The Way of Kettlebell Fitness: Girevoy Sport(or Fluid Style) vs. Hard Style Kettlebell Lifting


I have always been a huge fan of Bruce Lee and the way he led his life. I apply his exact theories in martial arts to that of fitness. One of my favorite training methods to use is the art of Russian Kettlebell Lifting. There are 2 main schools of protocol where kettlebells are concerned.

"Jeet Kune Do favors formlessness so that it can assume all forms and since Jeet Kune Do has no style, it can fit in with all styles. As a result, Jeet Kune Do utilizes all ways and is bound by none and, likewise, uses any techniques which serve its end. " - Bruce Lee

In the Girevoy Sport style of kettlebell lifting kettlebell "juggling"- which is all non-traditional kettlebell movements-, is not performed as much as in Hard Style as part of the core elements in the workout, but instead as simple supporting exercises. In "Enter The Kettlebell"(the Hard Style Bible) Pavel clearly focuses on the 3 main kettlebell movements which are the Swing, Snatch, and Press.

Any supporting exercise mentioned is either a progression to or beyond those. Girevoy Sport style of kettlebell training focuses on the following competitive movements: the Snatch, Jerk, and the Long Cycle (clean & jerk). These lifts are performed under timed sets; however many different training protocols are used during training to achieve that goal.
GS is not performed simply to compete. Many folks regularly practice the GS style and never compete. Sure this is the competition method of lifting and training, but in both HS and GS the lifter must learn how to use the bell with proper form within the basic movements and then progress once they are mastered.
Ultimately both styles are only kettlebell practice and both performances allow the practitioner to develop great strength, muscular endurance, mental focus, and overall body awareness. By practicing one method over the other is not the wisest as both can benefit a person and both can be continually used. There are those who desire to immerse themselves in one method over the other, but in the end the human body is still just a human body and a body under stress adapts and becomes stronger. It's just a matter of choosing your stress load and means.
In my teaching and writing I only desire to deliver the truth to my audience. The truth is never one sided. It is every side, angle, approach, focus, concept, clarity, and enlightenment to reach a state of knowing- of having knowledge and wisdom. This is a lifelong and ongoing process that will never be fully achieved in anyone's lifetime.
The same holds true for fitness regardless of the tool used. In the end that is all the kettlebell really is and it’s less about the tool, but instead the style. Bruce Lee demonstrated that exact concept with his Jeet Kune Do. He constantly blended and evolved his methods for whatever venue, opponent, or need he felt was how JKD was to be applied. Keep in mind though that he always had his roots and they were deep in Kung Fu, Gung Fu, and others in order to get his style Fluid and abilities sound. Even when he passed on his legacy to those who practice JKD today they still have not perfected it. It still evolves, grows, changes, and lives in all of its practitioners.
“Truth has no path. Truth is living and, therefore, changing. Awareness is without choice, without demand, without anxiety; in that state of mind, there is perception. To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person. Awareness has no frontier; it is giving of your whole being, without exclusion.” -Bruce Lee
That is the same with the art of strength training. The kettlebell is a fantastic tool that I will continue to use throughout my entire life. I will always evolve myself and grow with what my body needs. One style or two styles will never be enough or allow me to make the changes my body- and the bodies of the masses- will always need.
Regardless of the tool the styles will live on and live on inside all of us. Our quest to go from average to elite will be forever enlightened within.

"Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend."