Friday, 7 April 2017

On The 5th Day...



On 3rd April 2017 I started to study for the Krav Maga Global General Instructors course.

This is a 23 day training programme in how to be a Krav teacher. 

It’s something I had occasionally dared to dream about in recent years but several factors had put me off applying.

For a start it’s expensive. Nearly a month of tuition doesn’t come cheap. Secondly it was something you had to be recommended for…you couldn’t simply pay your money and turn up. Thirdly and most importantly, I had heard stories from people who’ve attended and passed the GIC that it is bone achingly, bruise inducingly, energy sappingly….HARD.

My confidence both on a social level and with regard to fighting were never that high. My instructor back in the UK actually laughed when I asked him if he’d put me forward for the GIC in March 2016 (as I recall, his exact words were “You’re not ready”) and it was only after flying to Israel in June to do the Kids Instructor Course that my confidence was boosted. After we’d finished the 5 day tuition in how to deliver Krav-based lessons to little ‘uns, the Deputy Director of KMG, Ze’ev Cohen beckoned me over for a little chat. Nervous and wondering what heinous crime I may have committed, he said with a smile “Your ability to teach, especially to children is outstanding but you need to work on your striking”. 

I went backpacking in August of last year and headed off to Australia, taking in New Zealand for a visa run from January to March. After training with a few clubs in both countries I got the national director Adam White to endorse my application for the GIC that was starting in April and waited impatiently, like a 7 year old on Christmas Eve, for the first day of the course.

Now…I’ve heard GIC described as many things. My favourite quote is that it’s like “university meets a car accident”. Another is that “for the first five days we looked like refugees”. The course has a reputation of being HARD.

It has two parts, the first being 12 days and the second 11. Depending on where you are, the break between them can be anything from a week up to three months. You are given tuition in fighting and how to teach in the initial phase, and will be given 3 tests in the second. Theoretical, teaching and a Graduate level 1 grading (as only G1s and above can teach, with G4 being the earliest point where you can actually grade Practitioners). 

On day 1 we started at 8.30am, broke for a 90 minutes lunch break at 1pm and finished at about 6 o’clock that night. 8-ish hours of Krav Maga. The day was hard but I felt like it was a good, albeit full-on introduction to what we would be doing. However, by the morning of day 2, the pain had started. 

I woke up sore and stiff, my arms and legs bruised. Still full of energy though, I had a big bowl of porridge and a filter coffee before cycling off to the training. 

Day 3 and I was in more pain. Carpet burns on my arms, my left knee hurting like a bitch (had ACL repair in September 2015) and my energy flagging. 

Every night I would come home, take a shower, eat a huge amount of food (with the backbone of the diet being meat pizzas) and then go to sleep. 

On day 4 I was beyond tired. My body hurt when I arrived to start the day’s lesson and after about an hour I was distracted by just how achey and exhausted I was. The fact we were doing ground releases (throwing someone off/ away from you who is attempting a chokehold on the ground) and I was partnered with an ex-army guy who has biceps the width of my neck didn’t help.

I limped home wondering if and when the magical moment would come when the pain ebbed and my body got used to it.

Lo and behold…that happened.

This morning for day 5 I woke up decidedly non-achey, non-grumpy and eager to start the day. My alarm was set for 7am but I woke up about six thirty and just decided to get up anyway. I no longer hated the traffic on the way in and did not wish genocidal thoughts upon other road users. I didn’t forget anything (day before, I had almost set off without that most necessary of tools, the groin guard) and felt energised and ready to get stuck in.

The instructors of this course had told us (and Facebook comments had backed it up) that it is usually around the fifth day the body adapts to the regime and the pain buggers off. Being cynical by nature, I had decided to take all stories with a pinch of salt. This one however, turned out to be true.

Through all the pain and exhaustion (my fitness levels are good but not up to Olympic athlete standard) I had held out that the event horizon was not too far away. Persevering when you are ready to drop is something that requires a certain mindset and that is clearly what Krav Maga Global want from their now and future instructors.

We are not only doing training in the physical side of how to fight, we are also making notes and having discussions in our group with regard to  what we’re being shown each day. The process is mentally AND physically demanding.


Day 5 was where the GIC summit was reached and I began to run down the other side. There’s still a long way to go (18 days in fact) but from now on it’s a pleasure and not something I do with gritted teeth.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Little Voice




As I posted last blog, I have recently been accepted to take the General Instructors Course in Australia.

Excited doesn’t describe how I feel as I get ready to do what I once considered an unobtainable dream. I’ve been doing yoga every day. Stretching. Push ups (tricep ones, not those fairy ones with your elbows poking out) and a LOT of walking.

I’m basically getting ready for one almighty big training session lasting 12 days…and that’s just part one!!!

As confident as I am about going for this, and as relaxed as I was about applying to do it there has been a little voice going off like a gossiping fishwife in my head for about a week now.

Basically the problems arose when I realised that the pain in my left knee and lower back AND left hip were not going to simply bugger off after a brisk walk or three. They remained. I need to be at the very least, physically fit for this training and back problems twinned with knee ache are not good omens.

In September 2015 I had my left knee’s anterior crusciate ligament rebuilt in surgery that lasted about 4 hours. It hurt like fuck for about 2 weeks after and hurt like a bitch for a good few weeks after that. Finally, months later, the knee was deemed fully fit and I went back into training for Krav Maga. 

Since I’ve been in Australia & New Zealand I’ve been doing a lot of running to try and get my cardio levels up. Problem was that last week I went on a 7 mile run and my knee decided to throw a tantrum. 

