If you are just reading this as a stand-alone, please make sure to go and read “The “Hell” That Was the Dreaded Green Belt Test” by our Student Karis who recently completed the test. This was her account of the test and this post is coming from an instructor perspective and response to her post.
Before I break down Karis’s assement I should Note that at UTKM the green belt test is the hardest tests with regards to basic hand to hand combat. It covers the white belt-Orange Belt curriculum which focuses on unarmed combat and control. It does cover sticks and other weapons of opportunity as well as basic knife defenses. The main goal of the test is to push you physically and mentally and still see if you are able to defend your self when tired and under duress.
For some, this is a nightmare and others just another day, either way, we scale the tests to push each individual according to their limits. What I want to try to do is get you do quit, even though I dont want you to quit. Because of this, it is a hard 3-3.5 hour test that only has a few minutes here and there for rest. Because of this, short of being completely oblivious to the techniques one of the only real ways to fail is to quit. So far out of all 5 people who have done the green belt test, though we broke their spirit they all ended up finishing the test. Karis just happens to be the first woman to do it and she sets the pace for every other female who follows as looking at our student base there will most certainly be more in the coming years.
The other thing is if after reading Karis post you can’t see the angst all over the writing then I will tell you, Karis is still young at 18 so for her, someone who grew up in soft Canada, and still has yet to experience much, this test was particularly difficult. But I am very proud that she didn’t quit and completed the test.
Before the Test
In response to her comment “but the test was very painful and I never want to do anything like that again.” She will, of course, do many many more things like this perhaps even harder. Eventually, the higher belt tests will come and oh you know that thing called life which she has barely started…
And yes, our classes really are fun, even though we are pushing you all hard. Especially in the Warrior classes.
Her first hardship with this test was the fact she was supposed to do it in December. She had been diligently preparing training 4-5 days a week including running. She was ready both physically and mentally. Then a few days leading up to it she tripped and sprained her ankle. I recall she was more upset because ” I don’t get hurt.”, some of us found this amusing. I think most of the older people said, “You do now, welcome to aging.” or something along those lines.
Injury can wreak havoc on the psyche, especially if you are used to training all the time. Aside from the fact we had reduced class offerings due to our Richmond location shutting down, it is clear that the injury affected Karis in a way she might not have expected. She lost some motivation and energy. This is normal. Anyone who has ever been injured knows this feeling. But those of us who bounce back fast know you can’t let it get you down and you just have to get back into things as fast as comfortably possible. This was her first mistake. Using the lack of classes available as a reason to let her cardio, and other physical attributes suffer.
When you are less physically ready for a test it means that the inevitable will happen. The mental will be all the harder and for Karis it certainly was.
“In a real war, if I quit, people die.”
This Physical Vs. Mental strength phenomenon is something I learned about in the army. Those who were physically gifted rarely really pushed themselves, thus they knew not what it means to feel the pain that someone who is not physically gifted felt. For someone like my self who is not an athlete, I was constantly fighting a mental battle and fighting through everything just trying to keep up. Those who were physically gifted the odd time they were actually pushed to their limits acted like petulant little children and could barely handle it. For me and others like me, this struggle was real. I remember being told once they looked up to me because they saw how hard it was for me and were surprised I never quite. Which I usually responded, “In a real war, if I quit, people die.”
This attitude in many ways is what Krav Maga is really about.
Bar-Or: This is a standard IDF test, at least when I was there. You are required to do push-ups, sit-ups and then a 2km run. The 2km distance can be tough because you can’t sprint it but it’s not exactly long distance. Thus if you push yourself it usually quite difficult. For Karis, this was probably the hardest part. She started out great but then nerves, her mind and lack of running prep got in the way. I would say though it was mostly nerves and her mind as I had not run in…I dont know..ow my knees and it wasn’t too bad at all. Thus the mind becomes the killer of dreams sometimes. I had to give her a pep talk, something I am not great at in order to get her not to quit right there.
Written Exam: Compared to everything she has written for the instructor course this was easy but due to her nerves it was harder than she would have imagined. Hmmm, I wonder what kind of sadist makes someone write a test right after they just jacked up someone’s heart rate. WHO DOES THAT!? Well, me of course.
Simple, in the military, police or in life you may encounter a stressor, your heart rate goes up but you still need to function. You still need to write that report, coordinates or work after a fight with your significant other. So really, I guess this part is a test of life and adversity. YAY!
Also in response too “I AM SO SORRY INSTRUCTORS WHO HAD TO TRY TO READ AND GRADE MY TEST, I THOUGHT JON WOULD BE GRADING IT.” Why do you think I made them mark it? I is so SMRT. But no seriously, I need to make sure the other instructors are capable of marking and running these tests as eventually everyone will need to be able to run them without me..so sad :(, I mean GREAT!
