I have trained with members of UBC Hapkido for roughly 5 years now, but have started doing their classes for the past year. This decision was based off the fact that a number of their blue belts had progressed to the point that their grappling ability was better than the next guys down from me at my previous MMA gym.
The classes usually take two forms, depending on how many people show up. If the class size is small, then there is a lot of pad work, doing rounds of combinations on focus mitts and some sparring. The warmups are usually very intense taking from 30-45 minutes, and if anyone mentions they got a harder workout doing something else (ie Yoga, Cardio Kickboxing) the instructor ramps up the intensity until that claim can no longer be made. Some times it's warmup then pad work, sometimes the padwork is most of the warmup. Towards the end of the class, with 45-30 minutes left (total is 2 hours) several techniques are shown, usually from the Hapkido curriculum, although sometimes drawing from other martial arts.
If there are a lot of people, the class is a 15-30 minute warmup followed by 30-45 of line kicking drills. Not much instruction is given, so for the first little while you're having to work your way through it as best you can. Kiups are expected, if enough people don't kiup then everyone gets pushups. This isn't really made obvious though, as you'll be doing drills and all of a sudden have to do 10-20 pushups, without being told why. I liked this setup as I assumed it was just part of the workout and didn't interpret it as any sort of punishment. After the kicking drills, several techniques are practiced. Sometimes they are taught, and sometimes students pair up with someone of their level to practice techniques they need for upcomming belt tests. They types of techniques done and methods of practicing accomodate that there is less space available with lots of students.
After the class is over, anyone who wishes to stay can do so. No classes are scheduled afterwards so you can stay until the building closes (2-4 hours). This would be when you practice and learn kicks that you couldn't figure out during the drills. The instructor stays for a short while to answer questions and sometimes spar. Afterwards there are usually some more experienced students who stay to practice. You'll have quite a difference in skill in different areas across the same rank depending on what each person focuses on.
In striking the techniques are a mix of traditional kicks (chamber, then hit) and contemporary (MT style shin kicks, knees), and traditional hand strikes (knife hand, ridge hand, reverse punch) and boxing (the instructor also trained boxing). In grappling, it's basically like BJJ, with everyone topping out at what might be 3 or 4 stripes white belt in BJJ. As I mentioned before, there are some better grapplers here than at some dedicated MMA gyms - largely because they've been sticking at it for years and you can expect someone who has been practicing for several years to be fairly good. There is some randori like practice, but it's also on the level of most BJJ, with more throws officially in the curriculum than you'd be used to seeing in BJJ. As it's Hapkido, wrist locks are a big component. Everyone there has a fairly good attitude in terms of realistic expectation of what is likely to work and what is low percentage. There are a few gems in there that I find work quite well. Most of them provide a supporting framework for the gems, and a few which are a waste of time to practice and are only done for belt tests (this also happens with some ground techniques that are in the belt tests given the higher level of grappling here than was apparently part of Hapkido when the curriculum was developed). There are weapons components in the tests, but I don't think I've seen any sparring done with them.
Belt tests are largely technique demonstrations, although there are, depending on the rank being tested for 3-15 2-3 minute rounds of sparring, encompassing standup only, randori, ground fighting and all around. I'm not sure what the belt test fees are, I think somewhere around $30. Clearly, since I'm not sure about this, they're not obligatory, although most people chose to take them. You also get something for it, beyond a belt and a certificate. The instructor videotapes the test and provides everyone who tested with a CD of their parts with commentary and critique. I'm not sure exactly what it's like, as I've never tested, but it's clearly not a cash grab as there's a clear time investment on the part of the instructor beyond just supervising the test. It also has to be pointed out that people fail tests. That's right, they're more than just formalities. Once you get to higher belts the fighting ability is quite consistent, except for some who have disproportionately good ground skills. At blue and red it's very consistent. Green is where it starts developing consistency. Yellow and white is for obvious reasons all over the place. There's nobody above red belt, so I'm not sure if the next rank up is brown or black, but it's also worth noting that the senior red belt has trained for at least 6-7 years. As much as I'm not personally fond of belt tests, I do have confidence in the testing standards and they clearly do mean something.
A few of us compete at the amateur level, most people who train there aren't into it. Bill Mahood used to be part of the organisation, but I understand he was kicked out due to competing professionally (I'm not clear on the details, but it's something like that). The class is roughly like what you'd expect in a non-fighter's class at an MMA gym. The major exception is that TUF fans who want to fight and hurt someone rather than train aren't attracted to Hapkido, so it's a much more enjoyable training environment in terms of not worrying about injury than most MMA gyms. Given the price you get a very good deal. The type of training is fairly similar to what you'd get starting out at an MMA gym, plus wrist locks. There's no policy against cross training. Anyone who wishes to train elsewhere is at the same time is always welcome to, and encouraged to share what they've learned.
Good to hear. Too much crap out there.
What if you want to train *in order* to fight and hurt someone? Is that better? :P
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