Adversity and challenges are a good thing, especially on a physical level, although I think physical and mental challenges are one in the same, sometimes it's 50-50%, 10-90%, or 90-10% ratios, it doesn't matter in the end one controls or dominates the other but are married together, as the saying goes if it doesn't kill you it only makes you stronger.
Yesterday was one of those moments for all of us who participated in San Diego's First Level 1 Curriculum Test Out conducted by Manong Rich Verdejo. For the last few weeks our San Diego Group has been preparing and practicing. The preceding reputation of Manong Rich and his slightly unorthodox testing methods didn't help put us at complete ease, so all we could do was take it hand, think "have fun" with it, and bring it.
Friday night I felt like a high school kid the night before a big exam and or game, yes there were a few more practices the days before Sunday, and Saturday night another quick review and final brush up, however it was one of those moments where only you yourself knows how much you did to prepare and if you are ready or not, the only thing left to do was just do it and the dice will fall where they land. My gear bag was ready and even though I had everything prepared and ready to go, couldn't help but feel those butterflies.
Other than the extra gear in my bag, I tried to stay within routine Sunday morning, knowing it was going to be an extra long and grueling day I woke trying to start hydration early, to get mentally sharp extra cups of coffee, and eating a small breakfast. I turned on my TV to relax, and what come's on...? "Apocalpyse Now" and it's the scene where they slaughter the carabao. I think to myself, good sign, bad sign? LOL!
From the San Diego Group: Ed, Bernard, Dan, Glenda,Wendell, and myself tested out, Manong Rich brought down a couple students from L.A., with Jim being one of them testing, so that made for a total of 7 candidates testing.
The Test Out began at about 9:00am, after paying our respects with salutation, and so it began. We promptly began with a pick up game of 7 on 7 full court basketball , no outside shots, only baseline with emphasis with layups, 1 point baskets, first one to 13 wins. As strange as it seems to begin a martial arts test out it made some sense later. Right off the bat it was a typical display of chaos and confusion, teammates unrecognizing on who's team they were, until we all had to quickly adjust to skills levels of each other, coordinating strategy and execution in split second decisions, and quickly evolving team work.... does this all sound like where it's going, those who know Manong Rich, he has a reason for everything. It became apparent that whichever team lost this 13 point game, would suffer some type of penalty for the test out, the team I found myself on, we were quickly down at the beginning by as much as 5-6 points, we came back and made it a contest, we ended up losing the game by 1 point, fortunately! Losing team ended up doing a 1/4 mile lap for each point they lost by, so only one lap for us but with our sticks above our heads! Whew!
As I mentioned, there is a reason for everything with Manong Rich, as we came back from our jog, he pointed out the value of what we went through emphasizing that what we had to do on the court to come together for the team and for one's self during the game, is no different from the training we have been doing that may one day defend us from harm, a great point made, although I believe the ulterior motive behind the game was to also get us winded for the later phases of the test out. lol!
The rest of the testing was more what we expected, following the pickup game we proceeded to don the head and body gear, demonstrating various strikes on each other. After this we moved to an area of our "Luneta' that was hilly and uneven. More demonstration of technique and skills like we have been drilling, however the twist being performing this on the hillside up and down with your partner aggressing and the other defending from the high and low advantages. Next was mano mano drills and practical application with some take downs. All this was followed by knife tapping drills, again a demonstration of practical for the curriculum.
Lastly the climax and pulling the surprise out of the bag... and it was a spicy one, literally. The final challenge, the gut check and courage test. Our group got to experience the effects of Pepper Spray. Again besides the "What the..." factor and the personal challenge of metal and mental, there was reasoning to the "seasoning" for Manong Rich. How do you react to certain adversities, can you keep your mind from panic, can you tough it out, can you overcome and still perform what you have to? It's one of those things you don't know till it happens, well we all personally learned something about ourselves Sunday that's for sure, and we were all for the better, sore and beat up, but stronger. Personally in the end it was a great experience all together, I mean how many people you meet on average can say they have experienced pepper spray...? Today I told my co-workers what I did on my Sunday, and they were like "wow! good for you on the whole testing thing, but I loved the look of "WTF?" when I mentioned the pepper spray. LOL! Pretty cool.
To sum it up, a quote from my fellow contributor, "Great time with Manong Rich and testing, we didn't do too bad, a few muscle strains, twisted ankles, slight bruising, and only 1 trip to the ER for 5 stitches. Doing it FCS Kali West Coast style. Thank you again Manong Rich."
One last thing to mention, what I'm really proud and impressed upon from our Group, only 7 actually tested, the rest participated even though it was not a test out for them. What can I say? You guys are awesome.
Now where's my Advil...
FCS Cali San Diego -1st Level Curriculum Test Out - January 8th , 2012