(I should stop leaving blog posts on my iPad to die. This post has been around for a while.)
Around the time that I started getting serious about krav maga, the instructor asked me if I wanted to take the Practitioner Level 1 qualifying exam in November. Unlike traditional martial arts where everyone is expected to go up in belts (and your learning is limited otherwise), the krav maga exam was entirely optional. Since we covered a whole range of techniques in class, I could train for years without ever having to take it.
My reaction to the exam went something like this:
August: “Me? Take the exam?” *incredulous laughter*
September: “Well, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to try. I don’t care if I pass or fail.”
October: “Oh my God, I don’t know half of the techniques on the syllabus! I’m going to fail!”
November: “We’ve worked so hard; please don’t let any of us fail, please, please…”
We were the first batch from the Makati gym to take an exam (inadvertently making me the first girl to do it). Starting October, my fellow examinees and I started studying after class three times a week, even once on a weekend. The higher-level students stayed with us to correct our techniques and give us tips on how to pass (“Don’t talk! Don’t laugh! Don’t touch the pad! Exaggerate your movements!”). The best tip I got was to choose a partner for the exam and train with him or her exclusively. You need to know how your partner moves, and what his best attacking or defending side is. It was almost like a performance, and your success depended on how good your partner was.
A week before the exam, all examinees from both Makati and Ortigas gyms went out of town for the P Camp. Our instructor spent two days going through the syllabus with us and correcting our techniques. Even movements we’d done hundreds of times before (such as a straight punch) needed to be corrected! The exam was a purely technical one; no matter how strong you hit or how fast you moved, if you got even one detail of the technique wrong, you failed the technique.
In the camp, there was one technique I just COULDN’T get right. No matter how many times I repeated it or who tried to teach me, my body just wouldn’t cooperate. With just one week left until the exam, I decided to practice it every day without forgetting to practice the rest of the techniques on the syllabus. We were allowed a small number of mistakes, so even if I failed that one, I could still pass the exam.
November 10: Exam day rolled around. The atmosphere was thick with tension. Everyone in the room had been working so hard for this, and no one was smiling anymore. I won’t go into details of the exam, if only because there are a few surprises that are part of it. But I’m so glad the instructor and the higher-level students prepared us for that day. At that point, all we had to do was trust our bodies and focus our minds.
Two grueling hours later, we were done. We had no idea if we passed or failed. Then the instructor called us one by one to announce the results. Ladies first.
“No mistakes,” he said to me. “You passed.”
My wish came true — not only did I pass, but we ALL passed! We were now Practitioner Level 1 students, and would be receiving certificates and IKMF passports from Israel. Taking the P1 exam was the most exhausting, most rewarding thing I’d ever done, and I’m so glad I rose up to the challenge. Congratulations to all my fellow examinees! Great job, everyone!
(Someone asked me if I would be taking the Practitioner Level 2 exam next year. My response? Incredulous laughter.)
UPDATE 12/20: I got my certificate, passport, and patch! 🙂