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How a Leading Krav Maga Instructor used RKC and Kettlebells to Excel as a Fighter

September 26, 2011 07:00 PM

TommyBlom Fighting

"I've never seen such big changes in physical development as I have got with kettlebells."

Tommy Blom:  I got into kettlebells through a friend of mine. I actually started reading about Pavel through another friend of mine who came home from the States where he'd been doing some Power to the People training. So I bought the book Power to the People! and from there I saw the Russian Kettlebell Challenge book.
Dragon Door:  Did you come over and do your original RKC in the States or did you take the class over there in Europe?

Tommy Blom:   No. My RKC was in Denmark in 2006.

Dragon Door:   How long have you been involved with Krav Maga?

Tommy Blom:   Since 1994.

Dragon Door:   And your first MMA fight was in 2010?

Tommy Blom:   2010 in March. Then I did one in November, then another one in May of 2011.

Dragon Door:   You've won all three in either the first or second round. Do you attribute that to your training, strategy or?

Tommy Blom:   To be honest, I really don't know. It’s really hard to put it on anything. My second fight win was due to the amount of training I put into fighting. I broke a rib in two places after only 12 seconds into the first round. But managed to win in the second round anyway. So I went almost one and a half rounds with a broken rib.

Dragon Door:   That's incredible. How did you train for the fight in terms of the actual fight and also for the conditioning?

Tommy Blom:   My basic fight training is with a professional team here in Göteborg. There we do all the actual MMA training, working in the cage, fighting and sparring. The technical stuff for the fighting. My physical training has been with myself basically, with kettlebells and heavy bags. That's about it.

Dragon Door:   Outside of the actual fighting techniques and practice, the sparring, most of the conditioning you've done has been kettlebell and heavy bag? Can you tell us about some of the workouts that you would do?

Tommy Blom:   I actually wrote about it in an article on, but most of my MMA fight training when it's specified for that I usually divide it into rounds. So if I'm fighting three five-minute rounds, I'll just put the training into three five-minute rounds with one-minute rests in between.

The work in the rounds is a mix of basic kettlebell exercises like heavy swings, clean and jerk, long cycles, snatches, alternating with heavy bag work standing up or heavy bag work on the ground. It's about 30 seconds of heavy bag work and 30 seconds of swings, then 30 seconds of bag work on the ground. Then 30 seconds of clean and jerks. Double kettlebells and so on until the rounds are done.

Dragon Door:   That makes sense, I'm thinking about how MMA fights go and the kind of intensity that needs to be maintained through those rounds. No wonder you're winning! Did you choose any particular kettlebell exercises to match some of the movements in MMA?

Tommy Blom:   No. For me my kettlebell training has always been kind of basic all the time. I stick to the basics. I don't try to mimic anything from the sport. I just make sure that my physical base and foundation is good and strong enough. And then my MMA training is the physical work for MMA training, if you understand what I mean. And I don't try to do get-ups to mimic anything, I just do get-ups heavy because they make me stronger.

And I do heavy swings because they increase everything that I need in a fight, both heart, strength, and postural alignment on the backside when you're lifting somebody or all this type of stuff. So I actually always try to keep my training really basic.

TommyBlom TGUhighbridge

Dragon Door:   It sounds like you're also using some of your CK-FMS knowledge for your MMA fighting as well. How long have you had your CK-FMS certification?

Tommy Blom:   Since 2010 maybe, I don't remember actually. I've been using the exercises like Brettzels and chops and lifts and so on as training for myself. I had some shoulder problems for a while.

Dragon Door:   So you were able to work through those?

Tommy Blom:   Yeah. I worked through the shoulder problems with the CK-FMS and relaxing. Going back to basics. Not doing any overhead work for instance. I used to snatch a lot before. I've done the VO2 max. protocol 80 sets times 8 repetitions in 15. I've done a lot of snatching and overhead work. I did step back on all the overhead work and focused on swings and no pressing and anything like that for a while to get with CK-FMS mobility and stability drills and so on to get back to be pain-free.

Dragon Door:   And so you're pain-free now?

Tommy Blom:   Yes. I am pain-free. For a while I couldn't press a 16 without pain and I'm up to double 32s again.

Dragon Door:   You're sticking to the basics for your conditioning, which is very interesting, because Doug Nepodal at the RKC Level 2 this past July was talking about how he trains professional motocross competitors. All he had them doing was swings and get-ups, the basics. Nothing sports specific. I'm hearing very much the same thing from you, a very general but effective approach obviously 'cause they're winning and so are you.

Tommy Blom:   Yeah, I think that when you start trying to mimic moves in your sports with weights, you make that motor pattern slower. I will never punch with an eight-kilo kettlebell in my hand in a fight. So when I train punching I'll train punching as I would fight. I use the kettlebell exercises to make myself stronger and faster in general so the machine is working better. In that case it can do the exercises better because the general preparation is on a higher level.

