Once they’re inside kicking range, where hand techniques usually take over, hapkido practitioners are quite capable of continuing to defend themselves. “Most of the punching we do is straight karate-style punching; beyond that is open-hand strikes,” said Stephen Petermann of Jang Mu Won Hapkido.

Once they’re inside kicking range, where hand techniques usually take over, hapkido practitioners are quite capable of continuing to defend themselves. “Most of the punching we do is straight, karate-style punching; beyond that is open-hand strikes,” says Stephen Petermann of Jang Mu Won Hapkido, the self-defense system founded by Black Belt Hall of Fame member Chong S. Kim. “A jab is something that is difficult to deal with, but because a boxer isn’t trying to put you away with his jab, there’s the opportunity to get around it and hit him,” Stephen Petermann says. “Most people know how to jab when they come in; we don’t have to train them. But they don’t know how to deliver a very powerful punch, stab or palm strike when somebody is right up close to them.” In addition to the ordinary straight punch, hapkido students learn closed-fist and open-hand strikes for varying distances. “When you’re in close and try to punch somebody, that’s not the best time” Stephen Petermann says. “For the most damage, you want him out at the extreme range of your arm. But you have to be able to deal with him up close, so you’re going to change that straight punch into a palm strike or stab.” Fight Strategy In hapkido, the goal is to make students move away from technique-oriented striking — throwing an uppercut and aiming for the floating-rib area — and toward target-oriented striking — wanting to attack a certain pressure point and determining that a precise knuckle strike will best accomplish that. In other words, an exact target is identified before a technique is chosen. “If you fight somebody and you just want to punch him, you shouldn’t think in those terms,” Stephen Petermann says. “In self-defense, you should think, I’m going to hit this point, not this area.” “Pressure points are very important when using your hands, especially when your opponent is more powerful than you,” says Jeffrey D. Harris, also an instructor in Jang Mu Won Hapkido. “You can’t overpower him with strength, but you can create severe weakness in his body by using the various pressure points.” There are half a dozen good ones all over the body that function well for the average person, he says.


Explore pressure points in this FREE download! Human Pressure Points: 3 Jujitsu Techniques by Small-Circle Jujitsu Founder Wally Jay

But not all hapkido hand strikes target a pressure point, Stephen Petermann says. “We hand-strike for a particular target — not necessarily a pressure point but certainly a weak spot.” Another important strategy of hapkido hand strikes is disguising what you’re doing, Stephen Petermann adds. “Very rarely do you see [other arts] put proper attention on looking at the person’s eyes, making your face not say, ‘Here it comes; get ready for it.’ Also, looking into a person’s eyes tends to make him look into yours; that allows you to sneak your hand up and hit him with something unexpected.” Combat Options Whenever hand strikes are discussed, a question emerges: Should you opt for open-hand strikes to prevent injury to your knuckles and wrist or choose closed-hand strikes, which can inflict more pain on your attacker but which may damage your own body? Hapkido promotes the view that the art should include all techniques and the student should choose what works best for a particular target in a particular situation. “Everybody knows that if you palm-strike, you’ll never hurt your hand,” Stephen Petermann says. “But if the target is the bone over the eye and you want to make him bleed so he can’t see what you’re doing, are you going to use a palm strike? You may, but you won’t accomplish what you want. So you have to use a knuckle strike. Yes, it might hurt you to get that, but if you don’t, you may lose.” On the street, you must be prepared to exploit any opportunity to stop your attacker, even if it means risking injury to yourself, Jeffrey D. Harris says. “As Master Kim is fond of saying, ‘You don’t always have a chance to get to what you’d like, so when you get a chance, you take it.’” (To be continued. Read Part 1 of this article to learn how hapkido functions in kicking range.)
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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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