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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.

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Practitioners of the Korean art of hapkido claim to be privileged to study a style famed for its powerful kicks, varied hand strikes, effective trapping-range techniques, and versatile joint locks and throws. Does it effectively cover all four ranges of combat?

Most martial artists now realize that all fighting takes place at specific distances, which are commonly designated as kicking, punching, trapping and grappling range. Many also have learned that proficiency in only one range does not guarantee success in a street fight because real confrontations can flow from one range to another in the blink of an eye. Therefore, students often look to other styles for supplemental skills that their primary art does not teach. For example, a boxer may decide to study savate for kicking, wing chun kung fu for trapping and judo for grappling. Yet hundreds of thousands of martial artists around the world see no need to search outside their own system for these techniques. Practitioners of the Korean art of hapkido claim to be privileged to study a style famed for its powerful kicks, varied hand strikes, effective trapping-range techniques, and versatile joint locks and throws.

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Steve Petermann, president of the Jang Mu Won Hapkido Association, trained under hapkido founder Chong S. Kim for more than 30 years. In this exclusive in-studio video, Petermann demonstrates a hapkido control technique involving a powerful wrist hyperextension and takedown.

Steve Petermann, president of the Jang Mu Won Hapkido Association, trained under hapkido founder Chong S. Kim for more than 30 years. In this exclusive in-studio video, Petermann demonstrates a hapkido control technique involving a powerful wrist lock capable of taking an opponent straight to the ground with minimal effort.

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