Monday, December 03, 2007
It was a day from hell … as bad as it was described before-hand, it was actually much worse. But, all my intense training and cardio definitely paid off in Spades ... at least that's what I'll tell myself!
It was the Yellow Belt workshop and test for Krav Maga. I didn’t think that I was taking it lightly, was I? I’ve done other martial arts and had belt tests … karate, jujitsu, kenpo, etc. Of course, I’ve known for months that Krav Maga is a totally different kind of martial art … more active, more violent, more hands-on … and the strength/conditioning workouts that go along with it are way over the top.
The preparation for Saturday started Friday night, with a full night of sleep … luckily I had the foresight to be well rested.
My challenge Saturday morning was food for fuel. The workshop/test was scheduled from 11am-5pm … but they had to be kidding right? We had asked about food/water/restroom breaks during the day … and were told that we would have our “normal” 2-3 minute breaks for water/restroom during the 11am-3pm ‘workshop’ … then a 15 minute break for food … followed by the 3:15pm-5pm ‘test’. But honestly, it didn’t sound right.
I decided on a monster Isopure protein/carb shake for breakfast … basically I tripled my normal shake for a 1500 calories dose of nutrition. Not knowing how exactly we were to get LUNCH in the 15 minutes between the workshop and the test … I packed two 64oz Gatorades, made another 1500 calorie protein/carb shake (dry mix in a bottle … just needed to add water later), 2 extra protein bars, and last 6 Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. Overkill right? Little did I know how smart it was.
Getting to class, people were there warming up as usual … some people jumping rope, others hitting the heavy bag, etc. I decided to conserve my energy and just sit on the floor. Of course, prompting people to ask me if I was feeling okay? Was I tired from a long night?
We first got the briefing for the workshop. Yes, it was scheduled from 11am-3pm. We would have our ‘normal’ breaks, i.e.. 2-4 minute breaks every 20 minutes or so. During that time, we should constantly drink fluids, eat a little food (always keeping something on our stomach) and use the restroom if we needed to … but we were promised that we would be so dehydrated after about 2 hrs in … that we shouldn’t need bathroom breaks. They would provide to us some bananas, apples and grapes plus water for us to have on our 15 minute break after the workshop before the test … that’s FOOD?!?! For the actual test, we would get a break only if we were told to take a break. We were told there were no emergencies or excuses, don’t leave the room or stop what we were doing for anything … other than to hurl (more on that later).
The purpose of the workshop was to go through all our fighting and self-defense skills … that being the time for last minute questions and clean-up of technique. Another PURPOSE of the workshop was to make sure we were thoroughly exhausted, mentally and physically, before we started the official test. Say what??? Now, there were people that were only attending the workshop … and there were other’s that were testing afterwards, like me. So … MY group was told that our test evaluation started when the WORKSHOP began, i.e. when we started warm-up. We were NOT to be taking it easy and trying to conserve our energy to get through the 6 hours ahead of us. We were expected to give 100% from start to finish … another component to the testing is answering the question “Will you quit?”.
We were promised a brutal workout, mos def. The last thing we covered was the “throw up” procedures. Basically, the door to the outside was going to be left open for us … we were told to only throw up outside … as far away from the entrance as possible, hopefully in the parking lot … it was pouring down raining, so that would help to wash it away. Plus throwing up inside would mess up the training floor, right? Plus we were advised that if we were going to throw-up, it was better to do it during the workshop … not during the test (as if it’s planned, right?) Doing it in the workshop, you’ll get some understanding and compassion … do it during the test and you’ll be met with … how can I say this … strong encouragement to stop being a p#$$y and deal with it!!! And with those last words of wisdom, we began …
Now normal warm-up for Krav class is pretty bad … think boot camp style workout. Constant motion …. Running forwards, backwards and sideways … mixing in jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, crab crawling forwards and backwards, drills with partners … back and forth switching between all these. You can count on the ‘normal’ warm-up lasting only 15 minutes, after all class is only an hour. But this was a different day. Every time I thought that we were done with warm-up, I would hear … “Okay … back up on the run … faster in the opposite direction …” We were even left in the room running a couple times while the phone needed to be answered … or someone stopped in with questions about the training there. After 32 minutes, we were finally done with warm-up … “Take 2-3 minutes to towel off and grab some water real quick … and let’s get going”, we were told. Was this one of the 2-3 minute breaks we were talking about???
