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Hapkido Seminar at a Karate School

Hapkido Grab Takedown

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of doing a three hour seminar in the foundations of Hapkido to a local Karate school. Many thanks for Sensei Bob and the school for the invite and allowing me to demonstrate my style to their students.

I have worked with Karate schools in the past and had an idea of what I was coming into. The school was following traditional style and stance grounding techniques and this really helped me understand where to begin and what to expect.

In a general definition and there are always exceptions, Karate approaches the Arts from a liner and heavily grounded foundation stance. The stances are square and traditionally most work is done from a front stance with the shoulders square to the front. It is these stance and grounding techniques that tend to cause the most difficulty for Karate based students to approach the circular and floating stance style of Hapkido.

That is not to say it can’t be done. I personally have spent time in a Shorin Ryu Karate Dojo. I don’t claim any mastery of their art just a working understanding of some of the principles and basics. But what can be accomplished by blending the two approaches can be both beautiful and effective.

We started the day with simple stretches and me speaking about Hapkido. I kept trying to reinforce the concept of circles for power and energy redirection, how foot work was extremely important, and being close to the opponent.

Hapkido Circle Movement for GrabsOur first course work dealt with simple hand grabs. This is where Hapkido begins for all students and there is a reason. Hand grabs teach you how to make circles and move. They lay the foundation for everything the art represents.

Hapkido takes a lot of punishment in the online forums because those that do not understand the art just see students practicing  “here grab my wrist” what is missed is that the grab structures lead into the block structures and the blocks move into sticky hands. And from sticking hands come the ability to move the opponent and really be able to redirect and deflect an attacker.

Hapkido Double Elbow LiftNext we played with a couple of center manipulation drills. These were done so the student could get an understanding that if you move your center first and then your arms/hands the opponent’s body has already begun its movement and you can expend a lot less energy to get the work done.

One of the drills we did was the old standard two hand grab to the front of the neck by the Uke.  The counter to this was to bring your palms up to the Uke’s elbows and press in and up. The inner force locked the Uke’s elbows so that they could not pull their arms down. The pressing up caused the Uke’s center to rise off from a grounded position and let the defender move the Uke backwards. It was simple physics but very effective in demonstrating proper body and center alignment.

The day continued on with circular blocks. We started this in a facing front line drills but quickly moved to one on one practice. It is at this point where the students either learns to rotate their center and core with the force of the strike or default to their traditional in or out hard arm block/strike.

The turning of your center for the blocks accomplishes several things:

  • Allows the attackers strike energy to move beyond you
  • Assist you in turning your body and moving you off line from the attack
  • Puts your hands and forearms in the position to load the attacker’s body for unstabling
  • Lets you move the opponent by working your center against the weak side of their stance

As the day progressed we include a couple of shoulder grabs with full counter breaks. This is where we started to see how destructive the Art can be.  Up until this point it had been simple escape and evasion with punch counters. These shoulders grab counters allowed one to utilize their full center and core to break elbows and throw/drive the opponent to the ground.

Towards the end of the day we worked on a simple round kick capturing counter with takedown. The school had a good foundation in kicking and once everyone was confident in the drill they quickly started throwing each other down.

It is difficult to give more than a general highlight of the Art in a three hour time slot but given the drive of the students we were able to accomplish a good overview of the Art.

Many Thanks to all that attended!

Below I have added my curriculum notes; we covered most of the items:

Hapkido Seminar Curriculum      Hosted by – Tampa Family Martial Arts

Stretching and Warm-ups

  • What is Hapkido and what will we learn today – The art is based on Circular movements, non resistance to attacks, and water encompassing tactics
  • How breathing affects your body dynamics and what you are trying to accomplish – Tan Jun
  • Hard and fast or soft and gentle are assisted by breathing
  • Need to be relaxed as you turn your body. Being stiff and having hard structured muscles are counterproductive to circular motion and fluid movement
  • What is being presented is for self defense use. Bar room ready. These techniques can be used in a fight scenario but you must be aware of the gifts that are presented, or make the gifts.

How to fall review

  • Sit down first
  • Roll up the hip
  • Stop your momentum by striking out to the floor

Center manipulation drills

  • Two hands pull by sliding center back then arm/hands – from back side as well
  • Sliding front grabbing their wrist. Press center forward then assist with arms
  • Two hand choke, press up from under both elbows

Simple writs grabs – use these to lay foundation for body dynamics

  • Loose stances and how to float and then set a ridged stance
  • Circles let you develop your power
  • Ki finger and three finger grab
  • Develop principle of coming out the slot
  • Finger tips for eye strike to distract or use small kick or other method.
  • You want to be in control of the opponent’s center and movement direction.
  • Point your toes at the power location
  • Hand grabs teach basic skill, once learned the skill transfer to other areas

Shoulder grabs and how they move into punching block counters

Cross shoulder grab, elbow strikes down then roll palm to center

Cross shoulder grab, pin hand roll their elbow up and break through elbow with forearm

Straight shoulder grab, roll arm out and come back under their arm, press their elbow back towards their center

Round block basics – practice these in line

  • Explain how to work opponents balance to assist them to become off balanced
  • Load the opponent when blocking and be able to move in and around opponent
  • The loading leads to the ability to do locks and throws
  • Use their energy to assist you in moving around their strike
  • Sticky hands are a direct outcome of round blocks
  • Elbows down

Use blocks to move into opponent and do takedowns – break out to group practice

  • Outside block, load opponent, rotate in then drive forearm into their arm for takedown
  • Roll out block and capture opponents arm by forcing elbow back across center, then slide in for strike
  • Roll in block pressing and turning hard. This locks down opponents arms and open them for attack
  • Elbow break counters to face punch. Walk through and run their elbow over their shoulder.

Round blocks against multiple attackers and limited space

  • Work in groups of 4 to 5 and practice by having one person attack and two act as wedges behind the victim – use all skills from earlier: grabs, takedowns, holds, weight movement
  • Work in group, have multiple attackers come at defender. Use round block flow and basic take-downs to control situation – use all skills from earlier: grabs, takedowns, holds, weight movement
  • You must get out of your formal stance to be able to move around or among opponents

Front sweeps and tie in with back-fist for distraction – start with double punch from opponent

  • Partner strikes with jab then reverse punch
  • Work round blocks followed with back fist or front sweep
  • Round blocks with back leg trip
  • Learn to feel your body’s circular movement and let it setup the next strike
  • Load your opponent and or direct them off balance
  • Utilize pressure points for strikes – back-fist, finger flicks, sweep

Round and front kick trap with sweep defense

Grabbed from rear by both wrist – raise fingers then palms, slide out and grab hand for lock

Knee presses and scoop trips

Double arm full head block followed with dropping elbows into opponent. Then pull into knee strike