Phil Ross: I’m always looking for the best things available as far as training goes, especially concerning martial arts. I first heard about kettlebells at Frank Shamrock’s place in the Summer of 2005. He mentioned that he knew someone in San Jose who was training with these cool things called kettlebells. So, he showed me a few moves at his studio in San Jose and I thought they looked interesting. Then, one of my clients, Dr. Pat Roth—a very notable neural surgeon who operated on Rutgers football player Eric LaGrande—told me about Steve Freides. Steve had recently explained to Pat how kettlebells helped to cure his back. I just kept hearing a lot about kettlebells, so I went online, bought a set from Power Systems along with the Steve Cotter Encyclopedia of Kettlebell Lifting.
I researched a little deeper and discovered that Pavel and the RKC were the “Gold Standard” for kettlebell training and certifications. From there I found Dragon Door and signed up to test for the RKC. I attended the 3 day workshop in October, 2007 and became RKC certified.
Dragon Door: Was your interest in kettlebells mostly personal at this point, or were you beginning to use them with your clients and martial arts students?
Phil Ross: I wanted to learn as much as possible, so I started buying more videos like Enter the Kettlebell. I started training myself, because there weren’t too many available instructors yet. Steve was nearby, but our schedules didn’t work, and I was busy teaching at my own studio. I started adding kettlebells in some of my advanced classes, and with my advanced martial arts students—wrestlers and fighters—who either wanted to take it to the next level, or were competing.
After I got my RKC certification, I started a kettlebell-only class. Now I’m running eleven kettlebell classes a week. Every Saturday morning, I have a training class especially for our certified instructors. Seven people at my studio are certified HKCs and have been training with me for quite a while.
Dragon Door: In your opinion, what are some of the best kettlebell exercises for martial artists?
Phil Ross: I like alternating cleans, swings, snatches, and any squatting motion—there are so many different squats we can do. I also like push presses for martial arts.
Dragon Door: What benefits have you experienced from kettlebell training?
Phil Ross: First of all, learning about kettlebells has expanded my own training knowledge to an incredible degree. Physically—even though I just turned 50—I’m in much better condition now, far superior to when I was simply weight training.
Luckily, I was always into bodyweight training at some level, but incorporating kettlebells has just really made me strong to the bone. It’s enabled me to keep going as I get older. I have had over 300 fights (a low estimate), and injuries accumulate, but kettlebell training has helped me keep going and enabled me to keep training.
Dragon Door: Very cool. When we talked earlier, you mentioned some issues with your knees, has kettlebell training helped?
Phil Ross: Yes. On Saturday, I was single rack squatting with the Beast for sets of 5 reps. It’s helped me a lot. I’ve had knee surgery, and currently have a torn meniscus and a torn quad tendon, but I’m healing with kettlebells. I’m not going to have another operation; I’m just training the knee and restoring it. On the injured side, I can already do a body weight pistol squat, and the single rack squats mentioned earlier.
Dragon Door: Are you still competing in martial arts?
Phil Ross: I had an injury requiring an operation on four levels of my neck in December, 2011. My doctors told me not to compete anymore, but prior to that my last competition was in NAGA, the North American Grappling Association. I had won the Battle of the Beach, a nationally rated tournament in 2010. I was almost 48 and had five fights in that tournament. I went undefeated with no one scoring against me. I competed in both the 40 and up division and the 18-29 division, and actually won a title belt for the expert division.
Dragon Door: It’s impressive that you were able to compete against athletes of all ages.
Phil Ross: Yes, I would say weighing in at 184, I was definitely stronger than all but one other competitor who was 200lbs. He was huge! I was able to wear him out a little bit though, because my endurance was pretty good.
Dragon Door: You’ve been recently promoted to Master RKC, what do you see yourself doing next with kettlebells?
Phil Ross: I want to bring my knowledge and experience to the RKC and the Dragon Door community. I won’t be reinventing the wheel, but want to bring some nuances that will enhance our community’s training, especially for group training. Since I teach martial arts, I’m used to having people at different skill levels all in the same class. I might have a black belt and a white belt training side by side, but they could be doing different things. The same thing happens in my kettlebell classes, some students have been with me for five years, and some for just a few days.
As a martial arts instructor as well as a kettlebell instructor, I’ve developed the ability to train people of different levels in the same class. In an ideal world, we’d all have one-on-one sessions, or everyone in a class would be at the same stage in their training. But that’s not going to happen and there are only so many hours in a day.
Dragon Door: What’s a favorite strategy for working with a mixed-level group class?
