This was 12 days of 8 hours per day of solid training. We kicked off at 8.30am every day, broke for lunch at 12.30, continued at 2pm and finished (usually) between 5 and 6.
I had been told, way before I even applied for it, that this was a Generic Instrument of Cruelty. Designed to test you to your physical limits and make certain that you not only knew the Krav Maga syllabus from P1 to P5 almost perfectly BUT that you were of a level of ability equal or greater to a G1.
I had kept fit in the weeks leading up to the GIC. Running, moderating & monitoring my diet and going on lots of lovely long walks. The Greater Intake of Carbs that I was told to be expecting once the training started, had me weaning myself off sugary treats, ice cream and fast food. I tried very hard to get into a system of living that would Give Intensive Care when it came to crunch time on April 3rd.
I had also signed up to the Krav camps in Gold Coast, that were due to run in the 3 days leading up to the GIC. This got cancelled due to Cyclone Debbie** and I then had 72 hours to kill in Broadbeach Waters, just up the road from where we would be training. I decided to Get Into Cycling, buying a 99 dollar bike from K-Mart and trying to keep everything on an even keel before we met Expert level 4, GIC instructor Rune Lind.
A friend of mine who has taken and passed the GIC said to me that “If you get up on day 3, then you know you want to continue”. While day 1 was hard, I left feeling satisfied with how the day had gone. Day 2 I was still buzzing and only slightly sore BUT true to predictions…day 3 was where the pain began.
The body needs time to recover from a serious beasting and the ONLY guy I know on the course who claimed to have relatively little problem with the regime was a bloke who had been training 3 hours a day for the 6 months prior to GIC commencing. Going Isotonic Crazy, wasn’t my way of prepping for this, however I wished that I had after a little while.
Day 4 and onwards my body and mental state fluctuated between abject pain and a determination to continue. This course is HARD.
Getting Into Character on day 5 and I was tired beyond belief. One good thing about having the bicycle was that I could cycle to and from training, loosening up my sore muscles a little bit before we got stuck in.
Learning Krav Maga while also pausing for lectures on how to teach it, means that your mind and body are both being pushed to limits as you have to be able to sit, listen and take notes while sweaty, bruised and tired
The age range of the guys on the course ranged from an amateur boxer aged 21 to a retired soldier aged 56. Levels of ability were P1 to G3…and that was just KMG or IKMF certifications. Some people held high ranks in other disciplines and martial arts. There was only one female attendee.
In the early days we were joined by several existing, recently qualified GIC instructors who were utilising the “free top ups” factor of the course, meaning anyone who’s graduated may come back to take parts 1 or 2 again…as often as they want.
Grinning Instead of Cursing when the workouts and techniques became painful, proved to be a slog. I’d known this course would be tough but I had never imagined just how much.
Some of the candidates would sleep after lunch, just a light nap. I tried this only once, fearful of having a Genuine Insomniac Collapse, and realised it wasn’t for me. Getting Into Character after 90 minutes of eating and sleep…not something I could get used to.
Lunch consisted of two cups of filer coffee from the local 7-Eleven plus a big, fuck-off salad with a jumbo sized tin of tuna mixed in. Some of the other guys were eating meals that would have satisfied two or three “normal” human beings.
As we moved through they days there were markers used to tick off the passage of time. Day 3 was the Determinator. Days 4 or 5 was where Rune had joked that we had the right to bring in a “bag of wingeing” as the soreness and potential injuries would be at a peak by this point. Day 6 would be where our bodies began to get used to what we were putting them through. Day 6 was also the much anticipated “halfway point” (until some sod pointed out that it was technically only the “quarterway point”) while Day 9 meant 3/4 gone and Day 10 was double figures.
By Day 11 we hadn’t done any sparring and I thought we’d got away with it. Bringing my 16oz Gloves In a Carrier bag every day, this was the one piece of kit I’d not used. Then, at about 5pm on the 11th day, Rune casually told us to get gloved up. We then had about 20 to 25 minutes of full on fighting, with variations being thrown into the mix. First partners had to choose one to defend only, while one attacked. I was with an amateur kickboxer who’d trained for about 15 years. As I was the defender I kept getting booted in the head and he basically handed me my arse. The numbers being odd, we had a “free radical” who could walk up to any existing pair and choose one of them to fight with, while the unwanted protagonist would then assume the FR’s mantle and bugger off looking for someone else to have a scrap with.
After the exhaustion factor had been reached, passed and then reachieved…Rune then put on Robbie William’s song “Let Me Entertain You” and said brightly “Fight until the song finishes, do not change partners”.
I can safely say that this experience has finally cured any and all phobias I had about sparring.
Through stick defences, groundwork and seemingly endless drills, the Guttural Intense Cursing got louder and more profane as we soldiered on.
Something that occurred with the predictability of jet lag was the “brain overload” meltdown that occurred on numerous occasions. This was basically when you would be able to do relatively complex or new techniques…but forgot the basics. Illustrating very clearly the importance of drilling stuff over and over again to integrate it into muscle memory I found myself suffering from amnesia over how to do a forward roll, a backward roll and an outlet stance. For the outlet, Rune actually had to take my left hand and move it to the correct position. I felt like sneaking off and having a little cry in a corner somewhere but recovered, carried on and after a few minutes asked Rune if I could have a “word”.
When I confessed my Girly Intention to Cry he smiled and said “It’s not just you. There’s at least one other person in here who feels the same way. It’s day 12. your brain is full, it can’t take any more information”.
Injuries were minor but present in about 2/3 of the assembled crew. I messed up my neck doing the joyful Rebirthing exercise (basically the shield wall attack from Battle of the Bastards in Game of Thrones…but without the spears) and had pain in my left hip and left knee. Other guys were wearing sports braces & bandages and as we lined up for the initial Kida each morning, it started to more and more resemble the “after” photos from a St John’s Ambulance medical journal.
Even on the last day we didn’t get a respite from the regime. Breaking earlier than normal due to a public holiday affecting public transport, Rune had us spend most of the time doing grading-esque drills, asking us to perform specific techniques. By the end of it we were all running on fumes and met Rune in the back of the room for private feedback before heading out.
That night I fought off the Genuine Intention to Crash and went out with the guys for a meal and some beer. Everyone was sore, everyone was tired but we’d had a good time and had made it through without anyone having to drop out due to injury or fatigue.
Pain and exhaustion and only half done.
Was it worth it?
COURSE IT WAS!!!