Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The Shovel or the Paintbrush

Many years ago when I was a little boy, I was sat in class listening to Mrs Drakeford telling us about archaeologists (thank Christ she never put that word in our weekly spelling test) and she asked us offhandedly if we knew what they used to dig up dinosaur skeletons. After much humming and hahhing and being told that spades, shovels, forks and JCB diggers were not the answer she then wrote on the blackboard.

"Paint brushes."

We all scratched our heads and made surprised noises for a couple of minutes, unable to grasp in our little brains how a tool we used to paint pictures with every Tuesday afternoon, could possibly be used to dig up a Stegisouraradasous or a Triangelerotops.

She patiently explained that an archeologist couldn't get a spade and "just go dig, dig, dig!" but would instead have to patiently rub away with gentle bristles, the dirt and detritus covering what they wanted to unearth. When we pointed out this could take weeks Mrs Drakeford said, "It takes YEARS."

I've been doing Krav for about 3 years now and something I've learned is that it's very easy to reach for a shovel when a paintbrush is sometimes required.

When I took P3 in October 2013 I remember Jon Bullock, head of KMG UK saying to us, with examiner Rune Lind stood by his side, that it was from this point forward "no longer about collecting patches." We had a much harder journey ahead of us and blindly or short sightedly charging forward to grasp the next grade's memorabilia was something that wasn't going to happen. Anyone who's taken P3, 4, 5 and up will know just how different they are from P1 and P2.

A paintbrush is a useful tool when aiming for higher grades as the shovel you are handed at your grading is good only for 6 months until your pride calls you to take the NEXT grading. I know for a fact that I cut corners and try to cram in as much as I can as late as possible, hoping that rolls will be cut for time (or lack of mats) and that I'll get the much coveted "group of 3" like I did on P2, so that there is less attention on me and more time to take a breath and watch how my partners do the techniques.

My "shovel" is that I don't go about my planning, training, and technique revision with patience, attention to detail and a desire to get it all "just right" but that I bludgeon my training, trying to get the most difficult moves done to satisfaction and hoping the other candidates are huge in number on the actual day.

I remember feeling at my P4 grading that, had I failed, I probably wouldn't come back any more. The week before I'd been nervous beyond endurance and my fingernails were bitten to little bloody stumps. I wasn't doing this as a sulk or a protest but simply because I didn't want to feel that bad again.

Not a noble, warrior-esque emotion to hold and one I'm most certainly not proud of...but it was there and I acknowledge it.

Overall, a paintbrush is a better tool when preparing for a grading. Take my time, relax and go over the moves at home in front of the DVD appropriate to my level. Learn for at least 2 months before I go, the moves specific to my upcoming grade and go in with the knowledge that I have drilled things as well as I possibly could.

Had I used a paintbrush for P4 I would have felt more confident and loose. Not ice box levels of coolness, but enough so I was sure that even with an Israeli E level examiner's eyes boring into me as he hovered with a clipboard, I would be able to give it my best, and not simply "hope" that it all came together.

Some things take time.

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