Monday, June 9, 2008

Franklin B Herman, RKC

Having endured and survived three full days of the most difficult struggle both physically and mentally, on Sunday I achieved my goal (that only a short while ago seemed only possible far in the future) of obtaining my Russian Kettlebell Challenge Instructor Certification. To this end I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart that took the time to visit here and provide support, encouragement and advice with your comments .. I honestly don't think I would have made it without all your help and inspiration.

In reality I obtained so much more than being able to proudly add the RKC suffix to my name. I was an organic part of one of the most complex, exciting and evolving experiments in human fitness and leadership development ever devised. I have emerged a different person, a stronger person, a more confident person and most importantly a more humble and appreciative person. Also, my heart goes out to my fellow candidates who fell short of obtaining their Certificates .. it was certainly not due to lack of effort as everyone worked their absolute hardest during those three grueling days.

To give a little feel for what transpired, the Certification consisted of being split into teams consisting of seven to nine candidates, an RKC team leader and two RKC assistants while under the guidance of Pavel Tsatsouline, Creator of the RKC System and Master of Sport, Brett Jones, Master RKC and other Senior RKCs towards accomplishing the following activities:
  • passing a snatch test
  • working through the detailed mechanics of the RKC hard-style swing, double swing Turkish get up, clean, double clean, press, double press, goblet squat, single and double front squat and lastly snatch
  • diagnosing problems and applying corrective drills to each of the these
  • completing three or more daily strenuous 20 minute workouts with a focus on a few of these lifts
  • being individually evaluated on our technique in performing each of the lifts
  • being evaluated on our abilities to provide a 45 minute teaching session followed by a 15 minute workout on a randomly assigned outside volunteer.
  • complete a lengthy grueling graduation workout over the length of a football field
As Brett Jones, Master RKC, described in his Hard-Style magazine article, the passing of the snatch test just sets a minimum acceptable level of fitness, shoulder stability and flexibility; the candidate must do far more preparation than just focusing on their snatch test. This couldn't have been truer in my case.

Although I did put considerable emphasis on working my snatch test specifics, all the other long heavy swing sessions, VO2 max and other circuit training sessions were critical in getting me through those three days with only minor aches. A special thanks to Gabi,RKC for posting her post-Cert hand photos on her blog. Following her lead, after passing the snatch test (only chalk allowed) I taped and re-taped my hands per Rif ever day resulting in only one small blister .. most of other candidate men on my team ripped up their hands on the first day.

The outline of activity above is only an indication of what really happened. Its impossible to accurately describe the feelings of overall mutual respect, bonding and strong camaraderie that quickly develops among not only team members but over the entire group over such a short time.

In my case, I was doing very well over the three days up until the graduation workout .. I had spent far too much energy with my volunteer client to provide him with a solid training and workout. Although apparently I succeeded as he thanked me for session and went on to purchase a 16kg bell, I forgot about the demands of the grueling graduate workout that shortly followed.

I had made the 80kg weight class for my snatch test and therefore qualified for the 20kg bell for the grad workout as was specified in our instructor manual. However, Jeff Connor, Senior RKC and a monster of strength (a double beast presser) insisted that everyone use their snatch test bell which pushed me up to the 24kg. The workout consisted of starting with our left hand performing in sequence a snatch, lower the bell to the rack, front squat, and press, then perform a one hand swing transfer to the right hand for a snatch, lower to rack, front squat and press. This then followed by ten two hand swings taking two steps forward at the top of each swing. We were then given a 15 seconds rest and the entire sequence was to be repeated until everyone crossed the field.

Having 1) never practiced the walking swing before , 2) being far from a natural lifter and 3) being quite tired, I couldn't get the walking swing groove and was only making very little forward progress. Then to my surprise on my left I could see and hear Fawn Friday, RKC (aka the "Yoganator") her husband Aaron and Sean Schneiderjan wildly cheering me on. There was no way I was going to disappoint my fellow bloggers who had provided me with such valued support and advice over the last four months. Although I was one of the final stragglers and completely exhausted, I somehow managed to cross the end line and complete the workout.

When it was over I was so incredibly delighted to meet Fawn, Aaron and Sean in the flesh. Its extraordinary how strong friendships can develop in cyberspace as I felt I had known them all for years. I also had the great pleasure of meeting Mike T Nelson, RKC, his girlfriend Jodi and Joe Pavel, RKC who also all attended the grad workout.

After meeting with my team to learn I had been awarded my Certificate of Instructor, Sean and I fooled around a bit with the bulldog and beast. Sean who is extremely strong and is good bet to eventually tame the beast, jerked it easily once he cleaned it few times. I could clean and jerk the bulldog but as for the beast, I could just clean it .. it only moved a few inches off my right shoulder as I failed to jerk it. Fawn gave the new RKCs a demonstration of proper pull up form by knocking off a half dozen perfect dead hang tactical grip pull ups. Pavel was there and congratulated her for fine form.

After some taking some more photos and saying farewell to those who had to leave to get ready to fly out, Fawn and Aaron invited Sean and myself over to their humble abode for a wonderful cookout. It would have been impossible to out do the Friday's warmth and hospitality and I soaked up as much as could. And I absolutely feel in love with their wonderful dog Elsa a beautiful high energy pit-bull mix. Before I knew it, while telling and listening to many stories with Fawn, Aaron and Sean, I had quickly consumed three beers, two monster grass fed beef burgers, several helpings of asparagus and large quantities of Fawns special home made avocado dip with corn chips.

After returning to my hotel and flying out the next morning I had time to start reflecting on one of most extraordinary personal growth experiences I have ever had. The full impact of which will take a long time to absorb and comprehend. Power to the people!


Taikei Matsushita said...

Congratulations Franklin.

The Fridays kind of made things alot special didn't they.

I was cheered by Fawn & Aaron during my Graduation workout.

Howie Brewer said...

Awesome write up my friend! I could feel your excitement and humble gratitude. It sounded like an incredible experience made all the better by the warmth of good friends. Congratulations you've earned it!!

fawn said...

It was a real pleasure meeting you, Franklin!

Sean Schniederjan said...

Oh man, I love that last pic...

Will to power!

Aaron Friday said...

You did great, Franklin! It was a distinct pleasure to finally meet and hang out with you in person.

Elsa loves you too.

Gabi said...

Congratulations, Franklin!

A wonderful summary of a great experience... As I was reading through, all my memories became as fresh again as from yesterday!

I'm so looking forward to meeting you in August!

Colin said...

Congratulations Franklin. Sounds like you had to dig deep and it was really hard won. I'm delighted for you.

Martin Schap said...

Congrats! Very nice write up. I hope to be there at some point.

Franklin B Herman, RKC said...

I humbly thank you all for your support and encouragement .. its impossible to understate how much it means to me.

Mike T Nelson said...

AWESOME job! Nice work and great to meet you in person! Congrats again!
I will be putting some more pics up on my blog soon.
Rock on
Mike N

Dr. Mark Cheng said...

Congratulations, Franklin!!! Welcome to the RKC family! :-)

Franklin B Herman, RKC said...

Mike T,

The feeling was mutual to have finally met you in person. And thanks so much for your support!

Cheng Boshi,

Please accept my humble gratitude and thanks for taking the time to stop by here and offer your kind works. I am really looking forward to the privilege of meeting you at the CK-FMS Cert in August.