John Pellegrini

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Daniel Sullivan

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Hapkido has many kicks, perhaps the most kicks of any martial art. There are certainly more kicks in hapkido than there is in taekwondo, for example. Also hapkido kicks are used in different ways for different purposes. There are basic kicks which help digestion and to exercise and move the internal organs, in addition to uses in self defense situations. There are also special kicks such as spinning kicks, jump spinning kicks, two leg flying side kick, etc. which some feel are not as practical. I believe these are the types of kicks that GM Pelligrini has not included in his Combat Hapkido, the more acrobatic type kicks.
That is what he indicated to me in our telephone conversation last year. He indicated that there is nothing particularly wrong with such techniques; simply that they weren't his thing.

What are your thoughts on the deletion of such techniques?
 

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In the June issue of BB magazine there was a very interesting article about John Pellegrini and his brand of Hapkido. He goes on to explain what he does in his system and how its different from the more traditional Hapkido systems. In the magazines to come, there have been many articles submitted by people. Some of them are very supportive of his style while others seem to be very critical about what he has done to the art.

While I am not a student of Mr. Pellegrini or of Hapkido, I have attended a seminar put on by him at a local MA school. Not really knowing what to expect, I went anyway. I have to say that I was very impressed with what I saw. The material that he taught was IMO, pretty straight forward. He covered many defenses while standing as well as on the ground.

My question is, what do the people on this forum think about Mr. Pellegrini and what he has done to the art? Was he wrong to take out some of the more traditional things such as the high kicks, kata, etc. or did he do a good thing?

Mike

Going back to the OP, I've highlighted the questions. In regards to the first question; As I've mentioned previously, Hapkido is not a single, unique, unchanging or unchangeable art. There are multiple Hapkido organizations around the world. Each has, to either a small or large extent, a different approach to Hapkido. What I'm saying is that one organization or 'branch' may not have the number of kicks that another may have. One might have forms and another may not. Certain techniques may be done differently or taught differently. And of course the ranking structures may differ i.e. TIG, promotional requirements etc. My stance is that if John Pellegrini has taken whatever level of Hapkido he has been taught (and ranked in by others) and if he has changed it according to what he thinks is best and if others have found value in it, then no problem exists. As it is his own art and his own organization then (according to martial historical precedence set by those before him) he can claim to be whatever rank he wishes to claim in said art and organization.

I'm assuming he's a 9th or 10th Dan? I don't know what he claims but I suppose if rank and time in the arts makes one a senior then he is senior to many/most on this board? If you abide by such standards? If the number of people in an organization, or the number of students one has or the number of black belts you have produced over the course of a martial career is a standard, would that make him a senior to many/most on this board? I don't know how large CHKD is as I've never looked into it so these are rhetorical questions that could be applied to a number of people in the arts. Or...not applied as the case my be.

In regards to the second question in the OP; speaking from strictly a SD perspective which is my personal venue and focus, high kicks are not normally part of any serious combative art. They were never placed in WWII Combatives by Fairbairn, Applegate, Sikes, Nelson or O'Neill. In fact, quite a lot of 'traditional' components were intentionally discarded. You don't find them in highly rated systems such as SPEAR, Hisardut Krav Maga, Systema, Boatman, PCR, L.E.D.T. etc. Factually speaking, performing a high kick in the Dojo/Dojang, when one is warmed up, stretched out, barefoot and in a loose fitting uniform on a flat, dry and level surface is quite different from performing a high kick in tight clothing such as jeans or a dress, wearing shoes or high heels, on grass, gravel, oil stained parking lot, wet or sloping surface, stairs, elevator, confined spaces etc. This is why high kicks are usually not taught in these types of venues. Perhaps CHKD follows the same philosophy? I don't know but suspect perhaps this is the case.

Removing kata? Personally I think if one knows the correct applications of kata that it is an invaluable tool. However, again using the above combatives systems as an example, they don't use 'kata' but do train by rote which is a similar concept. Again, if what he has developed works in the real world against aggressive, determined attackers then he has done well. I'm going to try to contact him as I'm now interested to see if he has any type of data base or real world altercations from practitioners of CHKD. This is something that we do in MSK Kong Soo Do and I know other combatives systems do likewise. And if the focus of the martial art is SD, which in my opinion is the main (if not sole) purpose and CHKD has in fact be useful to that end...then his rank or how he came by it is of little practical interest. The proof is what can be done in a violent altercation (as far as SD and the martial arts is concerned).
 

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I didn't say it wasn't appropriate, I said that it wasn't adding credibility to others by using Hatsumi's approach.

