A White Belt State of Mind

St Pierre

Georges St Pierre Welterweight Belt | Photo by: Pixeloflight via https://www.flickr.com/photos/pixeloflight/3042612590/

As George St Pierre (GSP) famously said:

“There is a difference between a fighter and a martial artist. A fighter is training for a purpose: He has a fight. I’m a martial artist. I don’t train for a fight. I train for myself. I’m training all the time. My goal is perfection. But I will never reach perfection.”

I would describe myself as a kickboxing martial artist first and foremost, not a fighter. The technical aspects of kickboxing; how combinations are applied; the importance of movement; speed and accuracy; and most importantly, training smart, are key components to developing one’s kickboxing skill that are of great interest to me; not just for my own benefit but as an art.

Nevertheless, kickboxing is really good fun with the added bonus of keeping you fit too and improving your self-confidence. There is no other sport that I have done that challenges me as much or makes me feel as good as kickboxing which, is an individual sport (but you need a reliable team around you to support you with your training).

My kickboxing journey began at the age of 10 when I started training under Master Surjit Bains (Tekk-H-Aido). By the time I was a teenager, kickboxing went on hold due to a recurring knee injury from football but I always missed kickboxing. When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I was casually training again in kickboxing but not consistently and nowhere near to the level that I am today.

When I was in my mid-20s and after a coupe of years of living in Surrey (after moving from Greater London), I started training under Master Gary Egleton [Sport Martial Arts Academy (SMA)]. Despite having been a high grade in my childhood, I started the grading program as a white belt (with no argument / attempts to negotiate starting at a slightly higher grade) and gradually worked my way up the grading system over the years that followed. I was even an assistant kickboxing instructor at SMA and was trained in how to coach others, not just by running classes for both kids and adults but by being taught how to coach by Master Egleton (he even had his own syllabus for training us as future instructors), which was brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed training other kickboxers and learnt some valuable skills from doing so.


Harry Church vs. Anoop Hothi | Photo credit: Photo-Joe

Over the last three years, I have transitioned from (full contact) sport / freestyle kickboxing (above the waist) to K1 rules / Dutch style kickboxing (with the additional arsenal of low kicks and knees) after becoming a 1st Kup Brown belt.  I’ve trained at different gyms (and overseas too) with some good coaches and appreciate everything I’ve learnt since SMA.

I wanted to make the switch from sport kickboxing to K1 rules for some considerable time for two main reasons: one being that I was a fan of K-1, the other was that I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of one day becoming a 1st Dan Black belt if I hadn’t already broadened my kickboxing horizons (so to speak) before going for my 1st Dan.

I certainly feel that I have broadened my horizons a lot more as a kickboxer and will continue to do so with ‘a white belt state of mind’ i.e. always willing to learn, always working to improve and always evolving as a martial artist. Towards the end of last year I went travelling and spent a month in California (and was impressed by the Thai Boxing scene over there) and also a month in Phuket where I trained. Those experiences were awesome and some of the best I have had to-date (I’ll blog all about it in due course too).

However, none of this progress was plain sailing and there were many challenges I had to overcome to get to where I am today (with my overall training, dieting sensibly and dealing with bad health issues). The purpose of this blog is to share my experiences, good and bad, with anyone else and if my blog is in any way helpful / useful to anyone in the world then that in itself would please me.

I’m not saying that I am the best at everything nor, am I saying you should follow exactly what I say or have done. However, you’re clearly sensible enough since you’re already reading my blog to make your own decisions / judgments about things, so, always do your own research – ‘once you stop learning, you start dying’.

If you may need any pointers or have any questions you’d like to ask me then please feel free to leave a comment below.

Originally published on: September 2, 2015

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