Little Things

Posted in 鉄球入魂, Training on September 11, 2014 by John Wild Buckley

I couldn’t get comfortable.

Not at all

I rushed through warm up and people started coming in and I knew I had to finish by 7 and I had to coach and lift and recover before GPP class with Jonathan so I had to go.

Really, I should have just slowed down a little, finished my stretching, then done my warm up and my best on the sets. 10389020_890357717659889_1709348154724268077_nDenis always says that if he needs 90 minutes and he only has 45 he will do the warm up and cool down and not the set itself. He believes in avoiding the risk of extra trauma. I doubt he ever really misses the training because he is truly a professional but I know what I am supposed to do. That is what he taught me.

But I am not as professional as him…hard as I try to be.

IMG_4040So I rush a little and I get into my sets and by the 3rd set of 20 jerks with the 32’s I know I have been working too hard because I did not not get warm enough and I am too tight and my lockout isn’t there and my rack isn’t there so my heart rate is too high and my asthma kicks in…fuck me.

When the shallow breathing starts it’s scary shit, there is no air, it’s hard to keep going. Actually, I’ve never kept going. If you ever see me in a Jerk set in a comp and I look fine and I drop the weight it’s because I can’t breathe. Lot’s of things contribute to it but when it happens I drop.

Not this time.IMG_4029

I got the last 10 reps of the set and ran for my inhaler. 10 reps is a lot without air baby! I didn’t pass out or die (obviously) but it did take me a few minutes to regroup and get ready for my snatches. 2 4min sets (one per side) with 4 min rest using 28kg’s.

First set was a breeze.

IMG_4055Second set was a mess right from the start. 90seconds in I wanted to drop. I couldn’t get my hand placement right. My heart rate was rising and my will was draining fast. I was lifting next to my buddy Patrick and I’ll tell you for sure if he wasn’t there I would have dropped!

The set was a mess….but I finished.

I set a personal best for the number of times I wanted to quit and didn’t. At the end of the day it was a hell of a day. Nazo told me I am one step closer to being a real professional.40699_1457962487967_1200535667_31176388_7677209_n

Some times you just have to look for the little things.


Some OKC Updates Sept, 2014

Posted in Certifications and Workshops, Competition, 鉄球入魂 on September 4, 2014 by John Wild Buckley

Hey Kettlers…Kettleballers…members of the Chu-Tang…it’s been a long time. So much has gone on since the last time I checked in with you all and I wanted to say hi and let you know a little of what is going on.

Bay Area Flyer-3 copy We recently wrapped up another crazy successful NorCal Open this past month where we had the youngest MSIC in America crowned when Nocona Jodrey crushed his 51 reps of Long Cycle at the age of 19!! For those of you who have been around a while no doubt you remember Cona from when he was hanging with his dad at the AKC events in 2007. He has his man strength now for sure and he has really come out of his shell under the coaching of MSIC and multiple time world champion Denis Vasilev.10524589_10203514194994422_8228029434722104651_n

Other great lifting was done on the day of course and you can grab the results Here

 Also, the gym formerly known as Juno has been reborn as OKC North! We finally have our own East Bay digs and we welcome any and all lifters to come down and check it out when you are in town. You can get more details at


 September is the beginning of travel season for us and after the year we have had with another trip to Russia,10308414_10152130218903786_3857694152096982105_n The Cali Open, and the Norcal (plus the new joint) I can tell you we are looking forward to the big season. We will be heading to Nova Scotia and LA to teach some certs. Then we will go to Japan for another tour (Championship and Certifications). Then the One Hour Long Cycle (teaming up with Kettlebells 4 Autism BOOM! CHU-HI!!!). Then we are off to Novi for the IKFF Worlds, and we are closing up the year with the NTXO at Full Throttle. After all of that…maybe…we will take a break. (I think that is everything but if I missed you please forgive me)

 It’s been a bit since I’ve written on the blog so I am easing back into it but I will be addressing all the details in the days and weeks to come. It feels like it time to start writing again. (Thank you Nazofoto for the Nazofotos)


 Hope you all are well and we hope to see you on the road soon!



