PHYSICAL TRAINING PHASE
Far far away in the south china sea
I left a girl with tears in her eyes
I must go where the brave men dies
My first sleep in Pulau Tekong was surprisingly peaceful. I thought I would have trouble sleeping. But no. The weather was cooling. The fan whirring. Maybe also because lights off was at 2230hrs. So it was good timing for me.
A soldier has to fight the front because he love his land
A soldier has to fight even if he has to die
Cos we are the one who fight the front
We were told that there would be mosquitoes. We were also given malaria pills. We had to sleep under the mosquito net. So I didn't have to fight anything. I was just fighting my own images in my head. A few times I woke up thinking that this was all a nightmare and I will wake up at home. But no, I kept waking up at the same bed. Bed 10.
We are the one who hold the gun
We are mighty warriors of our land yaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!
Alarm clock rang at 0515hours. I used a brand new old fashioned analog clock to set my alarm. The instructions the previous night was,
Fall in 0545 hours
Breakfast 0600 hours
It was my 1st morning there and I didn't want to be late. I didn't want to rush for the toilets also. I wanted to brush my teeth and take a bath in peace before anyone else. Plus, I was adapting with the shower cubicles being doorless. It felt weird to me.
But apparently I didn't have to rush. After I finished bathing, I realised no one else went to the toilet. They just sat there, stoned and then went down to fall in at 0545. So no one bathed. Ok. So it's like that. That's good then. We marched on to the cookhouse for our breakfast.
Everywhere we go, we had to march or walk in steps. I really don't like the regimental way of life. I mean it is good to maintain discipline and order. What I hate is, the superiors screaming and shouting at us. They behave like they have been through 25 world wars and that we are all insects and we need their screaming to survive. The 25 world wars experiences justified their capabilities of being the best soldiers on the planet and we are supposed to look up and respect them.
But heck no. The sergeants and officers were at most, 1 year older than me, meaning 1 year more NS experience than us. If you read my previous blog posts, I am naturally confrontational. Anyone screaming in my face, my 1st reaction would be to punch his teeth. But I cannot do that here, else you could be charged for insurbodination. So yeah, to me these instructors are just rude, obnoxious and arrogant. There was a platoon commander in my company. He knew who I am. He was in the same madrasah as me. He didn't even look at me. Just plain rude and arrogant. But humans are like that. Ranks and authority make one arrogant.
And that was what I was fighting with. Arrogant superiors. They didn't make me enjoy the moments. Really. The activities were all fun. I looked at the timetable and I was looking forward for the activities. And I would be there for 16 weeks.
Why 16 weeks?
I had to go through 6 weeks of "Physical Training Phase" (PTP) before I start with my 10 weeks of Basic Military Training (BMT). The sergeants told me that for Mohawk company, it would be an "Enhanced PTP". I had no idea what it meant. I only knew I had to go for that 6 weeks of PTP before BMT. This is because I did not pass my IPPT in poly. So those who didn't pass would have to go through 6 weeks of physical training. It is not an "extra" 6 weeks. It's just a phase. We will still have to serve 2 and a half years of NS. Yes. It was 2.5 years then. Unlike just 2 years now.
So these 6 weeks, we would be trained on our physical fitness. On week 4, we will have to do an IPPT test. If we pass the test, we can get a "disruption". Meaning we can go home and come back 2 weeks later for BMT. If we don't pass on week 4, we will have another test on week 5. Pass that one and we can go home for 1 week.
I didn't think I would pass. I cannot run. I was given a yellow tag to be worn everywhere I go, to indicate that I am a "weak runner". Yes. Any of my RP students reading this. I am a weak runner. So I cannot see any excuse why any of you who are so much younger than me would run slower than me.
As I said, the activities, on paper, were fun. It was, sleep, wake up, breakfast, exercise, lunch, exercise, dinner, cool down, sleep. There were other routines also such as area cleaning and inspection after breakfast. Yes we cleaned the bunks, corridors and toilets ourselves. There were no external workers to do them at that time. I heard there are Bangladeshi cleaner in camps now. Also there were the hourly water parades where we had to gulp down 500ml of water every hour. It took us a few days to get adapted to the water intake and constant peeing, but once our body got used to it, we didn't pee much.
