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A whole new degree of pain.

March 17th, 2009

As I sit here, feeling my back tighten up (as an aside, did you know that over the counter analgesics can ease muscle pains? Good fact to remember.), I’m IMing with a friend about tonight’s krav class (it was good, thanks), about levels of expertise and whatnot and why I’m never fucking testing for advanced levels.

First, some background. As near as I can tell, krav maga levels work thusly (I may update this if/when I find my certificate):

Beginners take level 1 classes to prepare for the level 1 test. Level 1 is pretty basic; punches, kicks, blocks, defenses from headlocks and such. Not a lot of combos, not much ground fighting. After a minimum number of classes the instructor invites you to test when there’s judged to be enough confidence that you’re likely to pass. After you pass that test you are in level 1 and can take the intermediate class.

Intermediate classes cover everything from levels 2 to 4. If you’re curious, level 4 moves are fucking hard. For each level you prepare for the next test.

Expert is level 5. I have no idea what’s in there. Kinda don’t wanna know, some of the level 3 & 4 stuff is scary enough.

Tests are held every six months. They’re five hours long.

That bears repeating.

Tests are five hours long.

It starts with what’s called a cardio kickboxing class, because Tae Bo is trademarked, and sounds dumb anyway. This was a hell of a lot harder than I’d expected. In krav classes you go for a bit and it’s hard, then you stop so your partner can beat the shit out of you, then you stop for the instructor to cover the next move. No such nonsense in the cardio classes. It doesn’t take long for the instructor to tell you want to do next, then you go go go go go go go go. I shared my bag with two other people and I was still ready to be done after this. But that was the beginning. That’s an hour. You get a short break.

Then a regular class for the level. There are a few things that really don’t get covered much because they’re not that hard. Like freeing your arm from being grabbed. Pretty easy. These along with some of the harder things come up in the class. That’s an hour. Not too difficult, but you’re already tired from the cardio class and I frequently finish regular classes panting and soaked from sweat anyway. Then you need a short break.

I’m fairly sure if you sandbag the early portion of test night, you could easily be failed.

Then the test proper. You’re partnered with someone of similar size and strength. The instructor calls out moves, you do them. He watches. You get maybe two corrections. There’s a list and you go down it. Remember, you’ve done two hours of aerobics before you get to this point. And this is physical stuff. One move is grabbing your assailant, jamming your elbow into his chest so he can’t charge you, holding his arm by the bicep as hard as you can so he can’t punch you and throwing knees into his stomach. Your leg goes back as far as you can get it and when you throw the knee you pull the attacker down into the blow. This, you can imagine, is tiring. I don’t recall any breaks. We probably got one, but I don’t remember it.

I brought two Gatorades, a 100oz Camelback, a Rockstar and these little packets of a gel that has exactly 100 calories. And an extra shirt. I used it all. We went out for beers afterward, I had a beer, a hamburger and almost fell asleep at the table. I was still sore when the next week’s class came up. I skipped it. The test is two and a half hours, the breaks make up the other half hour. The breaks are not restful, they’re strictly to not get sued by survivors, so I count them in the test time.

The level 2 test is in two parts, 2A and 2B. Each of these is two days. When I was taking my level 1 test, there were people who had to come back the very next DAY for their level 2 test. So, then the level 3 tests are 3 days? Each?


Now, for the truly insane, there’s an instructor path. It’s not you get to a certain level you can teach, oh, no no no. I don’t know, don’t want to know, will never know exactly how that works, but I know you have to go to LA for it. I’ve been told, by a Clackamas County deputy who’s on their SWAT team (kind of a tough guy), that it’s multiple days and he goes straight back to his hotel room and ices up.

Oh, hellz noe! Not this kid. Huh-uh, no way, no how.

And there are also special classes for cops, which I’m told cover weapons retention and subduing people without, y’know, kicking them in the groin repeatedly or breaking limbs. Helpful stuff.

So, it’s not that I’m lazy, I mean, I am lazy but that’s not the reason I’m content to stay at level 2A. It’s because I’m a sensible human being, and this shit is fucking hard.

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