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What is Kuk Sool Won | The Harmony and Theory Behind the Art
How Will Kuk Sool Won Help Me | Adult Curriculum
What is Kuk Sool Won?

KUK SOOL WON™ is a comprehensive martial arts system derived from the rich and varied martial arts techniques and traditions that have arisen in Korea through the ages. Kuk Sool is a complete martial art that is dedicated to the cultivation of mental and physical strength and well-being, and to the preservation of traditional Korean martial arts.

Although its origins may be traced back to antiquity, the present Kuk Sool system was devised only recently. Grandmaster In Hyuk Suh spent more than 50 years in single-minded practice and research in order to learn, compile, master and organize the more than 3,608 techniques that comprise Kuk Sool. He founded the Kuk Sool Won (National Korean Martial Arts Association) in 1961 and brought it to the United States in 1974. The World Kuk Sool Association, headquartered in San Francisco, California for 17 years, relocated to Houston, Texas in 1991. This Association has since grown to include more than 1,000 member schools in Asia, Europe, Canada, the Middle East, and the Americas, and continues to grow in strength and numbers daily.

For self-defense, Kuk Sool is unsurpassed. It is a beautiful and dynamic "hard-soft" style emphasizing speed and fluidity. It covers the entire spectrum of the traditional Asian fighting arts and techniques of body conditioning, as well as mental development and traditional weapons training. 

These include....
From the theory of YOU (flowing, as in water), we learn to "go with the flow" in the execution of our techniques. Like water, one should not struggle with any object it encounters. If water were to come in contact with a rock while going downstream, it simply goes around it, with no force or attack. So in this case, like water, when we are pushed, we should pull; when we are pulled, we should push. Also, water symbolizes many things, not the least of which are adaptability, softness and at the same time, great force. So although water can appear to be passive, it is in fact, very powerful.

The theory of WON (circle) acknowledges that every person has his or her own circle of "private space" which we want to protect. Attacks which invade this space should be redirected with flowing and circular defensive motions. Should an attack fall short of the private space, energy should not be wasted in defense. A circular block, rather than a linear one, deflects the opponent's force of attack, rather than compete with it. This circle should be thought of as least resistance; always rolling (active), and therefore, difficult to hold or grasp.

Finally, the theory of HWA (harmony) represents the mind and body living as one. Repetition in practice accomplishes this harmony. Harmony is achieved through a state of "emptiness" that recognizes "+" (yang) and "-" (um) are part of one; each is there to allow the other to exist, and cannot exist if the other part is not there. Then when the body and mind are one, techniques and training become "second nature" because the repetition is ingrained, and one can react instinctively to a situation.

The ramification of the theory of YOU - WON - HWA is that as flowing water seeks a harmonious state with its environment, constantly adapting to external changes, we should also seek to maintain harmony within our inner circle so that all trespassers in this space are redirected in direct proportion to the force they introduce.
Cick Here to see a diagram of "You Won Hwa"
Kuk Sool can benefit men, women and children of all ages. Through diligent practice, Kuk Sool training will develop strength, quickness, balance, timing, flexibility and coordination. At  the same time, powers of concentration, self-discipline, and self-control significantly improve. In addition, faithful practice will enhance circulation and digestion, reduce problems of the back and joints, help in weight loss, and help to develop and maintain a youthful appearance. These benefits will positively affect all aspects of your life.

Meditation, removing thoughts from your mind, leaves a clear, reenergized mind and body that is able to concentrate on the present task. In addition, meditation instills self-control and self-discipline. Overall, meditation strengthens the spirit, mental well-being and brings balance to a student's life.

Stretching and body conditioning exercises (mohm puhl gi) condition the total body. They create smooth, flexible and strong muscles externally and condition internal organs as well. This can be especially beneficial for injured people or people with back problems. In fact, Kuk Sool has been recommended by physicians as part of a rehabilitation program.

Breathing exercises (ki cho jah ki) increase oxygen flow to the lungs, heart and mind which bolster an individual's alertness and mental outlook. Moreover, breathing control exercises, such as ki cho jah ki, provide an opportunity for students to clear their minds which will improve their ability to focus and concentrate. These exercises also tone and strengthen internal organs. According to Korean tradition, those who develop their "Ki" (internal power) through breathing exercises have long and healthful lives.

Basic hand techniques (soo ki) and Basic kicking techniques (johk sool) condition and strengthen the upper and lower body, respectively. By executing hand strikes and kicks repeatedly, students acquire increased stamina and the balance and coordination needed to strike with precision, fluidity and power.

Falling techniques (nak bub), after becoming proficient, allow a person to fall without getting hurt. Another benefit is body conditioning: practicing falling techniques strengthens internal organs and tones connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments; with repeated practice, the body becomes "tighter" and better-able to withstand the effects of falling. Each individual is allowed to progress at his or her own pace according to their abilities.

