No matter what kind of hobby you have, if it is painting, repairing cars or, as in my case, self defense/ martial art – the key to be successful is to keep practicing, keep learning and have an open mind. And also be humble – everybody can teach you something.
At the beginning of June, I went with Jon (Lead Instructor of UTKM @theponderingkravist), Jeff Dyble, and Oliver M. to Petaluma, California. They drove down, for the sake of our friendship I decided to buy a plane ticket. In Petaluma, we trained for four days straight, usually 7-9 hours a day. The heat was intense but so was the training, keeping myself hydrated was only one of the challenges I faced.
I signed up for the IKF Seminar couple of months ago and kept asking myself if I really want to do that. Whenever I watched videos of previous seminars the participants always seemed to be those big special forces guys. I try to be realistic with myself – I’m not a very athletic person and it took me long enough to accept the fact that I’m not 20 anymore which means my recovery period is longer. I was worried if I survive the seminar but I also wanted to push myself to see how far I can go.
Day 1 – the four of us arrived at the gym. I was the only women in the seminar and I was aware that I’ll be watched. Then training started with a little bit of a warmup and Amit started demonstrating techniques for us to train. There was a lot of choking and eventually coughing that day. At the end of the day my throat hurt, I could barely swallow my food. The soreness would kick in the day after. And I learned that not only rugs can cause a rug burn.
Day 2 – I was sore, my thighs were hurting when I discovered the rolling pins in the gym. They use them for shin conditioning, but they also help with sore thighs. When training I made sure to switch partners and train with different people. After our regular hours of training, Amit added 2 more hours of groundwork which was a lot of fun, although getting up got harder and harder. My legs were sore and quick movements were not an option that time of day. I still tried my best – I wanted to learn as much as possible!
Day 3 – Subconsciously my body accepted that’s what it is for the next days and I felt surprisingly chipper. Another day of fun in the gym! What I really liked were the different warmups Amit made us do. That day we did a lot of punching and kicking, Amit showed us some fun combos and Jon and I are now bruise buddies. He kicked me in the elbow which then quickly gained in size and colour. And I think my leg left a mark on his upper arm. In the late afternoon, Amit made us do a trial run for the street test (it is a bit like the gauntlet for our yellow belt test but inside and without sparring). At the beginning, Amit spun us (which I struggled with, the mat almost got up and hit me in the face) and the first thing we had to do hit the pads – have fun aiming for them! After we all went through that Amit gave us shit for our bad performance.
Day 4 – I enjoyed especially the warmup. We did a lot of tumbling and gymnastics. Back when I was half my age I did a lot of that like handspring etc. I was always curious to see if I can still do that but was hesitant. Being pushed that day actually helped me to give it a try and after a couple of failed attempts, I was back in the game! Amit also showed us a wrestling drill called The Cross – you know when we always say “Don’t roll over your head!” – for The Cross this is exactly what you do. It was one of those Fu** it moments when you don’t think much about it and just do it. The big finale was the Street Test, this time we had to go twice, each time being spun before we went. This time the mat stayed down.
And then we received our dog tags.
Amit as an instructor is straight forward and will tell you honest to your face if you suck. After living in Vancouver for 6.5 years I found that very refreshing. He is fair and of course very knowledgeable. He will explain why he does things a certain way and is there if you have any questions or need help. He is not for millennials who have that need of instant gratification – you have to work hard, there is no short cut and to get good at something it takes lots of training, lots of repetition and there is not a lot of praise. I enjoyed his style of teaching a lot, I have a new technique I really like – the Russian Twist (I know, it sounds like a cocktail).
It was a great experience for me! Our group was just awesome – I really enjoyed hanging out with those guys after training, watching the UFC fights or simply have dinner! They called us the four Canadians and I’m very ok with that. Our group was very diverse – all kinds of backgrounds, everybody was super nice and I felt welcome.
The four of us also represented our school well which makes me proud and I’m also very happy with my own performance. I don’t care much if I’m the only woman in a group, I only want to be treated like everybody else, no special treatment. I worked just as hard as everybody else. It gave me an idea where I stand and what I have to work on. I also had a great time with Jon, Jeff and Oliver – thank you guys – for sharing your food on the first day with me and Jon for picking me up in the middle of the night and later dropping me off at 3 am at the bus stop.
At the end of the seminar, Amit said that we are now part of the IKF family and that we will be there for each other. It made me think – as long as I can remember I’ve been told to be self-sufficient, independent. After a shitty relationship and other disappointments, I was so busy holing up and keeping everybody at arm’s length that I totally missed the fact that I’m already part of a family – as corny as that sounds – but UTKM has become a family to me. Now I only have to get used to it.
I also feel grateful because the seminar brought me closer to my community at UTKM, I finally understand that there are people who care about me and I can rely on. I also feel grateful for my Judo background – it helped me a lot!
A big thank you to all participants of that sweat marathon – I loved hanging out with you! See you next time!