Review: Now that her heart rate is down again, time to jack it up. AGAIN! Of course, she doesn’t remember doing the white or yellow belt techniques. Thats because she has done them so many times they are like second nature. Funny how training works like that. Ideally, you get to the point where you no longer think, you just do.
The Orange belt curriculum focuses more on takedowns and controlling the other opponent. So if you dont MAKE THEM COMPLY WITH PAIN COMPLIANCE!!!!! Then this part will be hard. Yes, they are wearing cups, so if they dont react, HIT THEM HARDER because they clearly didn’t learn their lesson the first time! A lesson to everyone who helps out on a test. I dont want you to make it easy but if you aren’t responding at all even after they hit you hard then clearly you have nothing there worth hitting. Just saying… And to anyone testing in the future, there is a reason they are wearing cups. HIT HARDER!
When it came to the Judo she did just fine, of course, it helps Petra does Judo which makes it so much easier. There is nothing harder than doing Judo with new people who are bigger than you. It is oh so much more painful than it needs to be. Lucky Karis!
Body shot only sparring: This is basically a 5-minute Karate style Kumite to soften you up for the rest of the test. Yes, it will hurt, it’s fairly hard hitting with no shots to the face. I don’t know what the complaints are for, its not like I made her do a 100 man Kumite! The more aggressive you are back the more difficult it is for your opponents to be aggressive on you. If you just take it, you will have bruises. Lots of them!!
Notice how being aggressive stops your opponents faster….Just saying. Of course, we are not looking for head kicks or strikes in our Kumite but you know. AGGRESSION!
Circle of Power: This is a fairly standard Krav test. Stand in the middle as people take turns attacking with various attacks. Unlike the Orange Belt one, this one involves taking downs. Get stuck on the ground and you might be there for a while. This is where mental fortitude matters especially if you have no BJJ or grappling background. Say…I remember it says somewhere that you need a BJJ blue belt or equivalent to get a UTKM Black Belt. This may take most people a while, but if you start it early BEFORE your green belt then it’s much easier. Of course, Karis did BJJ but has not continued since we shut down the Richmond school so I guess she is rusty…
Yes, some people are bigger than you but that doesn’t matter. I regularly roll with guys who have 20-30-40-50 lbs on me and I still give them a challenge because I am not going to let them just sit on me for an entire round because who the hell wants that. AGGRESSION! Even if you are exhausted by this point in the test. Additionally, I STRONGLY encourage ALL women students to take of BJJ early in their self-defense training. Combine it with your Krav and you will be unstoppable.
Sparring with Takedowns: “My test evaluation grading book thing says I got one, but I got two. That’s all I have to say. “I dunno I saw one…maybe 2 but you know I have old eyes… This part of the test is Hard. Because not only are you tired, you need to attempt to use all the techniques you have to control opponents in rapid succession. The record for this section is 3 out of 5. OH, and you need to control them on the ground for 3-5 seconds before you get to rest. Take the entire round and you get no rest.
Conclusion & Advice
There was most certainly blood sweat and tears. I will deviate from her post and give my own conclusion and advice. Karis is one of the most dedicated and hard-working students, if not the most dedicated and hard working students we have ever had. She more than anyone deserved this belt as for her the entire journey was a struggle. YES WARREN (Warren Chow is a contributor and UTKM Green Belt student), this includes you. Unlike Warren, Karis did not have a lifetime of experience and martial arts to draw from when the test became difficult mentally.
Karis is an inspiration to any of the other students because she is always there and always training. Like me, I would not say she is physically gifted or naturally athletic but she puts in the work and thus she gets the results. To any students who think they cant do they test then you dont know its simply a matter of showing up and training. Eventually, you too will get there.
If you had asked me when Karis first showed up if she would have been our first female Green Belt I wouldn’t have believed it. Karis came to us when she was 15 and despite living so far from the school (often bussing 2-3 hours to train) she still kept coming. She was a scrawny teen with bad posture and yet she has come so far.
She now stands up straight and kicks ass like no other. We did and do have other females who are Orange belts and started well before Karis but they either stopped training, moved away or take far to much time off. This is a classic example of the Tortis and the Hare. Constant, consistent pace will get you there in the long run and that she did.
If you have not also read her other posts she is also working towards being an Assistant instructor at UTKM. A process that is arguably harder than the green belt because IT TAKES SO DAMN LONG! Sucks that I have standards. OH WELL, better instructors for all you students. YAY!
Anyways. Karis did great despite the setbacks at the beginning. She overcame and didn’t Quit and thats what matters. She has a lifetime ahead of her to continue growing and improving and by the time she’s my age, she will probably be kicking my ass.
Let her be an inspiration to you all and I wish that you to may all learn to walk in peace.
Note: IF YOU DONT WANT YOUR NAME SPELT INCORRECTLY ON YOUR CERTIFICATES MAKE SURE ITS SPELT RIGHT IN THE SYSTEM….Just saying.