So the real punishment could finally begin … first, striking! I’ve found just how much of a workout striking really is … that’s hitting something heavy and hitting it hard. I can crank out 60 minutes on the elliptical machine with no problem… run 3 miles on the treadmill in 25 minutes and be slightly gassed. But striking is a real workout. And we did everything … single punches, jabs and powershots … left-handed and right-handed stance; 1-2 combinations … left-handed and right-handed stance; palm strikes; hammer fist high; hammer fist low; hammer fist to the side. We’re working on each technique while being evaluated and corrected … the timer was set to 25 second intervals before we would switch with our partner (usually it would be 45-60 seconds, longer rest breaks). I never know which is worse … punching or holding the pad and getting punched? Thankfully another break was to be had, “Take 5 minutes this time … hurry up!”
I looked up at the clock for the first time … it laughed at me, “Ha! It’s only 12:15, playa!!”. I’m thinking ‘How the hell can that be right??? We’ve only been going an hour and 15 minutes (only, right?)’. But I was already drenched in sweat and feeling weak … I guzzled down the rest of my first Gatorade and finished up the protein bar I had been nibbling. I’m standing there wondering if anyone else was as tired as me … looking around the room mostly everyone else had that same dazed and confused look on their face … some people laying on the floor gasping for air … some outside in the 25 degree air with steam shooting off their head like they were a freight train (at least the rain had stopped).
I finally got a chance to introduce myself to my partner, Jake. Even though I had never met him or seen him in class before, we were fast becoming blood brothers. The idea was to partner up with someone for the whole day … and each person would be there to push the other one to finish. The trick was that if you were testing, you didn’t want to partner with someone that was NOT testing … because at 3pm they would be leaving … you would be staying AND then having to work with someone new. Looking at the clock again … 12:18, I had the thought of “conserving my energy and strength” … I didn’t know if I had brought enough food. But the instructor had been keeping a close eye on me for some reason; like he mentioned, he watches us in normal class and he knows what everyone is capable of … the expectation is that you will go beyond your capabilities during the workshop/test. I started to kick myself for all those days I chose to workout at the front of the class, taunting the instructor about having already been to the gym that morning at 6AM … then taking his class … then having another workout planned after his.
Abruptly break was over … back to more striking: Elbows strikes, all seven of them … both arms or course; Then defenses … inside defense against punches, outside defenses against hooks and wild swinging attacks; Knee strikes, all three of them … both legs naturally. It was at this point that I felt it … that slight tightness … in my right hamstring … the makings of … a cramp. I started trying to stretch my legs out while I was holding the bag for Jake, but stretching is hard to do when you are getting kicked in the gut. Last drills were front kicks to the body … front and back leg, groin kicks, and finally roundhouse kicks to the body. Another blessed break, “Take 5 people, make it fast …”. The instructor commented to his helper that we were ‘right on time’, prompting me to look at the clock … only 1PM. He mocked the class, “Congratulations people, you’re halfway there … ha!”
I finished half my second (and last) Gatorade and my protein bar. Seeing that I was cramping another student offered me a banana (potassium), so I choked that down. The protein shake I had earlier, coupled with the 2 bars that I ate were combining to make me extremely thirsty … I was determined to conserve the little Gatorade that I did have, so I switched to water from the tap. Mistake, maybe? Again, I looked around the room at more dazed looks … but I was feeling a little bit better. I’m thinking the advice to keep drinking and eating bites of food was working … but that process had be running out of food. I definitely didn’t want to drink my 2nd monster protein shake right before the test … it wouldn’t empty out of my stomach in 15 minutes … and I didn’t want to be the person out puking in the parking lot.
Again break was over … it was time for ground work: ground fighting position, spinning left, spinning right, front kick from the ground, left and right leg, roundhouse kick from the ground left and right leg … and last but not least, getting UP from the ground, left and right side. I was really struggling with cramps now … not that the cramps were bad … but it was hard to keep from being in a position where a cramp could set in … stretching was holding them at bay when they did start to flare-up, but I was getting worried about the rest of the day, and for good reason.
1:40PM brought with it another break, much needed. Instead of heading for water or the restroom … I spent the whole time on the floor stretching my legs. Looking around the room, there were a few people doing the same thing … rubbing calves, thighs, hamstrings, etc. I’m looking at the clock thinking … ‘only’ an hour and 20 minutes left to go … this is a piece of cake, right?
