10 Years of Kuk Sool Won Training

January 08, 2015

Greetings and Salutations! First of all, I'd like to wish you all a happy new year and inform you of my one and only New Years resolution (even though I don't really tend to do them). This year, I will try to blog at least once every week, probably every Thursday but we'll see how it goes! Anyway, to the main content of the post now...

As you are probably aware, if you're a regular reader or you know me irl, I am currently a first degree black belt in the Korean traditional martial art of Kuk Sool Won and I am hoping to promote to second degree in June of this year. Reaching such a level requires years of experience in the martial art and I am proud to say that I have been practising Kuk Sool Won for exactly 10 years today!
I began training with SBN Jon Denny (fourth degree, who was a second degree at the time) in the Lowestoft Tiny Dragons class at the age of 5. For the first few weeks, I wouldn't even step onto the training mats as I was too scared! I remember my first ever time going there with my dad, we walked up to the sports centre at about 9am and got there just in time for the Tiny Dragons class. I remember sitting at the back of the room and being invited to join in with a class discussion in which we got to know eachother a bit more and I specifically remember Jon asking me how old I was. I have no idea why I remember this, but I'm glad I do as I think it's actually one of my earliest memories! 
Anyway, after a few classes of sitting at the back and refusing to join in, I finally gave in and got onto the mats... To get that 50p my dad was offering me if I went onto the mats! I , being the cheeky child I was, of course stepped onto the mats for a few seconds and then took my bribe and sat down again! I have to say, I think I made quite a good amount of money off of those bribes. However, the bribes were soon made redundant and I actually joined in with the classes because I wanted to! I was so surprised how fun it was, I have no idea why I didn't get involved earlier! Anyway, after a few months of training, it came to my first grading which was for yellow belt (for some reason I never got my yellow stripe!). I was very nervous for this as, obviously, I'd never experienced anything like it! Fortunately, it went very well and I passed.
Let's go a couple more months down the line. My next memory is having KJN Martin Ducker take my class as Jon was unable to make it in. I'd only ever been taught by Jon before so I was only used to his way of taking the class, Martin's was completely struck me by surprise (and not the good type of surprise!). I was so scared of him and this idea of doing things differently that I cried so much I threw up everywhere! Good going, Shay!
We then get to my grading for blue stripe on my yellow belt. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in passing this grading however I was able to get help on the things I was stuck on and recieved my stripes the next week. 
My next promotion was one of the biggest I've had; blue belt. Not only did this signify that I had been practising for a year, it also moved me up out of the tiny dragons class to the coloured belt childrens' class. I spent the next year in this class getting to brown belt, and then I moved up yet another class, this time to the advanced childrens' class in January of 2008. Here, I gathered 10 striped onto my brown belt and completed 2 black belt tastings in front of the grand master and various high ranking masters from all around the country. These black belt Gradings granted me my black belt which I recieved in Kings Lynn at the 2010 European Championships. After this, my learning pace slowed down slightly to allow me to refine the content I had already covered. 
In 2011, I introduced my best friend Tom to Kuk Sool and he joined in the coloured belt childrens' class. I would go in for both his class and my class and assist the instructor in taking the lesson. This then led me to the Junior Leadership programme in which I had to complete 68 hours of assisting lessons as well as various written tasks to improve myself as a person and as a future instructor. Fortunately, myself and the remaining two black belts who had began the course (out of around 6) passed it and recieved our certificates in December 2012. Following this, in 2013, myself and Tom were moved up to our respective adult classes. Me being in the adult black belt class to train alongside all of my previous instructors, and Tom in the adult coloured belt class. 
Also in 2013, I recieved my application to start 2 years of grading towards my second degree black belt. This testing period consists of 4 national gradings in front of the grand master and various national and international high ranking masters, as well as 6 or 7 local gradings in front of KJNs Martin and Alison Ducker. I am currently 19 months through my 24 month testing period and am hoping to promote to KSN or second degree black belt in Norwich at the 2015 European championships alongside my friend Tom who will be promoting to first degree black belt.
The past ten years have been amazing for me, and although I have considered leaving Kuk Sool various times, I'm glad I've stuck with it as it truly has made me the person I am today and some of the skills and traits I have picked up from Kuk Sool are things that define who I am today and my whole future and I am truly grateful for all of my instructors and everyone who's assisted me through my Kuk Sool journey. Here's to another ten years!

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