Monday 14 February 2011

Post grading day

The day started off early as I got up with the boys and already was feeling the nerves and apprenshenion of the day ahead. In order to take my mind of it all I hunted on YouTube for the previous night's action from the first round of the Strikeforce Heavy weight Grand Prix. Arlovski got KO'd, again. An arms straight job, very messy. Fedor got mugged by Bigfoot.

On the way to the grading I almost crashed my car 3 times due to my tunnel vision. Arrived there nice and early and jumped in the car with Slippers and the Panther. Nerves were rife in the car which made me feel better, at least I was not alone. Joyfully pumping his fist out of his car window, Martin arrived and it was on. Time for the game face.

Well a mix of emotions really so I will go through each grade.

Grade 1:

Started off with punching, lots and lots in lines. Singles, doubles, triples and a pyramid up to 7. My focus was my posture and my elbows. Drive from the elbows and relax was the internal mantra. In the feedback Martin was extremely complimentary about my punching saying elbows keeping straightening even in the bunches of 7.

Footwork: Driving forward with double punches, the legs were alive with active readiness to go on the call. Felt strong and determined. Footwork with a partner moving around the room. This was something I was quite apprehensive about as my visualisation work highlighted too much weight on my front foot and thus making off lining tough. Being cognisent of this made my footwork better than ever before. In the feedback Martin remarked that he wrote in his notes that I was on fire.

Pre fight: Meet and greet and trigger touch. This is where I tried hard to compress and explode with a poker face. As soon as I saw the pad and it moved, bang. All my focus was on that pad. My posture and balance was not perfect at the end of the move.

3 drill: All I wanted to do was lap well and attack strong. Martin started to smirk which vexed me somewhat as I assumed I was missing something and thus waiting for bad news. Thankfully not as in the feedback Martin was most positive about my 3 drill.

Lat sau: Hell on earth, hard, confusing, awkward and this is only for grade 1. Felt like it fell apart, started to make adjustments from my wrist, lost control of the centreline.

I did pass and according to Martin with flying colours which was my goal. Mentally it was very hard, more so than physically. Yes it was tough on the body. Stuff hurt, stuff ached and lactic acid coupled with adrenaline was the order of the day but the mental pressure of the situation was incredibly hard.

Grade 2:

Started very well for me with some pad work. Made me feel alive and in the moment again. It turns out that my footwork let me down as I habitually rise and fall. Thus need more discipline as I have in sparring; the anti-takedown mma/wing chun hybrid stance.

Destroying balance: I was working with Slippers here and thought about the main areas of the body where balance can be affected. Worked the head, shoulders, hips, double lap, tai chi style push on whole body and leg destruction.

3 drill: Shocking. Fell apart at speed. Laps disappeared, limited defence against attacks, crap lap on the piston punch, naff hit through the centre, confusion over inside and outside gate lap. Although I did manage to find the elbow on the over extending pak sau defence.

Lat sau: Hell on earth. Speed overwhelmed me, crap stick with zero control of the centre, generally poor poor quality.

Unsurprisingly I failed but it did give me lots of learning points to develop and refine.

Great to see Slippers and Stable Joe passed, both truly deserved it. It is great to reflect on my own journey through the martial arts that this is the first time I have experienced failure and been positive and encouraged by it. Not running away and making excuses. I want to stick at this and become outstanding. Only the path of hard work and sound application will see me through.

In closing, this was tougher than fighting at Seni in the BJJ tourney. Tougher than my first semi contact match in Lau Gar. Tougher than being hit by Mikhail Ryabko. Mentally this was hard. Very hard. It was not like training at all. Martin applied a pressure unfelt previously. Perhaps it was the pressure to perform knowing how tough Martin is in looking for errors. The positive is that I have been though it once so next time the pressure will still be incredibly hard but at least not new.

Part of me wants to never grade again as I am very sacred about failing as in my mind the standard to pass grade 2 and further grades at the moment seems unsurpassable.

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