Break was over … and thankfully the pace slowed down a bit. It was time for review of all the self-defense techniques: choke from the front, two versions; choke from the side; choke from the rear; choke from the front being pushed; choke from the rear being pushed; side head-lock; choke while pinned on the ground, two versions … and last some light ground fighting/grappling techniques. Again, being on the floor my cramps kept being a nuisance, but nothing more than that. An hour and 15 minutes later … we were all done. The workshop was completed, yea me!!! “Okay people that’s it … take 15 minutes and we’ll get started with the test”.
I was stunned. Yes, I was thankful for the break … and 15 minutes would seem like an eternity. But, ‘only’ 15 minutes after 4 hrs of working out??? Didn’t seem to add up, at all. Plus, I had been worried about not having food … but I was so far from hungry that it was not even funny. I ate a few grapes and sipped some water … but I really didn’t want anything … eating was the last thing on my mind. But I didn’t want to be stupid either … I knew we had another 90 minutes coming up. So, I took half my protein mix and made it into a shake with water … forced that sludge down in big gulps, hoping it would be absorbed in record time. Then I took a moment to relax … and just breathe … closed my eyes …… it was wonderful. All 30 seconds of it! I decided to finally try to take a restroom break, he was right about being dehydrated.
But, unfortunately when I went to stand up … BAM!!! My right leg ….. hamstring AND quads … locked up with the mother of all cramps. Now I usually don’t curse … but I let loose a string of expletives that would surely make a longshoreman blush. From the back of the school, I could hear the instructor yell back “Yeah … now that’s what I’m talking about … someone is fired up!!!” I think the shock of my leg caused more smaller cramps, mainly in my right glutes and right latissimus … oh my goodness the PAIN!!! I was stuck in a half crouching, half standing position … trying to be tough and not cry like a girl (or piss my pants) … with some other a-hole schooled on WebMD telling me, “Just breathe and walk it off man … breathe and keep moving dude … keep moving !!!”. I just stood there … in agony … and also a little intrigued as to just how bad the cramp really was. Of course, I had cramps before … but this one … wow … I had never felt a muscle be hard like a rock before. Another classmate brought over another banana … I ate it, but was wondering what good it would do me at that point. Let’s just say that it was lucky that I ate it.
I spent the rest of my break standing, too afraid to sit down again … actually, too afraid to “stand up” from sitting down … again. The people staying bid farewell to the one who only were doing the workshop. I pondered the logic of that approach … as the workshop is mandatory for those testing (you need to be exhausted to test, remember). So, the people leaving without testing … were guaranteeing they would get to repeat the workshop again when they did decide to test? Wow!!!
“All right people, let’s do it!!!”, came the rallying cry. Finally a bit of good news … we were going to be flying through the test material … so he would be trying to get us finished in one hour and 15 minutes … rather than the full 90 minute session. I thought to myself, is this good news or bad. My aching right leg tapped me on the shoulder, “Hey buddy, I’m planning on making this interesting … I’ve got a little surprise for you, just wait”. I remembered at that time the instructor telling us that part of the testing process was to answer the question “Will you quit?”. The day was shaping up for me to actually have to answer that question myself…
After the briefing for the test … reminders about no water breaks or bathroom breaks unless he says to go … and strong reminders not to even THINK about asking a question, we got started … “Okay … let’s get warmed up …!!!” Warm-up?!?! WTF?!?! I’m thinking we just got DONE with 4 hrs of work, who needs warm-up???
Well, the 2nd warm-up was worse than the first … not as long, but much faster pace. All the while made worse by the instructor walking around with his little clipboard, making notes on everyone’s scoring. But fast paced it was … we basically repeated everything we had done in the workshop … but this time with the instructor taking rounds around the room, standing next to people making notes while they performed. Gave you a bit extra adrenalin push to help with the exhaustion. We started progressing through the drills and time started to blur.
Out of nowhere WHACK!!! …. And I looked over at a fallen classmate. I didn’t dare stop what I was doing, which was elbows strikes at the time. I heard the instructor yelling to the person on the ground, “So what are you gonna do? …. What are you gonna do? …. Just deal with it !!! You gotta deal with it!!!”. They got up and kept going … now I’m thinking “WTF dude, is it that serious?!?!” More drills, with the instructior calling people out by name to demonstrate a particular technique … and walking around with that dreaded clipboard.
