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Foreword to Max Shank's Master The Kettlebell by John Du Cane



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Foreword to Master The Kettlebell 

By John Du Cane, CEO Dragon Door Publications

Your Body Is Your Gold

Dragon Door was founded in 1991 to share my enthusiasm for Chinese internal martial arts, qigong and alternative healing systems in general. But growing up I had been a competitive athlete—breaking my school’s long jump record and running like the wind in track. My two fellow track team buddies both achieved fame in their own way: Nick Drake became, posthumously, a massive musical cult figure. Mark Phillips became an Olympic gold-medal-winning horseman and married Princess Anne. All three of us, at the time, shared a common drive to excel physically and to WIN. The word "athlete", in fact, derives from the Greek verb "compete for a prize". We strove for the external gold of acclaim and recognition —and for the pride of achievement.

However, after being exposed to Yoga and various spiritual disciplines, my athletic vision morphed from "wanting to beat the other guys" to wanting to cultivate my athleticism simply for the glory of self-refinement. My own body became a prize in and of itself—a work of art to cultivate as an ongoing life-process. My body became the gold to process alchemically from baser stuff… My preferred disciplines in bodyweight exercise, Qigong and Tai Chi rewarded me with excellent posture, elegant movement and a balanced physique. I was ripped and reasonably muscular but nothing over the top. I wasn’t competing, I was cultivating healthy strength and mobility as ends in themselves.

Lifting weights had always been an on-again, off-again complement to my main energetic and physical practices. It wasn’t until Dragon Door originated the modern kettlebell movement in 2001, that I began to fall in love with weight lifting as a core method for enhancing healthy strength and healthy movement. The beauty of the kettlebell is that it dramatically enhances power generation through its emphasis on the explosive hip-drive and gives you a superb overall strength and conditioning challenge. I love that! The older I get, the more I value quality movement and the internally-oriented, health-focused exercise of the joints and tendons, as much as the muscles. The older I get, the more I now also revere the health-strength benefits of vigorous, skilled exercise with free weights. And NO free weight tool beats the kettlebell in bang-for-the-buck value, when to comes to radical physical transformation and the ongoing maintenance of that transformation. I mean, nothing comes close.

Fast forward to 2013 and Dragon Door’s famed RKC kettlebell program took an historic leap forward in sophistication. With Dragon Door’s more ambitious mission in place to have a major impact on global health, the RKC broadened and deepened its curriculum and placed a far greater emphasis on the importance of graduating instructors who were not only skilled athletes but skilled coaches. Dragon Door actively recruited and promoted men and women who role-modeled the impact of skillful kettlebell training, the RKC way. These men and women have lean, superb physiques and excellent movement skills. These men and women OWN the kettlebell as a tool for transforming the human body in every dimension. These men and women—the RKC leadership—possess deep coaching skills and a deep passion to ensure their clients achieve their desired transformational goals. Gone are the days of any self-centered, pseudo-militaristic bluster and punitive beat downs. The new, upgraded culture is tough but respectful—as a truly professional teaching culture should be. The approach is welcoming, helpful, good-natured and inclusive.

Now, no one in this resurgent RKC better exemplifies the new model of excellence than my good friend Max Shank. Max turned heads in dramatic fashion when he Tamed the Beast—and joined an elite fraternity capable of performing three very different lifts with a 48kg kettlebell: the press, the pistol and the pull up. For his preeminent skill in bodyweight exercise, Max was one of only two athletes selected to star in Paul Wade’s Convict Conditioning video series, shot in Alcatraz. His evident teaching skills saw him rapidly promoted in the RKC leadership. As a Master RKC, Max has represented Dragon Door in Sweden, Italy, Germany and Australia, as well as the United States—and in every instance the praise for his teaching style has been off the charts. Lately, Max has been challenging for World Records in the Highland Games…

There are many reasons, then, that I am proud to introduce you to Max Shank, through his superb first book, Master the Kettlebell. You will see immediately from the photographs illustrating the book, that Max is indeed a magnificent athletic specimen—combining a great physique with impressive strength and terrific form. Study Max—either in this book or in person—and if you replicate what you see, athletic gold awaits you. As importantly, you’ll be rewarded in Master the Kettlebell with an absolutely fluff-free blueprint on how to develop your own high-level skills in movement, power generation and strength—using the world’s single best tool for the job.

I appreciate Max Shank for his supreme dedication to the art of HEALTHY, high-functioning, all-around athletic proficiency. And I welcome him proudly into the ranks of Dragon Door’s already prestigious roster of authors!

Finally, let me express my gratitude to and admiration for the contribution made by Beth Andrews to Master the Kettlebell. In many ways, Beth Andrews is the perfect female complement to Max. Beth is only one of five women to achieve the women’s version of the Beast Tamer Challenge, known as the Iron Maiden—same three lifts, but with a 24kg kettlebell. Like Max, Beth is the perfect role model physically for what can be achieved with the RKC kettlebell program. Currently a Senior RKC and a PCC Team Leader, Beth is an exemplary coach of the highest order. Other women the world over are inspired by her and strive to emulate her strength and form. Most men can only dream to match her athletically… The photos of Beth in Master the Kettlebell say it all.

Thanks Beth! Thanks Max! As the saying goes: You’re Golden…

In Health and Strength,

John Du Cane