 Oh, one last thing…This has been a big time growth year for the OKC. We never planned on all of this stuff but now that it is here we will do our best. I’ll keep ya posted.

The 2nd Annual California Kettlebell Sport Championship and Sport Camp

Posted in Certifications and Workshops, Competition, Uncategorized on September 19, 2013 by John Wild Buckley

After Denis came to visit, lift and teach with us at the last Cali Open he told me that next year he would come back…and he would bring his friends.


As the months went by Denis would keep telling me the names of the sportsmen and sportswomen who wanted to come to the Open:545207_10152144162962646_518501428_n








The names came in bursts, a few early, then a few more, then a few more. I couldn’t believe it. As it all came together I started to think “what have I gotten myself into?” We are just a weightlifting club. We are a bunch of Chu-Hu’s. We are a marauding gang of kettlepirates, not the upstanding squeaky clean respectable types you need to do a project like this. How could anyone trust us to do it right?1236155_10152131895422646_1814651513_n

“I trust you” Denis said

and so it goes…

We have the most respected names in competition organization on this earth helping us.


Innovative Results

Innovative Results

“If you send me an approximate sketch of the plan of action, I will write you the competition scenario, you look at it something you will add, something you will delete.” (The first directions from Sergei Merkulin)

We have the most dominating lifters on the planet coming to lift with you. I asked why they wanted to come and I was told it was because the Open is for everyone, it is for the sport, and they love the sport. (I am paraphrasing) These champions want to lift with you and teach you and learn from you. As good as it is for you to stand along side them, compete and learn from them, it is good for them too. It is good for them to connect with your passion, the genesis of the sport. The struggle of the heart of the early sportsman. They get to see sportsmen and sportswomen in all stages of development get up there and lift their hearts out. They get to watch you and maybe give you the one tip that can change your kettlelife.

This is what they do. It is what they live for.


We have been working on this project for months but it feels like I have been working towards it my whole life. I am writing this to you from the same chair I have written so many blogs. I am thinking about Nazo and Jason and all the time on the road and all the questing we have done. That freezing cold river in Siberia, the birth of The Chu in Hofu City, the first steps of my life in Kettle. It has all led to this.


This Championship, this sport camp, it feels like everything I have ever done is being offered up all at once. We are not finished. With the help of these great champions we are working to make it better every single day. It is already feeling like the most amazing thing but I promise you it will be even better than it looks.

We will keep you updated on the details of both events. We will use this blog , the OKC facebook page (Like us for more updates –>) and the event pages. All of the coaches are helping us. I don’t know what to say to all of you. You are all so amazing!

Thank you for this opportunity.1184856_678579725504357_1994178333_n

You will see the best of us in February, the best we have ever done.




Oh, one more thing… Stay tuned for details on the sport camp or read about it on

Spoiler alert…IT”S SICK!

Bay Area Open Kettlebell Championship 2013

Posted in Competition, Uncategorized on August 26, 2013 by John Wild Buckley

It’s about the sport.1001407_672354059460257_688248629_n

It’s about the lifters.

It’s about the club.

It’s not just that we can’t do it without you, it’s that without you there is no reason to do it. There is no reason to try. That, and we can’t do it without you.

Thank you.

(All Photos by Nazofoto)

We had been working towards this almost non-stop since February. When the Cali Open wrapped up and Denis Jason and I were driving to the Sequoia Giant Forrest for a little R+R I was thinking about it the whole way.

1176365_671299992898997_881360430_nHow are we going to top this? How can we do it better?

It was a long drive and I had plenty of time to think about it. When we finally got to the forest my mind was cleared out by those giant trees (and Denis’ reaction to them). We built a huge fire, seeing how it was February and all, cooked up some meat on sticks and began to talk.

We talked about all of the good things that had just happened. All of the 545882_672353816126948_1069152101_nemotions a pr’s and what the feeling in the room was like. We talked about some of the performances and after a while we got around to what we could do better.

We decided that if we put all of our effort into making just one thing better every time we did this eventually we would get it right. So we picked one thing, displays (actually, it ended up that there were a million things we could do better. So we started with displays and just started grinding).


