What changes would you make?

Jared Traveler

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Based on Hapkido's ambition and/or claims of being a diverse system, focused on a real world combat application, what changes would you make?

What changes would you make to how it is taught? Or changes to what is taught? Or what is removed from the system? What suggestions would you have, in order to shape it into a more effective system?

Techniques, training methods, concepts, anything different you think would be a positive change?
 

skribs

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My experience with Hapkido may be different from others. It was more of an elective class at a Taekwondo school, and we focused almost exclusively on joint locks (wrist locks being the bulk of those). There were a few issues I had with the way the curriculum was presented.
  1. It was all numbers, no names. So we didn't learn a "V-Lock" or a "Kotogaeshi" (I realize these are not Korean words, but you get my point). We learned #14-#17, which were different versions of a V-Lock. I also work in IT, One of the things that makes the internet possible for humans is DNS. DNS makes it so when you type in "www.martialtalk.com", your computer can translate it into "44.33.28.77". Which is easier for a human to understand? Tech gurus figured out that we work better with words, and that's a lesson I would apply to my Master's curriculum.
  2. There were a lot of numbers. White belts had 27 rote memorized. There were less for subsequent belts (anywhere from 4-9) and then back to another 25 to go from red to black. You could already take the white belt techniques down from 27 to 10 just by using names instead of numbers, and probably trim that down to 5-8 techniques, with some (like a finger lock) coming later on.
  3. To further point #2, you can take those 8 techniques and take them from a single type of grab at white belt (such as a cross-grab), expand to straight grabs and double grabs at yellow belt, and then expand to other situations at purple belt. This would essentially keep the same learning by purple belt, but would spread it out more evenly. We had very few students, and the daunting white belt curriculum may have been a part of it.
The other big issue I had was less with the curriculum, and more with my Master. Sometimes he would give you advice, and then the next week forget what he said and give you different advice. Sometimes he would want you to modify the technique or change technique (if the one you're using is resisted), sometimes he would want you to make it work, and you were never sure which. I could also swear that some of the red belt stuff, every time he showed me the rote material it was different. (Also had that problem with the 3rd Dan curriculum in Taekwondo).

However, overall, I would want Hapkido to stay what it is. I would organize the curriculum different than my Master, but the overall philosophy of what he taught, I would like to keep. If you want to do a grappling sport, there are plenty of those already. If you want to pressure test in competition, there are other places for that. I'm starting BJJ next week, so I'm right there with folks on that.

But Hapkido isn't designed for competition. It's designed for when someone grabs you, for you to take control of them before they realize you're fighting back. That's a dynamic you can't pressure test in competition, because your opponent knows that you are fighting back. From videos I've seen and things I've read, in BJJ, you can stall if you need to think or catch your breath. You learn how to deal with a mistake or a setback. In Hapkido, you drill to avoid those mistakes and setbacks. You drill to take control before anyone has a chance to think. There's pros and cons of each, and I'd rather train each than have one try to be what it isn't.
 
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Jared Traveler

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Skribs, thanks for sharing. Very well thought out response! Getting mixed instructions from the same teacher has to be frustrating!
 
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Jared Traveler

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I think Hapkido was one of the original mixed martial arts. I think it suffers from the same thing you can find in modern mixed martial arts. Such as MMA or Krav Maga for example.

Where the people teaching have a limited understanding of the arts involved. For instance Hapkido is supposed to incorporate a lot of Judo. And they do incorporate judo, but they don't teach Judo properly. Missing key elements, variations and nuances, which is vital in most cases to making Judo work.

Typically the person who combined the styles originally, probably had a good understand and skillet to do that. But as it goes from person to person, and generation to generation, it's hard to maintain that skill.

MMA does good at going back to the original art, and having a boxing class, or Muay Thai class, or wrestling class, to make sure MMA students who are mixing the arts get the fundamentals down in each system.

Imagine if Hapkido schools had separate Aiki Jujitsu, taekwondo, and judo classes. Where you developed fundamentals in all of these systems, then worked to combine them. Throw in some modernized gun disarms.

I feel like any changes to Hapkido without going back and learning the basics from their root will not result in fantastic results. That would be awesome.
 

skribs

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Skribs, thanks for sharing. Very well thought out response! Getting mixed instructions from the same teacher has to be frustrating!
He was very good at both Taekwondo and Hapkido. However, it is clear that what he spent the most time teaching is what he was able to retain perfectly (Taekwondo up through 1st Dan, Hapkido white belt). Hapkido was once a week. All of the Taekwondo classes were twice a week, plus you have kid and adult classes (so 4x per week), and then you have 3x make-up classes per week. I think it was either that he didn't practice the other things as much, or that he just was at his capacity for what he could remember.

It was more frustrating trying to get ready for my 4th Dan test, and when he shows me Sword Form #5 ten different times, and each time he shows me different. I know, because I take notes after every class, and he's even sent me a video. He knows, because he said one time, "It's been a long time since I've taught this." If it were me, and I were struggling with something I was trying to teach, I would make sure I had it down before I messed it up again while teaching. That's part of why I left.
 

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