Friday, 7 February 2014

The Tunnel of Fun

After the main session of Krav Maga on a Thursday evening there’s that threshold moment. Just after we line up and the instructor gives a quick recap of the evening’s training, and then asks the ONE fateful question:

“Who’s staying for combat?”

Combat. The bigger brother of the previous 90 minutes. The Merle to Daryl Dixon. The “Let The Right One In” to Twilight. The Battle Royale to The Hunger Games.

Full on fight club. Helmets, gum shields, shin guards, chest guards and boxing gloves. Kicking, punching and going hammer and tongs on each other.

Last night various excuses whirled around in my head. I’d hurt my neck a bit when forward roll training (P4 beckons) and was contemplating using that as an excuse to cry off. Then I thought about the fact that I was already tired when I arrived and that I do a physically tiring job AND it’s currently winter in England (Julius Caesar reportedly hated being stationed here as a Centurion before he rose up the ranks of Roman politics…solely due to our lousy weather).

But I put my hand up with everyone else.

A 5 minute break is etiquette, enabling water bottles to be refilled and a banana to be scoffed if that’s your quick fix of energy. It was a busy session last night and as I looked around the guys getting kitted up like bomb disposal experts, I realised that the “bloke who used to be a boxer” was there. Also the “bloke who’s 6 feet 11 inches and a P5” was there. Not only that but the “bloke who’s built like a brick shithouse and also P5” was there. My heart began to race a bit, and I was glad I’d taken a beta blocker before I set off** for class.

We partnered up and at the beginning it was just 1 minute fights, constantly changing partners. This was good as it meant we got to see other people’s fighting styles and it was pot luck who you got as “choose someone else” was shouted every time the 60 seconds alarm went off.

We move on and practiced some techniques and I was quite enjoying myself.

But then came the big one.

The instructor said “right, groups of 6” and we stood on opposite sides of the sports hall, waiting to see what he had planned.

Grinning broadly he explained that this was the “tunnel of fun” and number one had to fight no. 2 for 30 seconds. Then he had to fight numbers 3 and 4 AT THE SAME TIME for 30 seconds. Then evade knife attacks from number 5…for 30 seconds. Finally try and touch the far wall while number 6 did all he could to stop that from happening… get the idea.

So, as I was number 2 I got to be the scrapper. Problem was that everyone was refreshed and radiant and my first partner was the 6’11” P5 dude. Off we went. I managed to get a couple of kicks and punches in but he caught me a right smacker in the side of my head and has a kick like a (very tall) mule. Then he made his way down the tunnel of fun until number 3 had a go. This guy was the ex boxer and it was hard work. I looked over to the other group to see their number 6 pick his opponent up and dangle him upside down. 

Christ! That’s some strength.

Then 4, 5 and 6 came up to me for a scrap. When it came to my turn to run the tunnel, I sucked up my fear and found a secret stash of adrenalin. I was so tired but determined to give it a good go. Didn’t do so badly until I got to number 6 and it was the very tall guy. Thinking he’d be top heavy I aimed for his crotch area with my head and tried to push him over. He went down, but deliberately so he could pin me like a very aggressive venus fly trap. Arms and legs clamped around me and I could feel the chest guard trying to kiss my lungs.

Finally we stood up and the instructor complimented all of us on how much effort we’d put in and said he was very pleased with all of us. My t-shirt was piss-wet through but I felt proud of having stayed to do the class and not backing down.

After we did “Kida!” and had the round of applause, I asked the instructor if he’d heard the expression “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”.

He replied, “Not for you guys. You guys keep on going.”


** Only 10mg. Think Chamomile tea's bigger brother. 

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