Question about a Grand Master

Discussion in 'Hapkido' started by BillK, Feb 6, 2016.

  1. BillK

    BillK Yellow Belt

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    I have been looking into Hapkido the past few days as there is a training center near by. I know there are a lot of "McDojos" out there, so I wanted to ask those that have been around Hapkido awhile about the validity of the place I am looking into. The place I am considering is A W New Hapkido in Ft. Wayne Indiana. Their head instructor is Anthony New 6th degree black belt. His instructor is Grand Master J. R. West. Anyone have any insight into Grand Master West or Master New? Thanks in advance.
    A W New Hapkido Academy
     
  2. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    It is difficult for me to make any judgement from the website. If he has been there for 17 years he at least knows how to keep getting students.

    I noted he has a lot of women and girl students. In my experience that is not the norm for Hapkido, for reasons I have never understood. That could mean he is an exceptional teacher, or that he deviates from traditional Hapkido. And he could still be teaching a wothwhile martial art with some amount of Hapkido.

    I notice he offers a free class. You might consider visiting and if it looks interesting, take a free class also. If it all works for you, that is, what he teaches looks right, the teaching is positive, you are able to learn, try it further.

    One thing I didn't notice was a fee schedule. I never agreed with contracts by year, or until reaching black belt.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
  3. Andrew Green

    Andrew Green Grandmaster

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    12 month memberships are pretty standard in a lot of places and rather important once a school reaches a certain size. There should probably be a shorter trial option, or maybe a higher priced option for a shorter term and adequate escape clauses... but if you refuse places based on just that you'll miss out on a lot of really good places.
     
  4. BillK

    BillK Yellow Belt

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    I noticed the same things as you. I called Friday and spoke with a very friendly woman who invited me to attend a free class Tuesday. I askes her about cost, but didn't ask about contracts. Cost is about $90 a month, which seems about right.
     
  5. BillK

    BillK Yellow Belt

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    There actually is a short trial period. Their "try Hapkido" is $200 for 3 months and a free uniform. Classes 3 days a week, one hour each class.
     
  6. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

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    That's actually not a bad deal at all. A little under $70 a month and no obligation to stay longer. If after the free class you are genuinely interested and it works with your schedule, it might be worth trying. Looking into G. R. West, nothing seems fishy, and he apears to be the head of a legitimate hapkido orgnaization. For anyone who knows more about Hapkido, his lineage appears to be Choi Young Sool-->Kim Jung Soo-->JR West-->Anthony New.
    I don't see any major red flags, which is rare, but as I don't live in the area, nor do I know hapkido, I can't really give any direct more advice.
     
  7. BillK

    BillK Yellow Belt

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    I didn't think it seemed like a bad deal either. Saw a video on YouTube that just doesn't sit well with me. I'll post it separately.
     
  8. BillK

    BillK Yellow Belt

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    HHere's a video from the Dojang I was looking into. Any thoughts? I have a few, but I'd like to see what y'all think first. I only watched about 15 minutes of it.

     
  9. MAfreak

    MAfreak Purple Belt

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    90 dollars a month?
    is that common in the us? here no one would pay this. every martial arts school or club, no matter what style, takes about 30 euros, lets say about 40 us-dollars, a month. many even less.

    btw: kids with black belts? i fear, thats indeed a mcdojo-sign...
     
  10. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

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    Where I live, $90 a month is pretty cheap. Agree about the kid black belt
     
  11. Paul_D

    Paul_D Master Black Belt

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    Why do you say that?

    Although all association and arts are different, generally a black belt does not mean yo are skilled, it merely means you are capable of performing the basics.

    Becoming skilled takes many more years of training of course, but I see no reason why a child who has trained for a number of years cannot be competent at the basics.
     
  12. MAfreak

    MAfreak Purple Belt

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    capable of performing the basics means yellow belt in my opinion.
    one shouldn't give black belts to kids. it might give them a false and therefore dangerous feeling of superiority. even many adult blackbelts have that. just my opinion, but if someone can reach a black belt after about 2 years of training or whatever these kids have, its not a good art/style/school.
     
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  13. Andrew Green

    Andrew Green Grandmaster

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    That's on the low side for a full time school.

    All depends on what the black belt means in that school. In a lot of schools it is still considered a beginner grade. (Shoran basically mean "Beginning grade")
     
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  14. Andrew Green

    Andrew Green Grandmaster

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    Considering Shodan is considered a beginner grade I don't think that is true at all. Japan started the system, and people get to Shodan in 2 years all the time over there and it wouldn't be considered odd from everything I've heard. If your school considers it a "expert" rank and gives it after 2 years then you probably got a lack of depth in your system. But if it's considered completion of the beginner curriculum, it's not so bad and I'd question why it would take 5-10 years. A black belt rank means a lot of different things in different places, no one way is superior. I'd say how good a student is after 5 years is more a measure of how good the school is, regardless of whether they are 2nd dan or brown belt. I'd also say the school that can keep the most students that long is doing something better too.

    I'm not really sure why people get so caught up in comparing rank to time spent training. I think a much more interesting thing to look at is skill and depth of knowledge compared to time spent training.

    I'd also think percentage of students that reach a given skill level is more important. Let's say school A and B both starts with 10 students each. 3 years later School A has 1 Blue belt and school B has 5 black belts, all have the same skill level, just different ranks. Which is the better school?

