Saturday, March 24, 2018

Coping with Sickness and Injury

Since returning to the martial arts in January 2016, I haven't suffered any serious breaks in training -- until this month. I wanted to share what has happened and how I've been coping with it.

During the month of March (thus far, with only one week to go) I've only attended one regular Jiu-Jitsu class and one regular Krav Maga class. I usually attend 3-4 classes of each art per week.

What happened?

The first half of the month, I was managing a back injury. I suffered some strained muscles performing an awkward throw in Jiu-Jitsu with a partner who weighed at least 40 lbs more than me. I felt it the next day and I realized it would be a problem.

The back injury caused me to evaluate how I would spend my time preparing for my Krav Maga Global P5 test. I attended one Krav Maga class 5 days prior to the test, but did no other exercise. The day before the test I had planned to participate in another 3-4 hour Jiu-Jitsu blue belt preparation class. However, I only watched and took notes that day. I also skipped yoga the morning of the KMG test.

My strategy paid off. I was sufficiently healthy to pass the 5 hour P5 event.

I felt pretty good Sunday evening. The next day I felt a little worse, and I decided to not train that night in any art. By Tuesday I was feeling aches and pains in various places, and took Tuesday off. I felt drained all of the week following the test, and I began to wonder if I was fighting off the bug that had affected the rest of my family.

I didn't train the week after the test, except for a final 3 1/2 hours of Jiu-Jitsu blue belt test preparation. I attended because I thought I had turned the corner and was ready to train after five days of rest.

I started this week ready to resume by normal training. Sunday morning I participated in yoga, but felt sore doing standard positions. By Monday I felt like I had been hit by a truck. On Wednesday I experience multiple weird fever-induced dreams, and by Thursday the fever had broken. Yesterday, Friday, I started recovering, and today, Saturday, I know I'm getting better and will not be a risk to others from here on out.

I hope to return to normal training next week, starting again with yoga on Sunday morning.

Looking back, I'm thankful my health cooperated to permit me to successfully test for P5 on March 11th. When you can only test twice a year, it's critical to make those opportunities count.

I recognized that the time I would spend preparing physically was very small compared to the six months I had already practices. Therefore, it was key to be as healthy as possible, so I minimized training and only participated in the critical events -- the P5 test and two blue belt preparation classes.

I'm also glad I minimized exposure to training partners. With close contact activities like Jiu-Jitsu, I do not want to be responsible for getting other people sick.

I'm thankful my family and I are feeling better. I wrestle with a compromised immune system due to my rheumatoid arthritis. I don't take it for granted that I'm getting better. I would ask those of you who train while sick to remember that some of us have problems you can't see, and knowingly exposing us to your sickness is not cool.

I'd also like to thank my family for helping me this month. My wife and I were lucky to not be equally as sick at the same time. We were able to hand off taking care of the kids and taking them to school or the doctor as necessary. Thanks Mrs B!

If you made it this far, you may be wondering about the knee taping picture. I can thank the Stretching Consultant for helping me with that. It's a chronic issue but the taping helps when I need it most!

Update: Oddly enough, within a few weeks of this post I dropped a table on my left foot and ruined two of my toes! That and work travel has kept me off the mats for over a week now. I plan to return by the second week in May however.

How do you cope with injury and illness? Let me know here or on Twitter!

Stay informed of new blog posts by following me on Twitter @rejoiningthetao.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Thoughts on my Krav Maga Global P5 Test

Sunday I successfully passed my Practitioner 5 ("P5") test within the Krav Maga Global system.

I last tested for P4 in September 2017.

I wanted to share a few thoughts on how the test went. If you review the krav maga topic link on this blog you will find many posts about my training and philosophy.

I started training in the Krav Maga Global system at First Defense Krav Maga in January 2016.

My 2016 year in review and 2017 year in review posts document my Krav Maga training journey.

Thus far I am 5-for-5 with passing scores, having tested roughly every 6 months since starting at the school. The one exception was my P1 test, which occurred in April 2016, 4 months after I began training.

There were 5 people testing for P5, and we were the senior students. No one tested for Graduate ("G") ranks that day. As you can see in the picture below, we had a great turnout for ranks P1-P5.

My partner was Josh, in the short-sleeved shirt in the top photo. Josh was the MVP for the test, in my opinion. His formal rank is P3, but he is far more skilled than that patch says. He is either 17 or he just turned 18, and he plans to test for P4 in April at the KMG spring camp. 

Josh offered to test on Sunday for "practice." I think he also noticed that we had an odd number of P5 testers, so he partnered with me. We often train in class so I very much appreciated his participation, as well as the advice he gave me during our preparation class last Tuesday.

If I owned the school, I would have given Josh a P5 patch on the spot and told him to not worry about testing at the spring camp! I have no doubt that Josh will achieve Expert rank if he decides to continue studying and testing.

Three aspects of this test made an impression on me. 

First, the raters, Sam and Paul (on either side of Josh and me in the top photo), ran the test very well. They kept the tempo high but did not waste any time. I can recall periods of inactivity during other tests, in excess of several minutes. We had several 60-120 second breaks, but never longer. 

As a tester you may think you want longer breaks. In my experience, the longer the break, the more likely the body will start to complain. By working continuously, I avoided the "downtime trap." 

Incidentally, Paul and Sam also tested the P4s with the P5s. They added P5 material as the P4s were testing, so extra kudos to them for managing two groups. I believe 7 people tested for P4.

Second, the raters were clear about what they wanted us to do. In my last test, the rater had a tendency to tell us to demonstrate all our hand techniques, or all our kick techniques. This meant we had to remember all of the curriculum we were supposed to know. 

Now, of course we knew the curriculum. However, under testing conditions, I will know the "outside scooping high elbow low palm" technique but not remember to demonstrate it. If asked to show it, I will show it. 

If Krav Maga testing involved me selecting techniques to defend against a variety of attacks, I would have no problem with a more open-ended test. If the rater tells my partner to attack me with strikes or kicks, I will reach into my tool box and use what I prefer. I'm only going to choose one of the more obscure variations if asked.

This proliferation of variations is one of my problems with Krav Maga Global as a system, but that's a topic for another post. 

Third, the test was long. My P4 test was 4 1/2 hours. This test was 5 hours. I might be able to run a marathon in 5 hours! My strategy to survive was to be smart about expending energy. I didn't go crazy at the beginning, but some exercises were unavoidably taxing.

The big-muscle movements were the worst -- kicking, basically, especially heavy kicks. My cardio was good though. All of my endurance came from Krav Maga and Jiu-Jitsu classes, which total 7-9 hours per week. 

I also drank three bottles of water and ate one power bar during the test. Two hours prior to the test I ate my favorite salad with chicken strips and drank a lot of water.

My raters Sam and Paul gave us lots of group and individual feedback, so I have plenty of work to do before attempting to test for G1. 

Thanks again to my raters, my partner Josh, and my fellow students for a great testing experience on Sunday!

My immediate future involves preparing for a Jiu-Jitsu blue belt test (at Prof Pedro Sauer's school). I'm not sure when it will happen, but I believe it will be sooner than G1.

How are your testing experiences? Let me know here or on Twitter!

Stay informed of new blog posts by following me on Twitter @rejoiningthetao.