It’s official: I’m a krav maga yellow belt. Yay!
The test was both harder and easier than I expected. Harder because it was so long and tiring, easier because we had a chance to review before the actual test, and could do the moves over and over, improving along the way.
But of course I didn’t know this beforehand so I was very nervous. I imagined getting grilled in front of everyone by some krav maga stranger rather than the friendly instructors I know. I imagined partner-rejection. I imagined having one chance to do choke from the side and completely blanking like I did during a drill one class. I imagined failing. But my worries were unfounded.
First off, I was glad to see the guys running the test were two instructors I knew, and before the test even began, they made sure everyone had partners. Mine was one of just four women in the class, including me, our of 14 test takers, and she was terrific. Tough and helpful with a good sense of humor.
The test was four and a half hours long. We started with an hour of cardio, which I was expecting. However, it went very fast. Running for an hour feels like forever, but doing a whole bunch of different cardio drills for the same amount of time felt like 15 minutes.
The next hour and a half was reviewing everything that we’ve learned. I wasn’t expecting this at all and was very relieved to have a chance to practice and ask questions before the test. My only question was about choke from behind with a push. I wasn’t sure what happened after getting out of the hold, and was reminded that if you’re far enough away, you’re basically set; if you’re still close to your attacker, you launch into combatives.
I’m also glad MB gave me a good practicing technique for all the choke holds. By late last week, I felt confident with my combatives but was worried about remembering some of the choke holds. I was just going to practice them off the top of my head, but MB suggested I make an index card for each hold, writing down, step by step, each move. Then he said I should practice with my eyes closed, say to myself, “Choke from the front,” or whatever, and very slowly but fluidly go through each step, gradually speeding up. Ten times for each choke hold.
I practiced it one night, then had class a couple of days later. We were practicing headlock from the side. The teacher said to start with our eyes closed, then open them as we went through the moves, but I had practiced with eyes closed so many times, I just kept them closed the whole time without even thinking.
Back to the test. After our review, we had a 15 minute break. I went through tons of water over the course of four and a half hours. I thought one 16 ounce bottle would be enough, but I refilled it three times from the water fountain. I thought the guys who had brought in gallon jugs of water were crazy, but they had the right idea.
Finally, the test began.
It was basically like the review, except with no instruction beyond, “Now do straight punches,” and with evaluation. All the groups did the same moves over and over while the instructors walked through evaluating. Then the partners would switch.
The testing part, which took about two hours, felt like an eternity. We were all very tired by then. The kicks and knees were especially exhausting. The instructors reminded us to stay aggressive and do each move like our lives depended on it. (To psyche myself up, I imagined myself as Buffy the vampire slayer, and that my partner was a demon or vampire. There, I said it.) Again I was glad to be able to do stuff again and again, to improve and practice along the way.
My partner was awesome. She bopped me a few times by mistake – once in the ear, once in the jaw, once in the crotch (!) – but those kind of hits only sting for a few seconds. She felt so bad each time, she’d hug me. I elbowed her in the ear once too by mistake.
The choke hold section took the longest while the ground work section was the shortest. We didn’t even use kick shields for ground work. We just shadow boxed movement and kicks, and did getting up once. What they did was go down the list and randomly call out our names, at which point we’d have to get up. I was toward the end, and was trying to hold my fight position the whole time. Well, I couldn’t. I’d rest my head as they called someone else’s name. Today, my lower back is pretty sore, but otherwise I feel okay.
They said we’d have three chances to get up, so I was surprised that once everyone had gotten up once, they said, “That’s it! You all passed.”
It was and is such a happy feeling. Everyone was elated. I know it’s only level 2 (and Googling “yellow belt martial arts” gives me lots of images of tiny kids getting their yellow belts), but it was my very first martial arts test, and I never thought I’d be the kind of person who’d do this kind of thing.
Now whether or not I’ll be testing for level three anytime soon is another story.