Questions dealing with style differences, organizations, & history are in the controversial sections.
Q. What kind of martial arts school is Beck Martial Arts?
A. I believe the martial arts are about self-defense and self-improvement. All training we do has something to do with one, the other, or both. I am a part-time martial arts instructor holding another full time job; I teach because I love it and want to improve people's lives. Also see the About BMA page.
Q. Where are classes held?
A. Jerome’s Gym in Richardson, see the location page.
Also, Mr. Chad Ellerd, a Hapkidoblack belt student of mine, teaches the same Hapkido curriculum in classes at Euless recreation centers through that city's Parks & Community Services.
Q. What do you charge?
A. Rates vary depending on the type of training. See the Pricing page.
Q. What is the class schedule?
A. See the Training page for current class times.
Q. What is your background?
A. See the About BMA page.
Q. Why should I train with you rather than this other guy teaching the same style(s)?
A. Martial arts instruction is not a commodity; you can’t buy the skills at every corner convenience store or strip center dojo. Even if a style and organization has a rigid curriculum every instructor is different and the level of quality will differ immensely. My approach to teaching Hapkido differs a little from my teachers’ approach, the same is true for Arnis; and the same is true for Taekwondo. People are individuals and the path to martial art mastery is an individual one. But I can be a guide along that path. If you want to train for self-defense and self-development, you will not find a better teacher. I’m not the most technically skilled martial artist in the world and there are certainly people with higher rank out there teaching. I'm not a natural athlete, nor are most of the people I teach. But practice anything long enough and you get pretty good; and I've been doing and teaching martial arts for 3 decades now while constantly learning and growing.
Q. How young do you accept students? Do you teach kids?
A. In general, about 5 years old is the youngest someone can start. A child needs to have some empathy - to understand that the kicking and punching they are doing can do damage and put themselves in another's place. He or she must understand when it is acceptable and when it is NOT acceptable to use the techniques. And he or she must have the attention span to function in a group class. 5 years old is generally where those requirements are met, but there are many exceptions. Certainly short private lessons are feasible for younger kids.
Specifically at Jerome's Gym, because of the distractions and equipment, I restrict my group classes to teens and adults. For Arnis and Hapkido 15 and up. While younger people can physically perform the techniques, joint locks are not good for developing bodies. If you just walk through the motions as some teachers have kids do they do not learn what really happens with the techniques. Also, Hapkido takes much more judgment in its usage than a kicking/punching art such as Taekwondo. Again, private lessons may be feasible for someone otherwise not a fit for the group class.For Arnis, as primarily a weapons art, it takes good judgement in its usage so mental maturity level is a huge factor.
Q. How old do you accept students?
< p>Q. Which class is best for me?
A. Any age. You may not be able to physically do some of the motions in a particular art, but no one is ever too old to start improving their life via the martial arts.
A. Only you can answer that; it really depends on what your goals are. All Beck Martial Arts classes help with self-defense and self-development, but the primary focus differs a little among them.
Q. How do I get started?
A. I recommend that you set up a telephone consultation with me and take an introductory private lesson as a first step, see the Specials page. But you can also just come to Jerome’s Gym and show up to a class. See the training page for current class times. You can pick up a uniform (for HKD, optional for TKD, none is needed for Arnis) ahead of time, or you can order one through me. Martial arts shoes are optional but recommended.
Q. Don't I need to get in shape before I start?
A. No, this is not the Marines! You can start at any time and in any shape. You should of course see a doctor before beginning any exercise program and let me know of any physical limitations you have, but you can begin benefiting from martial arts training immediately. I've had one person lose over 100 pounds after starting training with me, obviously he wasn't in great shape when he began!
Q. Why the eagle as a symbol?
A. Eagles have long been associated with Hapkido. The high flying bird is considered the king of the air. The golden eagle snatching the arrow out of the air was either the first or second symbol representing the art, and is still used in many HKD organizations. In the USA, the bald eagle represents our nation. I chose the bald eagle as an image to represent Beck Martial Arts because I want be a sterling example of Hapkido in America. This particular image comes from 3 sources: an image I've seen on at least three companies/organizations and believe to be public domain, the drawing skills of Chris Crawford, one of my old students, and some bitmap editing by myself.
Q. Do you sell any Beck Martial Arts gear, videos, or equipment?
A. Yes, check out the BMA Store.
Q. Can I see some examples of what you do online?
Q. What is the best martial art style?
A. The one you keep practicing. All existing styles have something to offer or they would have died out. Some excel at particular types of combat -- ie TKD is known for kicking. Some are more suited to particular body types -- ie judo for a smaller stockier persion. But much more important than style are the skills of the individual, and that takes a lot of practice time to develop. So 'best' is the one you enjoy enough to keep practicing in.
