CK FMS - The Spud's Take

TAGS: kettlebell, training

CK-FMS stands for “Certified Kettlebell and Functional Movement Screening.” It's a next level training for RKC, Russian Kettlebell Certified, instructors. It's a pretty intensive classroom and lab teaching environment that lasts four days. The functional movement screening is the main addition with Gray Cook and Brent Jones being the main course leaders. The kettlebell side is mostly skill and re-certification on all the basic moves plus that damn snatch test.

The wife and I have been regulars at RKC school as both students, and assistant instructors since 2005.

She is both RKC one and two, I am just a lowly one. This was the first time we both went together for a certification course. It is expensive, but anytime you invest in your skills and learning, the payoff is always ten fold plus. This was no exception. In fact, this was the best one I've been to, as far as instructional learning goes. It ' also the first time, I learned entirely by observation and just listening.

First, I'd like to explain the functional movement screening and what it is in essence. For a long time, ten or 12 years now, I've been training people and competing in powerlifting and (don't hold it against me) but a bodybuilding show where I lost 109 pounds over 10 months. I've always learned intuitively and through hands-on experience. Early on in my career, I was pure Westside Barbell training and that was it. Westside was the first real culture I found where all that mattered was performance and getting better. The only other experience I've had was years of off and on training the Muscle and Fiction way (this is what I call the Weider system and the billions of dollars it generates yearly) which is a way, just unproductive as a training system for making progress.

Getting back to the pure Westside years, this was a time of fantastic learning for me. I read Super Training by Siff and Vershansky, some Bompa, etc., just trying to understand what I was doing daily to myself. Westside is a training organizational mixture of several types of methods (mostly from Russia and other Eastern European countries). This was one of the few times I had exponential learning in my life. I literally felt like Keanu Reeves in the first Matrix where they are programming him with all types of fighting styles and martial arts. Then of course, he wants to fight someone who KNOWS the way and has to learn again. I absorbed Westside training this way except for having the giant input cable in the back of my head. I also WANTED to learn it and was deeply focused on it.

During training, I'd watch my partners train. When they performed a movement, it looked a certain way if it was done right. I mimicked what looked right to me. I'd ask for feedback from my dudes. It was always, “eh fine.” We didn't video ourselves back then so what they said was all I had to go by. Video would be instrumental later in presenting the visual image to me about my own performance. You always like to repeat the good stuff. We would read what to do, say a squat for instance, arch the back, pull the blades together, push to the outside of the feet, let the stomach lay over the belt as you descend. Push back, way back. Each session, I'd pick one specific task and work on it solely throughout the session. Each set I'd get feedback, visualize, and repeat until I felt like I had it (a couple of years later I finally got it all). I would later learn that this is called “chunking.” But back then I just did it.

Through the many years of learning, trying and experimenting on myself, I learned patterns and what they should look like when performed correctly. I always looked for the most optimal kinematic systems and kinetic chain breaks in people I was training. I was looking for the “flow” of the lift. Very rarely there is pure flow in anything, when you see it, grace is the term most used to describe something athletic like a duck to water. Whatever I tried, my clients tried. I just know what the movement is supposed to look like, the pattern that is. Sometimes it was right away I could spot a problem, sometimes it took a lot of sessions to see the issues in peoples' bodies and movements, their own personal flow.

During this time, we tried almost anything to get better. We shunned the fitness world and all the gurus that were becoming internet stars: Juan Carlos Santana, Alwyn Cosgrove and many others including Gray Cook. I figured these programs that didn't apply to us and were practically useless. This is something that came back to bite me “on the buttocks,” as Forest Gump would say. In reflection, all these trainers had/have something to offer, you just had to break it down and take what you needed. On occasion we would succumb to this, with foam rollers for example. We had them in early 2000 or 2001, but only as tools to help our powerlifting. We used them a little, but mostly they sat under the dumbbell rack for years before their reemergence in the last couple of years as a top prehab and rehab tool.

Now, we get to Gray Cook and Brent Jones. Gray is the main guy behind the functional movement screening. He spent years as a physical therapist working with top athletes and normies like you and me. Here's the deal, he realized that there had to be a better and much easier way to assess people. By assess, I mean determine what their physical issues and problems were BEFORE they became injured. For years, I could see defaults in peoples' movement and flow but it might take numerous sessions to figure it out. He narrowed it down to two things when assessing people. It's either a MOBILITY or a STABILITY problem.

Mobility in a very simple and basic way (the way I likes it, by the way, say that a few times) means it is JOINT or TISSUE related. So you could have a lot of things going on from a previous injury, surgery, severe trauma, etc where the joint function is impaired and can't move correctly. Or, scar tissue has developed around an inury or trauma causing it to lock up and limit the range of motion. This just means you can't move it fully and you don't have full range of motion. The body compensates for this loss of ROM by letting other joints and tissue take the load. In other words, the movement has to come from somewhere so the body figures out ways to do this, with or without your permission. Scar tissue forms when muscle, tendons and sometimes ligaments bind together during the healing process causing everything around the injured area to lock down together to protect the injured area and promote healing.

