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The “Hell” That Was the Dreaded Green Belt Test

Posted: February 28, 2019 by karisblog180560859 in Testing
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Editors Note: Karis is the first female and at 18 (The minimum age for a UTKM adult green belt) the youngest person to achieve green belt at UTKM. This is her account of her test. The mind of a teenager is always quite entertaining. Lead instructor Jon will be writing a follow-up post from the instructors perspective next week.

 I recently took the UTKM green belt test. I figured since Jon (UTKM Lead Instructor) is always bothering the instructors and me (even though I’m not an instructor yet) to write blog posts, I should probably write something about how terrible it was. Well, I guess it was also rewarding, but the test was very painful and I never want to do anything like that again. Ever. So excited to see what is planned for the blue belt test. But hey, that’s probably at least four more years away. For me at least. I would actually be excited for someone else to get a blue belt. As long as I’m not suffering, it’s fine.

If you are new to the school or Krav Maga, don’t freak out and worry that classes are really hard and all the tests are super challenging. The tests ARE hard, but they start out easier and get harder as you move up the ranks. The instructors also make sure you are prepared and know the techniques before allowing to test. More on that later. Also, did I mention classes are actually really fun?

Now, I was originally planned to take my test sometime in December. That time, I was actually preparing. I was going to ALLLLL the classes, doing push-ups at home, and I actually ran a few times. But with less than a week to go I sprained my ankle and the test had to be pushed back. The second time around and I was an idiot who barely prepared. The Richmond gym had closed so I was attending fewer classes. I was busy with school and work, transiting everywhere and getting home late and exhausted. If you are a student at a university, do not sign up for any classes before ten am. They are hell, and you will hate yourself. I also really hate running. I could have made time to prepare, but I didn’t and of course, I wound up regretting it.

The Test

 

BAR OR: So you start off with push ups, sit ups, and then you get to run for two kms. How exciting. I honestly thought I would fail the push-ups, but I got to 40 which was further then I had dared hope for. The situps were more tiring then I expect, but come on, anyone can do sit-ups, so that part went fine. The fun part came when I stood up and my arms and legs were tired, and I had to run. I’ve mentioned my hatred of running. Well, it went terribly. I may have puked (I did). I felt really dizzy at one point near the end. I was walking for at least the last fourth of the test. To me, that was proof that I wasn’t actually ready and I shouldn’t be doing the test. If I couldn’t even do the “easy” part, how was I going to survive everything else? Throughout the entire test, that was when I was mentally at my lowest point. I wanted to quit, and I told Jon I shouldn’t be doing this. His response was to yell (Editors note: it was more aggressive motivation) at me, which did work, so thanks. I think what he said was something like it’s all in my head, don’t overthink it, and probably something about my confidence. I don’t know. It was a long test.

WRITTEN EXAM: So after that mess was the written test. The questions themselves were easy, but I took too long on the multiple choice/true or false questioning and barely finished on time. I should have been faster, but I was rereading some of them and not as focused as I could have been. So for the written questions, I was rushing to complete all of them and definitely lost points that I could have had if I had more time. My writing was also a mess, literally. I AM SO SORRY INSTRUCTORS WHO HAD TO TRY TO READ AND GRADE MY TEST, I THOUGHT JON WOULD BE GRADING IT. The written test was probably the easiest part. If you’ve been to a ton of classes and heard Jon’s lectures, you’ll know the stuff. Just make sure you move quickly. Twenty minutes sounds longer then it is.

REVIEW: So off to review everything I’ve learned. I’m pretty sure the white belt stuff was fine. As a colour belt, it would probably be a problem if I didn’t know any of those techniques. I don’t remember how the yellow belt techniques went, but I definitely remember the orange. Who can forget being squished multiple times (cough cough QUINN). We avoid the ground for a reason. I would get my arms stuck under someone, and then try to free them so I could actually do something. Unfortunately, to others it would appear like I’m not doing anything and I’d get yelled at to keep fighting. IT’S HARD TO FIGHT WHEN YOU CAN’T MOVE. Also aggression. One of my biggest problems. I just don’t like hurting people. I actually had to repeat a lot of the techniques because I wasn’t being aggressive enough. I also had to stop and think about what to do with certain attacks. We practice the yellow belt stuff more than the orange, and I was unsure on some of it.

