Posts Tagged ‘Women in martial arts’

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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And here we go..

Let’s be uber honest; I’m a 36 year old woman with zero martial arts training. Before I joined Urban Tactics and for the last six years, I was hyper-focused on my academic achievements. Sadly, I let my health and weight drastically decline, consequently gaining 45 pounds because, well, balancing life is difficult. I tired of the gym thing; it felt empty and to be frank, an absolute waste of time. Being that I’m a woman who has no time for useless activities and with a long-standing interest in Krav Maga, it made sense to try it out.

jen test.jpg

Jen During her yellow belt test

 

With a bit of research, Urban Tactics seemed like the only place in the lower mainland offering an authentic Krav Maga training system and it turns out to be true in my opinion. I started Krav Maga in February 2016. From the first free trial class, I was hooked and at times I still feel like all I can think about is KRAV. What kept me coming back is the supportive and knowledgeable instructors, being pushed both mentally and physically and the comradery/sense of community emanating at UTKM. More importantly is the fact that Krav Maga is an extremely effective self defense system that combines my love for firearms and martial arts. Also, I am benefitting from the positive side effects of being 20+ pounds lighter with more muscle mass! No matter your shape or size, Krav is doable!

A quick google search and you can find evidence of shooters or knife attacks on public transit. Keep your head up and assess, assess and assess because your life is more important than a tweet.

Before I talk about the epic yellow belt test that nearly broke my mental capacity to fight, I want to touch on the real everyday reason to train in Krav Maga. Violence! In the words of Jonathan: “Situational awareness!”  We’ve all heard him utter those words and laughed, but it’s important.. very important. In this day in age, people are so consumed by their smart phones that it makes for easy targets in public. A quick google search and you can find evidence of shooters or knife attacks on public transit. Keep your head up and assess, assess and assess because your life is more important than a tweet. Krav Maga has opened my eyes a bit more and may have made me slightly more hyper-vigilant, but I see that as a positive side effect of training.

Declaimer: Please don’t take what I am going to say as a sweeping generalization of people suffering or struggling with mental illness because I in no way shape or form want to perpetuate stigma. In truth, anyone well or unwell has the potential for violence! If anything, people under the influence of illicit drugs/alcohol can be the most unpredictable and dangerous.

As a Psychiatric nurse, I am faced with the real and raw truth of violence. I’m not going to get into details; you can let your imagination do that. That said, in the short time I have been a nurse I have been physically assaulted three times, once leaving significant bruising. Nurses are at high risk of being victims of violence at work due to the close proximity in which we deliver care. Although my number one weapon against violence or potential thereof is my communication skills, Krav has given me more confidence in my nursing practice. Because of Krav Maga, I am more aware of my surroundings, constantly assessing and hands UP! In a semi-passive stance if need be!

Please note that we also have the luxury of security guards who are there to protect us. Thank you to them each time they respond to our calls! Shout out to my fellow Krav-Mate and a guard I worked with at St. Paul’s; Thanks Marco! Funny enough, Marco and I tested for yellow belt together!

Now, the yellow belt TEST..

Well, after a year of training, and being somewhat content to continue as a white belt, I was invited to test for yellow belt. My first thought, “EEK what? “ I have to admit, I wanted a bit more knowledge and to time to practice the curriculum and I’m aware I can’t hold a candle to some of my classmates’ technique and physical stamina, so the test invitation literally terrified me. That said, mentally I am not a quitter; if I set my mind to something – it’s as good as done. I had one month to prepare, so insert more training than normal, running, conditioning, practising at home, trying to eat clean and NO Drinking (well, I cheated on that one day).

The body will try to tell you to give up, but you have to just keep fighting, running, defending.

Fast forward to test day! To anyone preparing for the test, I honestly don’t know what to tell you, other than train harder! Yes, you will test with others, but it’s honestly a solo trip that will have you digging deep into your mental strength and stamina. The body will try to tell you to give up, but you have to just keep fighting, running, defending.  My first round of sparring, I was delivered some pretty heavy damage to my shin. I almost gave up, my face was leaking tears but I just kept thinking:

jens leg.jpg

Jens Leg, post test, Mostly curtesy of her Bf. Also a UTKM student. (It was all during the test don’t worry)

 

Retzef! (Hebrew for continuous attack)

Don’t stop attacking!

In real life you don’t get to give up. You have to fight for your life, and isn’t that what Krav Maga is all about..

Road To Orange Belt

Last year in March I started the assistant instructor course at UTKM, together with my fellow sufferers Andrew and Karch. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the Friday classes, I definitely learned a lot and I also enjoy teaching. I even like most of the students. But it is a lot of commitment.

Recently Jon sent out the monthly Warrior News by email. He is almost ready for the next batch of aspiring assistant instructors but he also requests that if you are interested in becoming an assistant instructor you have to talk to either Andrew, Karch or myself to get an idea of how much commitment we are talking here.

I’ll be honest, It is a lot!

Not only are you still attending regular classes, you also have to add a minimum of 4 hours per week dedicated to the course. And when I write minimum that means that it is actually more. Get used to the idea that one night or more a week, will be dedicated to endless PowerPoint Presentations. Not to forget the extra days where review and catch up is needed as one or more of the participants missed a regular class. And the Saturdays that you are going to spend doing firearms’ or other seminars.

And then there are the written tests, Did I mention there are tests? Many of them, some which took at least 3 hours to complete. While you are busy writing your hands off, Jon circles the table like a shark always trying to distract (because, you know, Krav Maga). Did I mention test? I would say more like endless “Essays” that test your ability to critically think without a hint to help with memory recall.

Just memorizing is not enough, you have to come up to your own conclusions, explain your own thoughts. I still have to write my final exam which will cover everything we’ve learned so far. Not intimidating AT ALL!

Picture: Petra Helping out in a yellow Belt test, knowing one day she two may have to run a test.

And then the orange belt test.

The last few months I’ve been dealing with some health issues and I’m not Feeling on top of my game. To be honest I haven’t Felt on top of my game for quite a while. I sometimes even feel I’ve peaked already which is, of course, not true. At least I won’t allow myself to think like that.

But I still Need to get a reminder that I still can do it, kick peoples’ asses and spar even with the heavy hitters like Quinn or Jeff (chose one). But that means work, again. And commitment. Jon is helping me a lot by offering conditioning classes and while I’m huffing and puffing on the assault bike distracting me by rambling about the city or politics.

Why am I doing this? I like the teaching but also the physical aspect of Krav Maga. Learning to fight and how to defend yourself is very important. At least for me, I was raised to be independent. I’m definitely not a Pilates Person. I like throwing or hitting People. The idea that women are inferior to men is bullshit and if there are male students who think they don’t have to take me seriously will be taught otherwise. And I hope to encourage more women to join the gym.

Krav Maga is helping me also with my mental Problems – I’m off my medication for almost half a year now. It wasn’t always easy but working on becoming an assistant instructor, teaching and now working on my conditioning for the orange belt gives me purpose and helps get me out of bed in the morning. The conditioning classes with Jon are tough but they remind me that I’m still strong. It might take me a bit longer to get back into the game but I WILL get there!

I also understand why Jon is doing this to himself and us – he wants to give us as much Information as possible so that we can be confident on the mats, knowing what we are doing and that the techniques we are teaching to you make sense and also to Keep the high Standards of the School. I myself decided to Train at UTKM because of the good Reputation that the School does have.

If you want to become an assistant instructor at UTKM – please go ahead, but be warned, you will Need lots of Stamina to get through. But is it worth it? The answer is a big fat YES!

Editors note: The Assistant instructor course is currently only available to local UTKM students.