What makes Duk Moo Hapkido special

Written by Master Kim Beom (Duk Moo European Technical Director).

The Duk Moo Academy understands the human body more accurately. For example, using acupressure and the way of blood circulation based on Korean medicine.

Furthermore, the major difference between Duk Moo Hapkido and others is the consistency and uniqueness of the Duk Moo Academy’s techniques. For example, once you learn Kwonsul (the empty hand attacking skills), you can apply them into sword, long staff and cane techniques. I am the second son of Grandmaster Kim Duk In and I have received all of the secret techniques of Kwonsul, not revealed to the public. The Duk Moo Academy revealed its long staff techniques in public for the first time during a demonstration in Paris several years ago. The President of Haedong Gumdo was there at the demonstration and, when he saw Grandmaster Kim’s cane demonstration, he said to Grandmaster Kim:

“Those techniques are normally used in sword techniques, how come you can use the cane like a sword?”

The President was also very impressed by the long staff techniques on display. They were very similar to two-sword techniques – not just spinning techniques, but cutting and striking techniques too. Grandmaster Kim informed him that sword techniques, long staff techniques and cane techniques are the same because they are all just an extension of Kwonsul. Grandmaster Kim also added that he had learnt sword techniques from the late Kim Young Dal, the best sword warrior in Korea. The President gave Grandmaster Kim a wooden sword as a present, saying that: “I met a real Grandmaster abroad, who I can hardly see in Korea.”

The Duk Moo Academy’s character is very much related to Grandmaster Kim’s family background. Grandmaster Kim’s family lineage originates from the Kyung Ju Kim family tree, a very noble Kim family in Korea. Some of Grandmaster Kim’s recognised warrior family ancestors are: King Kyungsoon, who reigned during the Shilla Dynasty, and Military Director Tae Jang Kun Kim Soon Eung, who was the Chief of General Staff during the Koryeo Dynasty. Grandmaster Kim’s grandfather, General Jul Chung Kim Kyung Sik, was a senior martial arts warrior and a high-ranking official in charge of the King’s bodyguards at the end of the Chosun Dynasty. When Japan invaded Chosun and colonized Korea, the King’s bodyguards dispersed and the last King of Korea, King Gojong, granted some land near Sae Gum Jung to senior warriors who lost their positions. The King granted Grandmaster Kim’s grandfather, General Jul Chung Kim Kyung Sik, some land at the rear of the Palace in Sae Gum Jung and some of Grandmaster Kim’s relatives still live there.

Grandmaster Kim learnt some of his martial arts techniques from his grandfather, General Jul Chung Kim Kyung Sik. It is our family tradition that a grandfather has a responsibility to take care of his grandchildren’s education. Grandmaster Kim looks after his granddaughters, by training them and making them read everyday. As they are looked after by Grandmaster Kim, they easily have the opportunity to see and learn Kwonsul and long staff techniques from an early age. The eldest granddaughter is now a red belt in Hapkido. My 15 month old son will also be trained by and receive skills from his grandfather, Grandmaster Kim. Earlier this year, Grandmaster Kim looked after my son when he went to Korea for two weeks. At such an early age, he has not yet learnt long staff skills but, unprompted, he now bows whenever he takes hold of a staff. By simply observing his grandfather, he has already naturally absorbed the first thing, manners.

By learning from Grandmaster Kim, they can find the coincidence and consistency between techniques. As Grandmaster Kim says:

“If you have learnt 100 techniques, you should be able to summarise them into one. You should also be able to divide one technique into ten. However, if you just count and consider the number of techniques, the techniques already become rubbish and dead. ”

Techniques should be embodied throughout our body. Really decent Hapkido techniques cannot be taught via video or books and, therefore, this is why the Duk Moo Academy has not published any books or videos.

There is a well-known Chinese story about this principle: A King was walking along a street and he saw an old man making a wagon wheel. The King said to the old man: “Don’t you have any children? How come you are working at that age?” The old man replied:

“I have children and I have taught them all the skills. However, it is easy to deliver knowledge verbally, but it is very difficult for them to receive detailed skills and secrets. Therefore, I still make these wagon wheels by myself.”

Knowledge cannot be complete or perfect if it is not embodied throughout our body.

When Grandmaster Kim and I lived in France several years ago, he taught me most of his skills and I especially found the connectivity and consistency of techniques. The moment that I found the consistency of techniques, a sword, long staff, cane and my wrist became one. This transformation and wholeness is the core concept of the Duk Moo Academy’s education and training system and it is the true meaning of Hapki.