The judo throws had worried me, but I did manage to do them correctly (at least by Krav standards). I’m sure practitioners of Judo would be able to spot errors in my form. It also really helps that I got to throw Petra, who knows how to be thrown and how to break fall. Speaking of, Petra I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to throw you so hard. I don’t care if we aren’t supposed to say sorry in Krav, I can and will apologize for things. Fight me (please don’t, I have too many bruises). One thing I knew I wasn’t going to succeed at doing was using oblique kicks to block kicks. I don’t like doing this. I find it awkward and difficult to time correctly. It’s not something I would ever attempt in a real fight. I was okay with failing to properly demonstrate it as I knew I could do most of the other stuff.

BODY SHOT ONLY SPARRING: What even is pain? THIS. Ohhhh this part was horrible. I was tired, but I had to go five minutes with people hitting me. Sure, technically I could hit back but I was trying to avoid getting hit and just survive it. This hurt. So much. Remember that while I’m tired and can’t hit very hard, everyone else still had lots of energy. This is probably where most of the bruises came from. Karch was definitely the worst one to face. I was terrified of fighting Jon because he’s scary and very good. Also, Quinn because like I’ve mentioned he’s bigger and stronger than me, as well as being good. Hahaha nope. Karch just kept hitting very fast and very hard. He actually demonstrated retzev really well. Having to keep standing and taking hits was exhausting. Oof. I don’t know if I can articulate how painful that was. When it was over I sat down and tears started pouring down my face. I think I cried after the circle of death and takedown sparring too. I’m not sure why, if it was a delayed reaction to the pain or I was feeling overwhelmed. Maybe the test did break me. Petra and Devon, another assistant instructor and fellow student, would come to encourage me whenever I had the chance to rest, which I’m really grateful for.

CIRCLE OF POWER: The circle of power or as we call it the circle of death is named so for a reason. For anyone lucky enough to not know what it is, you stand in the middle of a circle of attackers. They attack you in different ways, you defend, and on the green belt have to take them down. It goes for ten minutes. This at first seemed to go so slowly. I looked at the clock two minutes in and didn’t know if I would be able to finish. I know I was lethally stabbed a few times (Editors note: Not really, they were just flesh wounds).

Just a flesh wound.jpg

My takedowns got really bad as I was just grabbing people and trying to spin/slam them down (tip: this doesn’t work very well). And then bear hugs. In case you were wondering, it is terrifying to be suddenly lifted into the air several feet (if not more) of the ground. This is why I tried to avoid any of the bigger guys to not come to my test (They ignored it my request.) If only that worked. Again, the ground sucks. But it’s not as bad when they don’t know what they are doing. The requirement for a blue belt in BJJ or grappling equivalent to obtaining your black belt in (UTKM) Krav is, in my opinion, a valid and important requirement. Also, when I kick you in the groin, please react, or I will keep kicking harder. Learn the first time!

SPARRING WITH TAKEDOWNS: My test evaluation grading book thing says I got one, but I got two. That’s all I have to say. Joking. I did get two, but oh well. This section was like normal sparring, but I had to try and take the person to the ground and hold them there for three seconds in a controlled fashion. Originally my goal was just stay standing, so I think two takedowns was pretty good. I wasn’t going to be able to take down anyone much bigger than me. I didn’t have the energy for the aggression I needed. Also, small teen vs guys bigger and stronger than her. You should know if you’ve been around for a while that physics does matter. Near the end, I was just trying to keep moving and avoid being hit as much as possible.

Conclusion & Advice

 

So some blood, puke, tears, and sweat later, here we are. The test was very challenging and painful, but when is life not? I did get my green belt, thankfully. I now have permission to laugh in the face of any newbie who tries to correct me (mansplaining, google it). By permission I mean that no one has told me that I CAN’T do that. (Editors note: She can’t. She will, of course, be helpful and polite as is seen with her many apologies) It will happen. Honestly, if you aren’t a colour belt I’m probably going to ignore your opinion (Editors note: what she means to say is, listen carefully and try to learn something new from every encounter.) I didn’t attend all those classes and suffer through all the tests to be told I’m doing something wrong. Trust me, if I was doing a technique incorrectly, it would have been caught a few belts ago. Leave me alone. (Editors note: She says this but will gladly kick you in the groin when the time is right)

To anyone who is going to take one of the belt tests, here’s my advice. Firstly, work on your cardio, aka the thing I never do and then always regret not doing. None of the tests are easy. They will challenge you. You will be helping yourself by preparing. Speaking of, make sure you know everything that you are being tested on. Not only do you need to be able to demonstrate the techniques properly, but you also need to be able to answer questions about when you might use them, etc. Lucky you, there are things to help with this now. The student workbooks, and the pre-tests. The workbooks have everything that will be on the test, so make sure you mark off when you learn something. And if you don’t know something or aren’t comfortable with it, you can practice it at the pre-test. The pre-test is just there to show you where you are at and show you what you need to work on. 

