Sparring in Hapkido

Discussion in 'Hapkido' started by Thomas, Sep 1, 2012.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Combat Hapkido/Taekwondo

    Fequently I hear people ask about "sparring in Hapkido".

    You can spar in Hapkido. Yes, you can, and many HKDin do so.

    Now, here's the rub...

    A big part of Hapkido is the awareness/avoidance factor. If I know a guy wnats to fight me, I avoid it and get out of there. If we're going to spar, now I have to change my mindset because, well, I already know what you plan to do.

    That is also going to take out a lot of the other things that I do. Much of my training is working scenarios with different levels of force (e.g. grabs, pushes, and such). Much of the joint locks I spend so much time on are to be used in escorting/de-escalating/ stopping people before we get to a "fighting" phase. If we're going to spar, I already know you and I will skip this phase and take me right to a higher level of force.

    Since we're there, I can fight with my strikes, kicks, throws, and hopefully, if we go to the ground I have some limited offense/defense there to use until I get back to my feet.

    If you think about it, if we want to spar in Hapkido, it's going to look quite a bit like MMA sparring (striking, throwing, ground). In fact, take a look at the Pro-Hapkido group, that's about what their's looks like. Granted, since we spend a lot of time on the "other" parts (like I mentioned above, plus weapons, breathing, etc.), we probably won't be as "good" since those skills are drilled as "part" of what we do and in many cases we are betting our lives and safety on using the other parts of the curriculum. If I end up in a standup fight on the street with a talented kicker/puncher/wrestler, I've messed up big time! It should have been resolved at a much ealrier stage/level of force.

    Now there are ways to train this.
    -We do scenario work. Start off with a script (aggressive person, you avoid/get away then escalate to grabns and etc) and eventually work it free style (aggressor has no script and you are sure how far they want to take it.. go from there)
    - Take the scenario training one step further. Have the aggressor escalate it to the point of throwing punches/kicks/takedowns and go from there.
    -Work a few open rounds too - allow throws, grabs, strikes, etc. Feel free to turn down (or up) the speed and limit or open up targets.

    Regardless, my point is, Hapkido is a very broad system that goes beyond "just" ring skills. If you want to be good at MMA style sparring - go to a MMA school and train. In HKD we spend a lot of time on other skills that have to be practiced in more diverse ways. I encourage my studnets to spar and we set up vaious situations to try to make it more realistic - sometimes compleetly "free" style, sometimes we allow weapons, sometimes grappling, sometimes a mix. A HKD student has a lot of stuff to spend time on and as a result is stronger more in general and weaker in a specific setting - hopefully we try to avoid those settings if we can.

    Anyone else here who spars in Hapkido class?

    If not, what do you use to test the techniques? Do you have specific drills or what?
  2. Bigmikey

    Bigmikey Internet Pacifist.

    We dont, in the traditional sense. We do a LOT of one step and situational stuff, but nothing like typical geared up, gloved up and "DING" pummel each other, kind.
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Combat Hapkido/Taekwondo

    Here are some ideas to try...

    With a partner, alternate back and forth doing random grabs (less experienced students get a script, e.g. wrist garb then low sleeve grab then mid sleeve then shoulder then collar, then lapel, then belt or whatever). Add in some aggressive tone and if the defenders first reaction fails, let the attacker escalate it, including going to a punch,takedown, etc. Work it bakc and forth and ramp up the intensity and level of force as you get used to t.

    Get a partner and do some "agreed upon" sparring. Lots of options here and this can be done before/after class (you might want to make sure your intructor is OK with it). Some options:
    1. Light contact "slap" boxing - allow open hands and kicks with light contact (this can be ramped up to mid and higher contact, might need spads)
    2. Do a few rounds of TKD sparring - kicks above the waist and hands to the body. The nice thing about this is that you can use more power with safer targets
    3 Work some open sparring - allow all targets and allow takedowns/grapling if you like. Set rules on speed and intensity
    4. Purposely set up "standard scenarios" like a wrist grab and have it escalate to a punch and "whatever goes"

    All of these will let you try out techniques, practice what to do if something doesn't work, and lets you gain confidence. There's almost always another studnent wiling to do some of these drills...
  4. Bigmikey

    Bigmikey Internet Pacifist.

