This month's new martial art: Gongkwon Yu Sul

With the spate of recent black belt exams over, I'm taking a break from the familiar. For my final month in Korea, I'm testing the waters in MMA - yes, mixed martial arts!

I'm not really a big fan of wrestling or K-1, but I wanted to try something new. I was hoping for Geumdo, but I remembered a website I had caught site of a year or so ago, promoting 'Gong Kwon Yu Sul.' I'm sure nobody knows what this is, so I'll briefly explain. Gong Kwon Yu Sul was set up by Master Kang Jun as a 'new' martial art about 7 years ago. It must be every martial artist's dream to found their own martial art. Master Kang did just that, even though he must have only been about 30 years old at the time. He takes elements from all the martial arts, although primarily Hapkido and Jiu-Jitsu. (How many people have complained that Hapkido is an inadequate art after you are taken down to wrestle on the floor? - hence bringing in Jiu-Jitsu.) After watching a couple of videos from his website, I thought the ability of the students was pretty impressive compared to regular gym standards in Korea to warrant checking it out. So...now that I have some 'free time' to experiment, I thought I would give his gym a try.

This gym is pretty hardcore, and the reason why the students in the video were all very good is because most of them have already climbed the ranks in Hapkido, Taekwondo, Muay Thai and Judo. In Gongkwon, they're looking to the next level. REAL combat. Most of the students are working adults which is in complete contrast to the regular Taekwondo gyms. There are bank managers, software consultants, soldiers. Now I know that not all Korean adults are giving up their martial arts dreams!

There's no way I can compete with these guys in a sparring situation, but some of my previous Hapkido and Taekwondo training is coming in handy. We drill on individual moves for hours, which is a bit tedious at times, but this is how it ought to be done if you are really going to master the moves. Last week, I learnt how to do some armbar maneouvres. It was my first time to do this, and all I can say for anyone who doesn't know how to do, is that this is a REALLY useful move to know for all sorts of purposes. And, also unlike my Hapkido class, the students WANT to practice and be thrown around the mats as much as possible. I'm actually punching people and throwing them over my shoulder to their request. Not sure that I'll be requesting to be punched, though...
To give you more of an idea of what Gong Kwon is about, and to see quite how hardcore this is, have a look at Master Kang's YouTube video promo:

On a side note, Master Kang, now having created his own art, has discovered the problem of marketing through Internet search engines. Basically, if no one knows the name Gong Kwon Yu Sul, which is probably just about everybody, then they are hardly going to search for it on the Internet.

The Gong Kwon Yu Sul website is in English and Korean. (Although Master Kang himself doesn't speak any English). So you can get more information here: http://www.gongkwon.com


Amanda said...


I think this will be another case of the only foreigner and one of the few females there.

I must have missed it or forgot--why did you quit Judo?

...zzZ said...

I tried Judo about 5 years ago, but it really hurt my back, so I quit.

Anonymous said...

I tried emailing the site to get information, but no one has returned my message. Can you help. If you can, I can be reached at blackbelttraining@yahoo.com. Thanks.

Santi said...

Very cool video, I am moving to Pusan and from my research on Korea I had noticed much to my dissapointment that they don't take martial arts as seriously as the Japanese or Chinese.
this video looks very convincing though, I hope I can find a school near to where Ill be, Ill look up their website, thank you for posting this. :)