Combat Hapkido

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Combat Hapkido
Combat Hapkido crest.svg
ICHF Crest
Also known asChon-Tu Kwan Hapkido
Country of originUnited States United States
CreatorJohn Pellegrini[1]
Parenthoodprimarily Hapkido
Olympic sportNo
Combat Hapkido
전투관 합기도
戰鬪館 合氣道
Revised RomanizationJeon Tu Gwan Hapgido
McCune–ReischauerChǒn Tu Kwan Hapkido

Combat Hapkido (known in Korean as Chon-Tu Kwan Hapkido 전투관 합기도) is an eclectic modern Hapkido system founded by John Pellegrini in 1990. Taking the next step in 1992 Pellegrini formed the International Combat Hapkido Federation (ICHF) as the official governing body of Combat Hapkido. Later, in 1999, the ICHF was recognized by the Korea Kido Association and the World Kido Federation, collectively known as the Kido Hae, as the Hapkido style Chon Tu Kwan Hapkido.[2] The World Kido Federation is recognized by the Government of South Korea as an organization that serves as a link between the official Martial Arts governing body of Korea and the rest of the world Martial Arts community.[3] The founder of Combat Hapkido was very clear in his statement that he did not invent a new martial art. He stated "I have merely structured a new Self-Defense system based upon sound scientific principles and modern concepts. For this reason Combat Hapkido is also referred to as the "Science of Self-Defense." Combat Hapkido is a new interpretation and application of a selected body of Hapkido techniques.[4] The word "Combat" was added to Combat Hapkido to distinguish this system from Traditional Hapkido styles and to identify its focus as Self-Defense.[5]

The style employs joint locks, pressure points, throws, hand strikes, and low-lying kicks, and trains practitioners to either counter or preemptively strike an imminent attack to defend one's self. In common with many Hapkido styles, it also emphasizes small circular motion, non-resisting movements, and control of an opponent through force redirection and varied movement and practitioners seek to gain advantage through footwork, distractive striking and body positioning to employ leverage.


Combat Hapkido does not incorporate certain traditional Hapkido techniques which it deemed impractical for modern self-defense scenarios. For example, acrobatic break falls, jump/spinning kicks, forms, and meditation have been omitted, along with the removal of weapons such as swords and other weapons which would be impractical and not typically carried in modern society. Combat Hapkido's strategy differs from traditional Hapkido because it includes adopting features from styles like Jeet Kune Do, Jujutsu, Western Boxing, and Kuntao Silat[6] to enhance its core curriculum. For instance, criticism has been raised asserting that traditional styles of Hapkido do not provide extensive ground self-defense curriculum;[7] Combat Hapkido attempts to address this by researching and incorporating grappling techniques from varying styles.[8] Another instance is the incorporation of derived-versions of Jeet Kune Do trapping and entering techniques to enhance transitions into Combat Hapkido's core joint locking and throwing techniques. Combat Hapkido's core techniques rely heavily on the traditional Hapkido techniques that the ICHF determined to have the most practical applications for their goal of modern self-defense. The core curriculum has been organized into 10 basic levels or ranks and extensive reference materials, including a complete video reference library, are provided to schools and individual students through the ICHF Headquarters in Fernandina Beach, Florida. All training in Combat Hapkido is reinforced with extensive training seminars, with most months containing multiple seminars located throughout the United States and Internationally. In addition to the core curriculum, the ICHF researches and develops "modules" that are compatible with the core curriculum and encourages students to explore them. Some examples of these such "modules" are "Stick and Knife Combatives", "Ground Survival", "Combat Throws", "Anatomical Target Striking/Pressure Points", "Trapping", "Cane", "Dan Bong", and "Weapons Disarming". New modules are supported by DVDs, seminars, and local instruction conducted by certified instructors of each course. ICHF students are required to know the core curriculum for promotion and are encouraged to study various optional modules as well. Instructors may require their students to learn some of these additional modules to advance levels.


