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I won’t normally do a recap for belt tests. Students usually swing by on those mornings to watch if they are curious, and we post videos and photos of the results quickly afterward. This one is getting a recap because it was an inspiring and eye-opening test to watch, especially for someone who has goals to advance to that level someday.
Green belt tests are not hosted as often as yellow belt and orange belt tests at KMS. There’s a whole other range of material to prepare for, and the number of students who stick around long enough to prepare for that test dwindles. I am aiming for my orange belt test in October, so I came to the gym last Saturday to see what the next level would be like once I (hopefully) passed orange. This was the green belt test I wanted to see. George and Chris are two of the most experienced practitioners at the gym, and they have been training outside of class hours for months in preparation.
It was clear early on that George and Chris have an intensity and proficiency that few students have. I wish there had been video taking of their shadow boxing during this portion for people to see. I know most people hate shadow boxing. I get it. It’s awkward, and we often spend more time trying to think of what to do than actually doing combos. But these two looked like they were fighting actual opponents. They varied combos. They kicked and transitioned fluidly. There were barely any pauses between combinations, which in itself is something I think we can all work on.
I won’t get into each technique individually. There’s a lot of complicated defenses, groundwork, sparring, and free work. The test was about two and a half hours long with just two people. It would have easily crossed over three hours if there were more people. Aside from skill, the two most impressive parts of watching this test was the intensity and ferocity they both attacked everything with. They did not take breaks. Usually we’re given a few minutes to rest between sections. They changed shirts, hydrated quickly, and asked to keep going. For close to three hours. Not once did the aggression falter. Brayson said afterward that it was a near perfect test, and we could tell watching them. They were non-stop precision, aggression, and intensity.
This was a humbling and eye-opening experience for me. It’s one thing to pass your yellow belt test, but it’s another to continue past that first belt to your third. After green belt, we are halfway to a black belt. The implies a level of dedication and proficiency we are just figuring out as beginners. I want to get there eventually, as do many of you, but watching this test revealed a lot of areas that I need to work on in order to get there.
Like I said earlier, we all struggle with shadow boxing. It feels awkward, and we worry about looking silly or unskilled to anyone watching. I have come to appreciate shadow boxing a lot more since moving to orange belt, but I realized that I have a ways to go watching George and Chris shadow box. I think we could all step our game up a little in this area. This is a section of time dedicated to working on movements, different strikes, combinations, chokes, ground work, and whatever you can think of to try. For example, I struggle with spinning back kicks, so I use shadow boxing as a chunk of time where I can slow down for a second, do a spinning back kick to practice, and then focus on following up with combatives. I usually do this with whatever I’m struggling on that week or with something we touched on in class that I want to remember. Experiment a little. Think about form. Don’t worry about anyone else. I guarantee you that no one (except the instructor) is focused on what you’re doing.
Combatives with precision.
We often get stuck in ruts where we throw the same combination of strikes over and over again. I am so guilty of this. It’s terrible. It’s hard to throw a different combo when you are trying to focus on other things. I have to consciously think of how I’m going to change the next combination. I forget frequently until someone points it out, usually by taking advantage of the pattern I had been laying out for them in the last four combinations. I didn’t see that with the green belt test. Occassionally, they would do the same combination a couple times in a row, but they spent far more time varying combinations than not. Variation gives us a huge advantage as fighters and defenders. This is also something we can start incorporating in beginner levels. Try not to do the same combination every single time. Starting this early in your KMS training can form a habit that will serve you well as you advance.
Sparring is unavoidable in upper levels.
I knew sparring practice would increase as I advanced through the levels, but it didn’t click how much sparring there would be until I watched this test. The orange belt test involves a little sparring, and we often spar in intermediate classes. However, the green belt test had chunks of grappling and sparring through the whole test. There would be times where they were expected to go at each other with whatever skills they had just been tested on. And this was not injury-free sparring. They both traded solid hits. They were exhausted and bruised after each section. But precision in sparring is part of the testing process. Ending with shark bait for the yellow belt test escalates to ending with sparring for orange and green.
Sparring is not something I would say I’m skilled at. Every since my concussion last June, I have been hesitant about sparring, almost bordering on panicked sometimes depending on how self-conscious I’m feeling about it that day. Sparring is frustrating. There’s no right answer on how to do it correctly. A combination that worked for you once may not work again against that person. But if I’m going to advance, then I have to start making a more serious commitment to getting over my fear of it.
That’s something to consider for those of you who are looking to advance. Sparring is involved. It’s fine not to spar, but you will be expected to at some point if you want to progress through belts. Maybe I’ll make a post about overcoming my fear of sparring down the line if I do ever conquer that obstacle, but in the meantime, talk to instructors about how to get better at it. I would recommend taking Intro to Fight at a minimum. That’s the best introduction you will get to what sparring entails, and the instructors do an excellent
job of easing you into it.
Put in the time.
I have talked about this before, but advancing in Krav Maga means making it a priority. You have to put in the time, and do the work. You have to decide what level you want to succeed at. If you want to advance to orange and stay there, then make it happen! If you want to just learn basic defense and get a good workout, then you can absolutely do that in beginner classes. If you want to advance, then put in the time to advance. There’s no wrong answer here. You just have to decide what level of training you want to achieve. Shooting for the moon in Krav Maga means committing a consistent amount of time and work to making it happen. Showing up one or twice a week for three months doesn’t imply you’re ready to take the leap for the next test. As you progress into other belts, taking time off between classes makes jumping back into classes difficult and discouraging. Find a schedule that works to achieve whatever goal you set for yourself.
Overall, this test was worth every minute I spent watching it. Not only did I learn a lot, but
Chris and George did a phenomenal job with this test. You should check out the videos on
Facebook if you have time. There will be another green belt test in November if anyone is
curious to watch the next one after this post. Make sure to tell George and Chris
congratulations if you see them this week. They earned it.