Sunday, 5 October 2014

Krav Maga Midlands Pre Grading Workshop

Krav Maga Midlands Pre Grading Workshop 

28th September 2014 Stratford upon Avon Leisure Centre

 In March I took my Practitioner 4 grading in London Copperbox Arena, watched over by none other than Zeev Cohen, deputy director of KMG Global. I gained what is known as a "technical pass", meaning I had achieved the grade of P4 by getting 73% (minimum pass is 70%), had the stamp in my passport BUT had to retake stick defences back in my own club at Krav Maga Midlands before I could get my certificate.

I didn't feel too bad as it wasn't just me. ALL the other P4 guys from my club who graded in London or Bristol had to retake one or two things before the treasured four bar patch was handed over.

KMM Chief Instructor Bartosz held the in house resits in May, but I was double booked attending Nick Maison's Air Safety seminar in Bournemouth that day.

The next available slot was the pre grading workshop in September so I waited patiently until I could finally gain my fourth.

After 6 months I knew my knowledge of what I'd learned would be shaky and I was nervous about having forgotten too much.


Not long before the national gradings, KMM hold workshops at Stratford upon Avon Leisure Centre. The last two have been run by instructors Al Natrins(G1) and Russell Brotherston (G4) and they treat each workshop with the same intensity as an actual grading. The idea is that you work through what you will be tested on, on the grading day but with constant feedback and a debrief at the end.

There was about 15 of us this time and most were going for P1 or P2. A few new faces were on the mats as we lined up, and it was good to see them and know they were going to take the plunge and actually go for it.

After a quick warm up we split off into our relevant grades with the P1s and 2s at one end me and two others on the other side. I was with Toli, a former Russian Olympic wrestler and a Polish guy named Tomasz. Both are huge, hulking blokes and very powerful. Toli was prepping for P4 in October while Tomasz was gearing up for his Graduate 1 examination (he was the first P5 student in KMM and was regarded with a sense of awe for about 6 months until other guys made the same grade).
Al and Russell got us to drill specific techniques and we got stuck in. For me this was realistically a P4 test all over again and I was conscious of having to nail techniques correctly. We concentrated on upper cuts, hooks and hammer blows and then moved on to kicks. Tomasz gave constant advice to me and Toli, which was unexpected but turned out to be useful as he knew his stuff. I dropped my hands a few times during the kicks so Tom handed me a focus mitt and got me to hold it between my hands, meaning I couldn't drop them every time I kicked. 

We moved on to the more complicated moves, including Scissor Kick which I had forgotten over the preceding 6 months and had only managed to get down properly the Thursday before. Thankfully this was something I did well and it was reassuring to hear Tomasz grunt "Good, close" as he held the strike shield.

Doing this for four hours is grueling, however ultimately necessary as it is as close to the real thing as you will get. The last grading in March was the hardest I've ever done and it was good to see that KMM weren't pulling any punches (or kicks) in making sure we were fit for the job.

After getting through stick defences we switched to ground work. Working with guys who are nearly twice my size turned out to be a blessing, as it meant I had to do the techniques correctly or there was absolutely no way I was going to get them off me.

Me and Toli were well and truly knackered by this point (Toli had the foresight to bring 3 t-shirts and had already changed once, I'd only brought 2 so my training shirt was by now impersonating a wet dish cloth) BUT we had one more treat in store. While the P1s and 2s did ground wrestling and a zombie drill...we had to go full on at a strike pad held by one of the other guys, while the 3rd man kept trying to attack us with a knife or stick (and in Tomasz's case a pistol). This was draining and when we finally finished we were well and truly exhausted.

As we packed up the stuff I was trying to remain aloof about asking whether I'd passed or not, but failed that charade miserably. Al said that as far as he was concerned I'd done OK but needed to convene with Russell (who was outside to drop the training gear into his car). I spent an anxious 15 minutes waiting and Al broke it to me like this:

"Well unfortunately.................we don't think you're ready for P5 but you've got P4".

As I remember it, my gratitude was punctuated by one or two swear words.

A really good experience and it further reassures me that both KMM and KMG UK are 100% focused on training and testing their students at a level of high achievement. The workshop was arduous and the following day I had bruises on various bits of my body plus a couple of beauties across my face BUT it means all the students actually know their stuff and can be proud that they are being tested by a meticulously professional organization.

I have P5 at the P Weekend in December.

Best get training again.

Lance Manley