Archive for the ‘Testing’ Category

Here we go, my orange belt test.

To begin with – I was incredibly nervous, I did not want to fail. Everybody was sharing their stories about how hard and horrible the test was which did not help my anxiety. I tried to train for it, Jon helped me to get my conditioning up but then I got injured, I strained a muscle in my hip. Very annoying location for that. So I rested but after a week or so I picked up training again. I tried to train more days to make up for what I missed but that wasn’t the greatest idea either. I felt really bummed out that I struggled so hard physically. Yes, I’m not in my twenties anymore but still, come on you old corpse! Well, yelling at myself also didn’t work.

I also did some trial runs in the gym to familiarize myself with the “circle of death“. Let’s face it – I sucked at it!

Editors Note: The “the circle of death” as some affectionately call it is a component of both the Orange and Green Belt tests and is common in Krav Maga testing. 

With all these things on mind, the days before the test were hard on me. I doubted myself, I didn’t want to fail and I spiralled down into the black hole that so far I was able to avoid.

Andrew (Fellow Assistant Instructor Candidate) helped me a lot during those days, we trained together, worked our way through the curriculum for white and yellow, and talked. What would be the worst case scenario?

I could fail. Working on becoming an assistant instructor failure was not an option for me. I didn’t want to lose students’ respect. I also didn’t want to disappoint people  – Jon, Andrew, Karch, myself …

Petra Success

Petra Post-test Exhausted but victorious

At the end – I made it, and I was incredibly relieved and I felt I really earned that orange belt!

 

During the last part of the test, the sparring – whenever I hit my opponent and people cheered – that was a first for me and I enjoyed it a lot. So thank you to all of you who were there that day!

For people who are going for their yellow or orange belt – make sure you know the curriculum (I know, it is mostly about pushing through and not to give up, but knowing the curriculum helped me a lot, at least one section of the test I felt confident), read the UTKM blog and work on your conditioning. For the test itself, energy control is crucial. Know yourself and your body, know your limits. But also understand that your body is telling you to give up way before your energy reserves are empty. That is the mental part – telling yourself to keep going, to not give up. It always sounds so easy when people say that but in reality, it is hard. It is a roadblock in your head and fighting your own brain is tough. And it is ok to fail – we (including myself) tend to forget that. Sometimes the way how you deal with failure says a lot more than winning. And it is ok to ask for help. If you are unsure about a technique or just want to go over it again – ask the person you feel most comfortable with.

In Judo we always say there is no shame in falling, only if you don’t get up again.

Why DO we Fall BruceEditors Note: When It comes to testing sometimes we really aren’t sure with who will struggle and who will make it look easy, often we are quite surprised as to who does what on both ends of the spectrum. Leading up to the test we can assure you Petra was having a hard time both physically and mentally and it was definitely a low point for Petra (“A fall”). But when it came test day her performance was almost flawless. It was clearly difficult for her but in true Krav Maga and warrior fashion she sucked it up for the duration of the test. Petra is an inspiration to not just women but all Krav Maga practitioners. Difficult, does not mean impossible. And falling either mentally or physically should always be a learning experience. For those who do not get up again are doomed to fail, but those who brush themselves off and keep going to learn and grow will always continue to succeed.

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On February 3rd 2018, myself and three other students tested and received our yellow belts from Urban Tactics Krav Maga. Each of us was pushed to the limit of our physical conditioning. We were tested, not only on our technique but also on our perseverance and willpower to fight through the fatigue and keep going. It was a sweet victory for the four of us, one that came from many months of preparation and training. Luke Testing for his Yellow Belt.jpg

I first attended a class at UTKM about seven months ago. After my first lesson, I was hooked. The gym has a very welcoming and inspiring atmosphere. The classes are structured very well, allowing newcomers to immediately participate in fun conditioning exercises and combat practice. The fundamentals are clearly explained and demonstrated, and the class is put through a series of exercises to practice the techniques. Newer students are often paired with advanced students, who help them out with tips, and the teachers are always near-by to offer specific advice.

The Warrior classes end with light sparring matches, which gives the students the opportunity to practice against each other in a controlled and supervised setting. I found this part of the class to be very helpful for improving confidence and stamina. Sparring offers a simulated reality that allows the student to practice under stress, in a paradoxically comfortable environment.

There is a strong sense of community at UTKM. A certain essence of camaraderie is formed after hours of training together and leaving our hearts out on the mat. Students are not only encouraged to participate; they are encouraged to contribute, and that inspires us to help each other learn and excel.

I first heard about UTKM through some friends who had trained there. I decided to take Krav Maga lessons after having a close call with multiple potential attackers. The situation was luckily defused before any punches were thrown, but the unexpected hostile encounter was an eye-opening experience, one that left me realizing how vulnerable and unprepared I was to defend myself in a violent situation. It made me realize that avoidance is sometimes not an option when it comes to confrontation, and being caught unprepared to fight is tantamount to being at the mercy of your attackers.

