The school has trained tens of thousands of kids, men, women, and law enforcement officers in practical self-defense techniques, reports hyunhapkido.com.
— Chicago is home to a hidden jewel, of sorts, a precious stone whose spiritual, intellectual and teachings of the art of personal defense date back decades to that period when Japan savaged the Korean Peninsula during the Second World War.
That jewel of the Windy City is The Hapkido, Taekwondo & Self-Defense School located on Chicago’s near northwest side and its Grandmaster and founder, Kwang Seek Hyun. An émigré to the U.S. from South Korea in 1969, Grandmaster Hyun and his black belt teachers have provided hapkido instruction to no less than 40,000 students--youngsters and adults--who have included 6,000 Cook County Sheriffs police, suburban police, Cook County Department of Corrections officers and other government employees since Hyun opened his school at 2743 N. Western Ave. nearly a half century ago.
“Versatile in nature and suitable for adult or kid's activities in Chicago, hapkido is oriented to a street fighting style defensive tactic rather than competitive sports- oriented training used in tournaments,” he says. “Hapkido techniques include strikes, punches, kicks, joint locks, chokes, pressure points, throws and pins as well as grappling and ground fighting. It was used as the basis for teaching hand-to-hand combat to Green Berets in Vietnam.”
Grandmaster Hyun teaches more than just self-defense, however. His classes mix exercise, technique, theory, personal discipline and general advice on living, learning and even what foods to eat. To him, the beauty of music and the strength of hapkido bring a certain internal harmony to oneself. The best instructor for martial arts for kids in Chicago, he regularly lectures young students on the five elements they must always strive to live by: discipline, focus, following directions, confidence and respect. Instructors consistently remind the adults of the critical significance in life of conducting themselves with humility, righteousness, etiquette, wisdom, and sincerity.
Steven Gertler, a lawyer with offices just north of the Loop, has been attending the school for over three decades. He and the Grand Master have become close friends over the years, dining together every Monday night at a favorite Korean restaurant. “Hapkido appealed to me in its complexity and its focus upon teaching practical and effective street defense techniques,” he said. “There were no forms to practice and no performing. Just hard – but very fun – training and an art that I could learn and practice my entire life.”
Then, there are individuals like recent enrollee Lauren Peterson, a 22-year-old University of Michigan computer engineering graduate. Currently living in Hinsdale, she enjoys the sense of confidence she gains from the women martial arts classes so much that drives the thirty plus miles to the school three times a week with the objective of getting a black belt.
Kwang and his school have received many honors over the years. The American Tae Kwon Do Federation and the National Martial Arts Research Foundation named Hyun’s Hapkido School as “one of the top schools in the U.S.” Martial Arts World Magazine called his school the “best of Chicago” in self-defense and athletic instruction. He has also been featured in both Esquire Magazine and Chicago Reader. Along with his excellence and longevity in both location and vocation, Grandmaster Hyun’s proudest achievement is the fact the he is one of only a handful of individuals to hold the rank of 10th Dan--hapkido’s highest rank symbolized by a black belt wrapped around his waist--that was awarded to him by the Korea Kido Association.
The GM graduated from Seoul National University with a degree in music and to this day, he occasionally breaks out in song in his Chicago studio, sounding much like a polished baritone. He taught martial arts and self-defense to Korean Air Force recruits. In 1969, he and his wife arrived in the U.S. where he took his first job teaching hapkido at Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. By 1973, he opened his Western and Diversey Avenue school--at the time a rough-edged neighborhood--which he teaches out of to this day.
“How did I become involved the way I have with hapkido,” Grandmaster Hyun asks rhetorically. “When I was nine years old, my father sent me to martial arts school to reinforce my self-confidence and I never looked back.”
About Hyun's Hapkido and Tae Kwon Do School:
Hyun’s Hapkido, Tae Kwon Do & Self Defense School teaches practical self-defense techniques to students young and old from all walks of life.
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