Krav Maga Global (UK)
Birmingham Gymnastics & Martial Arts Centre, Perry Bar
October 12th 2013
The Wet T-Shirt Competition
I had heard various rumors that, after the delights of P1 and its big brother, P2 the grading for my next level, P3 would be H.A.R.D.E.R.
It was big boys’ pants time, with 2 guys going for P5 specifically stating that P3 was the most difficult grading they’d taken. This was “the other side of the curve” with the first two gradings merely setting the scene for what was to come.
So, with nerves a-jangling and my Sat Nav being a petulant brat and sending me the “pretty” way to Perry Bar, I set off on a rainy Saturday morning to face the baptism by fire.
When I got there the P1s were still on the mats and peering through the windows I could see them doing ground sparring under the supervision of Rune Lind, a KMG Expert 4 examiner who I met a year ago on my P1 grading. One fat guy was at the end of his energy levels and simply lay on the floor, on his back gasping for air. Well, he did until Rune poked him repeatedly with his foot and yelled at him to get up. There were 4 or 5 KravMaga Midlands students from my class in there and they looked knackered as they came out and shook hands with me and the other guys waiting for the later levels. All had passed which boosted my confidence and we wished the P2 guys well as they marched in to register.
Due to some undisclosed problem, the gradings for P4 and 5 had been moved forward to merge with P3. This wouldn’t have been a a quandary apart from the fact that it was decided on the day. Frantic text messages were apparently sent out. Scott sent an SMS to our Chief Instructor Bartosz saying “Not sure if I’ll make it on time” to which Bartosz simply replied “Drive faster!”
Everyone made it in good time and I watched some of P2 doing their stuff and chatted with Anna who runs Active Krav Maga in Cheltenham and suggested a twinning between them and Krav Maga Midlands. Time will tell.
Two people failed P2 which put a slight dampener on the mood. Felt sorry for them but as Bartosz pointed out, there are Expert levels out there who failed at least one grading on their way up the ladder.
When we took to the mat we had a quick warm up and were then formally briefed on the differences that I’d heard about, from P2 to this level. The instructor said that they didn’t want people who “collect patches” and that he hoped we were all there as we believed we were ready for it. He then handed us over to Rune who said that the first time he saw us throw a technique he would regard THAT as the one he was assessing, so we’d best make it good. He pointed out that in his opinion a “pass” was something that would work “on the street.” He then split us into groups according to our levels, with the 4 guys doing P5 in one corner and us and P4 on the other side. He asked for slow fighting at the start and I was seriously worried about my energy levels after 10 minutes as I was feeling like shit and gasping for breath. We then moved onto techniques and worked through the various stuff we’d spent the last few weeks practicing. I had no problem with kicks and was quite pleased when my partner holding the strike pad went flying a couple of times. He could kick hard too and it was difficult not to end up sailing back into the chairs around the edge of the mats.
I guessed we wouldn’t be given formal water breaks so took the initiative to ask. Rune was a gentleman and said it was fine, cue much glugging of H2O, orange juice or Lucozade before we got stuck in to knife and stick attacks. Rune had us do the basic techniques then asked us to try and get the knife off the attacker. I took my partner to the ground and we were squabbling over the blade until it snapped and I sheepishly handed in the broken bits afterwards.
Forward rolls was something I tried briefly but my ropey right shoulder put paid to that. Krav Maga Global have a common sense approach to injuries and we were specifically asked at the start if we had any existing ailments they should know about. I got excused from “jumping over your partner while they kneel down as if impersonating the Pope kissing the airport runway” but managed a couple of rolls. After 2 and a bit hours of hard work, we moved on to the biggest bastard of the session.
Rune told us to put gloves on and said that those of us (including me) who’d only brought MMA as opposed to 16 ouncers, could only punch lightly, even if our opponent had the proper big jobs on. He said to slow fight to start with and then we would move up in tempo.
We were all completely knackered by this point and I had to find reserves of adrenalin that I’d stashed in a hidden bank vault in order to continue. After a couple of minutes Rune then told us to spar at normal speed with a new partner, but said that as one had to be on the ground we had to do 10 push ups facing each other, with the winning presser upper getting to choose which one of the pair had to lie on the floor on their back. I won, let my partner go to the mat and then simply held him down in a body hold while he struggled to get up, until Rune shouted “TIME!”
My next partner also lost the push ups, so he went down and again I held him, with Rune stopping by on his rounds to tell us to punch each other as well as just wrestle it out. The guy eventually said, “I have to tap out mate, I can’t breathe!” (so how did he verbalise that?) and being a gent I stood up and we then moved to stand up scrapping. I was ready to drop dead by this point and went hammer and tongs with the remaining energy I had left. I was reassured by a couple of instructors I didn’t know, who cheered me on saying, “That’s good, good job, keep going.” My partner caught me a right meaty smack in the chops and then muttered “I’m sorry”. I replied in a croaking rasp, “Don’t apologise, just fight!”
Finally the longest tussle of my life ended and I dragged my soaking carcass to join the others in a line. Rune and another instructor walked up with a big pile of certificates and smilingly asked, “So step forward anyone who thinks they DESERVE to pass!” Me and about 8 others stepped one pace out and they looked at each other and then back at us before Rune said, “Good start. But if you ever test with Eyal Yanilov never let him hear you say ‘I think I might pass the test’. That means you have already failed it.”
All of P3, 4, and 5 had passed and we proudly walked up to get our certificates, dripping sweat and in some cases limping. I shook hands with my technique partner and the guy I’d sparred with. The latter had a busted lip where I’d hit him and when I pointed out that he was bleeding he replied, “Yeah, I hoped the instructors would stop the fight but no such luck.”
Finally a few photos and I peeled one very wet t-shirt off in favour of a fresher dry one, before driving home.
Tremendous yet gruelling day and all I can say now is….bring on P4.