Don't get me wrong, I'm not disagreeing with those of you who prefer the barbell lifts and the reasons for using them. I agree completely.
But as in the case of Jeff and Seminole Chick, they may be better off using a dumbbell or kettlebell because A) There is no one in their gym to teach them the Olympic barbell lifts B) It would be easier to learn with a dumbbell/kbell C) They will still get many of the same benefits as the barbell lifts.
When I first began learning the Olympic lifts, I had two people that taught me (we also competed together as a part of Team Florida - they still do). But there is a lot more to learn regarding technique when using the barbell. I found that doing one-arm cleans, jerks and snatches with a dumbbell or kbell worked very well and it was much easier to learn.
So in no way am I saying that it is better than the barbell, but for those who would like to use variations of the Olympic lifts without having someone teach them, then using dumbbells or kbells (one arm at a time) is a great alternative.
I believe the carryover will be almost as good without having the same learning curve. If you read CT's book, you will see that there is a chapter devoted to the Olympic lifts and many of the "form breaks" that occur when people learn them. Without being properly coached, you can easily ingrain bad form and find it very hard to correct in the future.
As for safety, I feel that using a dumbbell or kbell is much safer than the barbell variation, as I have also experience hitting myself in the chin or the top of my head while using a barbell, and my friends have also had busted chins and lips. The chances of this happening with a dumbbell or kbell is greatly reduced.
Also, I perform my one-arm movements from the floor, rather than the hang. This does recruit the legs, lower back, upper back, shoulders, arms, etc.
Again, I'm not saying that this is better than using the barbell variations, I'm only saying for those that do not have a coach or do not understand how to do them with a barbell, they can use a dumbbell or kbell and get many of the same benefits.
Try them for yourself and see!
Seminole chick, what is your goal? Mass or strength? If training for mass, I would suggest 2-4 sets of higher reps 8-10 using a moderate weight. If strength and explosive speed/power is your goal, I would suggest more sets, lower reps and more weight. You would want to focus on really exploding with the weight and "popping" the hips forward when you explode upward. I highly suggest reading Coach D's article "Grip and Rip" and applying it to the dumbbell or kbell.
As for the kbell, I enjoy using them. But they are much more difficult due to the thicker handle and the way the weight shifts when performing the lifts. As Pavel has stated, they add an element of "evil" to the lift, but the carryover is great.
By the way, I just ordered another kbell. It's time for me to step up from my 16kg (36lb) kbell to the 24kg (53lb) kbell. I'm looking forward to some heavy one-arm snatches and more!