It seems like so long ago that I walked through the doors of Tyler Kung Fu & Fitness….. a life long goal to be realized, obtain a Black Belt. Now that I that I have achieved this goal things have changed, in a good way.
1 in 10,000, that’s the number that sticks in my head. Sifu wrote that only 1 in 10,000 of individuals that start martial arts achieve the Black Belt level. Why is this important to me? Little did I know when I started Kung Fu that it would touch every aspect of my life. Kung Fu has changed everything; the way I feel, the way I act, the way I treat others. The importance of Kung Fu for me was a slow incremental change in myself that I can only see in retrospect. Every little step along the way has changed me for the better.
The months leading up to August 11th were filled with intense training often times loosing sleep in order to train twice a day. There was excitement and anxiety, fear and self-doubt. I am so thankful for the support of my Kung Fu brothers and sisters during this time, we forged a bond that can never be broken by distance and time. A bond forged through combat, pain, and honor. I often thought to myself – how will I feel after I am a Black Belt, how will achieving this goal change me?
How I felt before August 11th and how I feel now has surprised me. Prior to the test I told myself that this was it, this is the goal. After the test I thought that I’m just going to train. I wasn’t planning on testing further; I was planning on learning Kung Fu and having fun with it. All of that has changed; I am now a Black Belt in the 7 Star Preying Mantis System. What does that mean? To me it means that I represent my system, my school, my master and my lineage. As a Black Belt I am held to a higher standard, the students in our school will look to me as a source of guidance and inspiration. I feel that I owe it to my school, my master and other students to be the very best that I can be.
Testing post Black Belt? Wasn’t planning on it, really. In my mind I’m working through this, and I come to the realization – why train and not test? I owe it to myself; I owe it to my system. The second realization I come to, I know so little. Is this a bad thing, absolutely not! How great is it that there is so much more to learn! Motivation at it’s finest, the travel on the path of Kung Fu is endless and the journey is a gift.
So what is life like after Black Belt…. I know it is different for everyone, for me I am more motivated and excited than ever but the mindset has changed. Before the test I was training for me, to get the belt. Now I am training to honor the system, to pass down the knowledge to those who come after me, to honor my master and school. My Kung Fu has become selfless. In the intense weeks before the test I was talking to a Kung Fu brother about the time and sacrifice that we pour into our training and he said something that just made sense, “Kung Fu, it’s what I do…” That simple yet profound statement summed it up; IT’S WHAT WE DO AND HOW WE LIVE. Kung fu is woven into the very fabric of my life and every day I get to train is a gift.