I knew we were running this meet from behind. Denis wasn’t going to come. His wife had a baby due in July and we all decided that August was too close. So we were going to have to do the next one without him. It was a sad thought because he adds so much and we have become such good friends.

25 lifters, as many as last year already signed up by April.

Months later things were rolling along. I was healthy again and training was good. I was having trouble with the longer sets but that is nothing new. The Bay Area Competition was growing faster than we thought it would. I was thinking 40. (We had about 25 in 2012). I had my suspicions it may it 50 or 55, so as the number kept climbing we changed the name:



The Bay Are Open Kettlebell Championship


We like the word “Open”, it suits us.

We had already ordered the displays from Denis and they were being built in Russia. Not easy and not cheap, but we agreed when we started hosting meets that the money from the meets goes to the meets. We recycle everything. We need to make the project better.

I was struggling with a piddly little long cycle set. Denis called me and gave me support. (I don’t want to write what he told me but it built my confidence for sure). Then he told me that he wanted to come to Oakland to work on that set. He wanted to fly, from St. Petersburg, to Oakland, to work on a soft-serve set with me? That’s Denis Vasilev.1151066_672354012793595_1198523376_n

So we put the certification weekend together to cover his expenses (a great idea from Tracy), now we had our head judge and guiding force for the meet.

66 lifters, 10 more than the Cali Open.

We knew we were going to get a burst of people, we had already changed the venue but we had not gone to see it yet. So we made the trip to John McNeil Studio Annex and got a peek at the space.

Amazing, what Nazo could do here, amazing.


Anything we asked they laughed and said “no problem, but how about this”. We started brainstorming and eventually came up with the concept for the meet layout.  These guys are such pros. They have given me something new to think about on my next long drive.

70 lifters, Juliet starts freaking out.

I told her we will hit 75, just keep registration open until Saturday like we said.

75 lifters, registration closed, Jason is here, Denis is here, BJ is here, people start to trickle in and the grunt work starts.

A few weeks ago I had a great conversation with my friend Everett about work. He said “there are few feelings better than working as hard as you can all day, looking back, and seeing a job well done”. Agreed (and grateful for all the teamwork that made this happen)

The stage is set. Everybody is here for the meet. The place is packed. The energy is amazing. Everyone looks great!1150842_671305706231759_1545986986_n

The performances were beautiful. It all happened so fast. It was like driving over a big long hill on a sunrise highway while your favorite part of your favorite song is playing and just as you hit the peak the road just keeps on going and going, nothing but the baby blue and orange up ahead for miles and miles.


Afterward we sang and danced.

We didn’t go to the mountains this time. This time we got ice cream.

What can we do better next time? What can we start working on today?


We thought of something, something big.



Oh, one more thing…

Thank you, to all of you, for all of your hard work. I mean ALL OF YOU. All of this, what is happening now, is a reflection of you. This is your team, your club. Everybody picks each other up. If you are weak here…I got you. Where I am weak…you got me, and I know it. It’s the trust and the empathy. I have not been able to write about this meet for a week. I don’t want to talk about how hard it was because it was such a pleasure. This whole thing has been so rewarding. This opportunity is a great gift that you all gave to me and I thank you for it. We tried our best, and through that process we all grew. We are better now, stronger. We are ready to go. What comes next is a bigger challenge, a greater test. I am ready, and I got your back.

Thoughts on American Kettlebell Sport

Posted in Competition, 鉄球入魂, Uncategorized on July 2, 2013 by John Wild Buckley

I too believe there should be only one universal ranking system for American Kettlebell Sport. I do not think there is any debate on the matter. The debate comes in when we are trying to choose which system to use. This has become a very emotional topic for some, but the reality is most people don’t know or care about the difference.

DSC_0235At the OKC we have chosen a ranking system designed by some of the best lifters and coaches on the planet at Coaches that have guided us, advised us and believed in us. They wrote this table for anyone to use. You can use it for free. You won’t owe anyone anything. Nobody will stand above you.

The OKC has lifters that compete all over the world and use whatever ranking tables are chosen by the host of the competition. IMG_4920They are all readily available and even the most complicated tables are not really that complicated. It’s not like they are skyscraper schematics. You just choose your competition, find your weight class, locate your number, prepare for it, and…boom, simple as that.

