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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bay Area Open/OKC Instructors Cert.: Kettlebell Lifting with a Smile

Saturday, August 17th in Berkeley, CA. The event took place in a slice of John McNeil's Studio. I wish I'd thought to take "before and after" readings on the heat and vibrational frequency. My guess is the air above the platforms gained 15 degrees, and the vibration went from "friendly and helpful" to "best ever, bottle some of this for a rainy day."

GS lifters from US and Canada had their Kettle Game on that morning and into the early evening. Guests looked on in awe, who could blame them?

Represented were Strong Ladies of Canadia (if these are your women, I'd like to meet your men, eh?), Women of Underground Athlete from D.C. and Virginia (again, the guys?), from Dallas, TX, Full Throttle sent a co-ed team, Team Colorado (myself and three others!), KBNic's party from Grit City, Tacoma, WA, brought formidable force, gireviks from all around California representing Orange Kettlebell Club and Juno Fitness flocked in, and from KETAcademy (Kettlebell Endurance Training), Head Judge, Coach and World Class lifter Denis Vesilev.

As someone who first noticed the OKC team in 2011, the small herd of lifters in the trademark "snatchman" t-shirt revolving around a Great Big Guy and tiny Japanese photographer lady, I've come to deeply admire this incredible team. At the 1st Annual Bay Area Competition I learned that the leadership of this group includes epitome of "gentle giant," CEO John Wild Buckley, impeccably graceful Head Coach Nazo, impressionist/coach/co-founder Jason Dolby, and owner/coach/asskicker at Juno Fitness, Juliet Lederle. For this second annual meet the four of them took the event by the horns, knowing there would be at least twice (make that three-times) the turn out as last year. Maybe it's the unconditional love and genuine friendship constantly offered, maybe it's something in the Berkeley water, but every single person in an OKC or Juno t-shirt took the needs and comfort of visiting lifters and guests as his/her personal responsibility.

At this event OKC rolled-out the new KETAcademy Universal International Ranking Tables. Head Judge Denis Vesilev verified the specific requirements of a "good" lift vs. "no count" or "warning" calls at the pre-flight judges meeting, demonstrated how to use the snazzy electronic timer/rep counters, and kept a close watch on all the flights up until his own lifting events.

Timer/rep counters as seen from three of four platforms.
Considering this was a small regional meet, the event equipment and judging standard easily exceeded my experience of National level competitions minus the tension and seriousness. Almost everyone had a competitor in his/her weight class, but in the spirit of sporting fun people outright admired each others great lifting and shear grit. Though I was the only representative of IKSFA, many lifters at last Saturday's event have at some point learned directly from IKSFA President, Coach Sergey Rudnev, and complimented his influence on my technique.

It was mentioned at the awards ceremony that Personal Records were set by the dozens, and first-time event attempts were a main theme of the day, including myself and all my Colorado GS Team mates! One Master of Sport was awarded (earned by Juliet Lederle), a handful of CMS,  and well-earned Ranks 1, 2 and 3 given to individual 10-Minute sets and Biathlon lifters. 5-Minute events with multiple hand switches were run for PRs.
(As a side note, the KETAcademy ranking tables award up to Master of Sport International Class for Men and Women 5-Minute events (with one hand switch where applicable), 30- and 60-Minute Marathons, and 5 - and 7-person Team Relays.)

Denis demonstrates the under squat.
Which leads me to the OKC Instructor Certification event hosted at Juno Fitness the two days following. As with any certification course, you just had to be there. Learning how to teach foundational technique is as much of an obsession as achieving personal goals for many of us. Guest Instructor Denis added his years of experience to the OKC teachers enthusiasm making this a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Once we had all completed the written exam, the highlight for most participants at last weekend's event was the practical test. The official requirement is for each candidate to perform a Rank 3 set with either LongCycle or Snatch. Because many of us had achieved Rank 3 or above at the competition, and had the skin trauma to show for it, John and Jason took a great idea to the platform and conducted Men and Women 7-person Jerk Relays for a combined score of Rank 3. It was the first time most of us had done this event and took a moment to explain.

In a relay all the team members use the same kettlebell(s) for the duration. From lightest to heaviest bodyweight class, each team member has 3 minutes to perform as many correct repetitions as possible for the team. The total time for this event is 21 minutes. For the Team Jerk Relay last weekend the Men lifted two 16kg kettlebells for a total of 341 reps and the Women used one 12kg kettlebell for 501 reps!

As you can see by the scores, the most recent OKC Instructor class blew the Rank 3 practical test out of the water. By the table, Men's requirement is 300, Women's requirement is 370.
At the end of the seminar there was not a single person left un-inspired. Yes, we were all completely toasted after the competition, but whether by new technique, a feeling of new friendship and support, or a sense of the bigger picture we all represent, everyone had an enriching experience at the 2nd Annual Bay Area Kettlebell Competition and OKC Instructors Certification course last weekend.


*Thanks again to Tricia Dong for the top three photos.


  1. Another brilliant post Christian! I can only imagine what next year is going to be like? Maybe a two day event? Just guessing!

    It was a pleasure meeting you in person since I only had the chance to admire your performance from afar in Tacoma, completely intimidated to introduce myself to you!

  2. If the trend continues, the 3rd Annual Bay Area Comp will certainly require two days!

    Gosh, thanks for your kind words, Tracy. Now that we've officially met, I look forward to seeing you at more competitions and reading about your training!

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