of the book and DVD of the same name. Pavels seminal work.KB ballistics and grinds. Hard style.

2) The Russian Kettlebell Certification. The instructor course we are at. Learning to teach the specific exercises of the RKC course.

3) A challenge to the current exercise model. A pradigm shift in the fitness world. From bodybuilding/aerobics/form over function to full body engaged, high intensity, functional movements. the brain knows movements, not muscles.

What is a system?
A group of interactive, interrelated and interdependent elements that comprise a complex whole.

Elements of the RKC System
1) The ballistic lifts and grinds of the RKC book
2) The high tension techniques and powerbreathing methods of the Power to the People .
3) the scar tissue destroying and joint prying open effects of Joint Mobility
4) The science of stretching and flexibility training.Using strength to stretch as well as the specific brething techniques as well.(RIS, Fast and loose,Strength stretching)
5) The drills, postures, corrections and fixes of the RKC Instructor manual and course.

Another definition of system

An organized set of ideas or principles

Principles of the RKC System
THE SWING IS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. LOL.A basic human rythym. Swinging on a swing. The arc is instinctive.

1) The body is a linked interconnected unit and must be trained as such.
2) To do so is a skill that must be practiced, not just trained. Think gymnastics, martial arts, olympic weightlifting. Difference between real martial arts and cardio kickboxing.
3) Mastery results from Deep Skill work,not random acts of variety. Think going backwards to go forward.
4) Do more with less by going into each movement,rahter than just relying n external resistance. The RKC is an internal system. The focus is inward( associative) during the lifts. Black belt analogy.
5) the system is simple, but not easy.This is the basis of the Hard Style approach.. Compensatory acceleration(ballistics) and negative accentuated training( grinds).Similar to WSB in it is a methodology and not just a theory. Can not chinese menu approach these systems to see the benefits. they have to be learned,practiced and mastere.

The RKC as a stand alone Method

1) RKC touted as good for other sports activities
2) KB "What the Heck effect". focus on carryover to other activities and sports. Role as a helper.
3) But also works brilliantly as a minimalist, stand alone method of strength and conditioning.especially for the average person or client.
4) RKC system offers a unique opportunity to the average person that most other methods cannot: a force multiplier effect from the acceleration of the ballistic exercises. This creates a "virtual force " effect that creates very interesting adaptations to the muscles and the metabolism. Less weight is actually more weight as speed ,and therefore power can be trained for high workloads with little shock to the joints.
5) Fundamental difference in ballistic versus conventional training is the intended USE of momentum. learning to maximize and optimize it to INCREASE work loads, and therefore work capacities.
6) Ballistics complete in themselves as having both a tension and a relaxed, fast phase. grinds can be done as effectively with dbs but swings cannot.
7) "A perfect swing is better than 99% of all other strength and conditioning methods" Steve Maxwell.
8) Allows an average person to approach workloads only available to a superathlete. E.g 200 swings with 36 lb =7200 pounds of work. WSB would use 300lb in squat for 12x2 for the same 7200 pound for a 425 pound squatter. How many clients or average people could do that.
and a untrained 60 year old can do that workload in a few days of training. Work capacity and gpp is the thing for MOST regular people- read clients.
9) KB workloads, and therefore caloric burns,work capacity increases and metabolic conditioning that is not only easy on the body but therapeutic to it , are off the hook. And available to almost everyone. Think obesity in all age categories.the potential is huge. The swings the thing.
10) Yet at the same time strength and flexibility are increased. Almost automatically just by focusing on the proper performance of the basic movements.
11) Linkage and rooting techniques create a unique body awareness.
12) Ballistics mimic natural athletic motions by alternating cycles of tension and realxation in an also unique way.Less soreness and residual muscle tension but still great realxed tone and muscle tension generating ability.
13) One never has to go into a commerical gym again.
14) The RKC as a foundational method. teaching rooting, connection of upper and lower body ,power and speed production,body and situational awareness and well as low gear strength(grinds)
15) Unique beauty, simplicity and efficiency of the dang things. people just take to them. A very symbolic shape as well. The circle is powerful.

Simplexity ( from Power to the People)
" The emergence of simple rules from underlying disorder and complexity."

This is the basis for the RKC system to me. Leading away from overly complex ineffective conditioning methods to functional ones, rooted in traditions of basic hard work and that work for almost everyone who tries them. We are at a tipping point in the exercise world I believe. People want the truth. This is true: The RKC system works for basic fitness better than anything I have ever seen. For myself and my clients.
But feeling is believing.Swing a bell then you'll know.


Royce said...

Well said as usual.

Franz Snideman said...

Thank you Rif....


Mark Reifkind said...

thanks for the kind words guys. :))

Royce said...

Thank you for the wise words

Franz Snideman said...

Dragon Door and Pavel, IMO, should make you a senior RKC. You have already offered so much and continue to educate the masses of people that so desperately need to hear the TRUTH of what really works in regards to training. In our own ways we are all doing that, but with the recent resignations, you seem like a perfect fit.

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks so much franz that is very kind of you to say. Of course that would be fantastic, we'll see what happens.

Geoff Neupert said...

Thanks, Rif. I was inspired to start writing what I thought the RKC system was, based on your telling us about your presentation and was plotting it out last night in my head, but now that you actually put your presentation on your blog, I know my own attempts would be in vain. Thanks again.

And I agree with Franz: Pavel should make you a Senior RKC and I'm going to e-mail him and tell him so.

Thanks again for your contributions to the fitness world. Knowing your personal background and having had the privelege to train with you, I know that you state the truth not from reading a book or attending a course, but from the school of hard knocks.

Keep up the hard work!

"Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men." Proverbs 22:29

Mark Reifkind said...


man, I am honored and touched by your kind words.I also appreciate greatly your show of support and your willingness to state it publicly. It means more to me than you could know.

I also really love that passage and will remember it.thanks again and looking forwards to see and training with you again.


Franz Snideman said...

Goeff and Rif,

I just sent my letter of recommendation to make Rif Senior RKC to Pavel.


Have a good one!


Mark Reifkind said...

thanks Franz, that is much appreciated. :))

Joefitness said...


Joefitness said...

Agreed Gents, Rif is the true representation of what a Senior RKC is all about. My letter is in the mail

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks Joe, it is greatly appreciate!

Pete Diaz, RKC said...


Having watched your presentation at the April RKC, I must tell you it was very inspiring to hear the passion that you have for the RKC system. While I don't feel it is my place to make a recommendation, I certainly agree that you have the background and experience to be a SR RKC instructor. It was great to have met you, and I hope we meet again one day.

Mark Reifkind said...


it was great meeting you and wtching you work at the RKC. you form and strength are stellar and you will make an excellent instructor!thanks for the kind words and hope to see you again some day.keep training hard.