Making the Grade

Kramerkarate 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.

30 thoughts on “Making the Grade

  1. As a martial arts instructor – good luck!!

    If you make a mistake, just keep going – we all know what it’s like to be where you are on that day :o)

  2. Oh my lordy. You just wrote what could possibly be my favourite ever sentence ever…

    “I hate people watch me do stuff. I could never be into dogging, for example. That’s just too much pressure to perform.”

  3. “I heard you were totally nervous and white as a ghost and shaking all the way through!”

    I can hardly believe someone actually said that to you! What is she, 15 years old?! As if she was born doing these moves and never had to learn them herself? Oooo, I’m all bristled just thinking about it!

  4. Don’t worry SeaShore! It was very kindly said πŸ™‚

    @AfterGirl – Might have to try that πŸ™‚

    @Enny – Thanks mate, nice to hear from a pro!

    @LaLa – It only came through once, nae bother πŸ™‚

  5. As someone who would flounce around on stage quite a bit, the only way to overcome the sick feelings is to be doing it… up to that point? it’s barf-a-rama so you’ll be ok once you’re punching and kicking your way to a new belt colour πŸ™‚ break a leg luv xo

  6. Had to stop lurking and comment to say “Good luck” as that is so impressive. I always hated music and oral exams more than written ones as someone was watching me (I could see into their eyes!), but to do it in front of a whole class is sooo brave!
    I’m sure the nerves will go once you start and you’ll be fine – hope it goes well.

  7. You should get Dr. G to dress up as Kato (from the Pink Panther movies) and ambush you over the next few days so that you can hone your technqiue and have it become like instinct. Har har.

    In all seriousness, I’m sure you’ll do just fine!!

  8. shauna you will be amazing! look at how much you can do now, that you couldn’t just a few months ago. plus everyone wants you to succeed. keep reminding yourself of that!

  9. Oh wow! So exciting… You’ve done things so much harder than this, no problem:) When it comes to performance anxiety, the only thing that’s worked for me is to avoid thinking about anything to do with who’s watching. Otherwise I work myself into a state before hand. Good luck!

  10. I second Laura’s idea – the idea of Dr G ambushing you in Tescos is wonderful!

    And I am so old I had to look up “dogging” on Wikipedia. And my reaction was “Jings, who could be bothered?” Too old and lazy to even be shocked!
    PS Good luck, you’ll do fine.

  11. Congrats and good luck! I am a blue belt in Karate and getting ready to take my advanced blue belt test. Love the martial arts! Live knowing I can kick some serious butt(arse) if I need or want to! HA!

  12. Hey there groovers, thanks for the comments! Googling relaxation techniques this evneing πŸ˜›

    @Rhiannon – nice to meet a delurker, especially another Rhiannon!

    @Kek – that would indeed add another level of anxiety πŸ˜›

    @ANGIE – Wow, that is very cool! And good luck to you too!

  13. I’ve always found grading instructors to be supportive so good luck. Now, this dogging business – it’s not an Aussie term but my English colleague informs me it has to do with carparks and strangers – is that correct??

  14. I’m glad someone else didn’t know what dogging was (though the general import was clear from the context).

    Personally I’d rather read a book than be graded, but good luck, I’m sure you’ll be excellent.

  15. How fantastic Shauna! You, like Marla have transformed into a true athlete. Who would have thought when you first started your blog that a inner competitive sportswoman was lurking. We’ve all seen her emerge. Now let her rip and kick some arse.
    Also love Simon and Maggie. The beetroot salad last week looked fabulous. Dont be put off by the weird photo on the web site.

  16. You gave up watching MotoGP for this! But our beloved Valentino won!!

    *grumble, grumble* OK, I guess I’ll forgive you.

    Good luck sweets – I’m sure you’ll pass with flying colours!!

  17. Hi Shauna-just jumping in to repeat good luck wishes!! I am so inspired by you-I’ve been procrastinating for literally years, saying I wanted to try martial arts. Now that I know you’re doing it, I’m just going to suck it up and do it.

    I guess what it boils down to is, I’m finally doing it because my (blogging) friend is doing it… sigh…

  18. The marvelous diet-girl never fails! Why not do the grading in your spandex DG suit and cape? That’ll will focus your mind on something else ; )

    No pressure and good luck, you will as always do us proud.

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