Our system focuses on the traditional practice of Kuk Sool-Hapkido, with special attention to the application of self defense. The training is centered around creating balance within self, while harmonizing with the things outside of self that disrupts the unification of mind, body, and spirit.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Are You an Open Minded Martial Artists or a Close Minded One?

As I reflect back on last night’s class regarding the workout, the techniques and the words of wisdom from Master Roberts many things came to mind. I shared with him a few days ago a conversation I had with a brother/friend of mine who has been involved in the martial arts for over thirty years. In that conversation I asked the question “do you all have or apply joint locks in the style that you practice”? His immediate response was no, then he followed with, they will not work in a real altercation or fight. His answer perplexed me, so I continued with the dialogue to gain some insight as to why he totally discounts “joint locks”. So from there he provided me with “his experiences & realm of knowledge” regarding the use of “joint locks”. Before I go any further I would like to share this quote with you that another brother of mine has penned “The space inside this circle represents my realm of knowledge. All that I think I know, about whatever I think I know is depicted right here within this circle. I must keep in mind that there is more to know than what is within the circumference of my awareness.” For me this statement is so profound and there is so much truth in it.

Back to my brother/friend who begin to provide me with his experiences & realm of knowledge. He begin to explain that he has trained in many different art forms and I believe he is 5th degree black belt in Shorei Goju Karate,  Integrated Tae Kwon Do Systems and has earned instructor-ships in other arts. His basis for stating that “joint locks” don’t work is his experience with them in training, seminars and MMA tournaments. He went on to state that in the heat of the moment, you don’t have time to remember a joint lock technique and his objective is to strike and short circuit (disrupt his opponent) so he can finish them off and walk away. I was thinking to myself, that’s the same objective that I have. I had to explain to him that I would not disregard any of the techniques that I have learned and I would apply them accordingly to the situation. I wanted him to understand that in our JTMS Hapkido training we are taught the foundational (traditional) way but we are also taught these techniques with modification and with progressive flow. So it’s not like your opponent is standing there waiting for you to apply a joint lock and complete it, that is totally ludicrous to think that if you’re engaged in a real life situation. As we continued our conversation and because he has been involved in the arts much longer than I, I remained humble although it was hard at sometimes. My brother/friend then stated that the only way that I would know if “joint locks” worked if I tried it myself. I’m thinking to myself this is something that we work on every week. Not only do we work on joint locks every week we practice them from the foundational (traditional way) to the modified way with progressive continuous flow. What was also interesting with what he shared is that he does not teach “joint lock” techniques until the blue belt level. I did not say this out loud but I said to myself, hell in JTMS Hapkido we are taught “joint lock” techniques from the very beginning.  As our conversation continued my brother/friend laughed and then stated that I see you are loyal to your art and master but you shouldn’t pigeon hole yourself into one art/style. I laughed to myself and thought, I am loyal to my art and my master, not only that I am still learning and evolving in this art but the best has yet to come. I really wanted to say and share more with him but at the time I didn't think I needed to because his mine was made up.

So as I shared this conversation I had with my brother/friend with Master Roberts as always he has a way of summing things up. As we ended our class last night Master Roberts stated “that any martial artists who practice the arts and they totally disregard another art then they are no martial artists at all”. I understood what he meant.


  1. Salutations sir,

    Whereas I appreciate the kindness and can't dictate, nor edit any words you choose to express yourself, I humbly cannot accept hearing my words being called "wisdom". My vision is for all to share their views and opinions as it pertains to their respective martial arts journey or queries, and I would respond accordingly based on my experience and exposure to the martial arts community through either my interactions with the various Masters and Grand Masters that have paved the way before me, or through my experience with the actual execution of various techniques in combat situations. To quote Grand Master Chu Ma "..every growing martial artist must learn as many techniques as they can, then personalize them in a way that compliments their spirit.." simply put, your journey is your own journey, the instructor is merely the introducer of how to use the various tools that you already have in a manner that may be used for self-preservation or the protection of others.