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Shin gi Tai

Those are the physical and technical aspects, but there’s also the mental part (shin gi tai! Hey look I remembered something). The tests probably seem really daunting by now. They should be taken seriously, but remember that you will not be allowed to test unless an instructor thinks you are ready. The pre-tests will really help with this, as they give the instructors a better idea of how ready you are. So if you are taking a test, instructors who have experience with this (way more than you) believe you can pass. Don’t quote me on this, but the main ways you will fail a test are if you quit (or are injured to a point where you can’t continue), or you are fatally stabbed too many times.

Reading this may not convince you, I know hearing similar things didn’t help me, but try to believe it. The instructors want you to do your best on the tests and that may involve being held back for the next one or being pushed out of your comfort zone. It may be unpleasant, but hey, just don’t die. I managed it, so you can.

To everyone who came out to cheer me on, thank you. I appreciate the time you gave up to be there. All the horrible people who came to beat me up, I have nothing to say to you. Just know that I highly dislike you and will be there at your next test 🙂 Finally, please never say stuff like “I want to fight everyone who thought I should be an instructor on my green belt”. Especially to Jon. He will remember and you will fight them and it will suck. You will be too tired for rage and end up fighting more colour belts then you needed to.

-Karis

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Karis after her Green Belt test (See she looks happy and full of energy, I guess the test was not that hard) Left to right: Karch, Jon, Karis, Petra, Dave 

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sleep is for the weak.jpgEditors Note: This entry is part of our ongoing Assitant instructor course. We have gotten half way through this years course and its time for a post midterm update. Karis is one of our most talented and committed students. What words of wisdom might her young should deem worthy of you!

First of all, if you’re reading this, go away, please. I’m positive you can find better things to do than listen to me complain. If you’re still here, why? It feels like I just wrote a post but here I am AGAIN. I hope you are all ready for more sarcasm! I’m not 100% sure what exactly I’m writing about, probably my experience with the AIC (Assitant Instructor course) so far? Sure, I’ll go with that. If not, well, I’m not rewriting. So first of all, it may not have been the smartest idea to add on another course to school and training. I think I spend more time on the bus than anywhere else. Oh well. Haven’t had a breakdown yet.

Sleep is for the weak!

So I have made it through four units and their corresponding tests and a midterm, and I’ve passed three of the units tests, to my surprise. Still waiting on the results from the unit four test and the midterm. Actually, the midterm was not as hard as I thought it would be (shocking, I know), at least for the written part. Just four essay questions and I actually felt like I could answer them. Now, whether I was actually correct remains to be seen. Unfortunately, I also had to teach a mock class which did terrify me. I actually forgot to talk about a principle relating to the technique until I was already halfway through. Leading up to the test Jon had been saying stuff like “everyone struggles with time management” and “people always run out of time”. Whenever I heard that, I’d think to myself, “Pffffft no. Screw that. I refuse to have a problem with that. I will watch that clock and keep everything on time.” Well surprisingly that actually worked. I finished the ‘class’ right before the timer went off. Honestly, I’m very proud of that. Nothing else matters now, I can die happy.

So, I THINK the midterm went okay, but what have I learned? Teaching is extremely difficult and scary. And I’m only halfway through. Still haven’t been forced to teach a real class, yet. But the PowerPoint on problem students is nightmare material, despite the fact that most of the students I’ve trained with are very nice and eager to learn. But there are so many other things to be worried about. You have to keep the class on time, keep everyone safe, teach the principles when appropriate, and not lose the timer thingy (another thing I have decided not to do). There’s a lot to remember. Fingers crossed I don’t kill anyone. OKAY! I have nothing else to say, so please leave now.

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Editors note: Of course sleep is not for the weak, according to science it’s actually one of one of the most important things you can do for yourself. We have told Karis many times she needs to sleep more but well you know the kids these days…

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Karis After her orange Belt test. Also how we imagine she feels writing this post.

