It is a small school, the instructor has been training martial arts since he was 6 (he’s now over 30), was fed up with all the wrong things martial art schools sold and started his own club. He stands on having a small group to teach so he has full view on how everyone advances and no one learns wrong things.
There are no grades or belts, it’s the old way, if the ‘master’ thinks you are worthy to teach you get your master’s degree/black belt. There is no strict program or moves, we see how each person reacts on attacks and improve the natural movements according to the body of the student. Everyone has a different way of countering attacks. Everyhing we know, learn on seminars, read or see on the net is stripped to the bare essentials and transformed in something that works without difficult and unnatural movements.
The trainer has his eastern MA background, his assistant Systema and I had a Western Martial arts (swordfighting, spear/pole arms, dagger, some wrestling) and kick boxing background. We learn a lot from each other.
The master 1 came as a surprise, I feel there is still so much to learn, but I’m very proud of it.
Black belt was no end point anyway, it’s a sign that you know the basics, must learn further and have the responsability to teach the other studerts.