The text below provides answers to frequently asked questions concerning Hapkido West and its programs.

Who runs Hapkido West and how are decisions made?
Hapkido West is a California-based nonprofit corporation. Our Board of Directors are responsible—legally, financially, and morally—for the management and operation of our organization. Day-to-day operations are managed by officers appointed by the Board. Our decision-making process is fundamentally collaborative, and our style is to be flexible, respectful, and responsive to the needs of our members and the Hapkido community.

What style of Hapkido do you teach?
We practice an unnamed style of Hapkido founded by Marc Tedeschi, which is comprehensively documented in numerous books and manuals. Although this style is essentially mainstream Hapkido integrated with modern innovations and additions, it is distinct when compared to what many Hapkidoists are practicing today. Generally, the style focuses on the art of Hapkido as a whole, without editing out techniques, or adding in skills from other martial arts. Preservation and innovation are valued equally. From a technical standpoint, the style is perhaps most distinct in its: comprehensive systematic approach; modernization of self-defense skills; integration of sophisticated striking and grappling techniques; expanded ground-fighting repertoire; expansion of traditional Hapkido weapons techniques; emphasis on improvisation and free-sparring; and creation of complex combinations that are more indicative of the continuous flow historically associated with Hapkido. Mr. Tedeschi's style of Hapkido began evolving in the late-1990s, coalesced with the publication of his landmark Hapkido book in 2000, and was formally documented in 2007 with the release of comprehensive rank manuals. Technical innovation and modernization are ongoing, and always stem from the core philosophies and technical principles that have defined Hapkido from its beginnings.

How would you characterize your curriculum?
Our program has been created and organized by Marc Tedeschi based on historical Hapkido models, the practices of mainstream Hapkidoists during the past 50-plus years, and Mr. Tedeschi’s own innovations. This teaching system integrates both traditional and modern approaches to the art, and consists of the 1200-plus core techniques that typically define Hapkido. Mr. Tedeschi’s acclaimed 1136-page book, Hapkido: Traditions, Philosophy, Technique, reflects both our methodology and the technical content of our program.

What Hapkido association(s) do you belong to?
Hapkido West is not formally affiliated with any of the numerous Hapkido associations, since we wish to remain impartial. We continue to support the development of Hapkido as a whole; we do not advocate any particular association above all others. Our long-term objective is to establish strategic partnerships with a broad range of associations, in order to promote goodwill and fellowship, and provide greater benefit to Hapkidoists as a whole.

Who were Mr. Tedeschi’s teachers?
Mr. Tedeschi’s primary martial arts teachers were Grandmaster Merrill Jung, the widely respected Hapkido and Taekwondo master who brought Grandmaster Han-Jae Ji to the United States and subsequently helped him to found and establish Sin Moo Hapkido during the 1980s; and Professor Wally Jay, acknowledged by martial artists in all styles as one of the major innovators of the twentieth century. Mr. Tedeschi was born in 1956 in the USA, began martial arts training in 1974, and received his 7th dan in Hapkido from Grandmaster Merrill Jung (10th dan), prior to founding his own style of Hapkido in 2007.

I would like to possibly train in your Masters Program, but am unsure whether my skill-level is adequate?
Please stop by, observe a class, and speak with Mr. Tedeschi. If it is not right for you or we feel you need more preliminary training first, we will tell you.

I am an experienced martial artist, but have physical limitations resulting from injuries or advanced age. Would my participation in your Masters Program be appropriate and not limiting to others?
Oftentimes yes. Please contact us to discuss further. Sometimes it is possible to accommodate individuals with specific limitations, who are already highly skilled martial artists. Everyone should have the opportunity to train, particularly those who have devoted decades of their life to the martial arts.

Do I have to make a long-term commitment to Hapkido training, in order to participate in your Masters Program?
Highly skilled martial artists can only evolve as a result of serious, frequent, long-term training. Consequently, we are only interested in training with those individuals who are in it for the long-haul. We do not accept students who will only be training for a period of months, since such brief commitments are typically a waste of time for all concerned. A long-term commitment is not required for individuals participating in our general Hapkido classes.

