Chang's Hapkido Academy, Blackfriars (London, UK)
Chang's Hapkido Academy, Blackfriars (London, UK)
On 25/11/04 myself and a fellow forum member (I hadn't joined Bullshido back then) visited this club for a free lesson -to see what they are about. They'd been featured in a popular newspaper and the article (/advert?) went on about the self-defence benifits.
Call me old fashioned but I believe that if a club says that it has self-defence benifits, then it ought to have -otherwise it is misleading its students and is bullshido.
But this wasn't a challenge or anything, we just went along and tried it out.
We asked the instructor about the history of the style and she was very evasive but supported the grandmaster's claims that he lived in a monestry where hapkido was the traditional art and that it is thousands of years old. She wasn't committal when pressed on it though.
For more on the real history of Hapkido go here: http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=5245
The art revolves around wrist locks. As beguinners we had to do a number of unlikely wrist grab escapes very compliantly -whilst doing so I observed that the senior's moves were of a similar nature except more complex.
After the class I asked the instructor how the art taught you to fdeal with the adrenaline of a real life SD situation -she clearly did not have the first clue what I was on about. SD instructor doesn't know about adrenaline????? She must have lots of real life experience....
Non-contact -involved lots of out of range kicking, slappy blocks and jumping backwards every time the other kicked. This developed a natural tempo with each doing their non-contact kick attack in turn. I can honestly say that the resulting fighting ability makes this the least effective of any martial arts club I have ever trained with. They are learning how NOT to fight.
Compliancy in drills
The head student and the instructor did a sequence of clearly choreographed fighting. Very unconvincing. They later did a 'high grade' set of 10 or so attacks -each attack involved attacker running at defender in prescribed manner and allowing themselves to be thrown/etc. Very pathetic.
Our original reports can be seen here: http://p072.ezboard.com/ftaekwondo67...icID=202.topic
nice one. always like to hear about different clubs in the uk. that natural tempo 'back and forth' thing is pretty common on the semi contact scene. was suprised they sparred that way in hapkido.
I can't comment on the Hapkido, but I happen to know that the Topnotch gym (where this Chang's is based) has an outrageously good boxing facilities - although it is owned by "the real fight club" (therealfightclub.com) who are big on white collar boxing for city types. Whether you're into this or not, it's not all no-contact at that gym.
This is undoubtedly the most amusing martial arts class you will ever attend (they're still running). I went a few times and it's a treat. I use the term 'martial arts class' with the knowledge that this is not really appropriate, since the word the word 'martial' means 'of or suitable for combat'. There is nothing, absolutely nothing whatever, in this sytem which is more suitable for combat than there is in, say, ballet. I attended a few classes and have had the opportunity to watch it on a number of occasions when stretching or doing abs stuff in the main gym.
The real highlight is the way that the students all turn up about half an hour early and sit around talking extremely earnestly in awed tones about their terrible secret knowledge and the responsibility that comes with the deadly skills they have acquired.
The description of the class earlier in this thread is dead on, though I don't think the term 'out of range kicking' quite captures the true absurdity of their sparring. We are talking people standing about four metres apart each taking it in turns to throw a kick in the air in front of them. There is an even funnier hands-only 'sparring' drill which is quite hard to describe. You sort of circle around earnestly (again about four metres apart) twiddling your arms around in the air in front of you and occasionally flicking out a strike with the back of your hand in response to which your opponent will perform an exaggerated and entirely redundant evasion move of skipping backwards or jumping out of the 'way'. It's not even semi-contact (like, say, ITF Taekwondo) it's farcical-non-contact mime-dance-idiocy. "Why's there no real sparring, unrehearsed, with contact?" I foolishly asked. Oh of course, it's because this system is, er, far too dangerous.
Another highlight (though it doesn't happen every class) is the extremely serious po-faced talk that the instructor will sometimes give about some wishy washy drivel and the importance of some ill defined value or other and how its exemplified in a story one of her students has told her about some experience in which they've been able to demonstrate this value of self-control tolerance and respect in dealing with washing machine salesmen (or whatever).
In the classes I attended the only contact was in the form of wristlocks / wrist throws. These were pretty lame. Nothing worked except against zero resistance. All technique was applied slowly with exaggerated movements. In the time spent grabbing the wrist and fiddling around adjusting position on a compliant partner trying to ensure both hands were applying pressure to the wrist in just the right way there would be nothing to stop one's opponent hitting you wherever they liked with their other hand. Ever tried a Hapkido/Aikido style wrist throw/lock* in judo/bjj/wrestling? Ever seen anyone use one successfully in a competitive context? Nonsense, utter nonsense.
*ok there are some wrist locks you can get on on the floor but seriously - getting tap-out pressure with a wrist lock on a non-compliant opponent from standing?
A guy I knew used to say that in a really good "traditional" Hapkido school, you get an art that's a mix of TKD and like Aiki-Jujitsu, but...
Most Hapkido schools in America, you take bad TKD, with 2 hokey throws mixed in. :)
It's good to know that the example holds true in the UK. :)