Tuesday, 8 March 2016

March 2016 Practitioner Grading, Stratford upon Avon

March 5th  2016
Stratford upon Avon High School

by Lance Manley

Still unable to retest for the much dreamed about P5 patch due to knee injury, I was determined to go along and cheer on the guys from my club and also eavesdrop the feedback from examiners to the P4 and P5 candidates.

Stratford upon Avon hosted its first national grading (courtesy of arrangements made between Krav Maga Global UK and my own club Krav Maga Midlands) last October. This proved a godsend for those of us in the middle bit of England. Before then a commute to Bristol or London was in order. Also, due to the event being hosted by KMM, there would be a P1 test, something the other national gradings didn't feature as all Practitioner level 1 exams are now held "in house" at the individual clubs throughout the country.



I got there about 11.30am and a lot of guys were already in the corridor outside the sports hall, waiting for our allotted time. Faces were looking nervous to say the least I spoke to Andy Wilkinson who was up for P3.

"Feeling nervous, ready but nervous. Graded in October and been in KMM for 2 years this June. If I'm not ready now I'm not going to be ready".

Expert level 1 examiner David Slade from Krav Maga Elite said:

"We've got a lot of people here. About four hours, three people examining so everyone's going to get a fair crack of the whip. They'll be a lot of attention, lot of focus, especially on the 2s and 3s".

Another examiner Alan Dennis, also Expert 1 from Elite Midlands said "P2s always a tricky one I find because they've done P1, the nerves have gone. There's a lot of new stuff on P2. You've got the add ons from P1. Overall, I'm expecting a good one."



As the practitoners made their way into the hall I got a quick word with P1 candidate Gulshen Bano who I'd chatted to at the knife defence seminar last month.

"Feeling OK not too bad, now or never. Done lots of training. Should be good".

Everyone got into it with a brief pep talk from KMG UK director Jon Bullock plus Alan and David. Jon stressed the importance of keeping safety at the forefront of your mind and that your safety plus your partner's was the most crucial thing.



The groups then split off into respective areas of floor with the P1s being overseen by Russell Brotherston who I work with at kiddy krav club JSKM on Mondays and Wednesdays. There was only ONE P5 candidate, Michaela Del Buono from Total Krav Maga who I had seen take P4 in the same venue last October.

KMM has 4 instructors, the most recent addition to the team being Tomasz Galuba. It was rare to see all four in a room together and inspiring that Bartosz, Al and Tomasz who weren't examining, had come out to see their students grade and cheer them on.



P1 finished first, shortly followed by the P2 group. 3 to 5 however were still going hard at it, proving my belief that these grades are "The Big Kids Club" and the perseverance required goes way beyond what's expected in the first two grades.

Once the techniques were done and dusted the gloves and shin guards (not to mention gum shields) were locked in place and everyone went at it in their respective levels. Michaela Del Buono had worked with the P4s for most of her grading and now was sparring with them. I know from my own sparrings at levels 3 to 5 that this is a gruelling and ultimately exhausting experience. You have to "suck it up" and carry on as you are being judged not only on fighting ability but more on your resilience in the face of a soaking wet T-shirt and a face like an overripe tomato.



Everyone gave it 100% and when time was finally called the groups split off to face either Jon or David for feedback. I listened in to the P4 and 5 chats from David and was pleased to see everyone had passed from KMM.



As people were glugging Lucozade or protein bars I got a few words from the candidates.

Andrew Wilkinson hadn't passed P3 but was optimistic and took the news with the determination to come back and try again.

"I didn't feel on my game. It was a couple of basic disciplines I failed on. However like the phoenix I shall rise again to fight another day".



Gulshen had passed P1 and told me:

"Absolutely brilliant, so pleased chuffed to bits. Today's been exhausting but so much fun at the same time. Won't stop grinning for the rest of the day."



Goz Goswell from KMM Solihull had passed P4:

"I feel shattered, challenged but really enjoyed it. Did my best, that's all I can do".



Great day, even as just an observer and now I'm going to head down to Bristol to watch it all over again.

-----------------------------

Lance Manley is a member of Krav Maga Midlands and author of the book

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