I understood what you said. What I said was that your comments were appropriate to help others understand what GM Seo did with respect to GM Pelligrini. Many people state that rank means nothing, but usually it comes from people who do not have rank and they are trying to justify their own position. But when someone like Hatsumi Sensei or GM Seo does it, when they say rank means nothing, they are doing it in the opposite way, that if all you want is rank, here it is, higher than you or anyone else thinks you "deserve", which only underlines the concept or philosophy that rank means nothing.


And are you really talking to me about understanding Hatsumi's approach? I feel that I'm in far more of a position to understand it than you are, honestly....

I realize that you probably think you are in a better position to understand asian based philosophy/culture in general and japanese philosophy/culture in particular better than I. Another poster mentioned my last name in an earlier post. If you googled my last name, you might discover how long the martial arts has been a part of my family, which may change your perspective. Or not.

Over and above that, Hatsumi Sensei isn't the only teacher who does what was described in the quote. Others have done the same thing, the reason being, that the level in which they operate is so removed from concepts like dan rank or titles that it is virtually meaningless to them. There are other cultural considerations as well.
 

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What are your thoughts on the deletion of such techniques?


I personally like the special kicks of hapkido and think they are applicable for self defense. I have students who have used those successfully in self defense situations. I also think that those special kicks are an integral part of Hapkido from a technical, mental and philosophical perspective. If I were a white belt again, I probably wouldn't join a hapkido school if they didn't teach such techniques. However, if a hapkido instructor focused his curriculum for self defense only like GM Pellegrini, and he did not feel confident with using hapkido special kicks for self defense, then I suppose I could understand why he would take it out of his self defense only curriculum.
 
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Hapkido has many kicks, perhaps the most kicks of any martial art. There are certainly more kicks in hapkido than there is in taekwondo, for example. Also hapkido kicks are used in different ways for different purposes. There are basic kicks which help digestion and to exercise and move the internal organs, in addition to uses in self defense situations. There are also special kicks such as spinning kicks, jump spinning kicks, two leg flying side kick, etc. which some feel are not as practical. I believe these are the types of kicks that GM Pelligrini has not included in his Combat Hapkido, the more acrobatic type kicks.

Yes, you're right, thats probably what he is talking about. So, back to my original statement...he's most likely getting crapped on, because he removed certain things.

In your opinion, do you feel those things are practical?
 

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Yes, you're right, thats probably what he is talking about. So, back to my original statement...he's most likely getting crapped on, because he removed certain things.

Because he removed certain things, because he was promoted rapidly, because his schools negatively impact some people's dojangs by taking students that may have gone to those instructors, because he makes a lot of money, etc. Take your pick on why people attack him.


In your opinion, do you feel those things are practical?

Perhaps not for everyone, but yes, those kicks have value in certain self defense situations for certain practitioners, in my opinion.
 
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One of the best answers I've got so far! Thank you!!! :)


Going back to the OP, I've highlighted the questions. In regards to the first question; As I've mentioned previously, Hapkido is not a single, unique, unchanging or unchangeable art. There are multiple Hapkido organizations around the world. Each has, to either a small or large extent, a different approach to Hapkido. What I'm saying is that one organization or 'branch' may not have the number of kicks that another may have. One might have forms and another may not. Certain techniques may be done differently or taught differently. And of course the ranking structures may differ i.e. TIG, promotional requirements etc. My stance is that if John Pellegrini has taken whatever level of Hapkido he has been taught (and ranked in by others) and if he has changed it according to what he thinks is best and if others have found value in it, then no problem exists. As it is his own art and his own organization then (according to martial historical precedence set by those before him) he can claim to be whatever rank he wishes to claim in said art and organization.

Much like Kenpo, where you also have numerous people who're teaching Ed Parkers Kenpo, yet, there're numerous 'versions' of the way things're taught.

I'm assuming he's a 9th or 10th Dan? I don't know what he claims but I suppose if rank and time in the arts makes one a senior then he is senior to many/most on this board? If you abide by such standards? If the number of people in an organization, or the number of students one has or the number of black belts you have produced over the course of a martial career is a standard, would that make him a senior to many/most on this board? I don't know how large CHKD is as I've never looked into it so these are rhetorical questions that could be applied to a number of people in the arts. Or...not applied as the case my be.

Yeah, I'm assuming that as well. I don't know what he claims either, but one thing is certain, he's created his own version. Right or wrong, he seems to have a large, successful following.

