Exceeding All Expectations—The Power of the PCC

by John Du Cane, CEO and founder, Dragon Door on June 12, 2013

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Exceeding All Expectations—The Power of the PCC

One day in the late summer of 2008, a massive manuscript thumped down on my desk. Out of nowhere. By a complete unknown. Unheralded, no introductions, no referrals, nothing to go on. Just raw text…And a title that leaped up from the desk, grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go:

Convict Conditioning

By a certain Paul “Coach” Wade, who had scrabbled to freedom—he claimed—after severe stretches in joy palaces like San Quentin, Angola and Marion.

What made Paul the Unknown so different, however, was the programmatic payload of strength survival secrets he had mastered while doing his time. Or so he said…

I coulda tossed it in the trash right there.  But I didn’t, I was intrigued and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to “taste” a few pages…

Aahhh…I was doomed within a couple of deft paragraphs—and I know a good doom when I see it, trust me…

I pride myself on being “the facilitator of greatness”—a guy with the magic eye for spotting outrageous talent and promoting it to a hungry world.

Paul held me with his glittering eye and riveted me to the spot. I was hooked as his redemptive message began to pulse through me with a heroin-like rush. I was up half the night, enthralled and deeply excited.


For Convict Conditioning was that rare thing, a genuinely original, definitively special masterwork that laid out an inspirational program for physical transformation—using bodyweight exercise only. The perfect fit for Dragon Door—and then some: authentic, visceral, gritty, practical, down-to-earth, laden with truth. Built for results.

When Convict Conditioning launched in December, 2009 it quickly established itself as Dragon Door’s all-time most popular title. Thrilled readers have already posted over 400 reviews on the Dragon Door site alone, testifying to CC’s enduring capability to get you formidable results not just short term but over the long haul (which is what separates the men from the boys.)

Fast forward to an email from Paul Wade to me in late 2011, suggesting that I might just want to publish a title called Raising the Bar, by Al Kavadlo, who had appeared with brother Danny in Convict Conditioning 2


Another magical and momentous publishing event resulted in Al Kavadlo joining Dragon Door’s dream team of bodyweight exercise authorities. The result: two more works of high art, the second being Pushing the Limits!

And the stage was set to “go global” with the Wade-Kavadlo wisdom. Create a worldwide network of certified progressive calisthenics instructors that could help change the fitness landscape, just as Dragon Door had done with the introduction of kettlebells in 2001.

Dragon Door’s highly anticipated program, the PCC, launched this past weekend in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Frankly, I was anxious as all hell about how the PCC was going to pan out. Yes, Paul Wade had delivered an astounding 600-page bible of a manual, yes the curriculum was to die for, and yes, the instructors were world-class.

But how were the elite bodyweight athletes and many of Dragon Door’s elite RKC leaders going to actually respond to the training? Dragon Door’s standards are well known to be the most rigorous worldwide. Would the PCC meet expectations?

Well, as Shannon Scullin exclaimed to me about the PCC team’s instruction: “They knocked it out of the park!”

I have read all the evals and the response has been nothing short of ecstatic.


The atmosphere for almost all the time was electric yet relaxed. Astonishing feats of strength reeled off by both candidates and instructors alike, PRs busting out all over the shop. There was a JOY in the air, a PASSION, a camaraderie that exceed any workshop that Dragon Door has put on over the last 20 years.

The instruction was impeccable, delivered with a gracious confidence and solid expertise. The PCC team of Al Kavadlo, Danny Kavadlo, Adrienne Harvey and Steven Low walked their talk from first frame to last frame.

I just got a Facebook message from Senior RKC and Superwoman, Beth Andrews, which perfectly sums up the event:

“The PCC weekend/cert was EPIC!!! It was refreshing, ‘vibrant’, progressive and FUN! Danny and Al are amazing! I loved their spirit and energy. They have an incredible ability to connect with people and after all, that IS what it’s all about as a community. Can’t wait to be a part of it in August!”

In other words, the PCC exceeded all of our expectations—WAY exceeded them!


Next week we will be posting several hundred photographs from the event (edited down from the thousands we took), but we grabbed some good ones to give you a flavor, right here.

The Dragon Door TV team of Amanda Salas and Spencer O’Hara—who also filmed the brilliant Convict Conditioning videos on Alcatraz—recorded the whole PCC and are hard at work preparing a series of videos immortalizing this special time… Can’t wait!

And, when you read the participants’ praise next week, there will be no doubt left at all in your mind about the quality of the instruction and the power of the PCC to transform the world of fitness.

A deep, deep thank you to all who contributed to making this a magnificent first PCC!

But a very special shout out to the “complete unknown” who sent me that addictive manuscript back in the day and got me hooked on the good stuff:

Paul Wade, without you, our world would be the smaller and the poorer. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your courage and indomitable spirit in bringing us the glory of your redemptive message! Thank you…

Yours in Strength,

John Du Cane, CEO
Dragon Door Publications, Inc.

