There was everything about the environment that an exam should have. The students in uniforms waiting outside the institute, some chatting and some reading from sheets of paper, some too nervous to say anything. Checking your name on the list, signing-in.
Finally the doors opened and we streamed inside. Again, the instructions - go straight to the hall blah blah - were all business and exam-like.
Instructors - external & internal - getting ready to start the test, in all seriousness. Even the warm-up was different today. Tim Alexander, lead instructor and director of KMTA - one of the world's best Krav Maga institutes - introduced us to the test with Kida (the bow). Piero Borgna (Pete), newly qualified instructor and Kurt Colpan, director of iKMF Australia were to be our examiners.
The Q&A bit lasted less than a minute, was smooth sailing and nowhere close to what I'd feared. Tim started calling out techniques and within seconds we were all absorbed into the Kravving mood. Stances, techniques, punches, power, defenses, attacks and it went on for 2 hours. It hardly mattered who was watching, it was all about giving our best. It wasn't a class anymore but as close to reality as we could get - like performing on a dance stage after months of practice.
When my partner & I teamed up, we did not even ask each other's name. He said, "I'd have preferred to work with someone I was familiar with". I couldn't agree more. I was pretty much looking for my usual partner Vanessa before I ended up with him. At the end of the grading - many strikes, hard knocks, punches and kicks later - we were both thoroughly bruised and sufficiently beaten up. We had not only fared well individually, we had been excellent partners. Good job, mate!
I can now honestly say that I know what it feels like to be punched square in the jaw, kicked in the face with a shoe-shodden foot, choked into a coughing fit, repeatedly beaten on both hands till they leave coloured patches, kicked in the groin, etc. <sheepish insert: giving someone a black eye too>
When Tim said, "Your marking is done, now you've to earn your grading", I couldn't help but smile. Internally, a little voice whined, "Noooo!". I know what that means. When Tim says you have to earn something, he makes sure you work hard and you work a good sweat. So he did.
Finally, it was time for Kida, the final bow before the results. We had all passed. Pete said he was impressed. Kurt was pleased too. Got my feedback, exchanged congratulations with friends and headed home with Vanessa. We couldn't stop raving about it. Various parts of my body were talking too, in a sweet painful way.
Returned home to FB pages full of today's grading. So much happiness everywhere. Yes, it was worth it. I'm glad I did it. I had some of the best instructors in Tim, Pete and Iman, how could I not?
Now for a beer, pav bhaji, the couch, telly and a book. A well-deserved rest.