korean martial arts training

He's known as the father of American taekwondo, and he may have the answer for America's declining social fabric. Jason William McNeil takes a look at Jhoon Rhee's ideas for creating a better America from the ground up.

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published in the March 2004 issue of Black Belt magazine. The time and age references have been left intact for this posting.

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“Forget the fancy high kicks, lose the forms and stop wasting time with healing, meditation and breathing exercises or outdated traditional weapons training. It’s time for people to get down to business so they can learn to protect themselves. They must forgo the stuff that is not connected to self-defense.” So says the Black Belt Hall of Fame's 2004 Instructor of the Year John Pellegrini, creator of an eclectic art called combat hapkido. The Asheville, North Carolina-based instructor — and author of Combat Hapkido: The Martial Art for the Modern Warrior — has stirred up quite a commotion by issuing blunt statements like those, but he offers a good argument for his point of view. “The average American goes to class for only one hour twice a week,” John Pellegrini says. “A martial artist with limited training time should use what time he has to learn and perfect the self-defense material. He should do the fitness and health stuff at the gym or on his own.” John Pellegrinni's combat-hapkido brainchild is a hybridized version of traditional hapkido, the Korean martial art that is claimed to have descended from Japanese aikijujutsu. “While synthesizing it, I retained many of the strong aikijujutsu self-defense basics that are inherent in hapkido, and by adding new techniques, I created a comprehensive self-defense system that is up-to-date for today’s society,” John Pellegrini says. The new self-defense moves found in combat hapkido include defenses against empty-hand assaults, modern knife attacks, gun threats and impact weapons. In addition, John Pellegrini's combat hapkido contains elements of kuntao silat, jeet kune do and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. John Pellegrini selected those arts to shore up hapkido’s empty-hand and ground-fighting arsenal. All that augmentation was necessary in creating combat hapkido, John Pellegrini says, because the self-defense component of the Korean martial arts in general needed to be revived. John Pellegrini says he agrees with those who claim the Western interpretation of them has overemphasized sport and turned them into little more than a day-care activity for children.

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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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