Profile Interview: Kettlebell Training with Sensei Brodie Hicks
By: Sensei James Ryan
St. Catharines Wado Kai Karate
“Kettlebell practice is a way of life. And when there’s a way, there is a certain code to follow. Kettlebell.kode [Instagram account] is my new passion, derived by a certain flow state that I achieve when training. I want to help others learn the way of the kettlebell and improve their quality of life through fitness and health.” – Sensei Brodie Hicks (Nidan)
I first met Sensei Brodie Hicks of the Peterborough Wado Kai Karate Club three years ago on a group road-trip to the Atlantic City Martial Arts Convention. Then last summer, I had the privilege of participating in an hour-long randori session with Sensei Brodie (probably one of the best work-outs I’ve ever had) down at the Karate College in Radford, Virginia. And then finally, last October, I had the honour of competing against Sensei Brodie at the Kawartha Lakes Karate Championships for the very first time where he ultimately beat me fair and square in the final match of the black belt division. Enjoy!
JR: How long have you been training in the Shintani Wado Kai Karate Federation (SWKKF)?
BH: I’ve been with the SWKKF for 10 years.
JR: What inspired you to want to start kettlebell.kode?
BH: I was inspired to start kettlebell.kode when I learned about the fundamentals of kettlebell training and how to apply them in my everyday life. The kettlebell is incredibly convenient and efficient in its uses. You can basically get a full-body workout anywhere and anytime you want. The incorporation of the kettlebell, as well as a healthy lifestyle, is essentially the “kode” of what I teach.
JR: One kettlebell exercise that I often see performed the most is the swinging between the legs and then raising the bell up to shoulder height or so. To me, it looks like a lot of swinging and use of momentum. What is the benefit of this exercise? How and what is it working?
BH: The kettlebell exercise you’re talking about is called the “clean.” Swinging and using the momentum is what you’re trying to do. You’re loading the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes and hips) and driving the kettlebell up using your entire body. The benefits are incredible. For athletes, it teaches you to use the mechanics of your body to get your maximum power, building strength and endurance. For me personally, it translates perfectly into karate for its use of hips, drive and explosiveness. The benefits are endless.
JR: Do you enjoy punching and kicking into the air as much as I do?
BH: Shadow boxing and footwork? Oh yes, I do a lot of that. That’s mainly how I practice, since training partners are few.
JR: Do you have any favourite exercises (kettlebell or otherwise) that you enjoy doing?
BH: My favourite exercise is the Turkish Get-Up – just pure, raw strength. You’re basically holding the kettlebell over your head the whole entire time, then sitting and standing-up again, over and over. The mechanics of this exercise, along with proper alignment are key. I can currently lift my 32kg bell, which is the heaviest one that I own. It’ll expose any weaknesses anyone has. I love it.
JR: When you’re training a person, how do you gauge how much weight they should be using? When should they know that it’s time to start increasing the weight?
BH: Well, when it comes to using a kettlebell over your head, you can have all the strength in the world but without mobility and stability, it’s not going to be good. You don’t necessarily need too much weight depending on what you’re doing. Getting the proper muscle contraction and tension is key. For the basic swing, if your start driving the bell any higher than your shoulders, then that usually means you need to add some weight.
JR: Any plans to create the first ever kettlebell kata? Kushan-kettle-ku maybe?
BH: A kettlebell kata, eh? That’s an interesting idea. I have certain workouts that I like to do that are structured, but the funniest thing is to just flow with it. Nothing planned, just free movement and the ability to explore what’s possible.
JR: Do you have a favourite martial arts film?
BH: My favourite martial arts film is definitely the 36 Chambers of Shaolin with Gordon Liu. I love them all though – the cheesier, the better.
JR: What’s the CD in your car right now?
BH: Currently, I’m listening to Ghostface Killah.
JR: How would you describe your experiences on the National Team? Can you give us a little background on when and how you got started?
BH: I started on the team back in 2012. I’ve been given so many great opportunities – developed some really great friendships, and I’ve had lots of life-changing experiences as I’ve travelled around the world. I’ve learned so much and I can’t describe how great it’s been for my life. I’m super thankful for all the Senseis and coaches. I’ve been able to compete in Scotland, Las Vegas, Japan, Ireland, and all over Canada.
JR: How different is International competition compared to how we run our tournaments here in the SWKKF?
BH: Well, first off, International competition has a completely different scoring system and lots of different rules. Getting adjusted took some time, but it’s a fun sport. There’s more time and a scoring spread. You have to win by 8 points. It gets really exciting and loud. International competition includes athletes who specialize in both kata and/or kumite, so you’re competing against the best people in the world. It’s a great experience – I love it!
JR: What book are you currently reading?
BH: Right now I’m reading “Think and Grow Rich.” It’s an old school book, just a little book in-between.
JR: What’s a common mistake that most karateka make when just starting out?
BH: I think the most common mistake people make when they’re just starting out is only practicing 100% in the dojo or in class. Class training should represent 20%, and the other 80% is training outside of the dojo. Training and practicing – waking up early to get in that extra practice before school – or whenever you can squeeze in some practice time into your busy schedule. You can always improve. It could be something as simple as stretching while watching TV.
Sensei Brodie Hicks currently works at Beast Fitness, studies holistic nutrition, and just finished a pediatric course. To learn more about Sensei Brodie and how to train with kettlebells, please visit: https://www.instagram.com/kettlebell.kode/ [Instagram account]