A Fruitvale martial arts club is offering Greater Trail residents a chance to learn a unique and intriguing method of self-defence.
Heart and Soul Taekwondo’s Master Jakki Van Hemert is starting classes next week in the ancient Korean art of Hapkido.
“The transfer of energy, is essentially what it means,” said Master Jakki. “Hapkido is all about circular motion and taking the opponent down with little strength. So it’s all about very little movement on your part with a lot of reaction on their part.”
Hapkido developed over 2,000 years ago by exclusive Korean elites. It combines hard and soft techniques that include kicking and punching, but also the manipulation of joints and pressure points, as well as weapons training with knife, sword, rope, jool bong (nunchaku), cane, short stick (dan bong), and staff (bong, gun,) which vary in emphasis depending on the particular tradition examined.
Master Jakki began training in taekwondo almost 20 years ago and is a fourth-degree black belt. Her interest in Hapkido emerged not long after, and she has studied the art since 2001, earning a third-degree black belt under Grand Master Sang Ki Lee while in South Korea.
Originally taekwondo and Hapkido were two separate disciplines practised by the historically disparate social classes of Korean peasants and royalty. Yet, both arts have evolved and intermingled over the years, becoming very closely related.
“The guy that we train Hapkido with in Korea, he’s also one of the head instructors at the Kukkiwon, which is the taekwondo headquarters, and through that we’ve developed concurrently the Hapkido and taekwondo program,” she said.
In her upcoming classes, the 33-year-old Master will teach techniques shared in both taekwondo and Hapkido, with focus on the self-defense elements of the latter.
The introductory classes, which start on Wednesday, are restricted to older students from around age-15 and up says Master Jakki, but experience in other martial arts is not required.
“If you do it wrong, you can easily injure somebody, so we restricted it . . . In Hapkido, because it is more complicated, it’s a little bit tougher to learn, it’s very finite with the details, so you need an adult practitioner.”
With commitment and dedication, full-time practitioners can earn a black belt in two years, and as a form of self-defense, it is particularly useful for it teaches proponents how to subdue a much larger attacker by use of pressure points, joint locks, balance, and redirection of force.
Fruitvale resident James Tite and 15-year-old Riley Russell were first in line for classes.
When asked what piqued Tite’s interest in Hapkido he replied:
“My youngest son does taekwondo and there’s a lot of kicking and punching, and that’s not really what interested me as much as Hapkido does, just the fluid motions and self-defense aspect of it.”
As for Russell, he cut his teeth on taekwondo earning his black belt earlier this year, and his interest in Hapkido is a natural progression from what he has studied for the past few years.
“It’s fun, it’s a different martial art, and I wanted to try something else too. I wanted to try something different from hockey or basketball,” said Russell.
Hapkido is an eclectic martial art steeped in tradition that teaches discipline, fitness, precision, and focus; it combines elements of many different disciplines and distills them into a fluid if not graceful force. For Master Jakki it is the ultimate self-defense mechanism.
“Hapkido is probably one of the best self-defence that you’re going to find,” she added. “Because it is so self-defence based that is why we keep it at an adult level. Hapkido is meant to bring people down.”
Heart and Soul Taekwondo also offers a variety of programs for kids and adults with the first two classes free.
Taekwondo courses go Tuesday and Thursdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m. for kids up to 12, and from 7-8 p.m. for teens and adults.
Heart and Soul TKD is also starting a taekwondo course for 3-4 year olds on Wednesdays from 5-5:45 and offers Insanity workout classes from 6-7 p.m.
Hapkido classes start this Wednesday from 7-8:15 p.m. Those interested can call 921-9090 or drop in at 1922 Main St. in Fruitvale. The expansive space is also available for rent for clubs or special events.