In regards to the second question in the OP; speaking from strictly a SD perspective which is my personal venue and focus, high kicks are not normally part of any serious combative art. They were never placed in WWII Combatives by Fairbairn, Applegate, Sikes, Nelson or O'Neill. In fact, quite a lot of 'traditional' components were intentionally discarded. You don't find them in highly rated systems such as SPEAR, Hisardut Krav Maga, Systema, Boatman, PCR, L.E.D.T. etc. Factually speaking, performing a high kick in the Dojo/Dojang, when one is warmed up, stretched out, barefoot and in a loose fitting uniform on a flat, dry and level surface is quite different from performing a high kick in tight clothing such as jeans or a dress, wearing shoes or high heels, on grass, gravel, oil stained parking lot, wet or sloping surface, stairs, elevator, confined spaces etc. This is why high kicks are usually not taught in these types of venues. Perhaps CHKD follows the same philosophy? I don't know but suspect perhaps this is the case.

Agreed.

Removing kata? Personally I think if one knows the correct applications of kata that it is an invaluable tool. However, again using the above combatives systems as an example, they don't use 'kata' but do train by rote which is a similar concept. Again, if what he has developed works in the real world against aggressive, determined attackers then he has done well. I'm going to try to contact him as I'm now interested to see if he has any type of data base or real world altercations from practitioners of CHKD. This is something that we do in MSK Kong Soo Do and I know other combatives systems do likewise. And if the focus of the martial art is SD, which in my opinion is the main (if not sole) purpose and CHKD has in fact be useful to that end...then his rank or how he came by it is of little practical interest. The proof is what can be done in a violent altercation (as far as SD and the martial arts is concerned).

Are there kata in Hapkido? I agree, that if there is kata in your art, that knowing the applications, instead of aimlessly going thru the moves, is VERY important.
 
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Because he removed certain things, because he was promoted rapidly, because his schools negatively impact some people's dojangs by taking students that may have gone to those instructors, because he makes a lot of money, etc. Take your pick on why people attack him.

My take is simple: if someone is happy with what they're doing, great. :) If they have no intention on being the martial arts police, then why concern themselves with what others do? If those people are happy with what they're doing, and have no intention of leaving their group for any other, then why worry what someone else does? IMO, if people spent more time training and less time worrying what others are doing, everyone would be better off...lol.

I know there're other Kenpo people who comment on my thoughts/interpretations of the art, and thats fine. I know what I do, and I know what they do. I'm happy with what I do. :)




Perhaps not for everyone, but yes, those kicks have value in certain self defense situations for certain practitioners, in my opinion.

Personally, I'm not a high kicker. IMO, there're good targets chest level and below. If you want to kick someone in the head, kick 'em in the balls first, then the head, when they lean over...lol. Seriously though....if someone finds value in high kicks, thats great. :)
 

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That's the beauty of certifications. If GM Wests 9th Dan was signed by GM Seo (which it is not) but at one point his certs were then you have 3 GMs (using the term GM loosely) you have 2 extremely skilled martial artsist, West and Timmerman, and one not nearly as skilled as they are all holding the same rank. Unfortunately that is case not only in Hapkido but Kukkiwon Tae Kwon Do as well.
 

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There are multiple Hapkido organizations around the world. Each has, to either a small or large extent, a different approach to Hapkido. What I'm saying is that one organization or 'branch' may not have the number of kicks that another may have. One might have forms and another may not. Certain techniques may be done differently or taught differently.


But the differences are not so great that a hapkido practitioner cannot recognize another hapkido practitioner, as opposed to someone who has studied some other joint lock or throwing art, tried to add some kicks, and calling that hapkido. So even though GM Pellegrini has chosen to not include certain things, what has been retained is recognizable has hapkido.
 

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Much like Kenpo, where you also have numerous people who're teaching Ed Parkers Kenpo, yet, there're numerous 'versions' of the way things're taught.


Kenpo is a little different though, at least the ones which find their lineage through Professor Mitose and/or Professor Chow. Under that lineage, there is almost no consistency that I can see, other than perhaps the shoulder checking or "cover" motion, and the hawaiian spirit of aloha blended in. My uncle studied with Professor Chow in the 1950's (he's in those photos in volume one of the Infinite series) and when I showed him what Professor Chow was doing in the early 1980's when I studied with him, he didn't recognize too much. My uncle and my family both lived about one mile from both Palama Settlement and Nuuanu YMCA, in puunui. I have a special love for Kenpo, just because it is so much of a reflection of Hawaii in spirit and philosophy, but I think it is unfair to compare it to hapkido. Hapkido is not korean kenpo, although it may someday get to that point.
 

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Personally, I'm not a high kicker. IMO, there're good targets chest level and below. If you want to kick someone in the head, kick 'em in the balls first, then the head, when they lean over...lol. Seriously though....if someone finds value in high kicks, thats great. :)

I don't think he was talking about high kicks, I think it was kicks in general.
 