Violence is real and everyone has a relationship with it. Most of us try to ignore its existence. Many of us fantasize about it, or live it vicariously through movies and video games. Because we think of ourselves as peaceful people, we tell ourselves that violence could never happen to us; that we are morally above it and can simply choose to opt out.

If we do however find ourselves staring face to face with a would-be attacker, it is only through exercising our own violence that we may reclaim our peace.

Violent situations force us to become either Warriors or Victims; there can be no in-between. Training in Krav Maga is the ultimate equalizer against any evil we may face. Don’t allow your attackers to have a monopoly on violence.

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Become a Lion. Become a Hero.

-Luke Olson

New Yellow Belts – Feb 03 2018

Posted: February 3, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Testing
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Congrats to Vlad, Marco, Jen and Luke.

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In addition to being a Krav Maga practitioner, I train in judo and have always been interested in the competitive and tournament side of the sport. While others may love watching a great football pass that leads to a spectacular 50 yard run resulting in a touchdown, I am equally enthralled when I watch a judoka execute a perfect throw on a resisting opponent.  It can be an amazing sight to see.

One thing that I always found interesting was that at the end of a match, several times the judokas would be splayed out on the mat, seemingly exhausted to the point of not being able to move. They would lie there for several seconds until the referee would motion for them to stand up and bow off, thus officially ending the match with a winner declared.  I would think, “How could they be so active and fighting hard just a few seconds ago and now they can’t even move?  They’re young and they’re fit, so how could they be so tired?”.  I spoke to my daughter about this, who is also a judo competitor, and she said she’s experienced that level of exhaustion many times in her tournament matches, or the training camps.  It wasn’t until I experienced the same level of exhaustion in my recent green belt test that I appreciated even a small trace of what my daughter was talking about.

It is difficult for a person to independently push themselves to the point of exhaustion because usually before they get to that stage, they’ll stop and take a break. It’s like trying to hold your breath until you pass out.  There may be some fitness fanatics who do push themselves to that degree on a regular basis, but I believe that for the average person, which I consider myself to be, there are primarily 3 situations which could drive them to the point of exhaustion and beyond.

1) In a test,

2) In competition

3) In a life-threatening situation.

 I heard people shouting “Get up!  Get up!” but it just wasn’t happening.  My spirit was there, I was fully aware of what was going on, but my body was just not responding.

 

In each of these situations, the timing of when the “ordeal” ends is out of your control, so you have no choice but to fight through the pain and keep on going.  Personally, it’s been years since I’ve been at this level of intense situation, if ever, so in retrospect, I found it an interesting experience to be pushed to the point of exhaustion.  During the green belt test, this point occurred when I was sparring one-on-one with someone in the last few minutes of the 3 hour test.  I was already tired, physically and mentally, and I found myself on the ground.  As I was trying to get back up my body, my arms, my legs, and anything else literally felt like 1000 pounds and I could not lift myself up, as much as I was telling myself to continue fighting and get back up.  I heard people shouting “Get up!  Get up!” but it just wasn’t happening.  My spirit was there, I was fully aware of what was going on, but my body was just not responding.  It was like being in a bad dream where you find yourself running through molasses.  I think that was the point that Jon told me later when he thought I wasn’t going to make it and was going to give up.  But slowly, ever so slowly, while trying to punch at the same time, I managed to get up.  I know now that when pushed to your limit, it truly becomes a game of mind over matter.  It would have been so easy to just lie down and think “Who cares.”, but if you’re determined and you refuse to give up, you will overcome things that your body tells you it doesn’t want to do.

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I can’t imagine being in a situation like this again, at least in the near future, but I now better appreciate how competitors will find themselves splayed out on the mat at the end of a match unable to get up. I also appreciate more what my daughter has gone through in her judo training and competitions.  If you get the chance where you will be pushed to this point of exhaustion, you should embrace it and relish the opportunity, because it will likely be in a safe environment where there is minimal risk of injuring yourself, or worse.  It’s an interesting experience and you will be surprised at how much you can tolerate and where you discover the edge of your envelope is.  And then the next time, you can push beyond it.  Push yourself, strive for more, keep going and don’t give up!  You’ll thank yourself later.

On September 30th I tested for my green belt and, as with most important things in life, while the test itself was only 3 hours, the culmination of events leading up to the test was far more involved.