For the last few days there’s been an acidic pain in it and research has led me to believe this is something torn in the knee itself, or alternatively aggravation of something that was already a bit wonky. 

I realised that the yoga I was doing was only partially helping as a position called Full Pigeon was putting too much stress on the knee joint. Also, by trying to assume the Lotus position I was also stretching it further than it wanted to go.

For a little while now I’ve had this type of monologue going off in my head.

“You should bail now. Think of all the money you’ll save. It’s going to cost you over £2000 just for the course and then there’s accommodation on top. Then you have to come back to finish part 2 in June which means another £700 for the flight. It’s better if you just do the P&G camp the days before and then change your flight to go home about the 10th. You can see your Dad in Greece earlier and you can catch up with friends in the UK. It’s nice but think of ALL THAT MONEY and what if you end up crippled? I mean how are you going to get home? You’ll have a month of being stranded before your flight on May 2nd. Best to leave this. You weren’t cut out to be a General Instructor. Best stick with the Kids Instructor Course you already have. After all, you could use that money for other things. Play it safe.”

This goes on most of the day and I analysed what it was telling me in its whiney, nasal tones and most of it is just scaremongering. My self preservation skills are kicking in and part of me is not the fearless adventurer who set off in August of last year with a backpack and a bandana. Part of me realises that I’m 24 hours MINIMUM from home, in a time zone of 12 hours difference and am very far from what I knew and felt comfortable with. While I have a safety net it is one that it takes a long time to set up and activate. 

Today I told my inner voice to go fuck itself, and I went to a medical centre. The robotic receptionist told me that it costs $50NZ just to see the doctor so instead I went to a little Chinese guy who does massages and paid him $30NZ to look at my back and knee. He put that tingley, electrode thingy on my back and kneaded the hell out of the sore bits. Afterwards he said that if the knee didn’t get better his recommendation was that I didn’t do the GIC, something I knew anyway. 

I went home, drank at least 2 litres of water (ever seen piss after a deep massage, not nice, best to flush it out) and am now feeling more positive about it all.

Bailing if I’m injured is something I knew I’d have to do and had prepared for it. Bailing in anticipation of it…that’s just paranoia & insecurity. 


Thanks little voice but I’m now switching you off.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

No Dessert


I recently got accepted on to the General Instructors Course for Krav Maga Global.

This one is running in Australia with part 1 in the Gold Coast and part 2 in Melbourne.

After many years of doing Krav (7 to be precise) I have already attained both P5 and done the Kids Instructor Course but felt it was time to take things to the next level.

I trained with SGS Krav Maga in Sydney from November to January and the club’s owner Steven Kratsas agreed to endorse my application. Later on, I met the head of KMG Australia & New Zealand, Adam White who said it was a ‘go’.

Super excited doesn’t describe how I’ve felt since my application was accepted. 

The chance to attain not only G1 but to actually be a qualified instructor…something that as recently as a year ago I would have considered beyond my capabilities. 

To wear the “INSTRUCTOR” T-shirt and fulfill my dream of being able to teach Krav Maga to children as more than an Assistant KIC Instructor (the official title given to those who hold KIC without GIC).

To feel proud at what I’d achieved and know that I had reached a pinnacle that I had once considered to be as remote as the summit of Mount Everest.

So…I booked my flights and accommodation around part 1. Booked my flights but not the accommodation (yet, anyway) around part 2 and started revising the curriculums for P1 to P5 and also making sure I stay fit (I’m currently backpacking so am not attending Krav regularly and have to be creative in my fitness regime). I’ve also started making notes on what I eat each day and how much food I shove down my cake hole.

I’ve heard GIC described in many way. An instructor I know in the UK said it was like “university meets a car accident” and one said that “if you get up on day 3 then you know you intend to continue”.

All in all I am ready yet nervous for the upcoming 12 days of GIC part 1.

But…

Just before the GIC starts there is a P & G camp running in Gold Coast. Run by Rune Lind and Adam White this is a 3 day training camp where people from P0 to G4 can be immersed in Krav Maga. 

I consulted Adam White as to whether it was OK to do this as well and he said it was up to me.

So, I thought about it and procrastinated and then booked the course. As a P5 I’m eligible for the G camp and have never trained at G level before. 

Now….

The online booking form had various bits to fill out such as whether you wanted accommodation (nope) or what size T-shirt you required (M). The big question for me though was “do you want to grade?”

Having taken P5 only 4 months previously to the G camp I am ineligible to actually test for G1 but I mulled over the idea of doing it as a “dummy run” in preparation for GIC. After all, the extra tuition would be great and it would be superb to get an assessment of my abilities up to that point.

Then I thought about it a little more objectively.

After 2.5 days of training at a G camp (with the other half of day 3 for the grading) my body will be tired and I will have worked hard. My P5 grading was incredibly hard work and I’ve no doubt that G1 will be even tougher.

I’ll get invaluable G level tuition from 31st March to 2nd April and then on the 3rd, will jump into even more immersive training. I have no desire to prove that I’m “hard” or that I’m a Terminator-esque warrior of the mats in order to make it through everything on offer. 

End of the day, Krav Maga is about being level headed and being able to walk in peace, not limp home in pieces.

I want to be tired yet happy to face a new day when we wrap up G camp. I don’t want to risk getting injured or knacker myself out in a grading that is superfluous to what I need right now. As awesome as it would be to do a ‘dry run’ and be told that, had it been a real test, I would have passed, it is a toy that right now I don’t need to play with and can be left in the box.

I want to start GIC fit and ready, not fighting sleep and yearning for coffee.

The G camp is the main course, the grading is the dessert.

As much as I love dessert, this time I think I’ll skip it and have an early night.