Phil Ross: I’ve created a collection of over 150 different workouts, and have filmed 104 of them, which are in editing right now. The project is called the Kettlebell Workout Library. It’s going to be a great training tool, especially for instructors who will be able to help a new student on one workout, while having an intermediate and advanced student do two other workouts. I can have several different workouts going on at once in the same class by referencing the manual accompanying the video series. I’ve been working on the system by logging my routines, ever since I started training with kettlebells.
Dragon Door: That’s excellent. I remember the last time we talked, you mentioned a comic book project.
Phil Ross: A buddy of mine is Joe Antonacci, who was just inducted into the boxing hall of fame for his work as a ring announcer for Friday Night Fights on ESPN, HBO, fights in Atlantic City, and more. He purchased Joe Palooka, a comic book from the ’40s and ‘50s about a boxer. He’s now reinvented Joe Palooka as a mixed martial artist. Joe Antonacci enlisted me to collaborate on all the fight scenes. Mike Bullock is the prize winning comic book writer on the project, but they’ve brought me in as a specialist to help him make the fights appear realistic. Mike will ask me how a fight between Joe Palooka and a capoeira guy would go for example. Mike tells me who will win beforehand and I lay out the whole sequence of the fight so that it makes sense. In fact, UFC Magazine did a write up on the comic book series asked us how we make the fight scenes in the comic book so realistic, then they dedicated two paragraphs to me.
Right now, two issues of the comic are out, but we were recently purchased by IDW—the same company who brought GI Joe to the silver screen. So, they might be looking to do something similar with Joe Palooka. In issue five or six, I might be introduced as a character—a trainer with my kettlebell and RKC shirt. I’ve got to make sure that happens.
Dragon Door: We’ll definitely need to see that. You have a lot of exciting things going on, especially with the new RKC.
Phil Ross: I’m really excited about the new RKC. I think we’re putting together an excellent team—Max Shank, Andrew Read, and of course Andrea Du Cane. New leadership announcements are happening all the time, and everyone’s top shelf. I don’t have any complaints about the old RKC, I just think we can continue to make the system even better. I’m glad to be part of it.
Dragon Door: What other experiences are you bringing to your leadership position?
Phil Ross: I also have some experience with powerlifting. I’m not hugely involved in it, but did compete up until 1987 where I clean benched 370lbs with a pause at at a body weight of 179.9 lbs. I also achieved a 525lb squat, and 505lb deadlift at the same event. Powerlifting gave me a lot of perspective. I also won some Olympic lifting contests and bodybuilding contests too. I left bodybuilding because to me, training is all about health and sports, so I wasn’t going to use steroids to get bigger just to win the next contest.
Dragon Door: In addition to your studio you’re also doing online-based training?
Phil Ross: Yes, I’ve put together a very low cost beginner’s kettlebell training program, available at KettlebellKing.com. It has three technique sections, two warm-up and bodyweight sections, along with twelve beginner kettlebell workouts. There’s also an electronic manual included which is based on a program I put together for NASM.
Dragon Door: What inspired you to create the program?
Phil Ross: I want to reach as many people as possible since everyone can’t come to New Jersey and train in my studio. It’s also good for people who are still researching kettlebells before making a big commitment like an RKC Workshop. I wanted to make a way for people to get a solid base of knowledge, along with something to practice and reference. It will give them an idea of what they’re getting into, and the benefits that they can expect. I’m certain that once they go and practice the program for a few months, they’ll be started for life. After 90 days they’ll see the benefits.
Something else I’m bringing to the RKC is my Fit to Fight program, it’s based on my SAVE (Surviving A Violent Environment) program. SAVE is a self defense fitness program which was rated number one several times by independent video reviewers, actually beating out Krav Maga, and Dillman’s pressure point system. It has its own certification process, and I just finished teaching it to a group of phys ed teachers at one of the local high schools. They’re going to use it as a unit for their phys ed classes.
The Fit 2 Fight concept is based on martial arts self defense movements coupled with bodyweight exercises. Max Shank and I are collaborating on this project, I’m providing the martial arts techniques and he’s supplying the bodyweight exercises and associated regimens.
Dragon Door: That’s very exciting, and we’re all looking forward to see how you bring your unique style to your new leadership role.
Phil Ross: I can’t wait to lead my first RKC Certification Workshop, I think it’s a great opportunity. In the past five plus years, I’ve put a lot into training with kettlebells. I’m looking forward to see who else is going to be with the RKC and how we all develop it even further.
Over the next few weeks, Dragon Door will be announcing a number of promotions to its future RKC leadership team. Kicking off a dramatic new era for the RKC, we are proud to announce that Phil Ross has accepted the position of Master RKC with Dragon Door, effective January 1, 2013.
Phil is an exceptionally accomplished martial artist, athlete, trainer and kettlebell instructor and we are delighted to welcome him to Dragon Door’s dynamic new RKC leadership team. Below is a description of our new Master RKC’s accomplishments:
Phil Ross: 8th Degree Black Belt, Specialist in Bodyweight Strength and CK-FMS Certified.
