Chapter 17 - The Flagship of Kettlebells
This week I would like to discuss the values of the kettlebell. It has completely changed my morphology, increased my speed, and I haven't been in injured in 5 years since I met Singh. Additionally, what Singh does goes beyond the kettlebell training as he puts in his Tai-Chi and Nei-Gong and his other specific Indian exercises. Singh calls this whole thing -Action Strength. So, without further adieu, I will let Singh takeover.
According to Bruce Lee, physical conditioning and strength development are the most neglected phases of athletics. Often times too much time is spent in the development of skill and to little to the development of the individual that is performing the skill.
Before movements can take place, there must be a change in muscular tension on both sides of your joints. The effectiveness of this muscular teamwork is one of the main factors that determine the limits of speed, endurance, power, agility, and accuracy in all athletic performances.
Endurance or energy conservation is the most important attribute one can develop for a street fight. You can look at Endurance as doing more reps, and getting stronger, or you can look at Endurance as performing your technique or exercise in the most efficient manner so that you do not waste or leek any energy.
Action Strength is an internal training method that is concerned with the harmonious coordination of our physical and psychological being. Your training is disconnected or incomplete if it does not incorporate the mind, body, and spirit as one complete whole. We are not out there mindlessly lifting kettlebells, instead we are lifting to sharpen the mind.
There are 3 main components to the Action Strength system.
- Manipulation of External Forces(Kettlebells and Gada(Indian Mace)).
- Manipulation of your own body weight in all planes of motion.
- Development of Body Mechanics or sports specific skill.
Every exercise is concerned with integrating the mind and body into one complete whole. There is no isolation of muscles, there is no split between resistance training and cardio.
In Tai-Chi, Jiu-Jitsu, Wing-Chun or Western Boxing there is one universal theme. Regardless of the style the secret to the success of their individual techniques is dependant on one’s posture, breathing, and intent.
One of the very best exercises that unite the body into one complete whole is the Kettlebell Snatch(Indeed their very Flagship).
The bell is positioned between your feet and back towards your heels. Keeping your back straight, bend at the waist and squat down to pick up the kettlebell. You load your hamstrings as you pick up the bell creating tension which, when unleashed will propel the kettlebell up into the finishing position which will be locked out overhead.
Once you have a good hold of the bell, explode with the hips and thighs duplicating the same form you would use in performing a standing long jump. Remember that the hip and leg drive are what project the kettlebell up and overhead. 80% of the energy required to perform this lift correctly comes from the hip and thigh explosion. Do not lift with your arms, squeeze your butt, tense your quads, and make sure to drive your heels through the ground.
As the kettlebell comes up over your head, dip down slightly under the bell and drive your fist up towards the sky and stand tall. When viewed from the side the bell, your wrist, your locked out elbow, shoulder, spine, knees, and heels must be in one continuous line at this lockout position above your head. It is like doing a Karate style reverse punch up to the sky. This will allow the kettlebell to gently flip over your wrist. This part of the lift will take a little practice, as most new comers tend to allow the bell to smack against their wrist. Also just like in a punch, make sure that your wrist is locked out, like you are going to break a board, there should be no bend in the wrist. A couple of these with bad form and a heavy kettlebell will wake you up to the advantages of proper posture in a hurry. I don’t endorse the usage of a heavy kettlebell when starting out. Use an 18 pounder till you get the form right, and then progress up.
A correct finish has your arm locked out over head and the kettlebell positioned slightly back behind the ear. The major mistake made in the finishing position is the kettlebell is too far forward. Your bicep should be even with or behind the ear. Now, bend at the waist to get the momentum started down and let the kettlebell flip back over your wrist and down between your legs. Allow the bell to swing back between your legs(like you are hiking a football) this helps in correctly reloading the thighs and making sure that you are not overloading your back.
As you take the kettlebell back between your legs, inhale through your nose, and like a rocketship exhale through your mouth. Make a short hissing sound as you exhale, this will help to correctly fire your abdominal muscles as your breath drives the physical movements described in the postures above. As the bell comes down, you inhale and start the cycle again.
Imagine that you are drawing up the energy from the ground. The soles of your feet are like the roots of a tree, that go deep into the center of the earth. As you breathe in the vital energy from the heavens above, you will become one with heaven and earth. Your mind will become quiet, and the exercise will become easier and easier, and you will use less and less effort. You are now on your way to becoming a more efficient being that is impeccable in conserving energy.
Until next week, Singh !
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