Four and a half months ago I began training in Krav Maga to raise my fitness and to pick up a bit after laying off martial arts for fifteen years. In addition to my three days a week regime of running, sit-ups, pull-ups, and push-ups, I train Krav Maga three days a week. This past weekend I took and passed my level 1 test and I feel like I took a level in Badass. The test was tougher than my expectation, harder than the warnings I heard from the other students and harder than I’d estimated from the youtube videos I’d seen. We were warned that if anyone didn’t push hard enough, didn’t check and guard after our moves, or didn’t drop the pad and guard at a transition we would do extra burpees. That didn’t happen. It still pushed me completely past what I thought was exhaustion while still being able to fight.
The test began with a warm-up and then we spent sixty or seventy minutes doing full speed, 80-90% force combatives and defenses. We covered everything we’ve done in class— hammer fists, straight punches, combinations, elbows with a forward burst, elbows to the side, high, and low, groin kicks, stomp kicks, round-house kicks, kicks with an advance, knees, ground defense, ground kicks, pluck and buck defense for a ground choke, clearing and getting away safely from the ground, inside and outside defenses. After the techniques we did rounds of partnered “band sprints”, where you wrap a belt around your waist and drag your partner as you drive with your legs, and knee strike drives. There were three thirty-second breaks to change pads and sip water over the whole test and I was grateful for every one of those pauses.
Then came the reality-based defense portion of the test. Our assistant instructor donned a riot suit and I stood in the middle of the mat with my eyes closed while music blasted. He attacked and I defended, fighting my way clear. After each I’d drop and do three push-up burpees before returning to the center of the mat to wait for the next situation. I can’t remember which ones he did except for the headlock from the right side and the pushing front choke. I only remember those because I was really surprised at how hard he nailed me.
At some point in this sequence of attacks the assistant instructor took me to the ground and I struggled to fight him off. I remember thinking he’s smaller than me and not gripping, I don’t feel anything on my limbs, just weight on my back and shoulder, I should be able to just stand up and turn shrugging him off so I can use my elbows and kicks but my legs wouldn’t work right. In the exhaustion I was going on automatic. My instructor yelled something like “fight out!” so I drove my hand into the face mask and hook-punched at my attacker’s kidneys and ribs until I slipped out and could hammer punch his back and neck. I could barely pull up to a defensive posture by this point but there was at least one more attack, I can’t remember.
When the cycle was over, I did ten more push-up burpees. I was panting, I was bruised (including a nice abrasion on my check and occular orbit from either a headbutt or contacting the mat, I don’t know which), but I had passed.