Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


By Popular Demand

Hello Dear Readers,

One of the most common questions I’m getting lately is: “So, how did your test go?”

Meaning, of course, my red prajioud test, which I sweat over and whined about and lamented and so on…you all went on that journey with me, so of course you deserve the bitter details.

First of all, I was very, very lucky that my kru (coach) was willing to let a fellow kickboxer and friend run with me. As most of you know, the part of the test that most concerned me was having to run a mile in that gym in eight minutes and thirty seconds. I practiced that run several times. Some days it came easier to me. Unfortunately, the day of the test was not one of them.

When I had six laps left, my legs decided they’d had enough. My will was fast to follow. Up to that point, I’d stayed step in step with Wayne, my running partner and pace setter–by his side all the way without much difficulty. But as I lost heart, I started to fall behind. Wayne looked back at me, and I could see the concern in his eyes. “Step it up, Holli,” he said. “Push it, push it.” I honestly didn’t think I could. I didn’t think I could run one more step, and I was beginning to make this strange whimpering noise. But Wayne kept urging me on, and somehow my legs kept moving, until the run was finally over.

Wayne was not only able to do the run easily, he was able to talk all the way through it. If he wasn’t so damn nice, I would hate him! 🙂 Just kidding–he’s my hero.

“Did I make it?” I asked Kelly, and when he said that I did, I hugged him. I almost cried in relief. Wayne and I may have almost ran into each other at some of the corners, but thankfully Kelly didn’t hold that against my time, and any confusion was well worth it. I could not imagine surviving that run without Wayne pushing me.

After that triumph, the three minutes of shadow boxing was easy. Kelly complimented me a lot, so that helped. He didn’t make me do the flexibility test, because he’d seen me do that portion in a trial test and knew it came easily. (Otherwise, it would have been three kicks above my shoulder in one minute.) Then we moved on to Strength: Core and Upper Body. The moment of truth.

Men are required to do thirty-six push-ups in one minute, while women are only expected to do twenty-four in two minutes. I’d made it clear to Kelly and everyone else who would listen that I would fulfill the men’s requirement. Well, doing thirty-six push-ups in the privacy and comfort of your own home is a lot different from doing them while your coach is standing over you, after a hard run. That last push-up was a struggle, but I did my thirty-six in the one minute, and I’m so glad I did. I think I’m most proud of that accomplishment. And Kelly never had to make me do a single one twice (which he does if your form gets sloppy or you start cheating by not lowering yourself enough).

Then it was the sixty push-out sit-ups. Surprisingly, I probably had more trouble with this than anything else on the test. My core is strong, but these push-outs were killing my (very sore) thighs and lower back that day. Still, I got through them, and the sixty squats were a snap.

The next exercise was a set of 10s up with each leg. For those who don’t know, 10s require kicking up to ten in a sequence. One kick equals one, two kicks equal two, and so on, so a set of 10s up on each leg means fifty-five kicks per leg. I had two minutes per leg, and I wasn’t concerned. I’ve been doing this exercise since I started kickboxing, and it’s always been easy for me. I always finish with time to spare.

“Many people have found this to be the most difficult part of the test,” Kelly said. Uh-oh.

Really? What about the run?”

“The run was your nemesis, but in general, this is the most difficult, because I want power. If a kick isn’t hard enough, I’m not going to count it.”

Fair enough. With my right leg, every kick counted, but towards the end of my left leg set, my strength started to falter and Kelly stopped counting.





Three kicks went by without a count. By this time, I was beginning to despair about ever finishing the exercise. But I found the extra strength from somewhere, Kelly started counting my kicks again, and it was over. I’d finished early, so I had extra time to recover.

The next part was my other nemesis–completing twenty double-kicks (forty kicks) in one minute. Double-kicks are extremely difficult to do well. You need speed, balance, agility, and strength. Not to mention flexibility. I’m sure I got points taken off for some sloppy kicks at the end, but I made it through the twenty in time. Whew! I hate double-kicks.

Next came pad holding, and I was surprised at all the little things that needed to be tweaked. Each correction Kelly made was worth a quarter of a point, and as you need ninety percent to pass, I was getting nervous.

Kelly then tested me on technique. I was proud when he complimented my hook and uppercut, generally considered to be the most difficult punches to throw correctly (thank you, Robert the Kid Coquette, wherever you are!). I laughed when he expressed surprise at my push-kick. “I thought they’d be a lot worse,” he said. “Thanks,” I replied with just a touch of sarcasm, and realizing how that sounded, my coach backtracked, “Most people don’t know how to throw them correctly, but you do,” he said, explaining everything that I’d done well. (Secretly, I was surprised, too–my push-kicks usually suck.)

It was all downhill from there. Hand-wrapping was fine. The three minute round of free format pad work was grueling but fun–Kelly really pushed me. He let me off the hook when it came to bag work, because he already knew what I could do.

It was one of the greatest moments of my life to hear that I’d passed. I’ll receive my red armband (that long-awaited armband) next Monday, so I’ll be sure to tell you how that goes.

Thanks to all of you for your support, advice, and encouragement. It means so much to me. I will definitely need it as I pursue my green prajioud, which is even more difficult. Take a look!

Thanks for reading!

Photo credit: Marc Gallant

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  1. Chris

    Congrats again on the red prajioud! I know how hard you’ve trained, and you deserve it. I’m so proud of you!

  2. Kim

    So. Will you run or skip for Green?

  3. Story Teller

    Thanks, Chris. 🙂

    @ Kim – I’d rather skip, but I’ve been told that it’s really difficult, because they scream at you to go faster the entire time. We’ll see how the running goes–the pace is a lot more comfortable for me than the 8:30–this run relies more on endurance, which I’m better at.

  4. Wayne

    Great job Holli, way to beat that test. Hopefully you get accepted to fight and then watch out green arm band test, here comes Holli!

  5. Story Teller

    Thanks, Wayne! You’re still my hero. Couldn’t have done that run without you. I’d love to be able to make it look as easy as you did. 🙂


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