    We currently do something very similar to what you listed which I've italicized. Though we only take it to take down moves. It's a problem. I would like to take it further and make it more realistic, but "liability" seems to be the primary focus, not quality instruction :mad:

    Problem with what you suggest is I dont control the curriculum. So I can suggest these things but it will fall on deaf ears.
  5. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    Nice post Thomas. There is an area of Self Defence that sits below, "This guy wants to kill me" in the, "drunk neighbour at the barbecue" or "emotional friend at the family do" or "overly friendly/aggressive guy at the bar" range. Being able to detain or control someone is a useful skill itself, as recognised by the fact that courses in it are taught for professionals in many areas.

  6. Instructor_Jon

    Instructor_Jon Effectiveness First

    I liked your post as well Thomas. I think it sums things up quite nicely.

    We spar in my Hapkido School in fact I recently wrote an article on it:

    I would paste it all in here but we'd lose the graphics and they are part of it.
  7. Sketco

    Sketco Banned Banned

    I think every once in a while we need posts like this to counter the whole "sparring is lord, if it doesn't work in sparring it'll never work in real life" kind of posts.
  8. Thomas

    Thomas Combat Hapkido/Taekwondo

    I hear you and I know schools like that. It might not hurt to ask your instructor if s/he could cover some of this in class or to give "permission" for you and some of the senior students to work on this kind of stuff. At worse, the instructor says "no".
  9. Convergencezone

    Convergencezone Valued Member

    Thomas, this thread is right on. You NEED to do some sort live training for your Hapkido to work, but this does not necessarily need to be combat sport type of sparring. I can understand the arguments against turning Hapkido into something that looks like "bad juijitsu" or "bad MMA", but is a complete myth that these arts are too dangerous or deadly to use in live training. Self defense drills can be structured to include an element of aliveness, unpredictability, and controlled danger outside of traditional sparring.

    It really bothers me when I see hapkido people imply that this art is too dangerous to use in live training. Basically, when I hear this it tells me that that person has not been properly trained and does not know "real" traditional martial arts. While it is true that traditional techniques have direct and painful vectors, they are controllable and you can indeed do them with non-compliant partners.

    If people are not doing some sort of live training, then they are not doing anything outside of a theatrical art. That means their art is empty, that it is not going to be functional, and is not even traditional. It is not real. Period. Don't mean to be harsh, but that's just the way it is. This view is unpopular, because the type of training required to make hapkido functional is unpleasant.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012
  10. Sketco

    Sketco Banned Banned

    I disagree. There's one particular judo technique, whose name for the life of me I cannot remember, which is illegal to apply full force in judo.

    Full force =arm broken
    Regulated force = moving your opponent
    Two different things really. I recall him saying something about being surprised about how easily his opponent's arm snapped the first time he was allowed to try it full force.

    I don't really think you can use techniques like this in sparring per se. If I slap on a wrist lock which will break it full force but only control at partial force then your opponent may have an escape opportunity after the control where in reality their wrist would've been broken.

    You can practice the controlled technique but not the context of the full force technique although this swings the pendulum back the other way then back to... If you can't practice the technique full force and can't practice the context of what would happen then you're not practicing it totally realistically anyway.

    That may be a little incomprehensible as far as meaning goes... But it sounded better in my head :D
  11. Kurtka Jerker

    Kurtka Jerker Valued Member

    And I'd counter by saying that learning to control a resisting opponent with these techniques without injuring him makes for greater proficiency.

    We have plenty of techniques like that in SAMBO (and I believe you're talking about waki-gatame, which is legal in every other submission grappling venue I am aware of) and we use them pretty much every day in sparring.

