This is a guest post from Jordan Vezina, RKC. Jordan is the owner of Average to Elite Kettlebell Training and the creator of the upcoming Kettlebell DVD The Corrections. Today Jordan is talking about how got into the world of steel bending. He’s really funny and a great coach who has helped me out a lot. Enjoy!
A brief history of (my) steel bending
By Jordan Vezina RKC
I remember watching some youtube videos of Adam Glass bending steel back in 2007 and thinking that this was something only mutants did. The ability to bend nails, bolts, horseshoes, etc. was something you were born with. You couldn’t train to get that kind of strength.
Then I came across Jedd Johnson’s Nail Bending E-book. The emphasis in the ads seemed to be that anyone could do this, and it was (contrary to what I had thought) just a matter of proper training. So I took the plunge and bought the e-book. I then went online and bought one of Ironmind’s Bags O’ Nails.
I got the bag of nails and was let’s say… intimidated. I kept the white and green nails out, but tossed the yellow, blue, and red nails in a box. I didn’t think I would have a need for those anytime soon.
Months passed. I read the e-book and began to absorb the information. I still wasn’t mentally or emotionally connected to the idea that I could do this. Emotionally… that’s kind of a weird thing to say, isn’t it? Not really, and I’ll tell you why.
I’ve always been weak, and I mean really weak. In my twenties I generally weighed 130-140 pounds and once was as low as 114 pounds for a while. I wasn’t small and wiry with more strength than you would expect. I was as strong as I looked. I had decent endurance because I started running 30-50 miles a week and built up to 28 dead hang pull ups while I was in the Marines, but that isn’t hard when you’re pulling so little weight over the bar. When it came to lugging around my combat gear, humping a pack and usually part of a crew served weapon I was always fighting for survival.
I like relating my past because it lets you know that I am not just some freak, and that I built up to this from a position of extreme weakness. It wasn’t until 2006 when I started using kettlebells that I built any real strength. I know now that my work with kettlebells laid the foundation that allowed me to begin bending steel.
Back to my bag o nails. I started working through the white nails, which are 3/16 inch stock. Then I moved to the cut down version of the whites, the green nails. I spent months on these. I worked up to some volume bending, taking down 20 greens at a time trying to get the yellow nail. I thought the yellow nail would never go down.
Then it went down. It didn’t take long for me to work through the yellows, then the blues. Then I tried to bend a Grade 5 Bolt. I seriously thought my biceps and my head were going to explode. No joke. I wondered if I could seriously injure myself doing this? I decided to make an example of the blue (sixty penny) nails before really attacking the bolts. How so? I had an idea… how about I bend 50 in a row?
So I did it. I was originally targeting 50 in 30 minutes, but it took me 50 minutes instead. It was hard.
Then onto the Gr5’s. Other things began happening during this process. I bottoms up pressed a 28 kg. kettlebell at 170 pounds bodyweight. I quartered a deck of cards. I was just generally getting stronger, and I knew much of it was a direct transfer from my bending. I also had something I had never before had in my life… a chest. The final crush down of a hard bend is like a pec deck to the Nth degree. Except it’s not lame. Another thing was just the thickness of my hands. I have always had small and slender hands, now they are thick and muscular. My forearms are like baseball bats, and butting up against being bigger than my upper arms.
Grade 5’s started going down more easily. Then 14 in a row. Then a goal was finally reached that even in my bending frenzy I wasn’t sure I could actually do. I bent a horseshoe.
I am not at the end of my steel bending, card tearing etc. I don’t even think I am at the middle. I believe I will have a talent for taking down short pieces of stock, one of the few areas where having small hands actually pays off. My current goal is to get on Ironmind’s Red Nail roster. It will happen, it’s just a matter of time, and staying on task.
You can visit Jordan at Average to Elite or on the Dragondoor Forums where he posts at 0311bravo. He is available for personal instruction in Palo Alto, California, and also offers online training options. Please go say hi.