Another WHACK!!! … someone ELSE on the ground. This time the instructor was silent … glaring at the two-person team. They eventually got up and resumed the drills. The instructor announced, “People … I know you’re exhausted but you better make sure your partner can make it to the end of the test. If I keep seeing people take elbow shots to the head, I’m gonna start failing the people GIVING the elbows. Clean it up!!!!” I’m thinking, wow … an elbow shot to the head or jaw … and to keep going, day-um!!!
More drills and it was all getting sloppy … so I guess I had to take a turn right??? I’m supposed to be defending money shots right down the middle, right? Good ole Jake threw one just as my dumb ass decided to do a time check … POP!!!! Ole dude landed a solid punch right below the left eye … good thing I had my chin tucked down. The instructor saw that one too, “Quit sleeping dude!!” he told me … “Jake, you’re punching from too close, back the f--- up … for the last time!!!”. Then he made a note on his damn clipboard. As the sessions went on, Jake got me with 2 more good knee strikes to the groin ... and I got him with a couple hammer fists and a spiking elbow to the back of the neck (not good!!), but we survived!
The faster pace definitely helped … because you didn’t have time to think about how tired you were. We started in on the dreaded kicks … and true to it’s word, my right leg had a surprise waiting for me. “Say hello to my little friend!!!”, was the taunt from my right leg … as my LEFT calf locked up on me. Again, more expletives filled the room … the instructor glanced my way but generally seemed uninterested. What followed was the worst cramp session I’ve ever had … left leg and right leg, just in time for our kicks AND ground work. To Jake’s credit, he did everything he could to keep me motivated and fired up … even insulted my breeding on several occasions, though that was barely enough. At one point I was trying to deliver roundhouse kicks from the ground … cramps in my right leg, hamstring and quads … cramps in my left calf … cramps in my back … and that question popped into my head “Will you quit?” At that point, the instructor came over … “Jake!!! WTF are you doing?!?!? Now is the time to make him work harder, get him!!!” … then he glared at me “WTF are you gonna do??? Deal with it!!! WTF are you gonna do??? You think someone beating your ass in the street is gonna care that you are having a f#$@%ing cramp??? Show me what the hell you’re gonna do about it ?!?!” … then he raised his clipboard and waiting … watching me, looking mad as hell.
I got as creative as I could with my next string of expletives … I’m sure my form was not exactly correct, but I did what the hell I could do. “Now THAT’S the s@&t that I’m talking about !!! Damn right!!!”, the instructor said as he walked away. I’m thinking he was pleased?
Finally (and thankfully) the end of the test came!!! Based on the effort I saw in the room, I was NOT surprised that everyone passed. The instructor gave us a little wrap-it-up speech, but I was not listening … I was trapped in my little half standing position …. Trying to relieve the twin cramps in the thighs … while not making the twin cramps in the hamstrings worse (though to do, believe me!!!). He did tell us not to run out and eat a bunch of garbage (some people were talking about going out for wings and beers), he promised that was a sure fire way to hurl … for us to find some healthy food to get back into our system before going “back to normal eating”, ha!
After the wrap-up, the instructor came over and told me about those bad cramps … it’s a curse with having a lot of lean muscle mass, he always cramps during his testing. He suggested adding a few teaspoons of salt to my Gatorade and taking a potassium supplement before similar workouts (now he tells me!!) … it won’t get rid of them, but they won’t be as bad.
I didn’t eat Saturday evening … I had planned on it, but I took a hot shower was just going to close my eyes “for a second” … my rest was interrupted by leg and back spasms all night of course. Sunday was another day to recuperate. But that first meal, oohhhh … half-rack of ribs and 1 lb of pork bbq, yumm yumm …….. play like a man, eat like a man I always say!!!
"He who controls others may be powerful ... but he who has mastered himself is mightier still" - Lao Tzu
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Yes, it's time for me to stop taking it easy ... though the break has been nice.
I can say that I am "officially" BACK in shape ... I found myself begging for more in my classes this week, at least since Thursday. And today's 50min session on the Total Body ... hey, I burned 1000 kcals (according to the machine) but it was a laughable workout. I was hardly out of breath and my heart rate barely got to 145 bmp ... normally I would expect to see around 160-165 bmp (see HRM people, I do pay attention to my heart rate too ... not just blindly trusting the cardio machines). I kept telling myself "pump it up, dude" but hey, it was one of those days!!!
