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Restraints and Controls
in Korean Martial Arts

When one mentions restraints and control techniques, particularly when speaking of police tactics, a natural association would be to JuJutsu or Taiho-Jutsu, or possible Aiki-JuJutsu or Aikido, all Japanese arts. Some may make a connection to the myriad of "American" styles found today (with few acknowledging the Oriental roots of the system). Rarely will people associate Korean martial arts with restraints and controls, generally envisioning the high kicking and elaborate movements so often seen in various media. Yet, there are a few Korean arts which not only have restraints and controls as part of their curriculum, but have specialized police tactics courses as well.

The histories of Korean martial arts systems are, to this writer, far more complicated and confusing than their Japanese counterparts. Fortunately, for purposes of this article, these detailed accounts of a particular style's development are not relevant. What we will discover when glancing at the main arts which contain these techniques is that they all have a common historical thread. Nearly all Korean styles that we see today have their roots in ancient systems of fighting arts whose primary unarmed techniques were kicking. Some historians point to a heavy Chinese link to these styles, others say they were more influenced by the Okinawan version of the techniques, and later, "Koreacized" to fit their national and cultural needs. However, regardless of the origins, it was not until Korean arts touched Daito-ryu Aiki-JuJutsu that restraints and controls were incorporated into the given style.

The better-known, more established styles containing these techniques are Hwa Rang Do, Kuk Sool Won, Hapkido, Hanmudo, and Chong Do Mu Sool Won. All of these systems include joint techniques, strikes, blocks, throws, grappling, and pressure point and meridian techniques for hurting and healing. (Note: not all Hapkido schools have throws as part of their teachings.) To the untrained eye, one would be ill-pressed to not only distinguish between the different styles, but to identify each one by name. One means to assist with this process is to view their practical applicability to police tactics.



One may say a joint technique is a joint technique is a joint technique. However, how it is entered into, and what accompanies it is the key. All the mentioned systems utilize circular movements, along with principles of redirection of force, and blending and uniting with the assailant's force. However, accompanying the restraints with most styles are "hard" techniques, e.g., a punch or a kick, some high, some low. While this will, in almost all cases, subdue an attacker, its use in an arresting situation would no doubt bring more law-suits than medals. Harsh employment of controlling techniques with accompanying strikes are appropriate for martial arts, but not for police tactics. One exception is Hanmudo. Stylistically, the approach to the techniques is "softer". A joint lock in Hapkido may be followed by a swift forward motion or strike, wherein with Hanmudo, a pulling motion downward would be more typical of the type of follow-up employed. This not only avoids allegations of excessive force (most of the time), but focuses more on the control and restraint after the joint technique itself. In Chong Do Mu Sool Won, the joint techniques are combined with pressure point throws. This allows for better body placement for the restraint and control.

For those wishing to learn some of these methods, a word of caution is in order. There are many Korean stylists teaching Korean systems where, historically, restraints and controls were not part of the style. As is the case with many Japanese ryu and instructors, especially since the MMA rage, credentials should be carefully checked. An officer cannot settle for "improvised" techniques, or those which may have been self-learned by an instructor. A problem which may be encountered is finding an instructor who is willing to teach select sections of his/her art. This writer recalls asking a Hapkido stylist to do this, and being told that no one would teach just a part of the art. One must sign up for the entire curriculum. I was an experienced instructor at that time, and it made no difference. Nonetheless, if an officer is curious, willing, and is able to find an instructor who will teach him/her, the style of these restraints and controls could prove a valuable supplement to his/her knowledge.

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