Today marks a milestone for me. After 3 years of dedicated study today I was awarded the equivalent of a Black Belt in Kung Fu. I say equivalent as in traditional kung fu there was no such thing as “belts” (belts are a Japanese concept introduced in the study of Judo and adapted by other martial arts).
It was in July of 2005 that I first started taking lessons with Kong’s Siu Lum Pai Association along with some co-workers (none of them stayed beyond September of that year). Three years and a month later I have completed the training program and now stand ready for Advanced study in the art.
Reflecting back on the past three years of my life and my time with the Kwoon (Chinese term equivalent for dojo/halau/school) I can say I’ve grown tremendously as a person. My skill in the arts has increased ten-fold (I’d studied karate, escrima and lua prior to kung fu). My career has progressed much greater than I could ever have hoped. Most importantly, I’ve faced major adversities in my personal life but have bounced back harder. I attribute a lot of my success through the values of perseverence that martial arts training gives you.
At Kong’s Siu Lum Pai we have 4 levels of training: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Graduate Level. The first three levels consist of 6 forms (Japanese equivalent term is Kata) each. The Graduate program consists of 20 additional forms to learn and master. To achieve “Black Belt” level you must complete the program through Advanced level. I flew through Beginner level in about 5 months (July 2005 – December 2005). I was stuck on Intermediate level for about a year (all of 2006) as I wasn’t able to spend as much time as I was fully engrossed in my MBA studies at the time. I was wrapping up Intermediate and beginning Advanced level at the start of 2007 but stopped out of training from January through September of 2007 as my MBA studies and life in general got a bit overwhelming and I wound up taking ill. At the time I was extremely upset as I would’ve earned my Black bet December of 2007 but life happens. But as the martial arts proverb says, “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight” and that I did. I returned to the Kwoon in September of 2007 and one year later almost to the day of my return I was finally awarded my Graduate certificate.
Aside from being a dedicated student of Hung Gar and Choy Li Fut kung fu as SLP, the Kwoon has definitely become a part of my life and identify. In my three years with the Kwoon I was able to do a Marketing Plan for it as part of my MBA studies. I had a brief stint as the club web master (prior to my illness). The club’s definitely given me a lot and hopefully I’ve been able to contribute an equal amount. As a proud SLP graduate I definitely hope my time with the Kwoon last’s many more years to come.
To cap the story off, my Sifu signed the date on the certificate as 8/8/08 which was truly a lucky day in Chinese philosophy. Where was I and what happened on the actual 8/8/08? I was at PELP for our last day of training. I had dinner with a Congressman. I enjoyed the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Games. And, as far as our Kwoon’s family tree is concerned — I advanced to the limited ranks of Graduates. For me, 8/8/08 was definitely a lucky day 🙂