TommyBlom towardsabottomsupclean 

Dragon Door:   Tell me about your kettlebell club…

Tommy Blom:   I've had the club for at least a year now. It’s a class, but I teach it like I teach Krav Maga. I teach how to swing, deadlift and do the basics. When they know how to do that they can work out harder. It's not like going to a body pump class in a gym where you pick up the weights and just go. I put a lot of focus on teaching them what they're doing before they lift hard and heavy.

Dragon Door:   What's your favorite way to introduce a very basic drill like the kettlebell swing?

Tommy Blom:   I usually try to get people to do some planks to start out with tension, then the silverback, pushing the sit bones against the wall, moving away from the wall. Next, deadlifts and after that the pendulum swing and then the regular swing. I try to keep it very simple. Basically every class we I start with deadlifts then we'll move onto swings or cleans and snatches or whatever. Since I have the background in martial arts, we always warm up with bodyweight exercises.

Dragon Door:   My classes start with joint mobility then a little bit of a body weight warm up in there as well. It makes sense.

Tommy Blom:   Yeah, especially when you have people who haven't been lifting before. It's just good to get them to do the planks or the wall squats or something like this to just warm up. 'Cause I also have some of my classes at 7:00 AM in the morning, it's better to do a little bit of joint mobility before adding weight.

Dragon Door:   You’ve been a Team Leader for a while, have you assisted at an RKC workshop recently?

Tommy Blom:   I assisted in Hungary last year at the RKC there and it was really nice. A really good experience because you get to see the stuff in a different way when you're teaching and you're assisting it. That's actually my regular job with Krav Maga, teaching new instructors. I'm part of a global instructor team that travels. The organization is Krav Maga Global under Eyal Yanilov who's doing the Fighter Workshop with Pavel.

Dragon Door:   How long have you been doing that?

Tommy Blom:   I started doing that in 2002. It's a pretty long course, 180-hours.

Dragon Door:   So you were really prepared then to assist at the RKC…

Tommy Blom:   We have a certain way of teaching that's really simple for people to understand. When I teach people, I teach them like I teach Krav Maga because I've been doing it since 1996, and it's very hard to change the way you teach.

When I start with a movement, I always start dry without weight to get the movement pattern into the body. It's the same if you look at the naked get-ups that Greg Cook and Brett Jones are doing in the book and DVD set Kettlebells from the Ground Up: The Kalos Sthenos. They talk about doing the get-up naked 50 times on each side before adding weight. When you engrain the pattern and add a little bit of weight at a time, it will be easy.

Dragon Door:   Yeah. I've been actually using that 50 rule with my classes and it seems to very effective. They seem to respect the movement if that makes any sense.

Dragon Door:   I noticed in one of your pictures that you have online that you have a kettlebell tattoo on your left hand. Can you tell me about that?
TommyBlom KettlebellTattoo1  TommyBlom KettlebellTattoo2
Tommy Blom:   I got a kettlebell and an "S" in there for my new fiancé. In a sense I'm married to the kettlebell so why not?

Dragon Door:   …thought that was an interesting placement…

Tommy Blom:   A kettlebell was the obvious choice.

Dragon Door:   Hope I didn't get too personal there!

Tommy Blom:   No problem at all.

Dragon Door:   Is there anything you'd like to add about your training or how kettlebell training has benefited your martial arts practice?

Tommy Blom:   I've never seen such big changes in physical development as I have got with kettlebells. Both with myself and my students who do the kettlebell training. I feel much stronger than the other people I train with, even if we're the same weight. And you know, kettlebells just work. They make your body go back to basics and function.

Dragon Door:   What have been the biggest surprise benefits with your kettlebell training?

Tommy Blom:   For me, being able to do a get-up with the 48 kilo, because it's so far away from what most people can do and from what I thought I could do. My grip strength has increased so I can tear a deck of cards basically any day. Kettlebell training and the RKC way of strength is something that most or all martial artists and fighters would benefit from. I have felt it in myself and I've trained other guys who have said the same thing. Their punches are stronger, they’re more explosive. It's much easier to lift somebody, to take somebody down and all the parts of fighting become easier.

Dragon Door:   That makes perfect sense. Thank you so much, Tommy


Tommy Blom, RKC Team Leader, KMG – Global instructor, CK-FMS, Pro MMA Fighter (3-0-0)

Tommy has been training Krav Maga under Eyal Yanilov for 17 years, he has been active as an instructor for 15 years from which the last the last 9 years has been teaching it full time all over the world educating new instructors and professional elites. In 2005 he started training with kettlebells and in 2006 I got certified as a RKC. That gives him 7 years of training with kettlebells under the RKC school of strength. The last 2 years he has also been training and fighting as a professional MMA Fighter and have reached a record of 3-0-0. Except of training himself he has also coached (among others) Alexander Gustafsson who fights in the UFC with kettlebells and FMS.

Tommy runs Tenacity – Tactical Strength in Gothenburg, Sweden, you can find him on or on his personal blog