Take it to the mats

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kali L. Gradishar
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
It doesn't take massive strength or agility. Nor does it require an extreme background in martial arts. What it does take is the desire and dedication to learn how to defend yourself under pressuring circumstances.

The Combat Hapkido class, offered at the base Fitness Center offers just that - a chance to learn the correct movements, postures and forces against an opponent or opponents when faced with unfortunately common violent and threatening situations.

"I started instructing here in November 2007," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Locke, the Combat Hapkido instructor whose father encouraged him to take up martial arts, a passion that continued into adulthood. He now has his second degree black belt.

"I always wanted to have my own class," he said, "and this class is very accessible to people of all levels, varying abilities and disabilities, and ages from around 14 to 65."

Though, it is encouraged for teenagers to attend the class with a guardian.

The style, which is more of a self defense than a martial art, was developed by Grandmaster John Pellegrini after nearly 35 years of studying, researching and applying martial arts, according to the International Combat Hapkido Federation Web site.

"I encourage people to take the class because there will most likely be a time when self defense is needed and it will be important to have that edge," said Sergeant Locke. "The class provides a look into situational self defense. You have to look at all the options you have in a legal way."

The class, which is offered Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m., is postured to teach how to diffuse situations using minimal force. It takes a more realistic approach to defending oneself while encouraging techniques fitted to a particular person's abilities.

"This is a very different, non-traditional form," the Combat Hapkido instructor said. "Everything we do is partnered or with multiple opponents. It is an eclectic martial arts based on Hapkido and derived from other martial arts around the world."

Seen as more of a grappling martial arts, Combat Hapkido steers clear of teaching forms or katas and using impractical weapons like a fan or sword. Instead Combat Hapkido focuses on more practical and functional approaches using "strikes, kicks, joint locks, pressure points, grappling and disarming techniques," states the ICHF site.

"This is a class that is used to improve yourself so you can defend yourself better," Sergeant Locke noted. "There is a simple curriculum built on principles rather than techniques."

After attending the class for only one month, a person would be more able to defend him or herself, he added. And after two and one half years, a focused and determined person may reach the level of black belt.

Contracted through the 92nd Services Squadron, the Combat Hapkido class costs $40 for 16 hours of training. Because of the small class size, there are currently about six students, the class provides individual attention for each participant. Attend the class on Tuesday or Thursday beginning at 6 p.m. to see how you can improve your self-defense capabilities.

(Information for the International Combat Hapkido Federation Web site was used in this article.)