Did I say forced? I meant given this wonderful opportunity…

So first of all, to everyone who told Jon I should do the Assistant Instructor Course. Yeah. I’m doing it. Thanks. Peer pressure guys, clearly it works. Starting at the beginning though, I’ve been doing Krav Maga for close to three years now. Before that, I did ballet when I was younger and tried some other sports, but I didn’t really enjoy them due to being shy and not good at team sports. I chose to learn self defense because I thought it would help me get into the RCMP and also because my father wanted me to be able to protect myself. He recognized that as a female, my life going to be different from that of my brothers and I would face different threats. I also thought Krav was more of a solo sport, however, on that I was wrong. Anyone who’s been to one of the tests could tell you that at Urban Tactics everyone is very encouraging and we all want each other to succeed.

When I first tried a class at UTKM as a quiet, small fifteen-year-old, I definitely didn’t

Karis During her Orange Belt.jpg

Karis During her orange belt test. Not so quiet now.

think I would ever get this far. I started just going to one or two classes a week and was surprised when I got told I could test for my yellow belt. Side note to anyone going for a belt test, pleeeeease prepare. DO IT. It will be a bit easier if you are physically ready and trust me, on your test day, you will be thankful. I struggled through that first test and while it was rewarding, it was harder than it would have been if I have been physically prepared. Anyways, I’ve come pretty far in the time I’ve been training. I currently have an orange belt in Krav and I’ve been training Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for six months now? I got a stripe for my white belt in BJJ recently! Explaining what that means to my family was interesting, as I’m not totalllllly sure what exactly that is. I was still really excited about it, though I’m not ‘suddenly’ better now like how someone told me would happen.

So, on top of all the training and oh yeah school too, I am now doing the assistant instructor course (help me). If you have ever met me, you will probably have noticed I am not exactly a loud person. Or someone good at stringing together explanations. But somehow people thought I could teach, I dunno what they saw. We’ll see if I can do it or not. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I also have a green belt test coming up, for anyone who wants to help, especially big, strong people taller than me, it’s in November. Yup. Show up for tests in November. Don’t worry about any tests before then (unless you’re small, then we need you). Otherwise, don’t come. Thanks anyways. See you in November. Don’t forget.

Okay, what else? Why am I doing this course? Because all of my reasons to NOT do it were shot down, and someone put time and effort into writing a response to my list (That someone was Lead Instructor Jon.) I would feel bad if they worked on that and I didn’t do the program. And that’s the only reason I’m doing this. No, I’m kidding. I love Krav, and I love UTKM. I think they have an amazing program and some pretty awesome people training there. My problem with becoming an instructor is…. PEOPLE. As an instructor you have to control a class, be able teach a technique well, think of creative drills/games, answer any random questions students have (that you may or may not know the answer to), keep everyone safe, oh and, everyone is watching you during all this. Heh. Heh. Help. You tell me to my face that all sounds fun/easy. I will laugh at you (politely). Hey, did you guys know I’m only going to be eighteen when I start teaching? Yay! Very excited to tell people two-three times (possibly four, I don’t know how active old people are) older then me what to do! No. That is not exciting. That is terrifying. Also, if you don’t understand sarcasm, I’m sorry. Can’t really help you with that though.

So, IF everything goes according to plan, I will finish the AIC sometime in December? AFTER eight unit tests, a midterm, a final, teaching 25 classes under supervision, and learning about to talk loudly. Not sure about the last one. Last thing, if you come to a class I teach, please be nice and don’t ask too many questions. Or don’t come at all. You don’t have to come. It is actually okay if you don’t. I will forgive you eventually. Probably. Please wish me luck. I have to go do homework for the course THAT NO ONE WARNED ME ABOUT. Heh.

-Karis

Karis Gets her Orange Belt.jpgEDITORS NOTE: Please come to class and be difficult students so Karis can be challenged and learn to be the awesome instructor we know she will be. She was asked by many people to do the course as she is one of the most dedicated students we have despite her age. Assuming she passes her green belt she will also be our first female green belt and we will be very proud of her. We know through practice and the AIC course she will overcome her quiet demeanour and become the person we know she can be so she has all the skills to get into the RCMP one day. Don’t let her age fool you she has some of the best cleanest techniques out of all our students and well gladly try to stab you when we do our knife stuff. Look forward to more sassy posts from karis in the future.