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  • Writer's pictureMikael Svanstrom

Third degree black belt!

My Hapkido journey reached another milestone this Saturday. I've been training under master Kevin Brown now for almost twelve years and achieved my third degree blackbelt.

Now and then I wonder why I keep training. Twelve years is a long time to do anything! What exactly am I preparing for?

My martial art journey began when I was 15 years old and was beat up by someone whom I'd never met before nor exchanged even one word with. He just hit me as we passed each other and then hit me again.

I wasn't badly hurt, but I decided then I needed to be able to defend myself. Next time someone hit me I'd return the favour big time. I'd seen Bruce Lee movies. I'd seen No retreat No surrender. Martial art was obviously the ticket.

37 years (and many different martial arts) later and I've never needed to defend myself again. So why do I keep training?

To start with Hapkido was fascinating. So many aspects - more than any other martial art I'd ever trained - coming together into a sprawling style seemingly borrowing influences from everywhere and at the same time being uniquely its own.

As I progressed I had my sight set on a black belt. Something I hadn't achieved in any other martial art yet. I reached that milestone in 2015 and realized something I think all black belts know (at least in Hapkido). It is not the end of the journey, but the start of it.

I'm not going to pretend fascination kept me training another six years. I really enjoy the training and the variety of techniques taught. It keeps me fit and active. And if that guy from 37 years ago comes around I'm sure I'll be able put up a good fight. But what really keeps me going is the club I train in. Pittwater Hapkido is an amazing club that now feels more like a family than somewhere I just happen to train. And all that starts with Master Brown and his leadership.

I guess now all I need to do is start preparing for my 4th degree black belt grading in 3-4 years!

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