Q. What is Hapkido?
A. 'art of coordinated power' - a comprehensive Korean self-defense system involving joint locks, pressure points, throws, kicks, and strikes.
Q. What is Taekwondo?
A. 'art of the hand and foot' - the world's most popular martial art, it involves kicks, blocks, and strikes and is also a competitive Olympic sport.
Q. How does your Taekwondo class differ from others Taekwondo classes?
There are a LOT of TKD classes out there. Within the World Taekwondo Federation/USA Taekwondo/Olympic TKD umbrella, they will all follow the same set of forms with the same approximate techniques at the same approximate belt levels. The main differences in my classes are the amount of stress placed on self-development aspects of the art such as the 5 tenets of TKD and family training, and the amount of stress placed on the self-defense aspects of the art. The sport aspects and competitions are simply not important.
Q. What’s the difference between Hapkido and Taekwondo? Between Hapkido and Krav Maga? Between Taekwondo and Tae Kwon Do?
Q. How does your Hapkido class differ from others Hapkido classes?
A. Each of my teachers are different and teach in differing ways, and HKD as an art varies a great deal from teacher to teacher in the range of what is taught and the skills required. My focus is self-defense and self-development. My HKD curriculum is concept-based. That makes it quite different from the attack-based curriculum most teachers used, and in my opinion easier to learn, maintain, and make practical.
Q. Isn't TKD just a sport?
A. No, it's a martial art as well. The focus of a particular school may be sport-oriented, self-improvement oriented, forms oriented, or self-defense oriented. The techniques can be used very effectively for self-defense. Even if a particular school is totally sport-oriented and pays no attention to self-defense whatsoever, a student will be in better shape and thus better prepared for an altercation. Beck Martial Arts focus for Taekwondo is self-improvement and self-defense oriented.
Q. What is Modern Arnis?
A. A Filipino martial art known primarily for weapons training that also involves empty hand strikes, kicks, joint locks, grappling, throws, empty hand forms, and stick forms.
Q. What is Arnis de Leon?
A. Grandmaster Anding de Leon's style primarily based on Modern Arnis.
Q. What's the difference between Arnis, Eskrima, Kali, Escrima, Eskrido, V-jitsu, etc?
A. These are all Filipino martial arts with similar footwork, stick and k nife work, ideas of flow, etc. Basically the differences are minor, more dependent on the teacher than anything else. For instance, Professor Presas used 12 striking angles, his brother Ernesto uses 14. Escrido and V-jitsu are systems combining Arnis/Kali/Escrima with jujitsu. Eventually I may work up a Controversial Arnis FAQ page and deal with some of the FMA styles and politics…
Q. How does your Arnis class differ from Modern Arnis or Arnis de Leon?
A. I am not a robot and cannot do things *exactly* the way the professor did or in how GrandMaster deLeon does. Professor Presas taught in a number of different ways under the name Modern Arnis and changed some of what he was doing over the years. Mainly he taught in seminar settings, so there wasn't much structure in terms of belt ranks and skill levels. Grandmaster de Leon has it set up in a more structured way, and my curriculum is very close to his, but I am teaching Arnis in a more conceptual fashion. My arnis is certainly based on what I learned directly from Professor Presas and Grandmaster de Leon, but has also had indirect influence from Dan Inosanto, the Dog Brothers, Mike Inay, and others. And of course it is also influenced by my backgrounds in Hapkido and Taekwondo. It is not, however, a mixture of Arnis and Hapkido; they are separate arts with different approaches and flavors. There are many positives to cross-training, but when mixing in techniques from other sources they must fit into the structure and approach of the style if you are calling it by the style’s name. In my case the Arnis I teach definitely has the ideas of flow and translation between empty hands and weapons of any FMA style, and I believe it to be true to the Professor’s approach.
Q. I've trained in Karate/Kung Fu/Ninjitsu/No Holds Barred Wresting/Tibetan Gopher Throwing/etc? Will I fit in?
A. Sure, as long as you have an open mind. Try the BMA version of Hapkido or Taekwondo or Arnis and fit it into your own personal martial art.
Q. What are your feelings on MMA?
A. I think that martial arts are all about self-defense and self-development, and most MMA is losing out on both. The current boom in mixed martial arts is fine as far as technique goes, but tends to focus totally on competitions and physical skills. Focusing on who’s the ‘toughest’ person means you lose out on all the non-physical benefits of martial arts study; ie self-development. In addition competitions always limit the techniques; there are always rules. For competition, it makes sense to approach it as picking a few techniques that you can do well and making those few nigh unstoppable. But for effective self-defense, you MUST have the capability to deal with many different situations that are never found in a ring, octagon, or on a mat. I feel that traditional martial arts are the best way to gain skills in self-defense and self-development. Hapkido and Arnis have always had a mixture of strikes and grappling included and cover every range including groundfighting. Go far enough in practically any traditional martial art and you’ll find techniques that address all kinds of situations.
