13 Ways To Ace Your Krav Maga Exam

I’ve passed my P1 exam (250 students, IKMF, administered by Amnon Darsa) only yesterday. Beforehand I received a lot of good advice from my instructors. Now that I finished and passed the exam, I have some advice of my own to add to theirs.

Avi Moyal, head of the IKMF, has written an article with some great tips. Ill repeat some of these first, then add my own advice.

Krav Maga technique: instructor demonstrates defense against stick-like weapons

Picture by: Krav Maga Guadalajara

1. Be explosive and powerful in the first ten minutes.
The testers are experienced Krav Maga instructors (between Graduate and Expert level). They can see within five minutes whether you will pass. If you can show good body language, clean technique and explosive force during the first five to ten minutes, you’ll make a good impression as these are things that you either know or do not know.

The further the test progresses, the more exhausted you’ll get.  If you make this good impression in the beginning, they will cut you more slack later on, when you make errors due to exhaustion.

Doing this will exhaust you early, but this, too, is part of the test. Do you give up in an adverse situation or do you go on? It’s the latter part Krav Maga values highly!

2. Do your best at all times
Assume you’re being watched with every single movement you do. Even if you don’t see an instructor, they might still watch you. Make sure to vary your attacks and punches, don’t just favour one arm or leg. Whether you see a tester or not. (They ARE present, after all).

3. Know your techniques (duh?)
Testers look for certain common mistakes that you might make. Ask your own instructor what these mistakes are to make sure you don’t make them. By the time your instructor lets you take the exam, the proper techniques ought to be your first instinctive reaction. Example: things such as using your thumbs/a grab to counter a choke is a BIG no-no. (You have to ‘pluck’).

Krav Maga instructor Amnon Darsa demonstrates the correct way to 'pluck' someone's grip away from the throat'.

Krav Maga instructor Amnon Darsa demonstrates the correct way to 'pluck' someone's grip away from the throat'. Picture by Kirsten Leavitt-van Loozen for http://www.institute-kravmaga.nl

4. Understand what you’re doing
The tester will line up all the trainees and say what you need to demonstrate.  Know the names of all the techniques, punches and kicks. Understand what it means to go from ‘ready position’ to ‘outlet position’ (fighting stance). Testers might add variables to see whether you actually know what you’re doing or whether you’ve simply memorised your actions.

5. Know the names of all techniques, punches and kicks
Otherwise you won’t know what to do! ;)

6. Give a quick and ‘instinctive’ response
This will convince the tester you’re able to perform these techniques on the street as well as in a safe environment. (See #7 for the second part to convince your instructors you’re street-ready).

7. Don’t freeze, no matter what happens! (thekravzone)
If you miss a counter, forget a technique, fall to the ground, or if anything at all goes wrong: do not freeze! Just keep going and counter attacking, in any way you can. Things like this can happen ‘on the street’ or in a real situation. Show your instructor that you won’t freeze (and get yourself killed). Krav Maga focuses heavily on survival mentality, which includes never giving up!

Krav Maga: Knife defense. Female defends against male attacker with a knife.

Picture by dftz.nl

8. Scan and Run!
Running away is one of the founding principles of Krav Maga. Yet during my exam the majority of the trainees didn’t scan and run after they finished a technique. Make sure to do this after every technique or combination you perform. Only stop doing this when they tell you to. Running away is never bad.

9. Don’t get frustrated
You’re not perfect and in stressful situations you will make mistakes, whether you’re P1 or E4. Don’t get frustrated if you miss a block or make a mistake. Just perform the technique again, properly. Even if you do get frustrated, do not go into overdrive aggression mode. (See #10).

10. Be respectful to your training partner
I saw some people get downright aggressive towards their training partners. This might be an exam, it is still a controlled situation! You are not in an actual fight and you do not want to injure or disable your partner. Do not do so! Give it your best, but don’t go overboard. Attack properly, but not with too much force. Control yourself.

My own trainings partner (from a different gym) put in just a little bit too much force when it came to preventive kicks and the defense to headlock from the side. The muscles in my back took such a beating I couldn’t walk for a day.

Note: My instructor said he has sent people away who were too aggressive. So this tip is as much for yourself as for the benefit of others.

11. Don’t give up!
You’ll be exhausted about half-way through the exam (and if not then, you’ll definitely be by the end). And just when you think you can’t do it anymore, they will ask you to do one more thing. Do it! Don’t whine, don’t give up. If your body gives up, ignore it and go on. They want to see your mental discipline. They’re testing to see whether you have what it takes to train on a higher level. Mental fortitude is extremely important.

