The reality of Hapkido as self defense...

Discussion in 'Hapkido' started by MowJ, Oct 6, 2015.

  1. MowJ

    MowJ Valued Member

    I'm not one of those Gracie JJ or UFC bandwagon members. Sure I could probably defend myself if all I did was train professionally 24/7, and I'm not putting BJJ down in any way shape or form. I kind of think the way it was introduced was a marketing strategy on the Gracie part i.e. no one had ever seen it before who hadn't studied MA. My question is, training in Hapkido...and I mean seriously training...(this probably been asked a billion times) what would you say are its weaknesses and strengths in reality based situations? I'm still gonna conceal carry lol..but sometimes ya just can't.
  2. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    With a few exceptions it is never the art, it is the training.

    Very few BJJ players train 24/7 - in fact very, very few MMA fighters train that much either. They train as often as those who train in TMA/non competitive systems do. The reason they are able to fight so well is because their training reflects their goal.

    The weakness of any system lies in the training methodology, and the strength of any system is reflected in the same. Pressure testing is a must for combat efficiacy; without it the system will not function "in reality"
  3. MowJ

    MowJ Valued Member

    I didn't mean literal 24/7 training. It's this southern twang lol. I basically meant, with few exceptions, Most people view UFC type fighting as actual street effectiveness. I understand what you are saying about pressure testing. But UFC type fights vs actual self defense required scenarios, isn't it different in that if someone is trying to choke me on he ground his eyes will be gouged out....vs I'll tap so he won't put me to sleep. I get what you're saying about the training too. I'm sorry I get vague with my questions sometimes. Maybe what I should have said was how does the training of Hapkido "work" in a real world environment.
  4. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    You gouge my eyes I break your neck - Never go dirty on someone that has you in a dominant position

    Bas sums it up beautifully (some NSFW language)

  5. Thomas

    Thomas Combat Hapkido/Taekwondo

    Depends on the school, but in general...

    Strengths -
    -Great use of the 'level of force continuum' - students should be able to evaluate and apply techniques from the lowest level (awareness and avoidance) to simple breakaways, to control of a person, to hard strikes to weapons to lethal force. Generally they learn a lot about when to apply what level of force (rule of thumb - the least amount needed). This is very valuable in a society that can be 'sue-happy' and where sometimes victim can be arrested for defending themselves with too much force.

    -Good general all-around skills - standup striking/kicking, locks, throws, breakfalls, basic weapons, etc

    Weaknesses -
    -Needs a bit of cross training to be better take care of ground survival, mainly in area of grappling (BJJ or Wrestling cross training recommended)

    - Some schools need more sparring (under varying rule sets and targets) to ensure everything works

    The beauty of MMA (and BJJ as well) is that everything you do is practiced against resisting opponents and you learn quickly what works and what doesn't.

    One drawback of MMA for self defense is that sometimes it overlooks the lower level of force requirements that you may wish to consider for 'real world' self defense. But at the higher levels of force, especially one-on-one vs an unarmed attacker, you really can't ask for any better training system. Add in a bit of cross training in RBSD, and you'd have a good basis for self defense
  6. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    You are looking at it from the wrong perspective. You will be the one doing the choking out and if you are on bottom you will have a better chance of not getting choked and have a much more reliable skillset than eye gouging from bottom which is a road to nowhere.

    People tap in training as a safety mechanism not a defensive technique :)
  7. Giovanni

    Giovanni Well-Known Member Supporter

    in my experience, it was very difficult to train in hapkido using effective and modern training methods--not to say that it can't be done, just very difficult. but i found, again in my own experience, that there always came a point of "compliance" on the part of uke. what ends up happening is that the more we tried to train hapkido using pressure, the more it ended up looking like bjj, or judo, or boxing. then the question became (for me): well, why don't i just do bjj?

    i like what thomas says about the levels of force continuum though. and it's always better to have an art to bolt-on to, like judo or wrestling or boxing.

    great art. fun to train in. but if you're looking to learn to fight, maybe there are more efficient training methods for delivering techniques under pressure.
  8. Thomas

    Thomas Combat Hapkido/Taekwondo

    I think part of the problem is that a lot of Hapkido schools like to focus on joint locks for a great deal of their curriculum, sometimes to the detriment of plain old striking and throwing. Look at some of the video demos of schools and we see joint locks all throughout, even in places where I probably wouldn't use them.

