Practitioner 2 Grading.
GMAC, Perry Barr, Birmingham
16th March 2013
After P1 last October I had been forewarned that P2 is P1’s older brother and therefore in a different league, i.e. HARDER.
At Reading for P1 we had about 50 guys doing the grading simultaneously. This time the grading was down the road in a new venue Birmingham, so no 5.30am alarm calls BUT there were a lot less people, with around 20 doing my level due to the increased options on venues. There’s something reassuring about having loads of people besides yourself. Like being at a school disco when you’re 12 and don’t like dancing, it means that you can try to blend in a little more.
The instructor was an Israeli guy and very focussed but friendly. We watched the P1 guys finish and realised just how different this grading would be, as the instructor had made notes for each person and gave them verbal feedback in front of everyone else, which hadn’t happened last time. It was good to see guys from KMM get their certificates and we shook their hands before taking to the mat for our turn.
The instructor welcomed us and said that not everyone might pass but to regard the experience not with a heavy heart but instead as an opportunity to improve and as “extra training.”
After a quick warm up we split into A’s and B’s. As there was an odd number of guys, me and my partner agreed to take another lad onboard with us. In some ways this made it easier for us (less workout time, time to quickly practice a move) but in others it was harder (alternating focus, breaking off to let the other guy have a turn).
My one weakness during the build up to the grading had been backward rolls. I kept either coming down on my neck (which HURTS!!) or rolling off to the side like a drunken sailor slipping on the deck. I had finally nailed this a couple of days before, with extra training from Bartosz and was relieved when it went smoothly and I didn’t go spilling off the mat with my arse in the air, into the P3- 5 guys sitting around the edge waiting for their go.
A touch that I appreciated to the proceedings, was that if the instructor realised that more than a couple of us didn’t understand what he wanted us to demonstrate, then he would pause the grading and show us himself. This happened with both body defences and palm strikes to the groin, the latter of which had him explaining why it hurts so much, as the nerve endings are at the top of the testicles which is why you should aim to hit “up” (we all laughed but I am clenching now just remembering that).
At the end we had a bit of slow fighting and then sat on the floor dripping sweat to get our feedback. The instructor demonstrated moves he felt that all or most of us needed to improve on (such as blocking a hook punch) and then came The Moment.
I once saw a documentary on TV about the Royal Marines. After gruelling assessment over a period of weeks, the candidates sat on three benches in an army sports hall and one at a time a Captain read their names out. The soldiers were not allowed to show any emotion, regardless of outcome and it went like this:
(Smith stands up): “Sir?”
Smith: “Sir”. (Sits down again).
(Jenkins stands up): “Sir?”
Jenkins: “Sir”. (Sits down again).
The instructor warned us that not everyone had passed but again said that we should regard this experience as a positive one and try again if it was us. He added that he himself had failed a couple of times on the way up and not to be too downhearted about it. He finally said that we would be receiving feedback via email from him within a couple of days. This last bit was a nice touch and much appreciated as it is beyond what we either expected or had paid for.
We didn't know who had failed until all the certificates had been awarded. As the names were read out we took the certificate from another guy and shook the instructor’s hand, while everyone else clapped. Both the guys in my “pair” got theirs before me. When my name was finally read out I think the air rushed from my lungs with the force of a hurricane.
We then had a quick word with Bartosz and Russell and a couple of photos before heading home.
A positive experience and I can’t wait for P3 in October.