    Do whatever you want with belts, just produce good students.
     
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  15. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Senior Master

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    I watched most of it. I would have liked to see actual instruction rather than demos. That said ... I was not tremendously impressed. I'm not a Hapkido guy, but I've seen much better demonstrations of the art.

    Most of the black belts did not look to be very skilled at what they were doing. The weapons forms were mediocre baton twirling routines by someone who apparently had no idea of how to actually use the weapon. Even the joint locks which are central to Hapkido were poorly done for the most part. Most of the black belts demonstrating the joint locks were walking through the choreography without regard to the details that are necessary to make those techniques work effectively.

    The head instructor may be qualified in the art, but based on the video it doesn't look like he does a good job of teaching his students the nuances of the art or holding them to high technical standards.
     
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  16. MAfreak

    MAfreak Purple Belt

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    @Andrew Green good point. but i think, it doesn't look good for a school, if their black belts aren't very skilled, since the belt color has an other meaning to them.
    i personally don't give to much on belt colors, since some students train like maniacs and are fast as good as the ones with dark belts, as you said with your school a/b example.
    but when it looks like they throw belts around for the ones who pay good, i'd be suspicious.
     
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  17. WaterGal

    WaterGal Master Black Belt

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    I only skimmed through this video and watched bits here and there, on account of it being an hour long, but I have some thoughts, too.

    To start off with, on the plus side, I'm pretty sure this New guy, or at least his teacher, does know HKD. A lot of the unarmed hoshinsul techniques I saw them doing - or trying to do - were very similar to a lot of the ones I know, and the knife disarms were the exactly the same. (Those kind of knife disarms are unrealistic, but traditional.)

    As to the students.... I think the adults/teens were a mixed bag. Some of their hoshinsul looked okay, some not so much. Some of them had good striking (edit: not that I saw much demonstrated anyway), some of them seemed uncertain and didn't have power. For the sparring, considering it's HKD, I was surprised that they weren't going to the ground at all or even doing sweeps, but at least I got the impression that they had some sparring experience. I wasn't impressed that they were having adult black belts punching and side kicking through a 1/2" board.

    The kids, on the other hand, oy. They were visibly struggling to remember their hoshinsul techniques, and clearly didn't understand the principles behind them. E.g., I'm pretty sure I saw an armbar being done below the elbow with the arm bent. Their sparring was bad, and their bo work was mushy. Teaching Hapkido to young kids seems like a really tough thing to do, but if you're going to do, then do it, don't just pass the kids through.
     
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  18. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    I'm going to be a little less forgiving than Tony. Like Tony I wasn't impressed with the demo which was more of an entertainment performance than any showing of real application.
    There were a lot of warnings signs that I saw, which would cause me not to go to a school like this.
    • Kids looked afraid of the weapons
    • Black belts losing weapons
    • Lack of focus on doing the form shown by constantly looking at each other to see where the next person is in the form.
    • Meaningless movements (this could be me not understanding the application as I do not train in the system" The reason I say this is because the movements that are done with energy and purpose are usually the ones that have purpose. The movements that look weak without purpose are usually just that, without purpose. Specifically the crane posture at at the 18:53 mark and the "shoo fly" technique at the 18:55 mark.
    • The sparring was fairly bad too.
    A lot of the times you only need to see how well someone does the basics to know if you should be training there. If they fail on the basics then there's no way they'll be able to do anything of quality at an advanced level.

    My personal opinion would be to find another school if you want to be a good representation of the martial art that you are training in. If you are just looking for exercise and you don't care that your technique, form, and basics look horrible then you can go to this school.
     
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  19. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Senior Master

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    I was trying to be as... diplomatic as possible without leading the OP astray. I think we're pretty much in agreement about the quality of what was being demonstrated.
     
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  20. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    Tony Dismukes - as you said you not a Hapkidoist. WaterGal - you do study some Hapkido. I am so dismayed at both your reviews of another Hapkido School. Most sadly, I have to agree with pretty much all of it. Maybe it is just the Hapkido I learned. We didn't do things that way. It was an effective art, and a little vicious. It was intended to protect oneself. Hapkido requires a lot of practice as some moves are a little intricate (edit: but most of ours were very conservative of movement), but done correctly are very effective.

    I will say that many moves cannot be done quickly unless the training partner know what is coming so s/he can move into it without sustaining injury, or the person performing the technique has to stop before injury occurs. But it really looked more like to me that there was a lot of confusion on how to do some of the techniques. The woman on the chair is a case in point. I would not try to stop a side snap kick by trying to absorb the kick with my arm. Maybe there is something else she was supposed to do along with it. I would have preferred an arm cross block with follow up. Her way to get out of a choke-head-lock (or whatever it was) was not the way I would do it, but that may just the school wishing to use different techniques. There are many after all.

    WaterGal - why does your school teach ineffective knife defense? Knife defense must be learned very carefully, but if done so, can be effective and protect you as well. Side steps and deflection with grapple, or catching a knife or sword (especially downward strikes) at the top of the arc when there is no power. Do you only teach that at higher levels?

    Anyway, I do agree with you both that it didn't look as good as it probably should have. Even some of the break falls looked a little dangerous, but maybe not, since nobody broke anything but the fall.

    Even all that said, some of the practitioners did seem to know what they were doing, and do moves effectively. So I still recommend the OP visit and watch, and take at least one practice session.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
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