    Joint locks take a lot of work to learn and know how to do (so schools spend a lot of time on them). BUT, joint locks really fit much better in the lower levels of force - to dissuade someone from grabbing you or to control someone who has grabbed you (especially in context of some you don't want to hurt necessarily). Once the situation escalates to where I know we "have to fight", I have to ramp up to my next level of material... namely strikes and throws and running.

    Once someone pulls a knife or even throws a hard punch at my head, I am moving beyond joint locks and into a higher level of force. I think sometimes schools forget that... and prefer to teach and demonstrate the 'sexier' techniques like joint locks.

    Then again, that might just be my imagination :)


    From my experience, most encounters that I have been in where it went 'physical', I have been able to escape with very little force and very little damage to either party. Footwork, parries, breakaways, (breakfalls) have all served me very well in most encounters. When it escalated beyond that lower level of force, I've had to use strikes and throws (and a triangle choke once... stolen directly from BJJ!)

    For where I live, and where I've lived, Hapkido has been good in teaching me the right mentality and techniques to survive the 'common encounters' that I have faced. (That hasn't stopped me from cross training in other things though, from grappling to handguns... 'just in case'!)

    Yes, I'd agree. Really depends on what you're looking for.

    I like Hapkido for the lower level of force stuff (and for my instructors) but I like dabbling in more RBSD, grappling, weapons, etc to flesh it out.

    If I was a younger man (20 or so) and just starting out, I'd probably jump right into an MMA gym that does Muay Thai and BJJ and train it for a while (maybe even do a few competitions) and then probably expand out into a good RBSD system (or a generalist martial art like Hapkido) to get the little 'extra' that would make the MMA material better for ring and street.
  9. Little Robin

    Little Robin Valued Member

    Yes. Then you are doing it right!

    I've always said that Hapkido done realistically looks "messy". Joint locks never really come off looking like they do when set up for practicing sets. Some opponents can slip out of them, other opponents are built like trees, bodies get sweaty and hard to grab, you have to go back and forth between striking and grappling, etc...

    But when push comes to shove having a good repertoire of HKD techniques has helped me get out of situations on the street and when hitting the ground with wrestlers. But I'm sure it looked pretty messy at the time.
  10. Giovanni

    Giovanni Well-Known Member Supporter

    that's really interesting thomas. i got a different take on that in my time in aikido but i think similar principles.

    i like the fact that schools, or arts, start with static wrist grabs. like you mention, it gives users the lower levels of force. but practitioners do have to evolve past that. like you mention, in my hapkido school i saw the same thing. interestingly, when i did aikido, certain teachers in the know would then start to teach atemi to interested students. i felt like those teachers, aikidoka, did a more effective job at transitioning students from wrist grabs to more shall we say dynamic striking applications--using the same principles of course.

    another quick aikido anecdote. a lot of teachers teach irimi nage the standard way: evade the attack, enter, perform throwing technique. it's a great principle of aikido: entering. but after awhile, the really really good teachers will just say something like "perform this aikido throw if you don't want to hurt them, but since you're behind them, a nice kick to the ribs also works." lol

  11. Giovanni

    Giovanni Well-Known Member Supporter

    i'm with you on the just in case bit.
  12. MowJ

    MowJ Valued Member

    Maybe I'm not picking up the right context here, but are you guys saying that Hapkido by itself would not be very effective in self defense? It seems as if the consensus is that cross training with some form of grappling would be idea. If that's the case, why study any single art at all? Just do various mma for self defense and you'd be better off. I'm confused as to what you're saying. And my eye gouge was just an example of what I was trying to convey.
  13. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    I know, but the example is flawed and reflective of the flaw in the idea itself.

    The divide between sport and 'street' is not the gaping disparity you may think and not only that but the weight of street applicability lies predominantly with the sport arts by virtue of their training methodology over those that profess to shun sport for its rules and restrictions.

    Training for sport may have a different emphasis than training for self defence but the sportive methodology is the single most effective way to train your body for combat.