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Kenpo is a little different though, at least the ones which find their lineage through Professor Mitose and/or Professor Chow. Under that lineage, there is almost no consistency that I can see, other than perhaps the shoulder checking or "cover" motion, and the hawaiian spirit of aloha blended in. My uncle studied with Professor Chow in the 1950's (he's in those photos in volume one of the Infinite series) and when I showed him what Professor Chow was doing in the early 1980's when I studied with him, he didn't recognize too much. My uncle and my family both lived about one mile from both Palama Settlement and Nuuanu YMCA, in puunui. I have a special love for Kenpo, just because it is so much of a reflection of Hawaii in spirit and philosophy, but I think it is unfair to compare it to hapkido. Hapkido is not korean kenpo, although it may someday get to that point.

My point was simply that you have Larry Tatum, Ron "Doc" Chapel, Joe Palanzo, Huk Planas, Jeff Speakman and Paul Mills, all of whom teach Kenpo. Yet were you to watch each of them, you're bound to see similarities, but you're also going to see alot of differences. Does every single Hapkido branch do their stuff the same? I'm asking because I don't know. Yes, I'm aware that Hapkido and Kenpo are 2 different arts.
 
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But the differences are not so great that a hapkido practitioner cannot recognize another hapkido practitioner, as opposed to someone who has studied some other joint lock or throwing art, tried to add some kicks, and calling that hapkido. So even though GM Pellegrini has chosen to not include certain things, what has been retained is recognizable has hapkido.

Ok, this just answered my question that I asked in the last post I made to you. So, yes, there will be differences, but not so drastic. Just like the Kenpo example I used. So, if I'm reading this right, what GMP is doing, is pretty similar to actual Hapkido.
 
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I don't think he was talking about high kicks, I think it was kicks in general.

Well, I was talking about high kicks. I believe GMPs Combat Hapkido has kicks in it, just not the ones that a more traditional brand of Hapkido would include, ie: the jumping, spinning kicks.
 

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My point was simply that you have Larry Tatum, Ron "Doc" Chapel, Joe Palanzo, Huk Planas, Jeff Speakman and Paul Mills, all of whom teach Kenpo. Yet were you to watch each of them, you're bound to see similarities, but you're also going to see alot of differences.

How about when you compare American Kenpo stylists to say, Kajukenbo or some of the styles in Hawaii? Do you see the same level of similarity? I compare Professor Chow's Kempo Karaho to EP Kenpo and I have a hard time seeing how they are related.

Does every single Hapkido branch do their stuff the same? I'm asking because I don't know. Yes, I'm aware that Hapkido and Kenpo are 2 different arts.

Of course not, but you can tell that they are still Hapkido. But with Kenpo, I see much more diversity and difference than any sort underlying theme, like I can with Hapkido. Perhaps my perspective is skewed with respect to Kenpo. I also think that GM Parker retained very little from Professor Chow's kenpo and/or Kajukenbo that he learned, and Professor Chow evolved away from what he was doing in the late 40's and 50's. I also think you are comparing American Kenpo off shoots and I am comparing American Kenpo to the Kenpo that is here.
 

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I understood what you said. What I said was that your comments were appropriate to help others understand what GM Seo did with respect to GM Pelligrini. Many people state that rank means nothing, but usually it comes from people who do not have rank and they are trying to justify their own position. But when someone like Hatsumi Sensei or GM Seo does it, when they say rank means nothing, they are doing it in the opposite way, that if all you want is rank, here it is, higher than you or anyone else thinks you "deserve", which only underlines the concept or philosophy that rank means nothing.

Actually, it's not Hatsumi saying that rank means nothing most of the time (although he has indicated similar things in a different context on occasion), it's the rest of the organisation... including the 15th Dans. But that's not the point....

I realize that you probably think you are in a better position to understand asian based philosophy/culture in general and japanese philosophy/culture in particular better than I. Another poster mentioned my last name in an earlier post. If you googled my last name, you might discover how long the martial arts has been a part of my family, which may change your perspective. Or not.

No, I think I'm in a better position to understand and discuss Hatsumi's quotes and their context as I, you know, train in his arts, and have done for close to two decades. And it's the context that I've been discussing, as it kinda undermines the quote you used.

Over and above that, Hatsumi Sensei isn't the only teacher who does what was described in the quote. Others have done the same thing, the reason being, that the level in which they operate is so removed from concepts like dan rank or titles that it is virtually meaningless to them. There are other cultural considerations as well.

My point was that Hatsumi, and his unique "ranking" system, when being used to justify another persons ranking system, and give it some form of credibility is frankly like saying that Dunkin' Donuts say that your diet should include them, so there's support for the idea.
 
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