A week ago yesterday I was finishing the KMG Scotland Graduate level weekend with one of the hardest grading’s I have ever sat. The weekend is for instructors and students from Practitioner level 5 and above, its 3 days of intense training with a member of the KMG Global team with a level grading on day 3. We had the pleasure of being taught by Emmanuel Ayache Expert level 4 and the French KMG director. Emmanuel is a class act with a very interesting background having moved from France to Israel at a young age and joining the IDF (Israeli army).
We started on Friday at 8.30am with introductions and safety briefings followed by a warm up. Once the cardio was up we moved on to striking with power, the focus was in making our strikes and kicks more powerful, effective and as aggressive as possible. The second part of the day dealt with defences including over and under hand stabbing attacks. Finishing with rolls and break falls it was home to refuel and sleep. Saturday started at the same time and consisted of more level specific training. We split in to our respective grades and practiced what we would be graded on. This gave us a chance to ask about techniques we weren’t too sure about or needed some clarification on. It was then back to more knife technique work including stabbing defences and slashes. Throughout the weekend I made sure I was refuelling stretching, mobilising and foam rolling as these 3 day updates do tend to take their toll on the body. If you don’t recover well and mobilise properly then you can end up more susceptible to injury. I wanted to make sure I was ready for the Sunday as I knew it was going to be a very long day.
Saturday night consisted of a quick shower and then off to get some grub and refuel. Myself and Lee Somerville from Pro Defence Krav Maga hit the Handmade Burger Co. which id highly recommend if you want a healthy option and great food. From there it was home to get some shut eye ready for an 8am start the next day. Before we left on the Saturday we were told that the sports centre had extended its opening time on Sunday to 8pm. I have to admit that I thought this was a wind up, how wrong was I…
Sunday morning came and I had a nice 4.30am wakeup call from my drunken neighbours deciding to have what sounded like a royal rumble in the flat above us, cheers for that! I tried to get back to sleep but it wasn’t happening. Technique visualisation was well and truly flashing through my mind by this point, mainly what I was going to do to the neighbours if they didn’t pipe down but it was obvious I wasn’t getting back to sleep, it was also the day the clocks went back too so there was nothing for it but to get up, get the eggs on, down the greens drink and fish oils and make sure I was hydrated.
Once at the venue we were told we would start from G5 (my grading) and work our way down to the people going for G1 meaning that myself and the other guys going for G5 worked from top to bottom, it was really going to be a long day made worse by the fact that the big clock on the wall was an hour slow as it hadn’t been put forward yet so every time you looked at it there was a sigh of relief when you realised you were actually an hour ahead. That psychological cushion was well and truly burst when four hours into the grading we were told that it had been changed to the right time. Gutted!!
My G5 test felt good, we had a 2 minute break before we had to come back on and sit G4 with the guys going for it. That felt good too up until the pushing bear hugs. They were fine but getting up and down from the ground takes its toll and saps energy quickly. Once that was done it was another couple of minute break before the G3 test. This went on until the G1 test. We then got 5 minutes break and it was back to it. By the time the G1s came on we had been testing for around 5 hours. Even though we had done our G5 test we had to maintain the pace for all the grades as you need to prove you are proficient in all levels, there was nowhere to hide. It was around this time that I started to suspect that we were actually going to go to 8pm!
When it came to doing P5 techniques including chokes on the ground there wasn’t enough mats so we all had to do it on the wooden floor, which was nice haha! By this point my energy was starting to go as id been going hell for leather for around 6 hours. You can’t get much food in during a 2 min break so I’d been taking a carb drink in order to give me some more energy; it was just managing to tide me over. At this point my grading partner Lee and I had been moved near to the front and I expected it was due to the fact that we had dropped our pace a little so we dug deep and picked it up.
Once all the technique work was out the way we split into groups of 4 to do 3 on one drills. 3 attackers 1 with a gun, 1 with a knife and 1 with a stick. We then did rounds of being attacked. I’ve no idea how long they lasted but it felt like forever. After that it was time to put the gloves, gum shields and shin guards on to spar. After several rounds of partner sparring we got into groups of 3 and did 2 on 1 sparring. I have no idea of the concept of time by this point I think I was mostly in auto pilot. From here we were split into 2 groups and put on the mats to ground fight. One group fought while the other group stood round the mats for safety. You got a rest once you switched. This was the ultimate energy sapper and I thought I am just going to roll a bit and then just tap; I was knackered by this point. It was a different story once you face off though, ego kicks in and the thought of tapping or giving up becomes unthinkable. It’s bizarre how motivating just a little bit of competition can be. Once that was over it was 50 push ups and 100 sit ups to do. These were quite possibly the hardest power drills I have ever done and my chest, arms and abs were burning after it.
The end of the sit ups signalled the end of the test at just after 6pm and I can tell you that it was a great relief. I was done by this point. I’m not ashamed to say that there was a point during that 10 hour test that I could have thrown the towel in. During those 10 hours we had around a total of 25 to 30 minutes break with the rest of the time grading, fighting and performing to a very fast pace. From there it was time for a group (after) photo and a debrief of what would happen next regarding feedback to everyone who graded. After a warm down and some stretching I was asked to come for some feedback which was very good and I was told I had passed my Graduate 5 test. What a feeling after such a long hard test to be told the good news. It now also means that my next grading will be to expert level which will be in a years time in Israel at the annual Expert camps.
From there it was time to give out the certificates. This was the hardest Krav Maga grading I have ever sat and to the guys who weren’t successful on that day take the advice on board, use the feedback you get as an opportunity to learn and come back better. I failed my G4 grading the first time round and it’s a horrible feeling but it is a massive opportunity to learn and grow and come back for the next one more prepared and better equipped.
A big thanks to Lee Somerville for taking the punches on the day, to John Miller at KMG Scotland for organising an excellent event and to Emmanuel for a great weekend of training.