The things I like about MMA are that it is exposing many more people to martial arts than ever before, and that it has woken some people up to the necessity of handing many situations, in particular ground fighting.
In my Taekwondo class we train in some nontraditional ways (including groundfighting) and spar under many rulesets.
Q. Would previous rank in martial arts translate?
A. Depends. Skill and knowledge levels vary greatly between schools, and so do color rank schemes. For Taekwondo or for Arnis, I can look at your current skills and knowledge and make a decision as to where you fit; in nearly all cases you'll keep your current rank and simply learn all my underlying curriculum before advancing. But Hapkido is different.
Hapkido varies a great deal from teacher to teacher in the range of what is taught and the skills required. And my HKD curriculum is different enough in its concept based structure from all attack-based structures (which means practically all other HKD curriculums) that it doesn't work well to just put someone in. I want a certain rank in my school to mean that person understands and has skill with all the concepts taught below that rank -- ALL of them. So for Beck Martial Arts Hapkido, for almost all incoming Hapkido students, skills may translate, rank does not.
I fully respect other organizations, schools, and teacher's training. At a seminar or as a guest in my school you can wear whatever uniform and whatever rank has been conferred on you. But the rank of a regular student in my school means rank INSIDE my school; thus it must be earned WITHIN my school and through me. So even if you come in with a 3rd Dan black belt in Hapkido, I want you to start at white belt, learn my whole curriculum and test for every level before you wear a black belt in my school. In other words, every Hapkido rank worn at my school is earned by testing under me, no rank is ever just given out. Attending every class will certainly help your growth and makes rank advancement more likely, but just as with everything else in life just showing up is not enough.
There is one exception to 'starting over'. If the curriculum and knowledge base of your level from your previous training is close enough to mine, I will allow you to wear your current rank with a single white stripe. The stripe signifies that you haven't yet learned the entire curriculum and haven't yet tested for me, but you are close. You will not need to test for every underlying rank separately, but your next test will be comprehensive over my curriculum. This category would apply to for instance some of my students from before my change to a conceptual curriculum, or to certain Sin Moo Hapkido students.
Now lest you think this 'starting over requirement' is a scam to get testing fees, I do NOT have time-in-grade requirements for rank, my testing fees are almost nominal ($25 for Gups 10-8, $50 for Gups 7-5, $75 for Gups 4-2, organization certification fee + $100 for Dans), and you may test for more than one level at a time paying 1 test fee. You do NOT have to go through every single level paying the testing fee and waiting three months between testings. For instance you may come in with 10 years previous HKD experience and an existing 3rd Dan from say the IHF. You start at white belt 10th Gup. Maybe you're ready at the next testing and test for 9th - 2nd Gups, paying $75. Then you wear a red belt 2nd Gup. The next testing maybe you're ready and test for 1st Gup and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Dan, paying $100 (if you want Sin Moo HKD Association 3rd Dan cert, that org's cert. fee also). At that point you've been tested on ALL rank requirements from white belt through 3rd Dan -- you've EARNED 3rd Dan rank in my school. I do believe in SOME aspects of 'time-in-grade'. Certain concepts and skills take time to develop and to sink in, and there is more to martial arts mastery than just physical skills. I do believe that in general without previous MA training it should take about 4 years to get 1st Dan in HKD and about a year/Dan level to advance after that. But if you've put in 10 years of training in some other martial art; you've mastered a lot of concepts that carry over and it should be MUCH faster. Especially if it's a Hapkido related art such as Kuk Sool or Hwarangdo.
Q. How do you feel about ranking via seminars or video?
A. Seminars and video are great training tools, but awarding rank via those avenues is in general a bad idea. Testing via video is too easily staged; you can too easily just record the one time in a hundred you do something right. And repetition to acquire muscle memory is absolutely essential. So if the material shown at a seminar is not practiced enough over time, it is lost. Ongoing regular practice with a good instructor will correct mistakes in your practice and stop bad habits from being ingrained. But a seminar here and a seminar there is not going to do much more than give you an idea of the material. Thus I feel that doing rank tests at a seminar that simply test what's been worked on at that seminar is a bad practice. It tends to promote memorization of the particular techniques done just before, without understanding principles behind the techniques or being able to apply the techniques to different situations. My rank tests deal with understanding of and skill with the concepts I'm teaching; every test is different and you don't know for sure what particular attack will be coming.
Q. What does ‘black belt’ mean?
A. In US culture generally it means martial arts expert. That has become watered down over the years with schools selling black belt contracts and guarantees of rank. In Asian culture generally it just means a serious student.