Warren Green Belt Certificate

Firstly, a bit of background on myself. I joined UTKM when the school first opened, and while I was just one of several students in the first class, I’m pretty sure that I’m now the only one from that day who is still taking Krav Maga with UTKM.  It’s understandable because circumstances constantly change and life throws curve balls, and for whatever reason people move on.  In my case I’m fortunate because I’m at the stage of life where it’s generally predictable, e.g. job, family, home, so I’ve been able to continue learning Krav Maga fairly consistently for the past few years.

In the beginning, I was diligently attending classes twice a week and attending the occasional seminar, took the yellow belt and orange belt tests within the first couple of years, and even earned my PAL license as a requirement for eventually taking the green belt test. However, as time passed and I was feeling more familiar with the curriculum and life became busy with the judo activities for both my daughter and myself, I cut back to just once a week.  Then once a week became once every two weeks, and soon there were occasions in which I didn’t go to class for over a month.  I had plateaued and I knew it.  Interest was down, and I felt like I was just going through a rinse-repeat cycle in the classes.  One instructor understood what I was going through and he advised me to “Finish the mission.”, i.e. get my green belt.  Although the belt levels progress beyond green, attaining the green belt is a significant milestone because it meant that I had passed the physical and technical curriculum of Krav Maga and would then move into the more advanced strategies and techniques. There would be less emphasis on the physical requirements, and sparring would be optional and not mandatory.  Still, I had lost motivation to progress and, truth be told, I was thinking of stopping altogether.

What finally made me start thinking about taking the green belt test was that I was noticing how many more yellow belt and orange belt tests were being scheduled. Soon the “yellow and orange belt class” started growing from just a couple of students to then a handful, and there were more frequent announcements of students progressing through the belt levels.  On one hand I was realistic enough to know that my prime objective in taking Krav Maga was to learn how to protect myself and my family, so officially attaining the green belt didn’t mean much to me, but on the other hand I wanted to be recognized for my experience and the knowledge that I had acquired over the years.  Another (scary) thought that crossed my mind was that I was getting older, and while age shouldn’t be an excuse for not being able to achieve anything, it is a reality that physical activity becomes more challenging with age.  I turned 54 at the end of October, so the window of opportunity was starting to shrink and I knew that if I didn’t take the physically-challenging green belt test soon, it would likely never happen.  Plus, Jon wouldn’t stop hassling me to get it, so I finally relented and scheduled a testing date.

Warren Green Belt RunningI had 6 weeks to train for the test, and come hell or high water, I was going to be ready for it. Jon told me one time that one of his biggest annoyances is when people don’t follow through on what they say they’re going to do, so once I put out the date I was committed to meeting the challenge and not letting him down.  Since I was already confident that I knew the techniques and the curriculum and would only require a refresher, I was aware that the physical requirement of the test would be the bigger challenge.  The warm-up for the test is 75 push-ups, 85 sit-ups and a 2 km run, and that’s even before the technical part of the test begins.  I usually commute to work by bike, and even though it’s only 6 km each way and it gives me a bit of a workout, I knew it wouldn’t be enough.  I despise running so for me, it was a very big psychological barrier to hit the track and start training for the test.  The first time I ran 5 times around the 400 meter track I was tired, but not exhausted, so I knew if I kept it up it would only get easier once the test day came.  I also began doing push-ups and sit-ups at night, and while in the beginning, I couldn’t reach the required number, after a couple of weeks I was doing 90 push-ups and 90 sit-ups.  I also began eating healthier and cut out the junk food, sugary drinks, snacks, and over-eating.  The results began to show, and I dropped 6 lbs while I was training for the test.

My training regimen seemed to be going well, and then a snag happened. During a class another student puts my head in a guillotine choke and wrenched back on it, and after that my right arm started throbbing and hurting.  This also meant that I couldn’t ride to work anymore so I was afraid that my cardio would drop like a rock.  I went to a physio and he diagnosed that I had pulled a muscle in my neck which resulted in a pinched nerve in my arm, and that’s why I was feeling the pain.  With only two weeks to go before the test, I started seeing the physio as often as I could to try and fix the problem.  After 4 sessions I was still feeling pain, plus I wasn’t sleeping at night where I often wouldn’t be able to fall asleep until past 4 AM, but was still having to get up at 7 AM for work.  The last week before the test I was still seeing the physio, and while the pain had somewhat abated, I knew I wasn’t going to be fully healthy come the testing day.  Still, I diligently continued to keep up the push-ups and sit-ups regimen and also hit the track whenever I could.  The main thing that kept me going was knowing that once I passed the test, I could stop training and wouldn’t have to run around the track anymore, hopefully for the rest of my life.