Combat Hapkido uses a ten belt rank system with the difficulty and the number of techniques gradually increasing with each belt. The content of each rank can vary from school to school; however, the core curriculum of Combat Hapkido must be taught to each rank before the promotion can be sent to the ICHF Headquarters for certifying. All rank certification is done directly through the ICHF Headquarters in Florida and is kept on file to insure that each student meets the proper time in grade requirements. For higher Dan grade black belt tests, students must appear before Grandmaster John Pellegrini for testing either directly at the Florida Headquarters or at one of the many seminars held around the country. For those seeking international Dan Ranking the International Combat Hapkido Federation offers the option to have black belt ranks recognized through the Kido Hae. Some Schools use this system:

Combat Hapkido
Basic Rank Structure
Hangul 일단 일급 이급 삼급 사급 오급 육급 칠급 팔급 구급 십급
Hanja 初段 初級 秒級 叁級 四級 五級 六級 七級 八級 九級 拾級
Roman 1st Dan 1st Gup 2nd Gup 3rd Gup 4th Gup 5th Gup 6th Gup 7th Gup 8th Gup 9th Gup 10th Gup
Rank Black belt Black & White Red & Black Red belt Brown belt Blue belt Purple belt Green belt Orange belt Yellow belt White belt
Images Martial arts black belt alt.svg Ichf black white belt 1st Gup.png Ichf red black belt 2nd Gup large.png Ichf red belt 3rd Gup large.png Ichf brown belt 4th Gup large.png Ichf blue belt 5th Gup large.png Ichf purple belt 6th Gup large.png Ichf green belt 7th Gup large.png Ichf orange belt 8th Gup large.png Ichf yellow belt 9th Gup large.png Martial arts white belt alt.svg

Ground Survival[edit]

Combat Hapkido's "Ground Survival" program previously referred to as the "Ground Grappling" program was developed to create a ground self-defense program where the purpose is to survive encounters on the ground by escaping and evading along with takedown prevention methods. The program's focus on ground self-defense utilizes transitions from ground positions to standing positions avoiding long extended confrontations on the ground, which the curriculum addresses but does not encourage. The Ground Survival program blends with Combat Hapkido's core curriculum and adopted aspects of Combat Hapkido's Anatomical Targeting Strategies (Pressure Point) program utilizing small and large joint locking and pressure point techniques. To develop this program, Combat Hapkido Master Instructors experienced in the grappling arts researched different styles such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Vale tudo and Combat Sambo, with additional technical assistance from grappling experts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu such as Carlson Gracie Jr.[8]

Anatomical Striking/Pressure Points/Pain Compliance[edit]

The “Tactical Pressure Points”(TPP) program was developed to enhance the effectiveness of Combat Hapkido self-defense system's core curriculum of manipulations of an attacker's body by targeting vulnerable areas, weak points, pressure points, or vital points of the body to produce significant pain or other effects. This form of target striking is called pain compliance and generally, but not always, leads to an immediate response by the attacker. This response can then be taken to transition into another technique from the Combat Hapkido curriculum. This material has also been specifically designed and modified for the Law-enforcement community, called “Anatomical Compliance Tactics” (ACT) and is taught as part of the ICHF's "International Police Defensive Tactics Institute"(IPDTI) course.


The Combat Hapkido Trapping program is designed to be the blocking method of the Combat Hapkido System since Combat Hapkido does not use the "Traditional" hard blocks of the Traditional martial arts. The Trapping Program is designed to become reactionary and reflexive and not to impede or stop incoming attacks. The techniques and drills in this program are based to develop specific technical attribute from Jeet Kune Do that blend drills and techniques with Combat Hapkido. This Trapping program is a way to gain advantage over an opponent by manipulating them to accomplish a finishing technique, such as strikes, joint-locks, and throws [8] or to simply buy time to escape.