At my exam, they lined us all up after an hour and fifteen minutes. Then they made us do 50 push-ups and 100 sit-ups. Don’t moan, don’t whine. Ignore everyone else and go for it. It’s one final moment of power. You can do it.

Just consider it this way: After this, you’ll be DONE! The reward will be grand, you’ll get to train for a whoooole new exam!! :D (oh, and learn new ways to save your life, I guess… )

Krav Maga technique, body defense using counter choke and grab.

Picture by Kirsten Leavitt-van Loozen for http://www.institute-kravmaga.nl

12. Don’t show you’re exhausted
This is another question of mental attitude. It’s something our instructor has drilled into our minds. No matter how tired you are, don’t show it. Stand tall and breathe calmly. Don’t show your exhaustion.

This is just a tiny way of holding yourself, but it makes a huge mental difference. It’s the difference between giving up and showing your weakness to standing strong and the will and power to keep on going. You can’t give up, because if you do so in a real situation, you will die or get hurt.

At my exam (250 people) Amnon Darsa failed all the G-level students. One of the reasons he cited was their lack of cardio. What happened? After an hour they were given a short break and four out of five fell to the ground gratefully, drinking their water, taking their rest, etc. Insta-fail.

So, if you get a break, use it to get your breath back, drink some water, but don’t sit or lie down! Keep on standing and don’t show how tired you are! Personally I find it nearly impossible to get up if I’m truly exhausted, so I don’t bother getting down in the first place.

13. Execute your techniques properly
This is mostly a reminder for the higher levels, when it comes to the more violent and intricate counters. (For instance, knife/gun defenses) Don’t skip any steps in the techniques. This is also one of the reasons Amnon Darsa gave for failing the G-levels at my exam.

Example: one of the knife counters includes a 360 block against the knife, followed by a grab to the elbow with the arm you blocked with. This are two distinctive parts of the technique, and should not be forced into one move. So block (BAM) and grab (POW). Don’t half-ass it by grabbing while you block.

Hopefully these tips will help you in your exam! If you have any other tips, feel free to mention them in the comments section. Good ones will earn their own place on this list as it’s one of these things I’ll constantly be updating. ;) 

13 Responses to “13 Ways To Ace Your Krav Maga Exam”
  1. thekravzone says:

    Whatever happens, do NOT freeze. If you f**k up the technique or slip to the ground or whatever, just keep going and counterattacking. Stuff like that can occur on the street: show your examiners that in such a case you’d keep fighting, no matter what. Technique is very important, sure, but the right mental attitude comes first in Krav Maga.

  2. nocer says:

    Congratulations on your passed exam!

    Besides the helpful info (will link it to some female friends who are concindering Krav Maga) I found your writing style very enjoying to read.

    Keep it up!

    • kravlady says:

      Hi nocer! Thanks for the congratulations and thanks for your compliment. I appreciate your feedback! Hopefully your female friends will actually start Krav instead of just considering it, as I can’t recommend it enough. ;) Although I do try with this blog. Tee hee.

  3. nocer says:

    I hope so as well… the violent aspect still frightens them a bit. (not only physically but also mentally) But as said, you’ve written enough about it.

  4. Nice article and some good pics too :)
    Kind regards,

  5. Janelle says:

    At Premier, our tests are 3 1/2 hours of suck, as our master instructor phrases it. But I’m always smiling at the end because it feels so good to feel so powerful- to not give up and to never say quit.

    My advice would be to not give up, even if someone accidentally hurts you. I’ve gotten a fat lip from an elbow to the face, a twisted ankle, a sprained wrist, thought my big toe was broken, neck bruised from chokes, lost skin on my arm during a parking lot take down, etc etc during belt tests but I never gave up. I think the guest instructors he calls in to help grade the tests respected me for not giving up. Of course, our master instructor expected that of me, though. ;-)

    • kravlady says:

      Awesome story! Thanks for sharing! Never giving up is basically the essence of your battle mentality and krav skills. You keep on going to pound the crap out of the dude crazy enough to attack you. ;) I keep on going too, always. Until my body physically stops working. Pffff.

      I think it’s partially because I feel I have something to make up for being a girl. The guys are all so tough, I feel like I have to make that extra step and be a bit tougher. You shouldn’t be TOO tough, though. It’s ok to show your weakness, especially because you’re a girl and weaker than the men.

      It’s a bit of a paradox, I know. But through being strong, I’ve also learned how to be weaker and how that’s ok. ^^

  6. jacqui says:

    I noticed that you had a picture of Amnon Darsa. If anyone gets the opportunity of train with him should do so. I took a gun seminar with him in march this year. He’s AMAZING teacher and an all round good guy.


  7. Great tips, have red them before on the website from the IKMF so I knew them already. Can’t wait for my next examen.

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