Next Sunday is Grading Day at kickboxing! I’ll be performing tricks in an attempt to obtain coloured belts. Hiii-yah!
It’s basically like piano exams with violence – there’s the same angst and nerves and endless practice. I’ve done nothing but kick and punch and panic for the past two months. Okay, there was that one night last week where I just sat on my arse watching eight consecutive episodes of The Cook And The Chef and weeping for my homeland, but apart from that it’s all kickboxing.
Amazingly I didn’t sign up for grading because my friends were; I genuinely wanted to do it. I know I said I was taking a break from Big Goals after the Moonwalk, but I couldn’t resist this one.
It’s the first time they’ve done grading down at our fighting establishment so we’re able to do some fast tracking – that is, attempt multiple grades on the same day, instead of one at a time with many months in between. Initially I was just going to do White and Yellow but our Great Leader said I should try Orange too. I said okay, but admittedly that was because my friends were.
It’s been an intense couple of months. Holy learning curve, Batman. New kicks and punches, attack and defence combinations, competition techniques and set movements. Sure, the seven-year-old munchkins in the Kids class are doing the same belts as me but I’m old! I don’t absorb information as easily. Many times my comrades have nailed the moves after the first instruction while I stand there gawking at the syllabus whining, "I don’t even know what that means!"
But the training been a great kick up the pants, reminding me I do have some capacity for focus, patience and dedication. I made flash cards. I typed out the moves and stuck them on my cubicle wall. I have a copy in my handbag. I do mental run-throughs during meetings. I kick Gareth a lot. I even gave up my beloved MotoGP to practice for hours on Sunday. Gasp.
With nine days to go I’m not quite yet feeling competent, yet alone confident. I’m fairly okay with White and Yellow but Orange features the dreaded sparring. We’re told the purpose is not to win, but to demonstrate your techniques. So far I’ve only mastered the technique of covering head with hands while begging for mercy.
The thing I’m really crapping my pants about are the set movements – this is where you do a whole bunch of moves in a sequence. The moves themselves are learn-able, but on Grading Day we have to do them individually, with the rest of the class watching!
I hate people watch me do stuff. I could never be into dogging, for example. That’s just too much pressure to perform.
We went through set movements at the end of my very first Advanced class. Then our Great Leader said, "Okay now we’re going to do it one at a time. Volunteers?"
I hid in the corner, fighting nausea as my mind played a montage called ‘Botched Music Recitals Of Your Childhood’. I did not want those Fighter Dames in the fancy blue pants watching me wobble through my moves. I prayed I’d be spared since it was my first class, but no.
Needless to say I completely arsed it up and wanted to diieeee.
"I heard you had to do your sets in front of the class," one of the gym lassies said to me a few days later. "Good on you! I could never do that."
"I heard you were totally nervous and white as a ghost and shaking all the way through!"
"Oh really now! Yes. Well. Somebody’s got to be the class clown, so it might as well be me!"
I was going to write about this much earlier, as I normally do with sporty ventures. But I’ve been so convinced I’m doomed to fail that I thought I’d keep it quiet, so you’d never have to know!
However I know that getting angsty thoughts out of the head and onto paper helps me calm down and start getting practical. So here I am with just nine days to go. Nine days to get my Left and Right sorted. Nine days to learn how to tune out the crowds and the voice in my head that whispers, you’re going to arse this up!
Deep breath… deep breath… ahhhh.