Tuesday, 27 January 2015

KMM P1 Grading

P1 Grading
January 24th 2015
Stratford upon Avon

by Lance Manley- P4

Krav Maga Midlands' first in house grading since 2010 (not counting the "technical pass" retests from last year) was something we'd all been expecting and the actual students going for it, were nervous about.

KMG had handed over the responsibility for Practitioner 1 gradings to individual clubs. Only P2 and up would now be graded at national events.

I spoke to Charlotte Measures on Thursday in training about the upcoming test and she said "I'm really nervous but I do know it and I'm hoping I don't freeze on the day."

Practitioner Dan Maggs also said " Looking forward to tomorrow, nervous excitement I guess. Hope it goes ok, but the ground work and break-falls are a concern for a bigger guy like myself."

Bartosz, our Chief Instructor said, "I'm looking forward to it, we'll see what's going to happen. We'll assess our students and give them good feedback at the end."

Me and a few of the other guys had decided to go along and support those taking the exam. I remember well the nerves, anxiety and sense of bewilderment about my first grading, back in October 2012. While I'm nervous at all gradings (P4 being the one that pushed it into the stratosphere) there's something uniquely nerve wracking about the Practitioner 1 test. You don't know what to expect; most people have no idea what's going to happen; and it is quite possibly the first time you've been assessed on your physical skills, be it in Krav or any other type of situation.

I got to Stratford upon Avon High School at 12.15pm and the guys were waiting in the foyer near the sports hall. A lot of worried faces and I spoke again to Charlotte who assured me she wasn't feeling nervous now. Her 8 year old daughter who attends Junior Safe Krav Maga on a Monday in Leamington Spa, looked up from her colouring book and went "Yes you are." That got a laugh and I also spoke to Laura Dumbleton Jones who told me, "Just looking forward to getting started and getting into it to be honest. I'm trying to think of it as a training session."

Tristan Smith said, "I'm feeling incredibly nervous but I'm looking forward to it and I'm going to enjoy it."

Quite a few guys had turned up to cheer on their mates, including Goz, Pete and Ewa from Solihull and KMM instructors Al and Charlie.

The test was conducted by our Bartosz who is Expert 1 and Russell Brotherston who is Graduate 5. As the students lined up Bartosz reassured them that while they were obviously nervous as it was a new experience for them, they should give it their all and do their best. They then launched into the warm up for a while and after working up a sweat were split into pairs. With 11 guys taking the test, there was one group of three. They started on some striking moves and the switched to straight punches.

As the hours wore on, you could see the Krav maps appearing on people's T-shirts as the sweat flowed. Everyone was giving it their all and it was great to see how no one flagged in their energy levels and each one was going full out to perform 100% their best.

Russell and Bartosz walked around and between the fighting pairs (and the 3), making notes and occasionally conferring.

After 3 hours we then moved to forward rolls with mats being laid out in a line. From personal experience I know how difficult it is to get this right. It took me about a week to crack it for my P2 exam and again the guys performed it well.

They then paired off again and went for some striking and kicking work before rounding it all off with 50 push ups, 50 sit ups and 50 squats, getting a final good sweat on before we moved into a smaller sports hall. Bartosz told everyone to get a drink and a bit to eat, while he went into a private room with Russell to compare notes.

After about 15 minutes they came back and the students sat on the floor around them while they talked through the common mistakes made (knife defences being high on the list) and demonstrated the correct way to perform the moves. This is something I've seen at every grading I've taken and is invaluable feedback.

Finally they moved on to the grades and called names out. Individual feedback was given and everyone had passed. We applauded and finally everyone got to get up and think about going home. Charlotte was grinning broadly, clearly happy to have passed. Her husband Simon Green from the Leamington Spa class, and her two little daughters were very proud for her. She told me..."Really, really awesome. Really, really good. Really enjoyed it."

Instructor Russell said, "I'm pleased with how they all performed. There's always things that need to be fixed. That's always there, I mean I get that when I grade (laughs). Aggression was good, determination was good."

Laura said, "I'm pretty confident. Really enjoyed it, it certainly gets the blood pumping. I feel like I'm on the start of a very long journey. It's a big mountain to climb."

Tristan was clearly over the moon and said "I'm really happy, hopefully be going for P2 in October now."

Finally I got a quick word with Bartosz who said, "Good, just a couple of things to work on like knife defences and 360's. Very good footwork and pressure drills."

A great day and it was fun to be there to offer support as it felt very much like a family affair with friends backing one another and shouting encouragement when needed.