But to stay on topic, the question isn’t “should we choose?” it’s “How do we choose?”

Some people say that all the heads of all the organizations should sit down together and decide our sports destiny. That idea reads well, it really does, we hear it all the time in every walk of life. “If only the leaders could sit down together and figure this out we would have peace.”  It is a beautiful concept. However, it never seems to work.

Here is another concept for fixing this problem.


The lifters.

You choose.

423129_528970560465275_141712846_nAt the OKC we lift, coach lifters, teach coaches, and run competitions. That is what we do. We have a team of lifters that represent us all over at different meets and that team is growing every day. Our competitions are getting bigger every time and we are getting better at running them. We are proud of our team, and your teams, and all the lifters and coaches that come to our competitions and make us strong. It’s what we do, just like so many of the people, clubs, and teams out there reading this right now.

But that can all stop. If we do you wrong, if we hurt you, if we hurt the sport, if our meets are no good, if our coaching is no good and you stop supporting us. If those things happen and all the help that we get from within us, around us and above us goes away…so will we.

And so will our rankings.

You can throw your hat in the ring and let the lifters decide by their numbers. It is easy to see what the lifters like just based on the size of the meets. The biggest meets, with the most competitors, the best atmosphere, and the highest standards will be the most important to win. If I am the best and you are the best and we compete there will be only one champion. That is what matters. It doesn’t matter where you got your black belt.

(Spoiler Alert: Danny wins)

Feed competition. Grow the sport. Let it grow like a weed. Trust yourselves to figure it out.

It is up to you. This is American Kettlebell Sport. We have history here too. We have legends in our sport and champions in our sport and we IMG_0084have poured our sweat and blood too. You can’t erase it by writing “first” or “only” in front of something that has been here for years. We deserve to choose for ourselves because that is the way it is supposed to be done here.

By us

I am not afraid of this concept. I do not care what rankings stay or go. I really don’t. I just need to be free. I am not afraid to believe in myself and my friends and all of you. I know that if I work my ass off and do my job the best I can I will do 480927_440574389304893_1447593620_nmy part to push our sport forward. How can more lifters, more meets, and more enthusiasm hurt the sport? Who makes that argument?  I know if my standards are high enough they will be high enough anywhere. The sport will evolve into what we need it to be when we need it to be there.  If I am wrong, and I am not good enough, and I get pushed out, then I will accept it and take it like a man. I respect all of you enough to promise you that.

This whole thing is up to you. It is about you. Don’t give it away.


New Ranking System for OKC Competitions

Posted in Competition, Uncategorized on June 28, 2013 by John Wild Buckley

Hi Everyone!

Today we are announcing the new ranking tables that the Orange Kettlebell Club will be using for our competitions and marathon events. It is clear that we had to make a change. Earlier this year we consulted our friends at KETAcademy about our problem regarding the rankings. We told them that we had a few issues:

1) We could not continue to use the rankings we were using.

2) We feel it would be disrespectful to write rankings for ourselves.

3) We wanted to use rankings that would blend in with the sport so we did not crush the progress of all the lifters training already.

4) We wanted whatever rankings we used to be available to anyone to use for free.

So here we are.


These tables were written and prepared by:

Honored Coach of Russia Sergey Rachinskiy

Honored Master of Sport Sergei Merkulin

Master of Sport International Class Denis Vasilev

Thank you all so much!

men 10 Men 5 Women 10 Women 5 Mara:Relay


you can check the website for a better view!rules-and-ranking/cpes

I know there will be lots of questions and emotions regarding the rankings. I had to stare at them a while too. I will write a full explanation over the weekend.

Everything’s gonna be alright.


Thoughts on Coaching

Posted in 鉄球入魂 on May 28, 2013 by John Wild Buckley

Don’t read me I’m weird 

I had this professor in college. Poor bastard, he hated everything, and he loved everything all at the same time. It made him socially kvothe_in_the_vintas_by_emmgoyer7-d4umguvawkward, around 20 year olds anyway. Back then I was convinced in my own greatness. Not so much that I thought I was great, but that I could be, someday, if I wanted to. I don’t think he liked me very much.

