Try, Fail, Adapt, and Innovate

Not long after receiving my black belt in traditional Korean hapkido, I began cross training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ). Several months into training, my sparring partner of the day asked me if I wanted to start standing up, as opposed to on the ground which is how we typically started our ‘rolls’ at this particular school. I agreed, we slapped hands, and he shot in for a wrestling high crotch and dumped me on my back. I had never seen this move before, so I had no way to anticipate, let alone defend against it.

We rolled until someone submitted and then I asked if we could start standing again. We slapped hands, he shot in, I was on my back again, and we rolled. We repeated this process several more times and I got better and better at seeing and defending the shot and the takedown.

My partner grew up in a wrestling family. His brother even wrestled in the Olympics a few years back. He had been practicing and playing around with moves like this his whole life. Even with a decade’s worth of experience in hapkido, I had never even seen a wrestling shot and I had certainly never been dumped on my back by a high crotch. At first, I found this disheartening and I even felt a little bit let down by hapkido. Then, I got over it and continued training.

Eventually, I resigned from hapkido to focus on Taikyoku Budo and BJJ, but this type of experience was not why I left the hapkido group. In fact, this type of humbling experience just made me want to train more, to discover a hapkido-like way to counter a wrestling shot or some other similar move, and to bring that knowledge back to the group. Not all martial arts allow for innovation, however, and that is just fine. They are good for what they are good for. I simply wanted to train in a different way.

 Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.