Interview with Lee Jeong-Seo 1997

Question: What are basic elements of your Hapkido?

I have arranged my Hapkido as follows:

  • hand techniques
  • foot techniques
  • body techniques
  • perception (eye) techniques
  • heart (emotion) techniques
  • breathing techniques.

Heart techniques means to control your emotions in times of danger.

Question: What do you teach your new students and in what order?

I teach beginners in this order:

  • 1. Courtesy
  • 2. Respect
  • 3. Breathing
  • 4. Body Fitness
  • 5. Then the first technique (when/if they are ready).

The most important lesson to learn is to make the techniques flow. Right from the first technique they learn, the student must be able to make the technique flow. Without the flow, the student is not practising Hapkido. It is better to be able to make just one technique flow, than to know 10,000 techniques and not be able to make any of them flow. The flow in you techniques is natural, it is something we are all capable of.

All movements start with some type of deflection, that leads into grabbing your opponent, that leads into a circle, that leads into a lock or throw.

At any point along this sequence, a strike may be needed to help the technique along.

Master Lee emphasised that there is no need to teach many complicated blocks. The only technique required to deflect an attack is the movement you would make if you were raising a sword above your head. Master Lee said that the Hapkido student cannot master Hapkido techniques without also practising sword movements.

The two martial arts are very closely related, the footwork, the body movement, even the timing. The basic movements of a sword master are the same as those of a Hapkido master. By visualising a sword in your hand as you perform the techniques you can discover the correct angles and leverage.

Where do you look with your eyes when you face your opponent.

I look into their eyes and use my peripheral vision to see the rest of the attacker’s body. I also use my ears and all my other senses to be aware of all around me.

If you look at the attacker’s hands or feet, it can be very distracting.

While you are looking, your mind should be thinking, like in a chess game. You should have a move for every possibility.

What is the rhythm of your Hapkido?

Some people use a regular rhythm for their techniques (1—2—3). I find this is not as effective as varying the rhythm (1—23). If your opponent picks up on your regular rhythm they can easily counter your technique between 2 and 3. With my rhythm the attacker gets to 3 before they expect it. It is a big (painful) surprise to them, like an explosion at the end of your technique.

Another important point is that the rhythm of your technique should be very subtle. Overall, the technique should really flow with no start-stop, start-stop movements. A good Hapkido technique is only one movement, it should never stop.

Have you ever seen good Hapkido that really impressed you?

Answer: I have my own idea of what is good technique and this is probably different to other people’s ideas. However the best Hapkido I have ever seen was by a 70 year old grandfather practising with children. He was able to harmonise with the children’s movements. He threw them in all directions, making them fall beautifully and without any danger of being hurt.

Really there is no such thing as a perfect technique, but if you have harmony then that is an excellent beginning.

If your best friend had to fight to the death and you had ten minutes to teach him how to win the fight, then what would you teach him?

To concentrate completely and to focus all his energy on the task ahead. (Master Lee pointed to his forehead and formed a knife-hand and thrust it forward to indicate the intensity of will power required for such life and death situation.)

NOTE: I highly recommend Master Lee, I have travelled the world and seen many "masters". Lee Jeong Seo is the real thing. His techniques are so powerful and yet so effortless. I tried many times to make his techniques fail but whenever I moved to escape his technique my only reward was pain. I am so happy to have been able to train with him for two weeks and look forward to going to Korea again to further my studies with Master Lee.
Daniel Marie, Australian Hapkido Association

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