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Hello! For those who don’t know me, I am JKN Joe Jacob. I’ll preface this article with a brief backstory. I started Kuk Sool back in 2002, at the age of seven. I joined the Tiny Dragons class led by PKJN (then PSBN) Jon.

This was all great fun, and it went on to become the beginning of my five and a half-year journey to black belt, which I achieved in 2008, age thirteen. A couple of years after achieving black belt, I still loved Kuk Sool, but due to a few things including a recurring back injury, I had to leave in 2010.

Leaving wasn’t easy, and it felt so permanent. I was not a quitter, so it never sat well with me, but I had to deal with it. Fast forward about ten years to the run-up to Christmas, 2018. I have now graduated Uni and was working in my first job. JDKJN Martin receives a message from a re-inspired ex-student who was having thoughts of returning!

The New Year rolls around and, after recovering from a cold, I take my first Kuk Sool class in over ten years around mid-January. There was something surreal about how much had changed, yet how much hadn’t! There was a mixture of old and new faces and a new dojang, but the training was just as it always was. I think Bon Jovi said it best when he sung ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.’

Going through the motions and asking my body to make these moves it hasn’t touched in a decade felt surprisingly natural – like slipping into an old pair of boots. While going through and re-learning the white belt form, it felt at times that when an instructor showed me one move, my body suddenly remembered the next five. It was like dusting off or unlocking old memories.

I often now refer to that ten-year gap as a ‘break’ rather than saying that I ‘quit’ or ‘left’. I may not have known I would come back, but that doesn’t matter. In hindsight, my break gave me a chance to focus on education and my career. With that all done, I could come back with a less-occupied mind and pick up where I left off. I wasn’t the same person I was before I left and coming back with a different mindset allowed me to appreciate what I was doing in a completely different way.

In summary, I just wanted to use the chance to share my experience of returning to Kuk Sool after a period of absence. Coming back was an enriching experience; I’ve made new friends, regained a lot of confidence and self-discipline, and I’m almost as fit as I was before my break! On the off chance another ex-student is reading this, and may (or may not) be having thoughts of returning like I did, I have just one more thing to say:

What you learn in Kuk Sool never truly leaves you. Your muscle memory may go dormant, but it never goes away.

The end doesn’t have to be the end.

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