How has Hapkido helped me?

I’m 4 years into this Hapkido trip and despite a recent leg break I’m still moving forward. Sometimes small steps forward, but forward nonetheless.

For a recent grading I had to write an essay on how Hapkido has helped me, which I found an interesting exercise. Thought I’d post it here to offset the paucity of posts recently.

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Daito-Ryu Aikijujitsu, Aikido and Hapkido

I know there is some controversy about Choi Yong Sul‘s true status in the household of Takeda Sokaku, but I didn’t realise there was a question mark about the influence of Takeda’s Daito-Ryu Aikijujitsu on Aikido until I read Stanley Pranin’s recent post.

In it he’s discussing a video put together by a couple of modern day Daito-Ryu Aikijujitsu students, enacting techniques from Morihei Ueshiba‘s 1934 training manual. Some time had passed since he’d left Takeda’s dojo, so I don’t know how much he had already begun his development of what would become Aikido. However, they do give a glimpse of what he was teaching pre-war, and I certainly saw techniques that are recognisable from my Hapkido training.

What I learned last week: Relax. Any training will teach you something.

I’m not very proud of what follows, but if I can’t be honest in my training journal I’ve got bigger problems, so here goes.

Over the last few weeks I’ve started learning the first few of the “pure” throws in Hapkido. I don’t mean joint-lock based throws, but throws coming from the Judo influence on Hapkido. I’ve never done anything like this before and I’ve been struggling, even in slow motion, with getting down low enough and getting my feet positioned correctly before the lift, without losing my balance.

Throwing someone is kind of tricky to practice by yourself, so given I had a week off work last week, I was looking forward to going to as many training sessions as possible, hoping to sort out some of my mistakes.

Well, I did learn some good lessons, but the best one was not about throwing.

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Historical Interview with Choi Yong-Sul

The wikipedia page on Hapkido references a posthumously-released interview with Choi Yong-Sul, founder of Hapkido. However the page it links to is no longer available. Fortunately I tracked it down so am posting it here so I’ll be able to find it again.

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Repetition vs Correct Form

“I fear not the man who practices 10,000 techniques once, but the man who practices one technique 10,000 times holds my respect.”

I’ve liked this quote ever since I first heard it years ago from my then Sifu, but like a lot of quotes, there is danger in stretching it too far beyond its context. Let me explain.

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My First Hapkido Grading

Last Saturday was my first Hapkido grading.

I wasn’t nervous.

I knew my theory. I had practiced my solo and partner self defence routines a hundred times. I had filmed myself practising my patterns and reviewed them again and again, adjusting every error I could identify. I’d even gone to the previous grading and watched other people grade for this same belt, so I knew what to expect and what was expected.

I’ve graded dozens of times before in other arts. That was awhile ago, but if anything that made me more confident. I was a kid then and now I was a grown man with a family. Successful. Responsible. What did I have to be nervous about?

Walking onto the mat for my turn, I was calm.

I was ready.

Then, the grading began and the nerves me hit like a sledgehammer. My heart rate skyrocketed. I was second guessing everything. Techniques that I knew backwards suddenly felt uncertain.

What the hell?

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I’m Malcolm, and after many years I’ve restarted training in Martial Arts.

As a teenager I studied Yee Chuan Kung Fu for a few years, then when I moved to go to University I studied Yun Jung Do. Then work, marriage, kids, but if I’m honest, mostly my own laziness got in the way and I stopped training.

Now, in my forties, I’ve started learning Hapkido, and it has rekindled the enthusiasm for Martial Arts I had when I was younger. Didn’t realise I had missed it so much.

This blog is mostly intended as a training journal for myself, but maybe some of it will be interesting for others. Worst case, the aches and pains of a middle-aged man putting himself through hell might be amusing.

Try not to laugh too hard.