I remember the first time I stood on the Krav Maga mat that snowy day in January. I was last on the line, and I looked to the other end where the experienced students stood so proudly. I never believed that I would ever get there, but I wondered what it was like to be them. They felt like superheroes to me.
I just wanted to survive training. I struggled through every single class, the slowest and weakest of all of the students. I made a promise to myself. I might be the last in everything, but I was going to always come back for more. I was last on line, but I was still there. My impeccable instructors Raz Chen and Alon Dagan became my greatest cheerleaders, and I knew, I had to just get through one class at a time. I didn’t see much improvement but they assured me I was making progress.
When I got the invitation to test for P1 in June of 2018, I went over to the head teacher and told him the office had sent the wrong student an email. He informed me that there was only one Elke Weiss in the school, and yes, it was me. To celebrate, I walked the lengths of the Williamsburg bridge, conquering an intense fear of heights. Getting the P1 badge was one of the highest points of my year. I was satisfied, this was a dream come true and now, anything was possible.
In contrast, the P2 test in January 2019. was one of the most trying periods of my training. I was sure I failed and I had some pretty sucky times doubting myself. I never imagined I would ever get to this level, and it felt hollow. I thought I’d feel like a champion but all I felt was fear that I wasn’t worthy.
Eight months of very hard work later, (overall 660 hours of class in just under twenty months since I began) I am finding myself on the other end of the line a lot more. In some classes, I’ve been the most experienced student. And in a week, I’ll be testing for P3.
I never thought I’d get here, and if by some miracle, I ever did, I imagine I wouldn’t be having panic attacks and still struggle with so much of the curriculum like sparring and groundwork. I thought I would be this confident warrior, but I’m still me. I’m still emotional, awkward and unstable.
I had a panic attack while doing private training with a lovely fellow student. I had giggled during class, and the instructor had given me a sharp look and immediately, my mind pounced. His “keep it down” became “You ruined everything, you stupid…” and I found myself shaking. Even though I cleared everything up, and no hard feelings were held, my brain kept the grudge for them.
You are a terrible student and you’re going to fail and everyone is going to hate you and it’s all your fault.
Thanks a lot, Brain.
How was I supposed to go for P3? I wasn’t sure I was worthy to even remain on the mat, let alone rise up a rank. But it’s too late to back out now. This is the moment and the moment is me.
So, what wisdom can I gain from this? Levantine mythology teaches of four level of knowledge.
The literal, the allegorical, the metaphorical and the mystical.
The literal knowledge of P1 taught me anything was possible and showed me how far I could go. Simplicity is comforting and deceptively comfortable. We feel like we understand everything when really, all we have done is to start the journey.
The allegorical knowledge of P2 taught me that success comes with sacrifice and I had a lot more work to do, and so much more to learn. Allegory requires far more investment and can be deeply confusing, as we must break out of our comfort zone.
Now, I hope I can reach the metaphorical level of P3, where I can apply the knowledge I have, refining my skills and myself to become healthier and better. This is the period of repositioning myself, from changing my diet to dealing with the demons of my past, and actually making my dreams come true.
P1 taught me how much I could learn.
P2 taught me how much more I need to learn.
I hope P3 will teach me how much I’ve gained and how to continue that upward journey.
I’m determined it will be a journey of the sweet joys of P1 and the painful realities of P2, balanced together to a higher purpose.
And someday, I’ll reach the next level, the mystical where I can use all I have learned to educate those around me.
Hey, I learned dreams come true and I learned they take hard work. Anything is possible.