I have always been interested in self defence and martial arts. Who knows if it stemmed from watching martial arts movies as a kid, or whether my being an easy target for bullies when I was younger due to my height instilled me with a desire to be able to stand up for myself and others when the situation called for it. Either way last Saturday I completed my first ever grading in Krav Maga and I’m proud to say I passed and got my P1 certificate and badge. It made me very glad I sought out the guys at Shield and came along to try out the class.
In the past I had done karate on and off over the years, but due to lots of circumstances (and a lot of the time my own flimsy excuses) I never really committed to it 100%. For a long time I felt bad about that and at the end of last year I decided to perhaps start something new and fresh and commit to it. Krav Maga was something I had heard of in passing from various people and it sounded awesome. It was a martial art yes, but it was always described as modern, efficient and relevant to modern society. So at the beginning of the year I got in contact with Chris and came along for my first class in East Kilbride, which was taken by Brendan. With my previous knowledge of karate I thought I knew what to expect. I will admit I was surprised in all the best ways. By the end of the night I was absolutely knackered. The class was informative, yet light hearted in a social kind of way. It was fun, but also challenged me. I couldn’t get enough and was there three nights a week whenever I could be.
So jump ahead a few months and the grading is on its way. I was looking forward to it greatly since grading and advancing myself in this new found skill was important to me. To push myself to a standard that would help me pass gave me a goal and reason to last longer and push harder then I ever have. As the grading drew closer me and my fellow graders were focusing on the skills we would need to demonstrate and personally I was grateful for every correction big or small that Chris and Brendan gave me. The simplest thing as the angle of my foot or the way I moved could make all the difference in improving my skills and over time these things become second nature. A couple of months ago I did suffer a cracked rib and was worried it might get in my way. I took a couple of weeks off and when I came back I had to make allowances for certain moves and activities, a lot of the time even having to sit out and simply watch. Chris, Brendan and the entire team who I train with were great during this time. They helped me do what I could without any complaint and fully understood if I had to sit out some days or not make it to class.
With their help I was back in class after a couple of months (still taking it easy and keeping myself safe) and preparing for the grading. So with all the training done grading day arrived and I got up nice and early to make my way to St Modans high school in Stirling where the Scottish national KMG event would be taking place. With my sat-nav plugged in I left in plenty of time, making sure to pack a change of clothes and plenty of water. Without too much trouble I found the place and parked up. I was glad to see that I was early and only a few others were there waiting at the door. Soon enough many new faces arrived as well as my grading partner Craig. I felt very lucky to have someone from my club to be grading with as it gave me one less thing to worry about. However if someone was to be grading alone and got matched up with a random partner I can tell you with all confidence that everyone there would welcome you with open arms. The atmosphere was friendly and I often found myself chatting with people I had only just met. It was easy to see why we all got on so well, we were all in the same boat. Everyone there was grading for the first time in something they were passionate about and there was a real feeling of teamwork and mutual respect all round.
Before long we were getting our numbers pinned to our back and getting our welcome talk from Rune Lind, who would be taking the days grading with an additional three instructors helping him out, one of which was Chris. Needless to say the Grading itself was just as intense as any class I have attended if not more so. I had however known this and prepared for it and nothing that came up was a shock and I remained focused on simply completing each stage to the best of my ability. Again this was made easier by the great examiner. He told us not to worry, if he wanted to see something again it wasn’t always that we had done something wrong, he may just want to see it again. This added to the feeling of respect furthermore as it wasn’t all silent stares and scribbles on his sheet. He engaged with us let us know if we were doing something right and in general just tried to make the whole thing easier in the sense that he didn’t leave us worried that we were doing something wrong. Physically the whole thing was demanding, but it was always going to be. A self defence system like Krav Maga will tire you out after a few hours. When it was finally over we were given feed back and we were told to write it down and have a look over it later. I can’t emphasis enough how good an idea this is. When you are done with your grading you are tired, sweaty and red in the face. However these guys all know their stuff and you would be a fool to pass up on any advice they have to offer you.
So after putting away my notes and lining up with the rest of the students I can honestly say I was proud of myself as I walked up to accept my badge and Certificate from Rune and shake his hand along with the other instructors. P1 may just be the first step but everyone who is great at something has been an amateur at it at some point in their life. To me this badge symbolised something more, It was a promise to myself to keep up my training, to push myself beyond my current limits and to one day do exactly what Rune was standing in front of me saying we should aspire to do. To go to Israel and get my Expert 1 years from now. That for me is my ultimate goal. For some this might not be the case, and to these people I would still say “Come to Krav Maga it’s amazing”. Because even with my goal of climbing through the ranks in Krav Maga the real benefit of it comes in your day to day life. It builds your confidence, makes you feel more secure in yourself, gives you the tools necessary to be far more able to defend yourself if the unfortunate situation presents itself, and all in all improves your general fitness, not to mention you will meet a great group of people who will help you with all this as well as being a laugh to spend time with. Personally I’m looking forward to my next grading, but in the short term, I’m just looking forward to getting back to training this week and continuing the fun and challenging new aspect of my life that Krav Maga has given me.
Proud Practitioner Level 1,
Member of Shield Krav Maga.