As of June 1st, I have been training in Krav Maga for 4 years. In some ways it seems like it’s been an eternity, in other ways it seems like I only just started. Some techniques that seemed impossible as a White Belt are second nature and require no conscious thought to perform today. Same goes with many of our exercises. I remember so vividly when I was starting out how hard it was to simply hold a plank. It was common at the end of class for us to be instructed to hold a plank a full minute and there I’d be, trembling and shuddering under the strain to keep it together. I never did end up getting to a full minute in those first several months but, over time, that and so many other things I once thought impossible have opened up to me.
Standing at the end of Year 4 I reflect on how far I’ve come. Last December was the goal I had my eyes on since day one — the final Black Belt test. It was what kept me going, focused, and driven. It’s what I trained, not only in regular classes for, but also in Boot Camp and in outside group meets during the last several months leading up to the final test. I committed fully to the goal and did whatever it took to pass that test. In the end, I did my 100 push-ups, ran my timed mile, sparred with the Hit Team, and endured over 4 grueling hours of nearly uninterrupted techniques and combatives.
My goal of Black Belt was fueled by many motivators, as I’m sure it is for others. I wanted to prove to myself that, even in my mid-40’s, I could set a major physical goal and accomplish it, demonstrate to myself that I can still push through my mental and physical limitations that hold me back, and found out if I can absorb the entire underbelt curriculum and apply it effectively in and out of class.
Another huge motivator for me to get to the level of Black Belt was so that I could be at a point in my training where nothing was “off limits”. I had years of seeing the Black Belt students off to the side or on the other mat practicing advanced curriculum (long gun, advanced ground and knife techniques, hostage situations, multiple attackers, etc.) and was always intrigued — jealous, I guess. There were “Black Belt only” seminars that I was dying, but unable, to take. All that changed after December and it was now a new era of training.
I’ve always strived to maintain humility in my training, not only because it’s not my personality to boast or walk around with swagger, but also because I am constantly reminded how far there is to go. Every technique I see and learn reminds me of how much more there is to know and ultimately how small my accomplishment is in the grand scheme of things.
But, hey, that’s fantastic. Imagine getting your Black Belt and learning that you’ve learned all there is to know! That that’s as good as it gets and now you just have to hammer away at the same collection of static techniques over and over and over…probably until you lose your mind or stop training out of sheer boredom. Sure you’d likely be top notch at those techniques. However, you never grow that way.
Another point of reflection for me at the 4 year mark has been the concept of teamwork. Whenever I see the acknowledgements page in a book I am always amazed at how many contributors it takes to bring about what seems, on the surface, to be a single-person job. After all, it just takes ONE author to write a book, right? What do they need others for? You just sit down and write the dang book and then you publish it. What do you need anyone else for? Well first of all, there are editors, those who read your manuscript to look for errors and provide a host of constructive feedback when the author is blind to them. There are illustrators, reviewers, legal and marketing resources, and so many others who are crucial to creating the final product. Sure you could probably pull it off all by yourself but ultimately it’s the team that can make a good book really great. This applies to a first time author as much as it does to a best-selling author of dozens of books. Same thing goes for getting your Black Belt. The team is critical to getting to the level you need to be in order to pass.
As I embark on many new and exciting techniques and push myself even further than before, I have no doubt that my world class instructors and close-knit family of fellow students will allow me to dig deep to get it done.
On to the next goal.