I live far away. Can I drop by your classes and train for a few days or weeks while visiting the San Francisco Bay area?
Although we do not offer short-term training, we always enjoy meeting and training with other martial artists. You are welcome to drop by and participate in our classes, subject to our approval upon meeting you. You will also be asked to sign a liability waiver and pay a daily mat-fee.

Do you provide accelerated or abbreviated training?
The level of ones martial skill is directly related to the frequency and duration of their training; there are no shortcuts. Today, many schools are reducing the number of required skills and/or minimum proficiency standards, in order to accommodate students with limited time to train, or students who cross-train in several martial arts. The technical material in our Hapkido program (as depicted in Mr. Tedeschi’s 1136-page book), and the course of study it reflects, are not suitable for an abbreviated training regime. In such circumstances, it is not possible to master these techniques or the art of Hapkido as a whole.

Do you offer long-distance training?
Only if you are willing to travel here and train on a regular basis. For example, you might come here 3 to 4 weekends every month for a period of time. Naturally, it will take you longer to learn a specific body of material than if you were living and training here more frequently. However, if you also train regularly at home with other practitioners, perhaps this may work for you.

Do you offer intensive short-term training for persons who live far away? For example, could I train 8 hours per day, 6 days a week, for 1 month?
We do not hold daily classes; therefore, this type of training would mostly consist of private lessons, which are only available by special arrangement, subject to the interest and availability of our instructors.

Does Mr. Tedeschi give seminars?
Yes. Please contact Hapkido West for further information and arrangements.

What are your promotion requirements for specific belt ranks?
A complete listing of promotion requirements for all color-belt and black-belt ranks can be downloaded for free from our website. We also copublish a series of comprehensive manuals that summarize promotion requirements and techniques associated with specific Hapkido color-belt and black-belt ranks. For further information, please visit our Resources web-pages.

How does the technical material in your program compare with that found in other Hapkido associations?
Currently within the Hapkido community as a whole, specific techniques and promotion requirements vary widely by association and school. Since most Hapkido associations do not provide in-depth information on their curriculums, we have no basis for making comparisons. As outlined previously, our approach is essentially mainstream and is reflected in Mr. Tedeschi’s 1136-page Hapkido book. For specific information on other Hapkido associations, please contact them directly.

Do you issue black-belt certificates?
Hapkido West only offers certification to those individuals who clearly meet our rank requirements through testing and/or long-term training. However, this is the least important aspect of Hapkido training. Please recognize that our testing standards are stringent, and reflect our deep commitment to preserving the qualities that have historically defined Hapkido as a whole.

I run a Hapkido school(s) and would like to become affiliated with an organization from which I can obtain color-belt and/or black-belt certificates for my students. Do you provide this type of certification?
Yes, assuming you are an affiliate member of Hapkido West, who has adopted our rank and certification standards. If your students are not being tested by us, then we would only issue certificates in the following circumstances: (a) your head instructor must be 4th dan or higher (master-level), and clearly meet our rank requirements for that rank; and (b) you must be able to demonstrate to us that your methods of evaluation are consistent with our standards. Masters who have received their 4th dan certification from us are authorized to promote all ranks through 2nd dan. Masters holding 5th dan certification from us may promote all ranks through 3rd dan. Please recognize that Hapkido West has no interest in empire-building, or in dictating how a school should conduct its business. Our only reason for providing rank certification is to assist those who wish to make high-quality educational standards a vital part of their Hapkido programs.

What is a master?
Historically, the term “master” was used to signify someone, who after long years of dedicated practice and service, has reached a comprehensive understanding of the traditions, philosophy, and techniques that define their martial art; is able to demonstrate exceptional technical virtuosity; and consistently embodies the highest ideals in their actions in all areas of life. In a sense, no one is promoted to master; it is a state of being that one arrives at, signified by the deep respect one is accorded by students and peers. In Hapkido, successful completion of all requirements for 4th degree black-belt signifies master-level. Today, the title of “master” has become devalued in many martial arts, due to the large numbers who have assumed this rank without embodying the ideals that it historically signifies.

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