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  • jpujjayi

    yes…thank you ‘coach’ Paul Wade.. the book, CC1 was a life changing event… and the PCC verified that for me… a way to continue to move and develop strength as I pass thru the mid sixties and on… functional movement and strength is higher on the list as time passes… the quality of the event.. organization, leaders and instructors, and the commraderie of all participants created an electrifying and soulfully gratifyinig experience … i’m honored and indebted to all the training and course of direction.. good job ‘coach’..!!!

  • Danny Kavadlo

    What an amazing post, John. And what an epic weekend! As an instructor–and a fan–of the calisthenics movement, I can only say that it exceeded my VERY HIGH expectations!!! For me the best part was meeting and connecting with so many others that share my passion and focus. Thanks to all who attended and congratulations to all who passed the Century, and to all those first flags, first levers, and first one-arm pushups! HELLYEAH!

  • Paul John Wade

    John–you are a true friend. Your words mean more to me than you know. It is YOU who are to thank for making my dream come true and bringing PCC to the world! Bless you, Boss.

    Of all the feedback I’ve had about the event, the most exciting has been how phenomenal the participants were–intelligent, athletic, motivated. A big shout out to all of them for making it happen! Thank you all!

    PS. Adrienne–a one-arm elbow lever…? You kept that quiet!

    • It was such a great experience, and many of us are already looking forward to the next one! 🙂

      Coach, that one-arm elbow lever was a BIG surprise for me…. now I can’t stop doing them! 🙂

  • Congratulations to the inaugural PCC class! It’s an honor to be leading a fitness certification for athletes of this caliber. Great write-up, John!

  • Anders Randin

    A fantastic post John! I second all the fantastic comments people already has said about this Earth-shattering event! I am so glad that I signed up for this and I am so glad to have met all the fantastic people this weekend that share my love and passion about this very special training and style of Life. A big thaks to John Du Cane for organizing this, Another big thanks to all the wonderfully talented an friendly instructors al, Danny, Adrienne and Steven. And finally the biggest thank you to Paul “Coach” Wade for Writing Convict Conditioniing in the first Place! You have changed my Life in a profound and positive way and for that I am eternally grateful.
    Humbly yours
    Anders Randin, Sweden
    Proud PCC Instructor!

    • Paul John Wade

      Just made a great day even better. That means a lot Anders, my friend. Thank you.

      So many people have told me that the instructors knocked it outta the park, you wouldn’t believe it!

      • Zach Gheaja

        knocked it out of the park is exactly how I was thinking of it. strange how we all sort of have the baseball analogy. nothing compares to a home run in the 9th, al danny adrianne steven and you paul wade….have surpassed that. everything I learned will never be forgotten thanks to this amazing manual. I opted to leave it in my hotel room during pcc cuz I know ill lose it if im not careful and I wanted to concentrate on the physical and human interaction. but my god I opened this thing up to show a friend what a press flag was and we realized this thing was something special. I commented that this wasn’t written in a book style as in there was no focus on entertainment and my friend says ” its a manual” (were gear heads and shop manual, service manual has a special meaning for us, paul this is the shop manual, not some haynes garbage) even though I knew that that, that statement being said out loud to me made me understand even more how special this book is. anything I learned this weekend if I happen to forget I can find in here. I love the terminology progressions and regressions, i love the extra inbetween steps that must number in the hundreds and after I let my shoulder heal up, and murder my legs and lungs instead this week, I am going for my first muscle up with a healthy shoulder and a lot of new people to cheer me on. thanks paul and thanks everyone.

        • Paul John Wade

          Lots of great minds contributed to that manual–it means a lot that you like it, Zach my friend. I am proud of your efforts kid!

          • That manual is just TOPS. …and Zach is one heck of a hard worker!

        • Paul Coach Wade

          The “shop manual”. I kinda like that…

    • Zach Gheaja

      anders you are a gymnastic and bodyweight psycho! you were my first partner and you killed the century. I will always remember you finishing off with a back lever like a champion in those vibrams!

  • Zach Gheaja

    John I’m very excited to hear that these photographs will be posted for others to see because I have a hard time explaining what exactly was going on to the average person who no doubt would be curious when I told them my true thoughts about what I believed to be a life changing event in my life. 1 thing that I can show them right now is my gigantic shiner on my bicep from my first clutch flag. I wish to further the cause that the PCC represents which ultimately in my mind means self accountability for your own fitness which is a beautiful thing, a liberating thing. Al said people are always looking for something external, PCC helps to give them the internal path. I think anyone who needs proof of how amazing this event was need only read Johns write up and feel the uncontainable joy he shows here, this is a stoic man.

  • Zach Gheaja

    One thing I think everyone’s forgetting if you want to get serious about fitness, you need towel service

  • Ben

    What kind of pull bars are those you are using ??

  • John Du Cane

    Thanks for the all the kind words everyone! This whole event just epitomized my dream for Dragon Door’s future.

    • So many great memories from this one – and so much to look forward to the next time and the next time and the next time…. Honored to be a part of it! Thank you!

  • Logan Christopher

    Awesome! I can’t wait to be at the next one! I like the setups you have for the flag there.

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