To me, black belt in a style means that you have a solid level of understanding of all the basics of that style, and enough physical skills to defend yourself effectively using the style. For Hapkido, that means skills in joint locks, kicking, striking, pressure points, and throws. You don’t have to have a perfect tornado spin kick. But you do have to be able to do some basic kicking to earn a black belt in HKD or TKD. If you’re a parapalegic, you may be able to become a great martial artist with fantastic hand techniques and a wealth of knowledge; but sorry, kicking is part of the style and part of the objective measures for rank. Everyone can gain from martial arts training; not everyone can become a black belt.
Q. Can you teach me to fight?
A. Only if you have the right attitude. Physical fighting is condoned in civilized human society only in self-defense or in defense of others; it is always a last resort. As thinking human beings, we have an obligation to use logic and principles to handle every situation, and as citizens, to follow the existing rule of law. At Beck Martial Arts an explicit part of our student creed is never to fight to achieve selfish ends -- developing the proper attitude is an integral part of our training. The physical skills we teach are very effective in a fight, but more important are the mental skills to avoid one in the first place.
Q. Isn't sparring just like fighting?
A. Not at all. Every kind of sparring has rules, and a fight does not. Sparring can help you develop fighting skills, but the mentality is very different. There are aspects to a fight that simply can not safely be experienced in sparring.
Q. Such as?
A. Your reaction if surprised. Your reaction to being attacked at all. Your reaction to being severely hurt. Your reaction to severely hurting another person, ie actually breaking an arm. Legal repercussions like assault charges. Escalation of the fight to different levels, ie weapons.
Q. Then why spar?
A. Many reasons. To develop distancing skills, timing skills, adapt to changing conditions, to overcome pain, to overcome fear of contact, to practice at full speed with a non-cooperating partner, to experience at least part of the adrenalin rush that comes about, etc. Competitive sparring aids in building good character traits such as sportmanship, goal setting and achieving, self-control, perseverence, and self-confidence. Also, it is essential for self-defense to be able to handle realistic attacks, where the exact attack is not known in advance, and the attacker doesn't just stop after one attack. Sparring can develop those abilities. And it can be a very fun game, especially for kids.
Q. Why not spar in Hapkido then?
A. Because it is simply not safe to spar competitively with joint locks in the equation -- someone will always be trying to out-tough the other guy -- which means injuries. People can do full-speed full-contact sparring in Olympic Taekwondo safely because of limiting the target areas, limiting the allowed attacks, and wearing protective gear. People can do full-speed full power throws in judo safely by limiting the types of throws. But with a full speed full power joint lock the opponent either cooperates or the joint is broken. A Hapkidoist can do TKD type sparring using some of his or her HKD striking/kicking skills, and can do judo sparring using some of his or her HKD throwing skills; but the core of HKD is joint locks.
Also, the mindset of Hapkido is defensive, not aggressive. Sparring rules are always geared to the more aggressive person - he who attacks more usually has a greater number of successful attacks. In Hapkido we don't attack someone else; we take their attack and use it against them. It's not about hitting someone else more times or harder than he hits you; it's about stopping them from hitting you at all. We develop self-defense skills by different kinds of drills, including some with realistic attacks in which the defender doesn't know what kind of attack is coming or when it's coming, and where the attacker continues attacking until either controlled or disabled. The philosophical ideal is to merge with the opponent's attack defusing its power and taking control of the person immediately, whether via joint lock, disabling throw, or disabling strike. In other words, we finish fights as quickly as possible.
Q. What kinds of sparring do you teach in Taekwondo?
A. Primarily we do Olympic rules Taekwondo sparring (as governed by USA Taekwondo, formerly the United States Taekwondo Union). Those rules allow the realism of full speed and full power, while the limited target areas and protective gear keep things safe. For children the amount of power is also limited.
However, the way you train is the way you tend to fight. If you NEVER do any other kind of sparring, you're unlikely to make use of techniques and weapons disallowed under Olympic rules. So we will also do some point-stop sparring as in open Karate tournaments, kickboxing rules sparring, Arnis/Wing Chun type trapping hands sparring, grappling with simple takedowns and defenses, ground grappling, submission wrestling, and some UFC type MMA sparring (not all in one class of course!) But we are always cognizant of safety; we always wear protective gear and always go under control.
Q. What about sparring in Arnis?
A. We’ll do some limited sparring drills in addition to the many reaction drills and back and forth partner drills. We do some limited freestyle step sparring training, and a set of 8 stick sparring sequences. But full-contact freestyle stick sparring is *extremely dangerous*, the speed and hardness of the weapons makes it very difficult to do in a controlled manner, and limiting techniques to make it safe also makes it unrealistic.