Unlike most martial arts SANSHU UK does not award Belts or Sash’s to students as they progress. Progression is shown in students ability in (and out) of class. The goal is to reinforce the importance of viewing martial arts as a lifestyle rather than a hobby. This is not to say that other styles are wrong in awarding belts for progression, it is merely our way to reduce egos, breakdown ranks in class and gives everyone the same opportunity to display their skill and learn together. Encouraging students to train to self-improve rather than attend to gain a physical reward.

You will not have to pay for gradings, you will not have to attend a fixed amount of sessions to obtain belts, there is no highest grade and there is no false confidence. There are no groups of blackbelts hanging around together and there is no awkward feeling of peer superiority when you first join.  There is no limitation on learning. As the world spins, as you get older, training changes and you must adapt your training accordingly. This is where the structured syllabuses sometimes fall short.  

The easiest way to explain would be to have a professional boxer enter a martial arts gym, be given a white belt and put with new students for basic sparring. Chances are he won’t initially improve. We encourage our students to test their skill against each other, everyone is grouped together and given the same opportunity to learn the same things. This is not to say that you will be held back if you can’t do it, more experienced students will break things down and you will soon realise the importance of repetition and out of class practice. Also, not everything taught is for everyone, we have many students some of which specialize in only a few skills. Yet they dedicate themselves to the practice of said skill and making it an honest expression of who they are. There is no pressure to climb ranks, it is about honest self-expression and mindfulness. If in class you want to take yourself off to one side and do 30 minutes of horse stance, feel free to do so.

This is not to say that classes are unstructured, classes are closely monitored, but you have freedom to work on areas you want to improve. Our goal is to encourage you to realise your weaknesses and to guide you when needed. Nothing is held back. 


“A punch is a punch and a kick is a kick”, we can both practice the same punch the same amount of times, but if my arms are longer I will punch you first. How can you avoid that? What are your strengths? What can give you the edge? His natural ability means he will win therefore to overcome what extra things must you do?  Practice movement? Faster feet? More speed? Parry?  But this isnt in the grade, is it in a higher one? So he beats me on this grade if there is light sparring? These are the sort of discussions we have outside of the traditional progression through ranks. Understanding yourself, your limitations, your strengths, working on your weaknesses is far greater than holding a belt on your waist to meet criteria to pass.

We are all different and we must approach training differently knowing this. Train for improvement not for prizes.

I would like to add that this is not an attack on clubs or styles that follow a syllabus or reward with belts. Yet merely a way to promote a lifestyle. Under the right instruction, belts or not, you will ultimately be guided in the right manner that suits the purpose of your training. This is just our method of learning that has been tried and tested over the years. 

© 2020 SANSHU UK Kung Fu Academy & Martial Arts