Test day came, and I did the push-ups, sit-ups and 2 km run with relative ease. However, in retrospect from watching the videos that my daughter took, it was apparent that my sit-ups suck and look more like crunches than full sit-ups.  So one takeaway from the test is that I’m now going to do sit-ups on a regular basis and ensure that they’re proper full ones, instead of the sucky ones that Jon graciously allowed as acceptable on test day.  What came as an unpleasant surprise was that going through the techniques took much longer, and tired me out much, much more, than I had expected.  I thought I was going to whiz through those and get quickly to the sparring part of the test but Jon asked me on many occasions to repeat a technique again, and again.  It became very tiring and by the time the sparring section came, I was both relieved because I knew we were getting to the end of the test, but also dreading it because I knew I didn’t have many physical reserves remaining.  In short, I was very tired.

The last part of the test consists of sparring components which add up to 20 min, with a few minutes rest between each of the 3 sections. In regards to physical activity, one thing I noticed about getting older is that the recovery time takes much longer than when you are in your 20s. While a 20-something person may need only 3 minutes to recover from a strenuous physical activity, in your 50s you may not be able to recover to the same degree unless you had 10 minutes or more.  Still, if that was the test requirement, I was determined to abide by the rules and not ask for any special allowances just because of my age.

Warren Green Belt technique.jpgThe first component of the sparring was to fight 5 different opponents for 1 minute each, with body and leg shots only. At one point Jon tagged my daughter as one of my opponents, and unfortunately, my gross motor movements took over and I threw a couple of punches to her ribs that slightly winded her. She told me later that it got her angry so she started swinging back at me as hard as she could, while I regained my senses and purposely held back.  Nothing like a good father-daughter brawl to strengthen the paternal relationship!  I managed to survive with most of my limbs intact, however, the last round was with Jon and he kicked so *hard* that I still felt the after-effects of his kicks for days.

The next component of the sparring I knew would be my biggest challenge, and that was to survive 10 minutes of attack after attack after attack. It would be relentless and I knew that if I could get past it and have enough energy for the last component, I would be home free.  For some reason, perhaps because I was already in a dream state since I was so tired and I was acting purely on adrenaline, I have no idea where the first 5 minutes went.  All I remember was the countdown for 3 minutes left.  However, I was so exhausted and physically drained by that time that whenever I was down on the ground, and people were shouting at me to get up, my body felt like a thousand pounds and I could hardly move.  Jon told me after that he thought I was going to give up but in the end, I fought through the pain and struggled slowly to my feet while throwing feeble punches at my attacker.  I remembered that Jon had told me that the purpose of that part of the test was not to demonstrate clean techniques but to survive.  Keeping that thought in my mind, I was determined to survive while the clock counted down the last few seconds.

The last component of the sparring was to have 5 rounds of 1 minute each with each attacker. One minute went by, and then another, and I knew that I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  While I had zero energy left and nothing more to give, the thought that went through my head was that I was going to dig deep for additional reserves in the last couple of rounds and try to finish strong.  It must have worked because my daughter told me after that I looked stronger in the last two rounds, and my last attacker also said he was surprised that I was still getting some punches through to him even though I was clearly exhausted.  If this was a real-life scenario I still would have been beaten, but I would have had some solace in knowing that I was beaten by a stronger, more rested opponent, and it wouldn’t have been because I gave up and beat myself.

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So that’s the story of my not-so-pretty journey to attain my green belt. I did it, and while I have no doubt that my fellow green belters, and future ones, will be more successful candidates, I faced my limitations honestly, gave no excuses, asked for no allowances, and did what was asked of me.  And knowing that allows me to be content with myself and feel that yes, I earned it.

And in the end, I guess that’s what’s most important.

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Say Hello to our Little friend, I mean our newest Orange Belt

Posted: November 12, 2017 by urbantacticskravmaga in Testing
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Quinn Gets His Orange Belt

 

November Seminars & Testing

Posted: November 1, 2017 by urbantacticskravmaga in Seminars, Testing
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Thanksgiving post – Our Latest Green, Orange and Yellow Belts

Posted: October 9, 2017 by urbantacticskravmaga in Testing
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On this Thanksgiving, we are thankful for all the students that have come to us to learn and we celebrate their achievements. Here are most of the individuals who grew with us this year and got their belts, we apologize if we are missing some as the trend of creating albums for each test started late. If we are missing you send us your photos and we will add this into this post afterwards. Nevertheless, we are thankful for our students as without them UTKM would not exist.

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Orange Belt Testing – Sat, Sept 23rd

Posted: September 13, 2017 by urbantacticskravmaga in Testing
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Just a reminder that we are doing Orange Belt Tests on Saturday, September 23rd at UTKM HQ in Richmond, BC. Yellow belts are required to volunteer to participate if they expect to test for their orange belt when the time is ready. If you have not already signed up then let your instructor know if you would like to volunteer. Remember, tests are cancelled if we do not have enough volunteers.

*Test Candidates have already been notified.