“Already on a water break? You have a kind instructor.”, Sensei smiled benevolently as we ran eagerly out the training area for a much needed drink of water. Ram and I looked at each other. This was going to be a long week.
We had been attending Krav Maga classes for a little over a year and it had become an integral part of our lifestyles. The Hyderabad chapter of the IKMF was the youngest at the time, and we sometimes wondered what it would be like to train at their Delhi headquarters.
An opportunity came up soon after our first grading test, when a week-long P-level camp was announced. Having wangled a week’s leave from our workplaces, Ram and I packed our bags and headed for Delhi.
Looking back, the camp was an incredible experience in more ways than one. For seven hours over a period of seven unforgettable days, we were pushed beyond what we thought was the limit of our endurance. Our day was filled with practicing punches, kicks, chokes, bear hugs, breakfalls, rolls, groundfighting, conditioning and a variety of bag drills, and then it was time for the chief instructor to put us through the grinder.
A typical day went something like this:
8 AM – Prepare survival kit
Our best friends while training were three 1-liter bottles – one with plain water, the second had Glucon-D, while the third contained a generous helping of Electral. And this was only for the morning session!
The survival kit had to be restocked in the afternoon, which meant that we ended up drinking well over six liters a day during class alone!
10 AM to 1 PM
An intensive warm-up followed by an even more intensive class! The rivers of sweat never ceased, and we often found ourselves running to wring our shirts in the midst of training. Eventually we accepted the futility of trying to wring our shirts and simply went with the flow.
2 PM to 5 PM
The afternoon session was much more rigorous because this was when the Chief Instructor, Mr. Vicky Kapoor usually stepped in to replace our ‘kind instructor’. As soon as he entered, the atmosphere in the dojo changed. After all, we were now being closely observed by someone with more martial arts experience than all of us put together.
‘Bags!’ he would say without preamble, and proceed to put us through a series of drills that required us to tap into energy reserves that we never thought we had. One of these drills was, for example – front breakfall – 5 push-ups – complete the technique and and deliver multiple punches and kicks.
This drill may sound easy, but executing them to the Chief Instructor’s satisfaction after five hours of Krav Maga took a great deal of effort! On other days, we were made to pummel the punching bags till he told us to stop, which he did only after what seemed like a very long time.
We sneaked several peeks at the clock as it neared 5 PM. But there were times when Mr. Vicky Kapoor was in a particularly good mood.
“I have good news for you all.”, he smiled as we stood about with our chests heaving.
“Class will end at 6 PM today.” But the day was not over for the two of us even after the clock struck six.
7.30 PM to 8.30 PM – attend regular class
As we were the only students from out of town, Sensei wanted us to get the most out of our time in Delhi. This meant that after camp, we attended the regular classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
It was during one of these classes that we encountered a little practitioner who was unperturbed by having to practice with two boys who were twice his height and thrice his age. He executed techniques with absolute confidence and his reflexes were no less impressive.
Needless to say, with a schedule like this, we slept like logs. Our training probably followed us into dreamland, because I saw Ram kicking in his sleep on at least two occasions while I gave the bed an elbow strike at least once!
Over the course of the week, we also hoarded almost every water bottle we bought for the mindless joy of taking a picture like this. We couldn’t fit all of them into the frame, and here are the sixty-five lucky bottles that made it.
After seven intense days, the camp was over, and both of us had survived. We were leaner, perhaps a little more meaner, pleased with having learnt so much, and well aware of how the journey was far from over!
– Salil R