To effectively teach the skills of Hapkido requires many, many years of study, practice and dedication. One of the most important decisions one makes when starting out in the martial arts is choosing an instructor.
The man regarded as the founder of modern Hapkido, Yong Sul Choi, had taught all of the techniques of the art to only a select few of his students before his death in 1986. However, in the Western World today there seems to be numerous people claiming to be "Masters" of Hapkido. In recent years, there seems to have appeared many martial arts schools claiming to teach Hapkido as part of another style. There appears to be many innocent and well-meaning instructors advertising themseves as "Masters" in Hapkido but in reality they are misguided and only have a limited knowledge of this complex art.
So how do you find a genuine instructor? How does the unsuspecting public determine the qualifications of a prospective instructor? The techniques of Hapkido literally number in tens of thousands and most black belts who have reached 1st or 2nd Dan have probably learned only two or three hundred of these. We can now see that an instructor in another martial art, who has learned a few Hapkido techniques to complement his self-defence teachings, does not qualify for the title of Master.
Within the European Hapkido Alliance, International Hapkido MooHakKwan and the Korea Hapkido Federation, the title of Master is only issued when the student reaches the rank of 5th Dan. This requires a minimum of 15 years regular training and teaching.
Don't be fooled by photographs of an instructor taken with a high-ranked Master of Hapkido, such as Grandmaster Sung Soo Lee. Master Sam Plumb has had his photograph taken with dozens of Korean Masters and likewise, Master Lee has had his picture taken with thousands of students. A few photographs don't qualify the instructor as a Master.
The instructors certificates should be signed and stamped by the recognized head of the organization. If the certificate does not come from an internationally recognized organization you must ask "Why?".
Also there are some schools whose instructors are perhaps 2nd or 3rd Dan grade and they are conducting black belt gradings for their students. This simply does not happen within the KHF and EHA as instructors must be 5th Dan Master grade or above to conduct black belt gradings.
Take time to choose an instructor and ask questions. If the instructor is willing and pleased to answer all your queries and show you his qualifications, the chances are he is genuine.
EUROPEAN HAPKIDO ALLIANCE
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Worksop S80 4AL
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