This is part two of a two part series. Don’t forget to read part one of my Krav Maga level one test.
The Official Test
When our 15-minute rest period is up, we get underway. No dawdling.
Kat leans over me with a kick shield pressed to her chest and I prepare to kick her from my position on the floor. My foot is raised, my hands are positioned protectively near my face, my head is lifted as if I’m in a never-ending crunch. She moves in closer and I arch my hips off the ground and deliver an explosive kick to her solar plexus. The impact launches her a few feet away. I lumber into a standing position by placing my right hand on the ground and swinging my right foot underneath me in an arc. Every time I kick, I can’t imagine getting up off the ground, but I manage to anyway. What if I were to just lie here and nap a little instead? Just don’t quit, they said. That’s the challenge, they said.
Mt walks behind us, clipboard in hand, evaluating my technique. He says nothing, makes a mark on the page, and moves on to the next team. I lie back down and prepare to kick Kat again.
To be honest, I don’t remember much of the test. Compared to the review, it goes by in a blink. I imagine this is what it’s like when someone experiences something traumatic. The human brain protects you by making you forget painful situations.
I feel confident in every technique we do. Once we get started, there’s never a moment I consider the possibility of failure. I’ve trained so long that I’m comfortable with all the attacks and defenses. I think that’s the secret: I know everything on this test backwards and forwards. I could do it with my eyes closed. In most cases, I mean that literally.
The Final Drill
“Okay, guys! Last drill and then you’re done,” Mt calls out to us. When he explains our final drill, I laugh involuntarily.
I’m surrounded by five other test takers. Some of them have pads, others don’t. Mt hands me a plastic stick approximately 2.5 feet long and I place one end on the ground. I lean over to place my forehead on the stick and then shuffle around in a circle with my forehead still glued to the stick. Around and around I go. The whole point is to make me dizzy. Mt grabs me and pulls me around faster.
When he finally calls for the defense to start, I stop moving and lift my upper body so that I’m completely vertical, dropping the stick to the ground. The room is spinning and I feel nauseated. The first person steps into my line of vision with a punch shield at her chest. Raising my hands up to protect my face I step forward to meet her. The room lurches to the right. I step involuntarily to the left to compensate and reach my hand out to steady myself on the pad. I can’t believe this is happening. I laugh a nervous, drunk laugh.
I throw my hands out to punch the bag. Everything is spinning and my stomach drops.
Please don’t throw up. I concentrate on breathing.
Someone wraps their hands around my neck from behind me and I reach up and around to break their contact. When I turn towards them to attack, the room lurches again to the right, but I manage to throw a few palm heel strikes. Someone from the side hits me with a kick shield. I turn towards the attack and latch onto a shoulder, driving my knee into the pad once, twice… (oh god, can I go on?) three times. I feel strong hands wrap around my neck on the side and I pluck, simultaneously sending out an open-handed strike to their groin. I turn in to deliver more attacks. Another pad strikes me in the back and I turn to address this new attacker.
This happens over and over again. They can attack with anything they know and I defend. I’m so tired, but the longer this goes on the less dizzy I feel. It’s the one consolation. I don’t think about attacking. I take on each attacker as they present themselves.
When it’s over and everyone has gone through the drill, I don’t have the energy to be excited. It’s just over.
I head over to my bag, drink some water, and look at Chris. He looks as wiped as I feel.
After a little time, Mt comes back into the training room and announces: “Congratulations! You all passed!” He hands each of us a yellow belt and we gather to take a group photo. This happens in a daze.
Someone brings out a case of Shiner beer. A few trainees grab one and collapse to the ground. I can’t imagine drinking beer right now. I can barely drink water. I keep walking around the room, my mind is still buzzing. If I stop moving, I will never move again.
It occurs to me that maybe I should stretch a little. I listen to a few people chat and laugh and recall the hardest parts of the test. I still can’t believe it’s over. I think I’m in shock. I keep stretching and do a little yoga.
One by one, everyone leaves. Chris and I are are one of the last ones left. I think we’re both too tired to comprehend that we should go home. Or eat a real dinner. Or do anything except stay in this gym that smells like dank sweat.
I’ve passed my level one test. I passed! No one got hurt, I didn’t throw up, and I will likely live to see tomorrow. The whole thing took six hours, by far the shortest Krav Maga test of anyone I’ve spoken to.
“Imagine doing this for another four hours,” I say to Chris. He closes his eyes, shakes his head, and grimaces. That’s exactly how I feel. I can’t imagine doing this for another hour. I’m not even sure I would have lasted another 30 minutes.
What I can say is that taking a single, one hour class will feel like nothing now. A walk in the park. If I can do this, I can do just about anything.
If you missed it, don’t forget to read part one of my Krav Maga level one test.