The cane is generally referred to as the weapon of choice for most Hapkido Systems because of its flexible and easily adaptive techniques. Combat Hapkido along with other systems incorporate self-defense techniques using the cane into their training curricula for this exact reason. However, the reason the ICHF chooses the cane as one of their preferred self-defense weapons is due to its modern real world self-defense applications. A typical walking cane, defined as one not concealing a firearm, blade, or unnatural weight, within most state and national jurisdictions is generally recognized as one of the few blunt objects allowed to be carried in public by law.[9][10][11] Due to the cane's legal status, ready availability to acquire, general lightweight carry and being a cheap weapon to use, Combat Hapkido developed a "Cane" curriculum in partnership with Cane Masters, an organization dedicated to the development, and training of self-defense cane techniques. Cane curriculum includes: offensive strikes, joint locks, sweeps, and traps, along with defenses against kicks, punches, bear hugs, and grabs. The cane's flexible techniques allow for easy application from almost any situation, defend against, and submit almost any attacker. The reason for this is the cane's ease of transition from a simple walking stick to a weapon since it is generally about three feet in length.

Dan Bong[edit]

short stick similar to those used in Combat Hapkido

The Dan Bong (Short Stick) is a Self-Defense tool measuring 8 to 12 inches in length and approximately 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. It carries none of the visual shock value that a baseball bat would, and it is not wielded with any kind of "flashy" movements. The Dan Bong's use is in the application and reinforcement of joint lock, pressure point, choking, and striking techniques. Combat Hapkido master instructors specializing in the Dan Bong have developed their version of the use of the Dan Bong for what they feel is need for modern self-defense needs. The Dan Bong's small size allows for easy carrying and concealment from a potential attacker and an effective means of stealth armament. The Dan Bong can be used in short range attacks and is as is stated above primarily for inflicting more severe pain to an already painful joint lock or pressure point.

Weapons disarming[edit]

In today's social climate with the prevalence of handguns and other weapons on the rise, one of the most important components of Combat Hapkido is its 'Weapon Disarming' techniques. These involve close quarters combat where footwork and bridging the gap are used to achieve superior positioning and leverage to gain control of the weapon or the weapon's carrying arm, and then to disarm the attacker. Because of the effectiveness of these techniques, the ICHF has been invited by many foreign and domestic police organization along with invitations from the United States Military[12] to train both U.S. and Coalition troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.[12]


  1. ^ "John Pellegrini: 2004 Instructor of the Year". Black Belt Magazine. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  2. ^ Rowe, Michael (2001). Introduction to Combat Hapkido: The Science of Self-Defense. Dan Il Press. ISBN 0-9703874-0-7.
  3. ^ "about: World Kido Federation". World Kido Federation – USA Offices 3557 Valenza Way Pleasanton, CA 94566. 2008-09-17. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
  4. ^ TKDT (April 4, 1994). "Master Pellegrini's Combat Hapkido". Taekwondo Times. 1423 18th St. Bettendorf, IA 52722: Tri-Mount Publications, Inc. pp. 24–29, 32–35, 88–90. ISSN 0741-028X.CS1 maint: location (link)
  5. ^ "about: International Combat Hapkido Federation". DSI – 4960 S. Gilbert Rd. Suite 1–485 Chandler, AZ 85249. 2008-09-17. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
  6. ^ Floyd Burk (June 2003). "Combat Hapkido: This No-Nonsense Korean Martial Art Will Make You Ready to Neutralize Any Threat!". Black Belt Magazine. 24900 Anza Dr, Unite E, Santa Clarita, CA 91355: Black Belt Communication, Inc. pp. 62–67. ISSN 0277-3066.CS1 maint: location (link)
  7. ^ Incorporating Elements from Other Arts – Topic: Traditional Hapkido at
  8. ^ a b c Mark Daley (September 2002). "Hapkido Pioneer Grandmaster John Pellegrini". Taekwondo Times. 22. 1423 18th St. Bettendorf, IA 52722: Tri-Mount Publications, Inc. pp. 26–33, 36–38. ISSN 0741-028X.CS1 maint: location (link)
  9. ^ "New York Penal Law § 265.00". Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  10. ^ "California PENAL CODE SECTION 16100-17360". Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  11. ^ "Florida Law CHAPTER 2006-186 House Bill No. 1291". Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  12. ^ a b Edward Pollard (January 2009). "Korean art goes Reality-Based". Black Belt Magazine. 47 (1). 475 Sansome St., Suite 850 San Francisco, CA 94111: Cruz Bay Publications, Inc. pp. 86–93. ISSN 0277-3066.CS1 maint: location (link)

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