Unfortunately for him he taught what I wanted to learn. He had it, I wanted it, it didn’t matter at all if he liked me. I would not be denied.

I don’t know how many classes I took with him over four years but I do know that the only grade I ever got (except for one) was a B-. Every piece I handed in, B-. Every essay, poem, short story, or lyric I sent his way…B-.

I wouldn’t quit though. Not me. Not this guy. I got tons of A’s in other classes (ok, maybe not “Tons”) but none of those mattered. I don’t know why I wanted to be good at such a ridiculous thing as writing. Wait, full disclosure, writing poetry…what was the point of learning how to do that? It became an obsession. I loved it. I loved the technique and the nuance. It was beautiful and powerful and delicate all together and I wanted to be good at it. I knew there was no career in it. I knew my father thought it a waste of my time. None of this mattered to me. He had it. I wanted it.


So we struggled to exist together. I tried to be charming and charismatic but probably came off as cocky and boorish. He tried to make me feel like a talentless hack but deep down I knew he liked me…a little…a little more than heartburn…a little less than traffic. I asked him once “Doc, why do you try so hard not to like me? I mean, we are almost like…friends.” fantasy-hero-swordThe look of him, standing there in his too tight tweed sportscoat with his jaw wide open (yet weirdly clenched at the same time) like that… I thought he was going to strike me.

That was the way of it for years. I enjoyed it mostly, honestly.

I can’t say that I ever got very good. But I did love it with all of my heart. I wanted to be good. I tried to be good. I lived the life even though I did not have the talent of my peers. I knew that, about the talent, but I truly believed that I could do it because I felt so hard back then. There was no buffer between my mind and my heart. Every day was like falling off a cliff and just before hitting the rocks I’d learn to fly, just for a second, then WHACK!

Just pain, not death, just pain.

I didn’t even try to be like that, I didn’t make that part or mix it up. images Anywho *

I was sitting next to this girl one day in class. I don’t remember her name but lets say it was Beige.  Beige wrote a piece called “Candy Cane Dreams”. I got my standard B- and Beige got an A. So a looked at him, I stood up, and I left. (I still do this from time to time).

I was stomping my way home to my apartment downtown when I realized that I drove to school that day and I had to go get my truck. By the time I got back to the parking lot I was so angry that I walked right past my truck to the English building. I swung up the stairs and kicked the good doctors door (I really did) and I slammed my B- on his desk.

I wanted to rip all the books off his shelves and bury him under all the words he had read that I hadn’t. I wanted to roar like a beast and storm like a wizard. I wanted to kill Christmas and all the things about it that made him happy.



Dreams? I snarled.

An…A? I choked.

He just looked at me. Just fucking looked at me. Like he was more confused about me not knocking then the kicking or threatening behavior.

“Would you like an A Mr. Buckley?” He asked.

My brain exploded

“What?” I asked

“Fuck You” I said (true story).

I was so much better than I was when I got my first B-. I was so much better, I, I couldn’t understand. I couldn’t process it. Learning shit hurts.

Next assignment


That Fucker.

Later that year we find our hero…

…graduated I was and all dressed up in my cap and gown when I saw him on the lawn outside the fieldhouse. I walked my parents up to him and made an introduction. He looked at my parents with that pompous face and noses up glasses down posture of his and waited just until my father started to speak, and I mean half of the first word my father said and the doctor interrupted…

“You know…(weirdly long pause)… it is quite amazing. Your son, (he paused and pointed back and forth between them as if to make sure they knew he was talking to them specifically) your son actually managed to squeeze a decent education out of this…(he looked around) place. That is an accomplishment. He really is quite…tenacious in his own…way.”

For the rest of my life I will never forget those words.

So my father said (still seething over the rudeness) “What about all of the B’s”

“The B-‘s you mean” The doctor corrected him.

“Yes, (pulling on his collar) why not A’s?”

I waited for the first syllable of the first word before I interrupted the good doctor and I said

Unknown-3 “I didn’t want the fuckin A”!

I still don’t.






*pretty sure writing Anywho would have cost me my B-

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