Krav Maga Gradings are hard. We don't wear belts or ranks on sleeves. So why grade at all?
There are two gradings coming up this year. We’ve had questions about gradings from parents and adults. You’ll find the answers here.
Firstly, why don’t we wear coloured belts or care about your grade when we’re training?
We don’t wear our grades on our sleeves or around our waists at SGS Krav Maga. You know you’re training with an advanced student not by what they’re wearing, only by how they move.
On a regular training night, we don’t really care about your krav maga rank or what ranks you hold in other martial arts. We don’t care about what you can lift.
When you’re learning how to defend in a street fight, to fight for your life or the safety of someone you love, you’re not learning to play a sport or training in a martial art.
Sport fighting is refereed.
Sport fighting has rules.
Sport fighters know their opponents.
Sport fighters wear protective gear.
Sport fighters compete in a weight class.
Sport fighting rarely, and always accidentally, results in permanent injuries.
We train to disable an attacker, not tap them out. The attacker may be three times our size. There may be more than one of them. They may be armed.
We train for the reality of street fighting and defending. No rules. High stakes. No honor.
It’s a different ballgame. In reality, it isn’t a game at all. There’s no medal or trophy to win: you either go home safely, or you don’t go home at all.
So if we don’t care about rank, what is the point of the krav maga grading system, and why should you or your child grade?
For kids who train with us, the below applies in a modified way. Kids gradings are also much longer than a regular class, but not quite as long as adult gradings for obvious reasons. For kids, the certificates they receive and sense of achievement is critical to keeping them engaged, this is less so the case for adults.
1. gradings test your skills
In sport fighting, competitions are tests of skills.
There can be no competitions in krav maga because of the nature of the system: we have no illegal moves, we fight dirty.
If what we train for ever has to be used, it will be in a situation of extremely high stress. The sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive, tunnel vision sets in, and it’s really only muscle memory that you can rely on.
This stress is almost impossible to manufacture in training.
It’s very difficult to suspend disbelief when you know you are safe. That means that the only way for you to really test your skills is to manufacture stress via extreme fatigue when you are too tired to think about your next move.
The reason gradings at SGS Krav Maga are as long as they are is precisely to achieve these required fatigue levels. Practitioner 1 gradings are at least 4 hours long. Add another hour for every grade above this.
Unless you put yourself to the test, you cannot be sure your skills are where they need to be to keep you safe when you need them most.
2. gradings mark YOUR PROGRESS THROUGH THE krav maga SYSTEM
One of the biggest misconceptions about krav maga gradings is that to pass, you need to know the level you are grading for inside out. That is absolutely not the case.
To grade for a level, you need to show competence, not be an expert in it. After you pass, you have until the next time you grade to perfect your practice in the level you have just passed.
That means, as a total beginner, you can grade for Practitioner 1 as soon as your instructor tells you that you are ready. A sense of uncertainty is entirely normal. It’s ok to be nervous. It’s fine to doubt yourself.
Doubt yourself, but do it anyway.
An instructor will never tell you that you are ready if you are not. Trust your instructors.
During the P1 grading, you must show competence in the P1 syllabus. You don’t need to know every technique perfectly. You can make mistakes, and you will. No one has ever graded perfectly for any grade they are aiming for.
Once you pass, you have (on average) a year, to prove to yourself, your training partners, and your instructors, that you have earned that grade.
When you are ready to grade for P2, you better be sure your P1 techniques are perfect. That’s the time for perfection – when you grade for the level above it. Not before.
Moving up in levels through the Krav Maga grading system gives you the sense of progress we all need when we commit to something. Sometimes it’s hard to tell that you’re getting better. Sometimes the instructor’s word is not enough. Sometimes we need to prove it to ourselves.
Gradings are your chance to do just that.
3. grading SETS THE FOUNDATION FOR MORE ADVANCED DEFENCES
While we don’t train at levels – that is, all students are exposed to attacks that are both basic and complex in every class – foundational skills are important in helping prepare you for effective solutions to complicated attacks.
The better you know the basics, the more complicated problems you will be equipped to solve.
While life doesn’t throw you problems based on your krav maga level, which is why we train all types of problems at SGS. Good foundations give you the confidence and skill level to respond competently to difficult attacks.
Difficult attacks include repeated attacks, attacks in series, multiple armed attackers, and so forth. Grading cements these foundation skills each time you grade, which makes you a better fighter.
4. krav maga gradings build your self-confidence
Few things are more powerful in each of us than the ‘quit instinct’. It’s the voice we all have that tells us to stop, to give up, to give in, to not push ourselves beyond the bare minimum.
This voice never stops talking, and even the most self-disciplined people never manage to silence it. While you can’t shut it up, you can make it speak quieter than before.
Completing a grading is an achievement. It’s a victory of your mind over your body. Gradings are designed to help you do just that.
Marathon runners talk about ‘hitting a wall’ at around the 20km mark. They know to expect it. The wall is when the ‘quit voice’ gets so loud, that unless you’re prepared for it, it’s impossible to ignore. It’s the voice that tells you to stop running, that you can’t go on any more, that it hurts too much, that you can make the pain stop and that you should.
Learning to hear the voice but not listen to what it’s telling you, is a skill you’ll need in fighting as in life.
Learning to push past pain, beyond where you thought your limits once were, gives you a confidence boost unlike any other.
Gradings are your opportunity to practice proving that ‘quit voice’ wrong, and to win.
These victories stay with you and grow your self-confidence like few things in life can.
5. krav maga Gradings are super fun
They say that before you can say you know someone, you need to face adversity with them. In other words, friendships are strengthened in adversity.
Cheering your training partners on and being cheered on by them when you’re struggling is quite something.
Realizing how many people believe in you is something you need to experience. Gradings will show you how many people are in your corner, how many people have your back.
Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that SGS Krav Maga is a community. Gradings bring that message home.