    Yet again Thomas has given the most comprehensive and honest assessment of Hapkido in relation to your question. Ie the material is there to provide a broad base with options across the force continuum. How effective you will become at implementing these techniques and in what timeframe will depend on the training approach of the individual school which you attend and on yourself. You should look for a pragmatic training approach that includes progressively resistant drilling, sparring and randori in your school. You yourself should develop your own journey through physical training and cross training to learn and test your material with other exponents of other arts. Hapkido may lack a certain level of detail or efficacy on the ground so you could drop into BJJ to plug this gap. You could train some judo to experiment with the standing waza of hapkido in an environment where people specialise in that range/area.

    My advice is to try some hapkido as you are obviously keen but if you want straight up fight pragmatism to go for boxing/Muay Thai/full contact kickboxing/sanda and a grappling sport such as judo, BJJ, sombo or wrestling or just try MMA. After a few years or even concurrently you could explore the soft skills and tactics of self defence through reading and seminars. Within a year of any of those arts you will be significantly tougher and more hardy in a fight than through any other training.
  14. Thomas

    Thomas Combat Hapkido/Taekwondo

    Read Knee Rider's post above... excellent advice

    No, that's not what I am saying. From my experience, as a martial art Hapkido is an excellent system that addresses not only techniques by the level of force required legally (and morally).

    If you can only study one art and you want to learn a good self defense system, Hapkido is a good choice.

    Cross training is always a good thing. In my opinion, Hapkido provides an excellent core operating system for self defense. Depending on your school, you may with to augment skills in certain areas. I recommend cross-training in some sort of grappling (wrestling or BJJ), some RBSD, and I would add some FMA/eskrima/kali and some JKD, and anything else there that I can look at.

    MMA is also a good foundation... but I would want to cross train in some RBSD and schools that teach the legal aspects and lower levels of force stuff... and maybe some weapons stuff like stick and knife (FMA)

    Eye gouge really is a last hope sort of technique... if you try it on someone who knows anything about grappling, you may just make them mad and get very hurt. If you try it on someone with no clue, you may just gouge their eye out and end up in trouble for excessive force. There are other techniques that address the issue while staying within the level of force continuum.
  15. Giovanni

    Giovanni Well-Known Member Supporter

    now we're getting somewhere. :)

    it's a great system. if you're interested in it, try it out. there's nothing wrong with training in lots of other systems too.
  16. armanox

    armanox Kick this Ginger...

    What are you defining as "self defense?" I've not been in a single situation that required me to throw a punch - I've had where when I produced a weapon it ended (the other guys decided it was a bad idea to continue), and I've had a couple of times that a simple wrist/arm/shoulder lock was all that was needed to stop my from being punched. The question comes down to can You, the user, apply the techniques when someone is punching/grabbing/kicking/throwing/etc you? An full out fight is brutal. I tend to avoid those situations (I've been in the bar and seen people get their heads smashed into tables, and chairs start to fly...). Hapkido schools tend to focus a lot on locks because 1) they look cool, 2) they require a lot of practice to pull off when you need them, and 3) it is a large part of that particular art (as it is in Aikido as well). Being hard to do doesn't make it impractical, it means you need to know if you can do it and when it is appropriate to do it. Hapkido gives a good focus, as has been said above, in situations where you don't want to maim your opponent. And it gives you a feel for using a wide variety of techniques, and you then can see where you want to explore more (or in my case, use Aikido/Hapkido as an augment to my karate training because I like throws and locks, and the Hapkido people I work with have Yudo (Korean Judo) throws in their curriculum as well).
  17. MowJ

    MowJ Valued Member

    Thomas...Finally, I get what you are saying. Sometimes it takes this dumb hillbilly a few tries to understand lol. Sums it up very well thank you.
  18. odinson

    odinson New Member

    * Combat Hapkido

    I've practiced Krav, BJJ, Military Combatives and Combat Hapkido and some Kali. I think that Combat Hapkido is one of the best street self defense styles out there its got a good mix of Jeet Kune Do style stand up fighting, Ground Survival, Weapons disarming and self defense scenarios. It also provides good use of force. These are its strengths. Its weakness is that many instructors don't sparr don't ever grapple and some train mostly children. Anther problem is the style is VERY heavy on wrist grab defense and some instructors spend more than half the time teaching various ways to defend against wrist grabs (not real self defense). That being said it is my favorite system and I would recommend it.

    You mentioned also conceal carry which is another strong point of Combat Hapkido. Once again it varies on instructor however. But some of them teach weapon retention and shooting along with their curriculum. I've attached a few good example videos to check out but there are many more on YouTube. Hope this is helpful?

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