Stability is motor control and firing. It's coordination of the brain and nervous systems to get the body to move where ever and whenever you want it. If you can't perform a movement, then there is a breakdown somewhere in the wiring. The signal is not getting there or going through - period. Without the electrical and chemical signals you don't get up, make your breakfast, hold your head up or read this article (at least sitting up) So stability is very important, ya digg?

This is where functional movement comes into play. Gray designed a simple set of seven tests that give you a very good idea which issue you may have or if you are one of the chosen ones that don't have any, and therefore are excused. Once you narrow it down to a mobility or stability or a combination of both, you then add simple corrective actions that normally help out. This isn't a permanent fix by the way, it just shows some gross defaults and points you in a direction of correction to take. If you continue the corrective actions, because remember these are often life-long problems that you've had, then these benefits will stay with you and you'll move a happier life - yes move instead of live. Now, the part where I'm the one-legged man in an ass kicking contest (that always make me laugh). For this four days of KETTLEBELLS and FMS, I decided a couple of months beforehand to rip off another of my remaining three rotator cuffs. Yes, there are four for those who don't know. I apparently ripped one off with my quad tear in 2007 with nerve damage that sort of covered up the bad arm, then number two ripped off this year. So with surgery taken place a few weeks from this certificate, I was the bird with the broken wing. Brent said "come on it was mostly class and lab work anyhow," so as Yoda would say, “out it of I could get not” which was cool. Brent works closely with Gray and has been a Senior RKC for years. He's the one who linked up the two and helped to bring them together. He was also the major presenter with Gray.

So at first, I felt like the loner and out of place guy, the guy with the weird eyes and look. You know. Kettlebell school is a very militaristic style where everyone pulls their weight. You can't hide and really I couldn't anyway, not at 240 pounds, a shaved head and a huge "look at me I hurt myself" arm brace. Realistically I was stronger than just about everyone there, even with one arm, so it was do not mess with that dude look that I had. They separated me and my wife, Susan, as they always do, into groups with team leaders. I told you it was military style so this meant I would have to do my partner work with an unknown. Luckily in our group, there was an old dude who had also just hurt his arm so we paired up most of the time. It was cool though, we didn't mind at all.

The reality of the situation was it was a great opportunity to just listen and learn. I learn though visual and doing, but I never realized how important this was. And Gray and Brent taught it this way. Instead of scribbling notes at a frantic and furious pace trying to write it all down verbatim and thinking I would miss something, I just ABSORBED it and then implemented it. I could see the other groups writing, talking or arguing. I could watch the other groups fight their way through it instead of just stepping back and seeing it. An example was one of major labs was for all of us in the group, about 10 people, to pick one person and diagnosis them and do some corrective action to see what would help or not. They put him though the seven tests and then the arguing started, I listened. They tried more corrective actions. Nothing worked. They kept going back to a stability issue, bad motor control. I quietly said it is mobility. They went on and on with four or five more corrective actions with no benefit. By this time, they were all flustered and the clock was ticking. It's mobility I say then show them why with one of the corrective actions they were doing for stability. He had several injuries to his hip and thigh water skiing or something of that nature I think, the tissue adhesion and scarring were forcing the left leg to do most of the work and there was a slight twist to the leg which you could see from the front if you stepped back and looked. Finally, we did some mobility corrections and instantly he was better. Am I the man? Absolutely not, I just stepped back in the heat of the battle and took a different view. A lot of the group were younger and with less experience. The point is stepping back.

"Woulda, shoulda, coulda," is really what I'm saying about functional movement screening. It's something I should've looked at a long time ago and could have saved me a surgery or two out of my three so far. But, in my book as long as you get it, it doesn't matter when. Functional Movement Screening is something all trainers should do, even Physical Therapists. If you aren't a trainer, you should find someone in your area who does this screening. It'll pay off as one of the other things the tests gives you is a rating system for each one of the seven tests. Then you total them all up for a total assessment score. This is where the determinations are made. A short version is that if you get 21 out of 21, you're in great shape. Most do not get near that score, by the way. If you score 14 or below, sooner or later you will have an injury of some sort. I would've scored below 14 a couple of years ago before my simultaneous quad-rotator-nerve rupture and tear in 2007. I got some rehab skills out of it though as a consolation prize, I suppose. But FMS, is something you can take to the bank in any capacity as a trainer or client. Hopefully, this CK FMS review article, long winded and all, helps you in a couple of ways. One is to find the way you learn best and utilize it. Second, the obvious and first instinctive answer is usually the right one. Third, check all the angles. You may have missed something.

By the way, Gray gave us some great books that help explain a lot of how we learn. They are The Talent Code and Talent is Over Rated. If you read these books you will learn a lot on how people really learn things.

Loading Comments... Loading Comments...