Sam-Can you tell us how the IKFF first was formed?-
Steve- IKFF was formed because I saw that there was a need for a kettlebell organization that existed to support its members rather than just the owners. Further, I was not satisfied with the quality of kettlebell lifting that was existant at the time in US. I had been exposed to much higher-caliber lifting technique from Champion Russian and Eastern European lifters and IKFF was created to be able to bring high quality technique and more precise attention to fine details to fitness professionals. Lastly, I had for several years prior been receiving inquiries from interested people who appreciated my teaching methods and style and wanted to become trained by me.
Sam- Who initially taught you how to use kettlebells, what do they do now?-
Steve-I first learned off a basic DVD and trained on my own at home, then went to Pavel Tsatsouline’s RKC course. Immediately Pavel and I hit it off and he asked me to assist him in teaching the RKC students. After 3 years with Pavel, I realized I had surpassed what he was capable of teaching me about kettlebells and wanted to pursue higher education, which was not available in US at that time with the exception of Valery Fedorenko. Pavel is very famous and is known as a great coach, he is still doing his thing. He is great at what he does, it is just not for me.
Sam-What do you see as the main differences in technique from hardstyle to G.S-
Steve-Well GS is Girevoy Sport, which is the competitive component of kettlebell lifting. This is where the best lifters show what they can do. Rather than marketing-based or verbal descriptions of one’s kettlebell prowess, GS is the chance for one who thinks he or she is pretty good with the KBs to actually demonstate it on the platform. There is no method of GS, there is the sport of GS.
Hardstyle is a brand name. From a technical perspective it is a good entry level system, fine for those who are beginners or have no aspiration of achieving a high level of KB competancy. To compare hardstyle to GS is like comparing sandlot baseball to Major League baseball. They use the same tools but the level of expertise is clearly different.
Sam-For sports specific goals and conditioning do you think hardstyle or G.S is better?
Steve-I think what you are calling GS is superior in most every regard. There is a misconception that GS is a style because that is in the interests of those who promote their brand of training to create that illusion. The reality is that there is no style, there is methods and techniques and the applications of them. Whether one wants to do 1 rep or 1,000 reps the quality ought to be as high as is possible. So I would prefer to learn from those who actually compete and can put up high level numbers. So in this regard GS is at a higher standard, but of course it is not as big of a market from a business-promotion standpoint
Sam- How do you see G.S and hardstyle evolving in the future?
Steve-I cannot speak for the evolutionary future of Hardstyle. I think they have a productive business model and they had a 10 year headstart on any other Western organizations who promote kettlebells. They also have a legion of devoted followers who are are committed to promoting the Hardstyle name. So they will continue to grow for some time. On the other hand, over time the consumer will become more and more educated and there will continue to be new and more sophisticated information available. As the saying goes, in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, but gradually people develop clearer vision and will no longer be satisfied with average.
GS as a sport is and will continue to grow because there are always those who demand the best of themselves and have the heart and courage to test themselves. Those who value quality will seek out the best training they can find and the more time that passes the more clear it becomes that the best KB lifters are those who compete in the sport. The general population wants general fitness, not world-class fitness so I think the future of kettlebell training will be a blend of methods and a synthesis of the best information available, regardless of what it might be called.
Sam-Apart from kettlebells what are you favourite conditioning tools/techniques?-
Steve-In addition to kettlebells I prefer body weight conditioning of all sorts, as the body is the machine and kettlebells or any other tools are simply extensions of the body at best. Mastering control of the body should be the first priority. I like things like Fat Gripz to intensify basic movements like pull-ups and dips (increasing grip strength) and also like Indian Clubs for shoulder girdle, wrist, elbow and spine mobility as well as for grip endurance. Yoga is an excellent mind-body discipline as is Qigong (Chinese art of breath cultivation) and various methods of meditation. Included with body weight conditioning is assorted flexibility, joint mobility, agility and plyometric training. I like all sorts of useful, full body-mind exercise methods. To move is to be alive!
Sam-We’ve seen you do some amazing pistol squat feats of strength, I like many people struggle with these- Please can you give us some hints on how to start progressing the strength and balance neccessary for a full pistol!-
Steve-A few pointers to start with: balance on one leg, work on hip flexor and hamstring flexibility. A good way to start is to use a box or chair to first limit the range of motion so one can develop good control with the movement.There are many tips. Here are some articles I have written which will provide some further help for the readers:http://fullkontact.com/resources-articles-5.htmlAlso here is a very in-depth instructional DVD teaching how to start with pistols up to a very advanced Level:http://www.ikff.net/store.html?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage_new.tpl&product_id=4&category_id=1It is my pleasure Sam, thanks for the interview!