    To use your wristlock example: Using wristlocks in resistant training on a regular basis has given me the ability to unbalance, takedown, distract or simply restrict an opponent with it without causing injury because I know where it breaks and how people actually react to them when done "live". Without that experience, frankly, I don't feel someone can reasonably expect to break a wrist with it. Depending on the wristlock and the opponent's movement, there is quite a bit of leeway in the technique and it takes very little space and a common natural reaction to escape it.
    Not only that, the wristlock is at best a specialty technique most often taught as daily bread-and-butter work unless you're dealing with weapons grappling. That means there are tons of people out there basing a large proportion of their training on a technique that is very rarely appropriate without even working on the situations in which it is most applicable. A little bit of resistant training would change this, I think.
  12. Convergencezone

    Convergencezone Valued Member

    Thank you for your reply.

    When you use a wrist lock in a non-compliant drill, you can alter the vector of the technique so that the wrist lock is not a throw, but requires only a fall, or you can stop the technique when your partner is posted on one leg.

    Of course, it is true that inJudo there are illeagle techniques, but I am extremely skeptical that they could be pulled off on a non-compliant partner without the attributes of timing, distance, and sensitivity that is aquired by practicing randori with the safer techniques.

    Sorry, I don't agree with you about wrist locks - I know that these techniques can be used in live drills because I do them and teach them in my hapkido dojang. A few weeks agao, in a live drill, I was grabbing on to my partners dobok lapel, not striking, but actively resisting the technique. He threw me with a wristlock with a vector that had both my feet off the ground, because he did not feel my tap in the heat of the moment. I stressed my wrist a little, but it did not break, as I was able to breakfall over the technique. We do stuff like this a lot, so when I say that you can do standing joint-locks with resistance, I am speaking from experience as a practitioner and teacher who is actually doing this stuff.

    Here's a video of one being used in an aikido competition. The reciever's wrist does not break either:

    [ame=""]YouTube - Tomiki Tournament - kotegaeshi[/ame]
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012
  13. Convergencezone

    Convergencezone Valued Member

    Great reply. I basically agree with your post, but if by "wrist lock" we are talking about what Japanese arts call kotagaeshi, I'd have to say that I have alot of success getting this lock off a cross lapel grab, or in application drills where the feeder is grabbing the shoulder from behind, and I can use my body or shoulder as a contact point against the back of the hand, so I think it's value exceeds that of a specialty technique for weapons disarms - which are low probability "last resort" techniques compared to what we in hapkido call Eui bok soo, or "clothing techniques". Eui bok soo are the techniques you would be most likely to fight with in real application, anyway, in my opinion.

    EDIT: It also occured to me that the reason why I pull off this technique a lot might be because we simulate untrained "anger driven" street attacks in our training, like someone grabbing your jacket with both hands and trying to slam you up against a wall for instance. I can see how the technique would be harder to take vs a trained grappler, who probably wouldn't grab you that way.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012
  14. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    There's different kinds of sparring. Obviously, safety is a big factor in all sparring, but safety can be relative to who it is sparring. The more a person can take, the harder you can go in sparring. You have to tailor the sparring around not only lesson plans but also try to be at the appropriate level just above the comfort zone for each person.

    My instructor trained full contact bare knuckle training back in CHA 3 Kenpo Karate, a brother art to Kajukenbo. Black belts beat up white belts and people did often get knocked out in class. Most people can't handle this type of training, and even most that can, these days try to be smarter about training. It was not uncommon in those days for someone to take months or maybe years away from the hard training in order to heal and recover. Train like this three years then maybe take a year off. The body just isn't meant to hard training continuously. They did have some understandings that were in regard to safety. If someone was getting beat up, they played dead, gave up. I don't mean fake giving up and then start fighting again, I mean cover up and stop fighting back. This was a sign that you had enough.

    We do the same today in our Thai boxing sparring. If you are feeling you are almost knocked out in sparring, you go to a knee and take the "standing 8 count". Then the sparring can stop for the moment, then you can spar more later if you are up for it.

    In rolling we have tapping out.

    In all these examples there is a signal for "I've had enough" so that sparring can happen with less chance of injuries.

    Now what about the "fake giving up, get the enemy to drop his guard, and then start fighting again"? Wouldn't that be an acceptable tactic in a life or death situation? Well, you can't really do that in sparring, like you can in fighting. In the old CHA 3, if you faked giving up and then started fighting again, they would just keep pounding you on the ground every time you did this. Of course there was control not to purposely do permanent damage, but still getting beat up is not without pain.