We perspire. The exercises. I told you they look fun on paper. It was, supposed to be, static stations, fartlakes, sprints, swimmings, gym, partner resistance exercises. Awesome right? It could have been productive. But... all the sessions. ALL the sessions were mostly taken up by punishments. For example, a 2 hour swimming session, we will spend 1.5 hours doing punishments instead of the actual swim itself. Push ups, sit ups, run here, run there, hold push up positions, hold sit up positions, hold planking positions. I find the Physical Training Instructors (PTI) seem to have a kick in punishing us than doing their jobs of training us. If punishing is part of their idea of physical training, then a 40 year old me now would say, they were definitely ineffective and time wasting. Instead of lifting weights half of our body weight in the gym, we spent more time holding 1/4 of our weight doing push ups. Definitely ineffective. Instead of doing long runs, we spent more time sprinting to trees and touching them and coming back to push up positions. Yes, thats what we did for the whole of 6 weeks. It was the most inefficient PTP ever. I don't know how other PTP in other companies were like but, they were definitely ineffective.
Saturday, 24th June 2000
Parents' visiting day. My parents came over and brought me snacks, some food and essentials. I haven't book out yet, so they had to bring for me some extra soap and powder and stuff. They were there from morning and left after lunch.
After our parents left, the sergeants told us to put on the table everything our parents brought. Everyone of us did. Most of it were food. The sergeants took all the food and placed them black trash bags and threw them. I was very very angry. Those were food. Not some contraband stuff. If it was not for insurbodination, I really would beat every sergeant there to pulp. Really. I was very angry. Then I realised that Mohawk company was a "tekan" company. With arrogant instructors and non-stop punishment. Because after we threw away the food, we were told to go downstairs for our routine punishment. We were punished because our parents gave us food. And that was when I saw, while in push up positions, the recruits in the other companies, namely Ninja company which was just beside us, were sitting and looking at us while eating food brought to them by their parents. I realised, Mohawk is different. I need to get out of here. I better pass my IPPT and take every chance of leaving.
Saturday 1st July 2000
My 1st book out day. I was in Tekong for a good almost full 3 weeks before I was allowed out. Yes. A Saturday. NS during that time was a 5.5 days work week. Meaning, we booked out at about 2pm on Saturday and book in back to Pasir Ris Interchange at 8pm on Sunday. Mcdonalds tasted so good. Book out felt so short.
We reached week 4. Remember I told you that the tekan sessions were not effective? Yes it was proven here. The tekans were all just to boost the instructors ego. Many of us did not pass our week 4 IPPT. Like, 85% of us did not pass after 4 weeks. Neither did I. I was frustrated. Yes we did get a bit fitter than when we 1st came, but we could have been better if the training sessions were better utilised.
IPPT then had 5 stations. Sit ups. Shuttle run. Standing Broad Jump. Pull ups. 2.4km run. Let me give you
My score / Minimum passing score
Sit ups 42 / 31
Shuttle Run 9.5s / 10.7s
SBJ 225cm / 216cm
Pull ups 0 / 6
2.4km run 12min 40sec / 12:20
I failed my 2.4 and pull ups. 4 weeks and I cannot even do 1 pull up. You know what I did? I observed how people did pull ups and looked at the muscle groups used. The push up punishment didn't help. It worked the pectorals and hurt the shoulders and triceps. But we need to use our triceps and shoulders to do pull ups. I sat down and think what exercises could strengthen the triceps and shoulders. Guess what? I did DIPS. Yes. I made a point to do 100 dips a day until the next IPPT in week 5. 100 to be spread out throughout the day. 20 dips repetition each time. So I did 5 sets of 20 reps per day.
IPPT week 5
Sit ups 42 / 31
Shuttle Run 9.5s / 10.7s
SBJ 225cm / 216cm
Pull ups 6 / 6
2.4km run 12min 07sec / 12:20
I managed to do 6 pull ups in 1 week. Compared to zero pull ups in 4 weeks. Can you see how inefficient the training were? The sergeants asked me how I did it. I told them. 100 dips a day.
I passed and off I go back to the mainland. Disrupt for 1 week. I will still be back at Mohawk though, but it is still a precious 1 week off the island.
As I marched off the company line with the recruits, with the odd maybe 14 recruits; who passed in week 5, towards the ferry terminal, I saw the whole Mohawk company at the training shed in front of our company line, doing dips with the sergeants.
Enjoy the dips people. I'll see you again in a week!
Categories : The Army Series
Web logs of art activities on a regular basis (hope).