It all started by chance. I was living with my partner and her fourteen years old son, and we were looking for some sport activity that all of us could participate in. What appealed for us in taking up Wu Shu Kwan’s Chinese Boxing was the combination of self-defence techniques, Far Eastern philosophy and total movements that quite resemble to a dance sequence. The class session took place on Tuesday evening, so I could attend it straight from work. I was gradually advanced until the 4th Grade Maroon-belt (same as ZSK’s red-belt) stage and almost stopped there.

At that stage I started training under Master Koh, who left Wu Shu Kwan and started up his new ZSK’s Chinese Kick Boxing class; but soon I realized that one session per week can’t improve my performance if I want to reach the standards demanded for the higher grades.

The real change happened when I was invited to Seville’s Expo in Spain to lecture about Stanstead Terminal where I was project architect at the time. The lecture was very successful and the dinner after was nice and relaxing.

However, I felt afterward the need to stroll to the old city. I was unaware that Spain has changed since my last visit there as a student. To make a long story short, I was attacked by two young men armed with a knife. My self-defense was very poor, but together with shouting for help I managed to resist being robbed, and I suffered only small cuts on my arm. It was very frightening experience.

On my return to London I decided to increase my training sessions and to put more effort in improving my overall performance, with special attention to self-defence techniques.

Two years after that event, I took and passed my 1st Degree Black Belt on 19 March 2000. It was a hard struggle to combine work, family and training, especially in the last 6 months prior to the grading, when I was put through intensive training by both Master Koh and Sifu Cudjoe. I must admit that I would not have attained my black belt without the support from my teachers and the general encouragement from the rest of the black belts training at that time.

Support and encouragement are the unique characteristics of ZSK. I have never experienced it from my architect colleagues that I worked with, or from the lecturers that I taught with in University College London. This is really what keeps us going in the difficult moments.

On 28 November 2009, I was awarded an honorary 2nd Degree Black Belt by Master Koh, the honour bestowed to me for my loyalty and the support I have given to Master Koh at his club.

Well, even getting the 2nd Degree Black Belt is not the end of a road; it is just the beginning.