Last November, I passed my Practitioner Level 1 exam in krav maga. It was tiring and amazing and terrible. I swore I’d never do it again.
Six months later, I was standing in the same room, about to take the Practitioner Level 2 exam.
Going from P1 to P2 is a cumulative test — not only do you need to know all the new level 2 techniques, but you’d be tested on P1 techniques as well. The good thing about your second exam is you’re not going in blind. You know what the exam format will be like, and can expect a few surprises (even if you don’t know what they are). You know how to manage your energy so you can last several hours without water or breaks. Chances are, you’re stronger, fitter, and faster than you were last time. Easy-peasy, right?
Not at all!
Our biggest problem was some of the P2 techniques were completely unfamiliar to us. We tried to learn them as fast as possible before exam day, but with no muscle memory to rely on, the techniques felt foreign and difficult. This is why it’s P2, of course, and not P1. Things get harder. But for some reason, this time around, I felt like I wasn’t getting any better.
There was also my paralyzing fear of rolling.
When I was in high school, I couldn’t pass my aikido exam because I couldn’t do forward rolls properly. No matter how many instructors tried, my body just wouldn’t cooperate. I had bruises the size of a large dinner plate. So I quit, and never tried again.
The P2 exam includes both forward and back rolling. And the rules state that you have to do every technique at least once, whether you do it correctly or not. But during training, whenever I tried to roll, I would freeze. I couldn’t even get my body to MOVE. I was terrified. My training buddies had no such fear, but they had their own techniques they were worried about.
When exam day came around, we all felt like this was going to be impossible. To quote one of them, we were “prepared to fail”. But in krav maga, no matter how impossible the situation is, you still have to fight. You get up, dress up, and show up. So we did.
We fought hard.
And when the instructor said, “Luna, roll,” well, fuck it. I rolled.
My rolls were so amazingly bad that the room burst into laughter. And so did I! I was just so happy I did it!
Finally, after almost three hours, the exam was over. We collapsed on the ground, downed entire bottles of Gatorade, and waited for the results. I checked for injuries, since I was going to the airport that evening to fly to Europe. (Who sets an international flight a few hours after a krav maga exam? Me! Damn right.) Thankfully, other than bruises and a sore neck, I was fine.
The instructor lined us up and called us one by one to announce the results. When it was my turn, he looked at me with a grave face. Moment of truth.
I felt my heart hit the floor as the weight of what he just said bore down on me.
“Just kidding,” he grinned. “You got 92.976. You passed!”
We passed! I had several mistakes, but that’s okay. I was now Practitioner Level 2, and it comes with a shiny new patch from Israel. If there’s one thing this experience taught me, it’s that your mind is stronger than your body. It can paralyze you, or it can push you forward. The next time fear takes over me, I’ll remember what the P2 exam felt like, and I know I can get through it 🙂
(Unless the thing I’m getting through is the P3 exam, which includes rolling from HEIGHTS. Holy shit. That ain’t happening.)