My SparkFriend SNELSON4 did very well in her bodybuilding competition earlier this month ... I was SUPPOSED to be in the same competition, but hey, I couldn't handle the "bodybuilder's diet", i.e. ZERO carbs, ha! I can testify that #$@% makes you 'mental'!!! But with the competition gone, she fell off her diet ... and dragged me down right along with her, LOL!!!
So anyway, time to get back on my Superman Fitness Plan ... I'm already booked to take a cruise in December to the Bahamas and I feel like looking good while having some fun in the sun.
"He who controls others may be powerful ... but he who has mastered himself is mightier still" - Lao Tzu
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
So I looked up "Out of Shape" in the dictionary today, and there was my picture ... the same one posted here ... sitting on a boat chillin' in Aruba.
... And today I felt it.
No ... it wasn't during the 7am session on the Total Body this morning ... those 1000 calories in 50 minutes came easy. I almost threw my back out patting myself on the back for "keeping in shape" during my vacation.
No ... It didn't even happen during the warm-up today for Krav Maga class ... the running around the room ... stopping for push-ups ... more running ... sideways running ... backwards running ... stopping for more push-ups ... more running ... stopping for sit-ups ... did I mention running ... etc .... hey, all that felt GOOD ... all 10 minutes of the warm-up.
Then came out the kick-shields ... today's 50min session was front-kicks first, followed by front-kick/punch/elbow combinations ... a big grin came over my face.
Usually, I love ANY kicks class ... especially using the kick-shield. Basically your partner holds the padded shield (sized maybe 1.5ft X 2.5ft) tight up against their torso ... making a target. Then ... the kicker gets to ... well ... kick the hell out of them! As the teacher tells us ... try to put your foot through their back, that's basically the approach.
It serves two purposes a) the kicker gets to kick a real person, i.e. with resistance and body weight ... so you get to practice trying to kick hard enough to knock that person back a few steps ... good enough to crack a few ribs (or rupture a spleen) if the shield was not there ... and b) the kickie (is that a word) gets to ... well toughen up to being able to take a punch (or kick), padded as it were. And there is much debate about which is worse/more tiring ... being the kicker or the kickie?
Like I said, I usually LOVE kicking ... but today was a different day ... it was my first day back since my "training" in Aruba, feel me?
For those that don't know ... using an elliptical machine, running, swimming, jumping rope, etc ... even lifting weights ... all that is a totally different kind of "working out" compared to hitting/kicking something or being kicked/hit. Unfortunately, I had bragged to Roger about vacationing in Aruba for a week ... and seemingly keeping in pretty good shape. Mistake!!!
After about the first 20 full force kicks (of maybe 100?), me being the kicker ... I was damn near exhausted and gasping for air. Roger the instructor kept asking me, taunting "What's the matter dude .... you didn't do any of this in Aruba???" Hell no I didn't ... wow!!! Luckily my partner today was new to the class, so he was still very impressed with my performance (ego right) and much more tired than I was ...
By the time I got to the combos ... i.e. back leg front kick (to the gut), hammer fist (to the back of the head), finishing with a #1 (or #2?) elbow (to the face) ... lord ha mercy I was ... well, again Roger said it best, "Dude, you're hitting like a damn girl ... what the hell's wrong with you??? Oh yeah ... that's right ... Aruba dude, Aruba ... sorry I forgot man ... I guess that's the best you got today, right?"
Oh well ... but hey, I won't stay down for long.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Okay so it's time to get back to reality, right? The week of vacation was GREAT, just what the doctor ordered. And the scale was nice to me, I didn't gain or lose while on my sabbatical.
I guess I DID burn enough calories scuba diving 2 tanks per day to offset my vacation-mode eating ... including all the typical island favorites with drinks to take things over the top in terms of calories consumed. Hey, I even workout out at the hotel gym ... once ... got in a 5 mile run on the day that Felix had the diving rained out ... funny I was the only person at the gym though, reminded me of my 2am workout sessions back home.
Anyway, so we got a new challenge starting tomorrow ... just in time I might add ... the rest of this week will be relatively light, no more than 2 workout per day, how about that. Don't want to strain myself getting back into competition mode ...
Friday, September 07, 2007
Okay, so yeah I took off for a week without asking permission ... but hey, I'm all grown up right?!? Felix notwithstanding, Aruba was lovely ... and the scuba diving was fabulous darlin' ... simply fabulous!!! What tales of dread will the scale tell this week though ... ???
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