Well, I feel like I was run over by a truck or two. But, after six hours of being pounded on during a sunny Sunday afternoon, I now have my “Krav Maga”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krav_Maga yellow belt! The AIG and I have been taking Krav classes since October — first once a week, and now three mornings a week — and let me say we’re hooked. It’s great exercise, great fun, and a great chance to clobber some poor unsuspecting person.
(Of course, last Sunday, I was the one who got clobbered.)
So, now that I went and passed my test, first of all, let me recommend to all you readers that you give Krav a try. Second of all, once you do, let me recommend the following ways to ensure you pass your yellow belt test:
# *Show up.* I don’t mean in the minimal sense; I mean, bring everything you can. Don’t have part of your head someplace else. As you probably figured out from classes, exhaustion and hitting hard are both big parts of the test. Show up prepared to give 100% on both.
# *Know the curriculum.* It’s tough to see something the first time during the test; don’t put yourself in that position. We were aggressive about asking our instructors to teach techniques we hadn’t seen, and that paid off. Read through your book and make sure every technique is checked off.
# *Practice learning how to learn.* The flip side is that you’ll see at least slightly new things during your test. For instance, one of my usual instructors really likes us to deliver roundhouse kicks with the part of your foot you make a soccer kick with; the test instructor really wanted us to deliver that kick with the shin. Practice getting things the first time in class, understand what you don’t tend to “grok”:http://www.answers.com/grok?cat=technology&gwp=13 and what questions you need to ask to get it. The faster you can catch on, the more of a favor you’ll do yourself.
# *Learn how to get hit.* Maybe I’m just saying this because I paired up with a broad-shouldered 6’3″ Aryan warrior-looking guy who made me feel like my ribs were gonna crack every time he punched me, but taking a hit is a key skill in a test. You’ll be matched with someone you do all of your practice and all of your testing with, and, for half the time, that person will be hitting you. Learn to hold solid, so that they look good. Learn to take the impact, so that you survive to hit back. There’s just no way around it.
# *Pick your partner.* If I’d’ve been smarter, I would’ve matched myself with a guy my size who I’d met a few minutes before the test. The AIG was very smart and matched herself with a similar-sized classmate who she often trained with in the mornings. It’s really best not to get badly beaten-up all test long.
# *Watch for the instructors.* While you’re hitting, or defending in a self-defense move, keep aware of your surroundings so that you know when you’re being watched. When you’re holding, or attacking, it’s also your job to keep your eyes open and let your partner know when they’re being watched.
# *Give 110 percent… or 50.* If you can spot the instructors, then you can take it down a big notch when they’re not watching. Make sure you keep your form — you never want to get off-track there — but don’t wipe yourself out. In contrast, bring everything when being watched. Keep in mind, you’ll need to go for hours of practice and for at least a couple of exhaustion drills (I’d say ours were about the first and last thirds of the actual test).
# *Always finish.* When doing a self-defense move, add in an extra elbow, an extra knee to the head, and move to the attacker’s dead side to show you really know what you’re doing.
# *Plan your hydration and nutrition.* Between us, the AIG and I drank _2 gallons_ of fluid during the test, most during the practice period. I peed once and came home thirsty. Know what you’re likely to need to drink and bring that and some extra. I personally don’t like drinking tons of water — we brought a 25% apple juice – 75% water mix, which worked great and which I recommend. Food is also important; I had two bananas and the AIG had a banana and a half, and those were lifesavers for us. I brought protein bars but never felt like I could wait long enough for the protein to be metabolized; I needed faster sugars. Breakfast beforehand was eggs, toast, and fruit. You can adjust to your own preferences, but the people who seemed to have the hardest times were the ones who didn’t prepare at all.
# *Leave plenty of time.* The test was advertised to be 4 hours; ours lasted more than 6. Good thing we didn’t have any plans afterwards! Of course, given how we felt when we were done (and today, the day after), all plans would’ve been off anyway. Don’t make yourself feel rushed, and try not to get too out-of-sorts when the test goes long; it assuredly will. The good part is that the actual test seems quick, compared to the hours and hours of practice; the hour-long test was done practically before I realized. At one moment I was exhausted and shocked the test was so long and so I said “that’s it, I quit! No more Krav for me!” Of course, then I realized it was just the test I hated, so I promised myself “no more tests!” Now that I’ve passed the test, I’m ready for my orange belt test now, can we do it straight away?
There you go — follow these ten simple rules, and you’ll be as badass as we are!
Oh, and some (but not all) of the techniques we were tested on:
There you go! Badass, or something. (For those of you who do other martial arts, yes, this is a lot of techniques for a white belt test.)