    In regards to the class conversation, I actually stated that any martial artist, who disregards the techniques of another art, has not evolved as a martial artist yet. My point is from a historical perspective, along with my experience in training as a student under the leadership of a few masters over the years. As long as humankind has been in conflict with their fellow humankind, we have found ways to defend our person and property. We have always used our "body", to defend against someone else's “body", and when that wasn't effective, we developed weaponry to increase our odds of survival in those conflicts. All forms of self-defense work, it just depends on the practitioner’s ability to utilize the appropriate technique against the person that is engaging them in combat. I cannot stand on top of the mountain and declare that I have always known that as well, because I didn't understand that concept in the beginning of my journey. I commend those that learn it early because it will save them a lot of time with the expansion of knowledge "within their circle". The mere fact that a martial artist acknowledges the "circle" is an indication that he/she conceptually understands that there is "no beginning, and no end", henceforth the continuously flow in regards to the techniques. The "completion" that we refer to pertaining to the execution of our techniques is not because the "circle ends", it's because your opponent's "body part"(face, arm, leg, wrist, etc.), got in "The Way" of you attempting to complete your circle. The body, like life, is constantly moving, and anything that gets in the way of movement, either becomes part of the movement, or redirected by the movement, but it does not cease to move.


  2. Short answer is open minded. Closed minded by definition of closed is imposing a limit or a totality of a thing. I recall many conversation with Master Roberts on these topics. One of my favorites ended with him telling me, "I have forgotten more than you currently know." We both laughed as I felt deflated thinking I was doing pretty good being a blue belt. I laughed some more and told him, "You're a mean Sensei." That quote has stuck with me both in the sense of how funny it is coupled with how deep it truly is.

    A thing will not work if you believe it will not work. Like in all things that we do, the competence is in the practice, understanding, and reflection which is why Hapkido's aim, at least how I have been taught is to bring harmony of body, mind, and spirit. It takes a very brave or naive individual to claim that a technique will never work in application. The technique always works it is the practitioner that fails the technique when it does not work.


  3. In true of concept, this art form offers enlightenment of the mind and a physical development unlike anything that's easily explained. Just as an journey begins with the first step, Once embarked upon, each step becomes timeless, to a point where one forgets that he or she has walked any distance. you will never be able to thank the master fully, because you journey will be everlasting. Enjoy!
    A humble member of the Poison Clan

  4. Sorry about some misspelled words. true=truth, 1st an= any, and the last you=your.

  5. Hotep(Peace) to all and respects to Master Roberts,

    I am the Martial Artist that the above is talking about and I will briefly address the above statements. First let me say, I love when I discuss martial arts with those who are just coming into knowledge
    (cho-dan's) and watch them grow. If they continue to train they will start to see and experience the martial arts with a new insightfulness. That being said, I tried to point out the same that was mentioned in Master Roberts reply but obviously didn't make myself clear or my brother misunderstood my meaning. I would never disregard any technique from any proven fighting art or system, especially the one's that I have studied and Hapkido is one of them. I was making the same acknowledgment and statement that Master Roberts made however, I was pointing out that locking would not be the best course of action if faced a skilled striker. You probably would have to use some evasion or striking technique before using a locking technique. This is based on my many years of experience in combat sports, as a competitor, trainer, coach and security professional that had to deal with situations where strategy as well as techniques had to be used. Hapkido has all of those elements in it's art as well as other arts that I have studied. This is just one of the many Strategies before locking however it does depend on the situation! Before one can truly understand as your instructor Master Roberts clearly does, one must experiment and experience for oneself before truly understanding! I also stated that as well but again,I must not have been clear and that I was my mistake. I will be mindful of the experience and level of the listener about the subject matter when I speak. I only speak to guide one to true self enlightenment in the Martial Arts as I have done for many years and will remain to do until my journey ends. I look forward to engaging in more dialog about the martial sciences with you, Peace!

  6. Asante Sana Master Ka El Ra for your response, your enlightenment of the arts and our conversations. I will respond after I have had a moment to gather my thoughts.