Phil Ross’ name is synonymous with Martial Arts and Fitness. He is known as his area’s Kettlebell King and has successfully competed on the National Level in Submission Fighting, Kickboxing, both Full Contact & Point Karate, Taekwondo and Olympic Style Wrestling from 1979 through 2010. He has also held several titles in Bodybuilding and Power Lifting.
More important than his personal accomplishments are the many benefits that his students have gained. A multitude of very accomplished individuals have trained and continue to train with Phil Ross; US Special Forces, UFC Fighters and other Professional Fighters, Martial Arts School Owners, FBI Agents, DEA Agents, US Federal Marshals, High School Athletes, Police Officers, US Marines, Professional Athletes, Doctors, Attorneys, Educators, Students with Special Needs, Computer Programmers, Wall Street moguls, moms, dads, not to mention the thousands of children and teenagers trained over the years.
His training methods have produced champions in the sports of Karate, Kickboxing, both Collegiate and Olympic style wrestling, Track and Field, Lacrosse, Football, Volleyball, Golf, Baseball, Hockey, Tennis and Soccer, to name a few.
Due to the influence of his Grandfather and Father, Mr. Ross embarked on his combat arts and strength and fitness journey in the 1970’s. He has been on a continuous quest to improve himself and bring the best training available to his students. The owner/operator of his New Jersey based American Eagle MMA & Kettlebell studio ever since 1988, he provides over 35 classes per week in addition to his small group and private sessions.
Combat Arts Experience and Honors: Victorious in well over 300 combat competitions inclusive of matches in Karate, Kickboxing, Taekwondo, Wrestling and Submission Fighting. He competed successfully on the National Level from 1979 through 2010. Some of his honors include: Silver Medal at the 1979 AAU Eastern National Greco-Roman Wrestling Championships, Bronze Medal in the 1992 AAU Taekwondo Nationals, 1995 Free Fighting National Champion, 2010 NAGA No-Gi Submission Fighting Expert Level Champion, 8 Time Gold Medalist at the NJ Garden State Games Karate Championships, MVP at the 1996 NJ vs. NY Karate Challenge, Team Captain of the 1994 World Karate Union’s Team NJ second place World Championship team. Black Belt Hall of Fame Martial Artist, Brooklyn New York’s Big Apple Challenge 1989 Black Belt Kumite Champion.
Black Belts: East/West Martial Alliance, Combat Jiujitsu, Bando, Taekwondo
Instructorships: CDT, Arnis, Shamrock Submission Fighting
Fitness & Strength Honors: Mr. Wilkes Bodybuilding Champion in 1981, 3rd Place 1983 Mr. DC Bodybuilding, 1982 University of Maryland Olympic Lifting Champion, 1987 Reebok Challenge Power Lifting Champion, totaling 1400 lbs at a weight of 179.9 (370 Bench, 525 Squat & 505 Deadlift)
Fitness: RKC Certified Kettlebell Instructor, Master Personal Trainer, Functional Movement Specialist, Specialist in Bodyweight Strength Certified
Other Experience: High School Wrestling Coach, Professional Bodyguard
His S.A.V.E. Self Defense Fitness video series was Rated #1 by two separate nationally recognized video reviewers and his Advanced Russian Kettlebell video is ranked in the Top 10 of Kettlebell workout videos. His Kettlebell Basics Workshop and Manual was the approved Kettlebell Training Course by the National Academy of Sports Medicine for continuing education credits.
American Eagle MMA & Kettlebells: Saturday, August 11th, 2012: Andres Burgos of Waldwick and AJ Lonski of Ho Ho Kus tested for their Junior Black Belts at the American Eagle MMA Academy recently. The 12 year-old students demonstrated the skills of Kicking, blocking, striking, Grappling, Submission Wrestling (BJJ), Katas (sequential movements to simulate fighting) Traditional Weapons, heavy bag work and Kickboxing (live sparring). The test ended with several high level board breaking feats.
The students at American Eagle MMA are well rounded and the two candidates epitomized what our school is all about. They performed the techniques of Bando, Taekwondo, Jun Fan, Arnis, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling and Boxing. Thier discipline and fortitude was dsiplayed during the 90 minute ordeal. Prior to the physical test, the students completed a 3 hour meditation to prepare their minds.
“I just got into Kettlebell training & Phil Ross made it simple with his detailed explanation and breakdown of all of the techniques & movements. This is a must have system for an amazingly low price!”
Mike Constantino Owner/Head Trainer AMA Fight Club
Phil Ross’ Online S.W.A.T. Kettlebell Training Course