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Last year, I promoted to the rank of second degree black belt or Kyo Sa Nim following 5 years of being a Jo Kyo Nim, two of which were spent testing for Kyo Sa Nim. What is the difference between these two ranks though? To most people, there is none. To people that have achieved them both, there are. These come as part of the journey rather than the reward however; the reward being the promotion, title and respect from others.


What makes a Kyo Sa Nim different from a Jo Kyo Nim though? The obvious answer would be time and experience. This is completely true however it’s more about what this time is spent doing, and what these experiences are.


When I promoted to Jo Kyo Nim, I found that I had done so by doing only what was required of me by the syllabus and nothing more. I showed up to class 5 minutes before it started, I followed instructions, I went through my forms and techniques, and I left at the end. That was it until the next lesson where I would repeat the same thing. This continued to be the case for about a year after my promotion to Jo Kyo Nim also, however I then began to change. I started coming to class over an hour early in order to get some practice before everyone else arrived and I helped out with the class before mine. This eventually led to my participation in the Junior Leadership Programme which involved both theory work which was to be done as homework over time, and practical work which involved getting over 70 hours of experience assisting classes completed and recorded in my log book. Not only did completion of this give me a certificate, it also gave me experience that turned me from someone who struggled performing, even in groups, to someone who can confidently stand at the front and take a class.


Also after promoting to Jo Kyo Nim I became a part of the black belt club, a programme for those wishing to take their training further and go the extra mile. This allowed me to improve my training even further and allowed me to discover aspects of Kuk Sool which I’d never come across before, such as archery. Joining the black belt club also inspired me to start training at home and work on improving myself as a martial artist by bettering my knowledge of Kuk Sool all around by researching the art in my spare time both with books and the internet. Doing this allowed me to gain more of an understanding of certain concepts surrounding Kuk Sool and contributed towards pushing me forward as a martial artist and helping me improve.


Also, after three years of being Jo Kyo Nim, I took part in my first tournament. From this tournament I got a copper medal in the self-defence techniques category. Although I only won one medal I feel that I gained a lot more from the tournament than it seems I did. Most of this in the form of experience and improved training. On the build up to the tournament, my standard of training was raised and this never went back down again after. It remained higher and kept going up.


As a Kyo Sa Nim however, I feel that I have not done anything new apart from learning new material. So what have I done? I’ve improved upon what I already did. My instructing has become 10x better than it was when I was a Jo Kyo Nim, as has my confidence in other areas, such as performing in front of people and partaking in demonstrations. The material I learned as a Jo Kyo Nim and even as a coloured belt has all been improved upon and has become more refined and technical, also. So if I had to sum up the difference between being Jo Kyo Nim and Kyo Sa Nim in a few words, I would say this:


Jo Kyo Nim is about trying new things, pushing your training the extra mile and becoming more serious about Kuk Sool. Kyo Sa Nim is not about doing new things but about refining the things you already do and making them better.

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