The answers vary in length and approach, and one will never be the same
as another, due to the fact that each person’s journey at KB Fitness is
unique and personal.
As KB Black Belts-to-be reflect on this question, they no doubt recollect memories of their time as KB students; in particular, their time training under Chief Instructor Kelly KB - a time that is undeniably transformative.
Over the course of a grading journey to Black Belt or Black Sash, a student will meet many training partners, adapt to training in different locations, and learn to prioritise their passion for training over other hobbies and distractions. Circumstances may change in their lives, but all Black level Graders from the past will attest that there is a constant factor in their journey: Kelly KB’s unwavering support.
“Being a KB Kung Fu Black Sash means having been raised in your ways of the martial arts for many years and having been given the opportunity to grow in ability, strength, and mindset through your teaching for an extensive amount of time. As your students, we are trained not only in physical skills, but in strength of mind, gratitude, positivity, and kindness. You are genuinely one of the best people I know, and it fills me with pride every day to be able to call myself a student in your school,” said Frederike Beyer in her KB Kung Fu Black Sash essay.
The point Frederike made clear here is that there is a difference between an ordinary martial arts Black Sash and KB Black Sash. Although there is huge honour in both, a KB Black Belt or Sash will always be more meaningful to KB Fitness members, since they know that the standard to be reached to be awarded a KB Kickboxing Black Belt or a KB Kung Fu Black Sash are incredibly high, in keeping with the tradition of the lineage KB upholds.
Jenny Whinney talked about high standards and lineage in her essay:
“Schools like KB, which come from a revered lineage from Lau Gar Kung Fu, are a rare jewel. Kung Fu is widely translated as “achievement through great effort” and as I am nearing my black belt grading in KB, I can appreciate that in her school Kelly has maintained the purity of this sentiment. KB black belts are not two-a-penny. Only those who have worked hard, and made the great physical and mental effort to achieve her standard, are deserving of this. The school has worked hard to uphold the standards expected by the instructors, Senseis and masters who have gone before those of us still present and training today. We all hope, in our training, that we are representing a worthy tribute to the monks and creators of these disciplines. They started this journey out of necessity for safety and a desire to achieve spiritual enlightenment, today we take their lessons and apply them to our modern lives. Still, across the centuries, there remains such a wealth of wisdom and benefits that we can incorporate into ourselves.”
It is natural for beginners or those who have never thought about taking belts to wonder what comes after a “last” grading. Beth said:
“Being awarded your Kung Fu Black Sash will mark the end of my grading journey at KB. For me, this is an acknowledgement between you and me, that my early training years are over and the training wheels that the grading system has provided are now ready to come off. The next stage of my martial arts training will be different from this initial period. I will be training for the love of training itself, rather than for the next belt or sash. I will take pleasure from refining the techniques you’ve taught me, rather than learning new ones. And my focus will need to shift to maintaining the standard and quality of the forms, techniques, and speed to ensure that every time I wear your Black Sash, I am worthy of it. On grading day, my new sash will be so shiny and new – I will be so proud of it. But over the years that follow, the fading of my sash from wearing it so much, will be equally gratifying as it will show my commitment to you and your school.”
A martial artist’s journey never ends. There is always something new to learn, new challenges and new benefits to be found in training.
Are you at all intrigued about the grading journey, after reading this article? Are you keen to train with KB Fitness and find out for yourself what it means to be a KB Black Belt? We would love to be part of your martial arts journey as you find your own answer to this question.