Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Five Tips for a Successful Krav Maga Grading

On Saturday I tested for the Practitioner level 2 in Krav Maga Global, at the regional grading event at First Defense. The test came a little over five months since my P1 test.

It was my first experience testing with students from other schools. It was cool to meet other Krav practitioners and see how they interpreted and expressed Krav culture and technique.

The event featured testing opportunities for all Practitioner and Graduate ranks. There were so many participants we occupied space in the First Defense school and the nearby dance school!

In this post I want to share five tips that helped me pass the P2 test. By writing these tips I do not intend to portray myself as obsessed with rank. Rather, I want to share some thoughts to consider if you are interested in progressing through the KMG levels.

1. Approach every practice session with the next test in mind. I did not implement this suggestion until July. Previously I was happy to soak up whatever knowledge I could gain in my practice sessions.

At the start of July I heard we had a grading event planned for the fall, and I realized I needed to make it count. Beyond P1, all KMG grading is now done at regional tests, unlike P1, which can be done in one's local school.

With a new sense of urgency, I kept the test process in mind throughout July, August, and the beginning of September.

2. Understand in great detail what is expected of your next test. Once I understood when the next test opportunity would take place, I began familiarizing myself with the P2 curriculum. Our school makes worksheets available at the front door, so I collected one and studied it.

I also subscribe to MaxKravMaga, which provides the curriculum and videos for all or nearly all required material.

By better understanding the curriculum, I could identify when P2 material was being taught during group sessions. This added an incentive to pay extra attention to that technique or method.

It's not that I zoned out when learning P3 or higher material. I enjoy learning higher material when it's offered, as I see it as a "preview" of the future.

However, by knowing that the group session included specific P2 techniques, I could ask questions and try to be sure I understood what we were learning that day.

3. Review videos daily. In July I also added a MaxKravMaga video review to my daily routines. I started with P1 material and continued through P2. I ended up watching P3 and some P4, but the few weeks prior to Saturday's test I concentrated on P2 videos.

These videos have been exceptionally helpful for me. I often need a lot of time to digest and process new techniques. Using video is helpful because I can slow down the explanation. Sometimes I take screen captures of key moments to use as technique "checkpoints." The videos also help me predict what the graders would be looking for during the test.

4. Schedule private lessons. Prior to my test I scheduled two private lessons with Mr. Nick Masi, owner of FDKM. I scheduled the first lesson ten days before the test and the second three days before the test.

During the first private session I asked Nick to help me with parts of the curriculum that I hadn't seen that often during our group sessions.

During the second private session I asked Nick to review common problem areas for P1 and P2 material. I also reviewed a few techniques that were still giving me trouble since our last session.

These private lessons were the final piece I needed to add confidence to my grading experience.

Mike (testing partner), Pat (grader), Me
5. Approach the test as an extra-long, extra-intense training session -- but don't make it your first extra-long, extra-intense training session. I was nervous the week prior to the test, and especially on Saturday. I took the advice sent in a pre-test email:

"Don't think of it as a test, just think of it as more time on the mats, training. The only difference is that someone is asking to see what you know."

This approach helped me quite a bit.

I was very motivated to see so many of my fellow classmates gathered together. Seeing everyone helped me think of the event as a giant seminar. It was also really cool to see my instructors testing for higher G ranks, and to see the KMG founder Mr Eyal Yanilov walking around the school watching the event.

The P2 test was over twice the length of the P1 test, which lasted 90 minutes. The P2 was over 3 hours 20 minutes. The P3 candidates tested over 4 hours, and I believe the P5 and higher grades were still going after the 5 hour mark. The test schedule said 1-7 pm, so the highest grades tested for at least 6 hours.

The duration of the event meant that it helped to have experience with lengthy martial arts training sessions. Prior to the test I had attended a four hour seminar with Eyal in Las Vegas, multiple two hour sparring sessions ("fight nights"), four two-and-a-half hour combatives sessions, one five hour combatives seminar, and a six hour Inosanto seminar. The longer sessions, particularly the five hour combatives course, helped me understand how I would perform under long duration conditions.

Final Note: I'd like to thank my testing partner Mike for asking me to work with him Saturday afternoon. He and I worked well together and we both passed. I'd also like to thank our grader, Mr Patrick Hards, for providing a fair testing environment and for giving us honest feedback for improvement. Pat spent about a half hour giving specific comments and general group feedback for the new P2s, which I captured via some iPhone footage and digital notebook.

Overall I enjoyed the P2 grading experience. Rumor has it the next opportunity will occur in the spring, probably six months from now in March. Although I am attending the P & G Weekend in Las Vegas in November, I must wait 5-6 months for my next testing window. I'm putting steps 1-4 in practice now in the hopes that I am invited to test again in the spring.

If you plan to test at the P & G Weekend in November, now is the time to put these five steps to work for you -- good luck with your training and testing!

How was your last grading experience? Any suggestions?

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