    So what if in rolling I tapped out, then as soon as I was let out of the submission, I kept fighting? Well why not spar this way some of the time with a training partner that knows ahead of time this is what could happen? Certainly would help to not build in bad habits of dropping your guard on a tap out or turning your back to your opponent.

    For Hapkido, I know there is randori equivalent and this is a different kind of sparring than above. In randori as done in Aikido, it is usually multiple attackers. The submissions and pins are not often used because you don't have time for them to be done slowly for tap out. Everything has to be done at speed where you can keep your mobility against multiple attackers.

    So randori was controlled more so by restricting the type of attacks allowed down to sometimes a single technique, such as attacker 1 always grabs, attacker 2 always kicks, attacker 3 always punches. In this manner, you can go with more intensity yet still have a measure of safety with the attackers allowed to use ukemi.

    I think if you are to include sparring like Thai boxing sparring or BJJ rolling into training in something like Hapkido, that would be good. But definitely also do randori against multiple attackers. This latter is the real sparring for something like Hapkido, IMHO.

    However, given those that can take it. Should combine boxing type training but make it against multiple attackers. Allow for some safety measures such as ukemi and maybe pad up with the safety gear. This kind of sparring doesn't have to be every day or even every week, but should be often enough that is can be useful. IMHO.
  15. Sketco

    Sketco Banned Banned

    True and this is what I meant when I said the pendulum swings both ways but unfortunately I've seen low grades sparring with higher grades in a few martial arts where the higher could've broken the guy's arm about six way from sunday but the junior escapes later on down the road and complains that all they did was move them around. Even after it's explained they still have no idea.

    But there will always be idjits.

    Oh and the technique I meant was this
    [ame=""]Shinya Aoki vs. Keith Wisniewski - YouTube[/ame]
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012
  16. Kurtka Jerker

    Kurtka Jerker Valued Member

    Yep, that's the one.

    And Convergence, I agree. Just don't see a lot of lapel grabs IME. Lots of high collars and sleeve grabs but very few chest-area lapel grabs. I could see it being more common in self defense against HAOV.
  17. Convergencezone

    Convergencezone Valued Member

    Thanks. This also brings me back to the real reason why I personally think Hapkido is not great for MMA (as opposed to the more ridiculous reason often given, that Hapkido is too dangerous for live training.. which I actually find embarrassing that people would even argue). Our group is pretty good at getting stuff like wrist locks off of lapel grabs vs. resisting partners, but probably wouldn't be as good at getting stuff off high collar or neck grabs against experienced grapplers, for instance, although we do have techniques for that as well.

    The specific situation will dictate technique. Hapkido, by design, uses emphasizes different techniques and uses different tactics than combat "sports", which is definitely not to infer that I feel Hapkido is superior, or even necessarily better for self defense.

    (Also..what is HAOV? Just curious)
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012
  18. Kurtka Jerker

    Kurtka Jerker Valued Member

    Habitual acts of violence.
  19. erogers

    erogers New Member

    My school does the full TKD gear style of sparring (head pro, chest pro, 16 oz. gloves, shin and in-step pads) with punches, kicks, and sometimes takedowns. We occasionally do gound defense sparring as well, but it's really not emphasized. The sparring is essentially MMA style whether it be striking or grappling.

    I've been training in Hapkido for just over a year now, and the training at this point has not contained any kind of sparring when it comes to our actual self-defense curriculum. As a correctional officer I see a lot of value in Hapkido and am willing to continue to train to the point that we do get into more resistance based training with our joint locks, but in the meantime I've decided to start supplementing my training with Judo at the local university club in order to get some live training. I just don't feel confident in my ability to pull off any techniques I've learned just yet on a fully resistant inmate, but I do see a benefit to being able to "guide" them to the ground where it would then be much easier for me to apply any number of wrist/shoulder/elbow locks that I know for pain compliance and wait for assistance.

