The Journey Doesn’t End with the Title

by Shari Wagner on March 30, 2016

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Shari Wagner RKC Team Leader
My RKC workshop was in April 2009, and I didn’t pass at the workshop due to a failed snatch test. I submitted a video one week later to earn my RKC title. I recently stumbled across that fateful video and of course, I watched it.

I watched it with a little bit of shock and awe at the poor technique I displayed. I also watched it with a lot of pride. Pride for the hard work I have put in to improve my technique since then and pride for all I have accomplished over the years.

When I first learned the snatch, it was in the days of first learning the high pull. This caused me to have a very significant corkscrew. I worked and worked at fixing this corkscrew before attending the RKC to no avail, and it was one of the biggest worries I had going in to the workshop. It wasn’t the typical worry of not completing the reps, my worry was all about the technique.

I did improve my technique at my RKC workshop, but I still had some of that darn corkscrew. At the time, while not ideal, it was still considered passable technique. I kept plugging away at the technique, but that corkscrew still remained.

I eventually sought out some additional instruction, which helped quite a bit. I also started watching videos of other instructors doing the snatch. I watched the timing very intently, along with the arm position and the path the kettlebell took. I noticed that when they snatched, you could see the bottom of the kettlebell as it flipped over and it looked so smooth and effortless. When I snatched with the corkscrew, my arm was turning out the side, therefore the bottom of the kettlebell was turning out to the side. It also looked anything but smooth and effortless. It certainly felt like a lot more effort too.

I took all of these visual and verbal cues and turned them inward, so I could feel it and visualize what it should look like. I snatched in front of the mirror because at the time I didn’t have a way to video myself. The short story is that it worked! I was finally able to snatch without a corkscrew. However…

I still had work to do to improve my technique. I was now keeping my arm a bit too straight and casting the kettlebell out a bit too much. More training and more work ahead, but I took it all in and worked hard because I was determined to get better. Being a type-A perfectionist and a Capricorn served me well in this case. Not only would this extra work help me get better, but it would help me help my students.

I later assisted at an RKC for the first time and it was the first time with the new RKC. When I tested my requirements for Keira Newton, she gave me a few additional tips that added to the improvements I had already made.

Then I witnessed how we now teach the snatch from the top down. I was amazed at its simplicity, yet it was extremely effective. It seemed so much easier to learn and to teach others this way. I even told the participants how lucky I thought they were to now be taught this way.

Each of these improvements I learned and made over the years has helped make the snatch feel more fluid yet more powerful. My big a-ha with the cumulative effects of each of these improvements is in how much it has helped the efficiency in my movements. I was expending so much additional energy in the way I was snatching before. Watching that video from 2009 now, I can see that so clearly. It honestly looks painful to me.

My moral of this story is that our journey of learning and improving doesn’t stop once we earn our RKC. The RKC helps give us our foundation and our starting point for teaching. But there is so much more to learn and so much more to do after we become an RKC. What makes us really good instructors is our quest to always do more, always be better and always serve our students.

Keeping our certification current is not about paying money to re-certify and keep the letters behind our name. We must improve our own skills, which in turn helps make us better instructors. We can only help our students improve when we help ourselves improve. We can also better help our students when we have access to the most current teaching standards, combined with all the tools we learned before.

If I had never learned the current way of teaching the snatch and if I had never corrected my own technique, I certainly could have still taught people. But I believe that I wouldn’t be serving my students to the best of my ability. That is, after all, the reason why we seek out those 3 letters in the first place, right? Never give up, never stop trying to improve and don’t let the journey end with the letters.

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Shari Wagner, RKC-II, CK-FMS owns Iron Clad Fitness in Denver, Colorado. She can be contacted through her website at IronCladFit.com, email: info@ironcladfit.com or by phone 720-900-4766. Follow her on Facebook: facebook.com/IronCladFitness and Twitter: twitter.com/IronCladFitness.

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  • Paul Britt

    Great article. It conveys the real journey we are on.

  • Matt Schifferle

    Thank you so much for sharing Shari!
    Knowing there is more to the journey than just getting to the top of the mountain is so important.

  • Almost makes me wish I had some video of my early kettlebell practice sessions… it’s amazing how much we can evolve as enthusiasts and as instructors over even just a few years! Thanks for sharing your story and video, Shari, this is a great leadership example!!

  • Lisa Konoplisky Sfg I

    I LOVED this article Shari! Thanks so much for sharing it. The most overwhelming thing to be about my KB certification training was the realization of how much I DIDN’T know and my concern that I would be shortchanging clients but not having all the tools to help them. Luckily, I’ve realized that coaching is a process, as is the art of improving your own KB skills. I also didn’t pass the snatch test and have since spent a lot of time getting from crappy to decent and after that maybe even somewhere near good. But the learning never stops. That’s the ethos I appreciate most about this wonderful community. Thanks again.

    • Thank you so much Lisa! I couldn’t agree more with your comments.

  • Keira Newton

    Go Shari. Super awesome. Love the double images.

    <3

    • Thank you Keira! You played a big part in those improvements!!

  • Thanks Shari!

    I’m practicing for my RKC in May and we’re working on this now. “Top down” is totally the way to go!!! It’s also helping my swings a lot too – focusing on the “down” portion to tidy things up.

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