Dr. Rodney T. Hard

Even young students could throw each other with a flick of the wrist.

Grand Master PARK makes a black belt writhe in pain with a simple wrist lock at a seminar in Salem, Indiana in 2009.

                            WRIST LOCK

By:  Dr. Rodney T. Hard

My first introduction to a Hapkido type wrist technique was in a Judo (“Yudo” in Korean ) class in Pusan, Korea when I was 12 years old.  My Judo instructor, KANG Chung Shik, was a fifth degree black belt at the time when he took me on a trip to the school (“dojang”) he originally trained in.  When we got there, we bowed in at the door and politely asked if we could train with them there.  

Now if you were a black belt in Judo, you could walk into any Judo school and they would let you train with them.  I never sensed any hostility toward me walking into a rival school.  There was usually at least one black belt at the school who felt he had to uphold the honor of the school against outsiders.  So, the sparring sessions could get a little intense at times, but, I never felt threatened or in danger. 

Well, there was one situation when I was a brown belt and Master KANG took me to another school to train.  One of the black belts was choking out students while grappling and he wouldn’t let them go when they tapped out.  He only let go after they passed out.  I saw him do that to two students before he called me up to spar.  When we ended up on the ground, I was so afraid of him doing that to me that once I got him into a hold, I did not let go.  He would not give up and tried his best to get out of that hold for about 35 minutes.  I was never in my whole life so relieved to hear a bell telling us class was over.

Back to my story.  After bowing in and suiting up in our uniforms, Master KANG’s instructor, who ran the school, had every student in the school line up by order of rank.  There were about twenty Judo practitioners who lined up with the white belts on one end, increasing in rank up to a burly third degree black belt on the end.

The head master told Master KANG that he wanted to see how far along he had come since he had not seen him for a long time.  He made Master KANG have matches with each student, starting with the lowest ranking one and progressing up to the highest ranking one.

I watched in fascination as KANG would bow in with an opponent and throw him for a win within seconds.  As he worked his way through the line, the matches got longer but the outcome was the same.  KANG would win with a beautifully executed throw that sent the opponent arching through the air and landing with a thud on the mat.

    “……HIS OPPONENT WENT TO HIS KNEES WRITHING IN PAIN”

By the time KANG bowed in for his final match with the muscular young third degree black belt, I could tell that he was getting pretty worn out.  Normally, the opponents would start the match by grabbing each other’s lapels, but this time, something happened that I had never seen before and left me sitting there in stunned amazement.  As soon as the young man grabbed KANG’s lapels, KANG reached up with one hand, grabbed his opponent’s hand, and somehow effortlessly twisted it so that his opponent went to his knees writhing in pain and tapping out his submission.

As the whole class lined up once again across from KANG to bow out, I could see KANG look over at his instructor.  His instructor had a disgusted look on his face and shook his head back and forth as if to say, “You had to resort to that?  That is not a traditional sport Judo technique.  You are getting soft taking the easy way out.  It was only twenty guys.”

I asked Master KANG on the way back about the technique he used.  He would only tell me that it was an advanced technique that I would not learn at traditional Judo classes.

       “…..A STUNNING DEMONSTRATION….I WAS HOOKED”

The next time I saw techniques like that was six years later when I came back to Korea in the US Army.  Hapkido stylists Master PARK Sung Jae and his brother Master PARK Kyu Jae gave a stunning demonstration at our NCO club of wrist locks, throws, kicks, and hand strikes that I had never seen before in my six years of Judo training and two years of Tang Soo Do training.  I was hooked.  I immersed myself in Hapkido training from that day forward.

Three of us grabbed Grand Master PARK Sung Jae and he effortlessly put us all down with wrist locks.  He locked us all up in a pile with me on the bottom and held us all down with one hand.

Master PARK Sung Jae flips a student with a flick of the wrist in 1969.

Lewis Hise executes a wrist lock on a fellow student during practice.