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History of Kettlebel Sport

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The modern history of kettlebell sport can be traced to the Union of Sport Societies and Organizations of RSFSR's (the Old USSR) adoption of rules in the classical kettlebell triathlon. The kettlebell triathlon which included the following movements: kettlebell press with the left and right hand, jerk of two kettlebells from the chest and the one handed kettlebell snatch with no time limit. There were four weight categories of 60kg, 70kg, 80kg and everyone above 80kg. For approximately 15 years kettlebell sport cultivated in rural groups and the Soviet military slowly gaining popularity in the 1970's to the point of having 20 different regions competing. The first official match between republics was on May 4, 1972 in Skadovsk city.The top teams came out of Tatar republic, Krasnoyarsk, Svedlovsk, Moscow, Perm and Lipetsk regions. The 1970's also brought athletes and coaches to search for the best methods for educational-training purposes and perfection of techniques. Between 1977-1978 kettlebell sport became a member of the National Sports Federation and a commission was created to unify rules, sports classification and expanded the sports calendar. In 1982 after some deliberation and experimentation with competition the triathlon became a biathlon after the removal of the press. Removal of the press allowed athletes and coaches to focus of perfecting two movements and also allowed competitions to have a reasonable time duration. The commission also allowed for one hand switch for the snatch which before was not allowed. In the mid 1980's more rule solidification occured and the first National Championship was held in 1985 in Lipetsk. The final major rule change occured in 1989 with the introduction of the ten minute time limit.

Kettlebell Sport has grown beyond Russia and it's former republics to other European coutries, Asia and North America. The last few years have brought Americans to seek out the best instructors and methods much like the Russians did in the 1970's. In just a few years the United States had less than a handfull of International level Competitors and now there is approximately a dozen. Much of that can be due Valeri Fedorenko and Dmitri Sataev who are both Russian transplants now living in the US. Valeri Fedorenko, head coach of the American Kettlebell Club, has coached more US elite level athletes and coaches than anyone else in this country.

Today, the biathlon is still the traditional competition for men and the basic rules are: The athlete must wear shorts and shirt to reveal both knees and elbows so that the judges may observe proper movement execution. The athlete may not use assistance gear to make ease of the movement. The traditional Biathlon begins with the jerk of two kettlebells from the chest for repetitions in a ten minute time limit. The athlete must not lower the kettlebells from the chest during the jerk because this results in a disqualification. The athlete cannot rest the kettlebells on top of the shoulder because this may result in warning or a no count of a repetition. After the athlete competes in the first event he will get a minimal time of thirty minutes to rest before performing the snatch. The minimal time is not a concern in large competitions because the wait is usually hours between events. The second biathlon event is the kettlebell snatch with one hand and one switch for a ten minute time limit. The athlete must lift the weight from between the legs (the kettlebell must not touch any part of the body except the hand area) to overhead in one fluid motion. After the weight is fixed above head the athlete lowers the weight to below the waist and between the legs without coming in contact with any part of the body except the hand area. The athlete may switch hands one time at any time they prefer but typically the athlete switches hands halfway through their set. The weight must not touch the athletes body or the ground during the hand switch. Traditionally women have competed in snatch only events but in the United States there is the snatch and one hand jerk competition done similarly to men's competition. There are also show events like power juggling, seated press and other events decided by the promoter. Another popular competitive event is the Lonc Cycle Clean and Jerk which is typically held on a separate date on the calendar than the biathlon to allow the athletes proper time for preparation. Currently in the United States you will often find the Clean and Jerk on the same event as the Biathlon. The "Long Cycle" has the same rules as the Jerk except the kettlebells are lowered between the leg and raised to the chest between each repetition making it almost a hybrid of the jerk and snatch.

Professional and higher level athlete men use 32kg kettlebells for competition. Women use 16kg and 24 kg kettlebells. Amateur men compete with 24kg kettlebells but often the host/promoter will allow the athlete to use a weight to the athlete's comfortability to further promote competitive spirit. National level biathlon men and women's competitons are typically held later in the year where the long cycle competion is held at the first half of the year. A person wishing to compete or watch a local competition can find them held year round except during the time of National/World competition.


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