    To be honest I'm not sure that my commercial Hapkido school really see a need to train their self defense curriculum with resistance in order to instill the skills needed to be able to use them on a non-compliant partner at this time. I was the first student to enroll when the school opened, so we're all still between the 10th-6th guep level, and off all the students I am the only one that I know of that is in any kind of LEO/Security type of work so it really just hasn't come up yet. The typical commercial student seems pleased with coming a couple times a week and learning the curiculum for the next promotion.
  20. Convergencezone

    Convergencezone Valued Member

    To teach any sort of live non-comliant training with standing locks is just not something that most people know how to do. It's labor intensive and requires lots of individual attention.

    My own progressive set of drills go something like this:

    1.) Learn a bunch of locks with a compliant partner. These are usually numbered in Hapkido schools like, wrist 1-11, cross wrist 1-6, kibonsoo 1-15, eui bok soo 1-13, and so on. Once you know about 50 to 100 individual techniques, and can do then smoothly, then you can move to ...
    2.) Learn to do the locks you know from different positions and different contact points than are in your numbered sets. A drill I use for this is to have one person grab another anywhere. A third person calls out a lock from a numbered set (Like "Kibonsoo 4"). The person doing the drill has to get into that position from whatever grab they are given, but it is still compliant. You can also do something like "bull in the middle" where people grab you from any position, and you can try to do any technique. Do this at a compliant level until you can get into a wide variety of techniques without freezing or being stumped. Again, be totally compliant at this stage. You need to know plenty of Eui bok soo, or clothing grab defense to do this.
    3.) Now do the same thing as above, but the person grabbing adds movement, slowly in a single direction. This can be a push, pull, or maybe your partner grabs you and tries to spin you around. Now your goal is to use redirection (yu won wha) to help get you into postion for techniques. You need to know and be able to use good fotwork at this point.
    4.) One you can use energy comming in a single direction, your partnerchanges the direction of the push or pull, mid stream to try to stump you.
    5.) once you can do this, you are ready to add, light, medium, and robust resistance (in that order) to this drill. Practice things like having someone slam you up against a wall, or pull you violently. You will by this time need to understand the angles enough to avoid using injuring your partner, and you partner should know how to fall, and what a lock feels like when when it is in good, as opposed to one that can be resisted. You will also ave to know your partners so that you do not exceed their capacity to fall, or move with a technique (note: if your partners are moving/falling out of everything too soon, you won't learn anything anyway, so they have to be experienced, as well). Not your partners should be moving while they roughly grab and move you, and should be reisting, and trying to wiggle out of techniques.
    6.) add strikes! The way we do this is to allow strikes to the body, but only if the hand that is not striking is grabbing the partners jacket. You can also add punches to the head, but I recommend getting a helmet with a faceshield if you want. The way we do this, both the defener and the attacker can strike.

    This is just an example, and I'm sure other instructors will have drills or a teaching progression that gets to the same place.

    Once you can do this, you can then think of all sorts of drills to simulate "habitual acts of violence" to practice your techniques that can be done fairly robustly. My advice would be that they have an element of unpredictability, and some sort of controlled danger (unpleasant consequence, really, like getting popped in the mouth or swept). I would also drill instinctive hitting as a response to a grab, before you go for a lock, lock-flow, and other drills like that.

    We also essentially stand up spar with punches and kicks, and although we "outsource" grappling instruction to a BJJ instructor, I would recomend a little of that too. This will provide you with an understanding of distance, timing, and the like which should transfer to the other (hoshinsool) techniques and make them easier to use.

    I might add also, that I feel there is a fundamental misunderstanding as to what the numbered hoshinsool sets actually are. They do not contain the self defense techniques themselves, despite their name. They are only the concepts. When you actually do the techniques will never have exactly the same entry or "bridge" (contact points) as in the numbered sets. The numbered sets are just the starting point. When you actually do the techniques they are going to look different, because you'll never have the same set up as in compliant training. They are like kata or one step sparring. Knowing them on compliant partners who are standing there like zombies is not enough because knowing how to apply them is a whole 'nuther thing. Any instructor who does not understand this does not understand what they are doing.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012

Share This Page