Forms practice (hyung) combines basic hand and kicking techniques in a pattern of "connected moves." This provides the foundation of a student's martial arts training: timing, balance, speed, coordination, and control -- all are invaluable to the martial artist. The practiced Kuk Sool student trains to move as elegantly and effortlessly as flowing water.

The five principles of forms are:
Eyes: bright and clear 
Mind: calm and focused 
Body: soft (low, stable, supple and relaxed) 
Feet: slow and precise 
Hands: fast and controlled

Joint-locking techniques allow a weaker person to overcome a much stronger adversary by reversing the power of the stronger. Using these techniques with balance and speed, a student can joint-lock, throw, control and/or redirect an opponent. When performed properly, these techniques use the weakness of your opponent¹s joints and vital points against him or her.

Animal techniques are based upon the movements and/or characteristics of certain "martial" animals. Balance and speed resulting in tremendous strength are characteristics borrowed from the praying mantis (sah mah gi), with its heavy head and long legs. The snake (bahm) is completely defensive, only striking when threatened or attacked. The fighting principle learned from the snake is a defensive attack that allows the entire body to strike as a single force. On the other hand, the tiger (ho rahng ee) is entirely offensive. Kuk Sool recognizes the tiger's speed and body weight to aggressively pounce upon his prey. Another attack animal is the eagle (dohk soo ri): it frightens its prey then attacks from above and behind. In Kuk Sool, eagle techniques often begin with faked techniques followed by a grab to pressure points with penetrating fingers. Like the eagle, the crane (hak) is an aggressor. However, the crane utilizes loose, relaxed and quick moves exhibiting a softer power than the eagle. The crane focuses total energy on one point with a long-ranged, relaxed strike. Korean martial arts employ only the basic fighting principles of the "martial" animals. With the fact that people are not animals, Korean martial arts do not try to imitate the animals.

Weapon training perfects the balance between body and weapon. With assiduous practice, weapon training is as beneficial to the mind as to the body. It demands concentration and self-control to avoid injury; also, it aids physical conditioning from performing the task.

Specialized training introduces students to higher-level techniques, pressure-point training, and advanced hand strikes and kicks. Also, sparring training is offered by notably proficient instructors (sparring gear is mandatory). In addition, specific instruction is given on how current training can be useful in women's self-defense and street fighting situations.

Mental training is evidenced throughout Kuk Sool training, whether in meditation, forms practice, weapons training, etc. In addition, mental training is the basis of student conduct. Students are expected to display a high level of respect, self-control, and discipline during each class. In Kuk Sool, mental training is crucial: the body is not strong without a strong mind.

In conclusion, Kuk Sool training influences students in a powerful way: it acknowledges the "whole" student -- not only the physical being -- but equally important -- the mental being. In this way, martial arts is different from other sports because most sports concentrate entirely on physical conditioning. From Kuk Sool training, a person can expect to be physically stronger, more flexible and healthier overall. In addition, a person can expect, from mental training, to exhibit more self-control and self-discipline which account for a calmer disposition. Since Kuk Sool incorporates both physical and mental training, the "whole" student -- body, mind and spirit -- is strengthened. As a result, a person attains harmony, good health, and mental well-being.
(Children under age 13 follow a modified form of this curriculum)
Yea Eue: Etiquette
Ki Cho Jah Ki: Martial Art Breathing Exercises
Sohn Ppae Ki: (5) Wrist-Grab Escapes
Soo Ki: Hand Strikes
Johk Sool: Kicking Techniques
Nak Bub: Safety Falling and Acrobatic Principles
Dahn Juhn Ki Bub: Energy Breathing Principles 

White Belt

Ki Cho Hyung: Foundation Pattern
Ki Bohn Soo: (15) Fundamental Techniques

Yellow Belt
Cho Geup Hyung: Elementary Pattern
Sohn Mohk Soo: (11) Basic Same-Side Wrist-Grab Defenses
Eue Bohk Soo: (13) Basic Clothing-Grab Defenses
Ahn Sohn Mohk Soo: (6) Cross-Side Wrist-Grab Defenses

Blue Belt
Joong Geup Hyung: Intermediate Pattern
Maek Chi Ki: (15) Hand Strikes To Pressure Points
Maek Cha Ki: (15) Foot Strikes To Pressure Points
Joo Muhk Maga Ki Bohn Soo: (15) Fundamental Techniques with Blocking

Red Belt
Goh Geup Hyung: Advanced-Intermediate Pattern
Joong Geup Sohn Mohk Soo: (7) Intermediate Same-Side Wrist-Grab Defenses
Ahp Eue Bohk Soo: (20) Defenses Against Clothing Grabs From The Front

Brown Belt
Ki Bohn Bong: Staff Fundamentals
Dae Geup Hyung: Advanced Pattern
Dee Eue Bohk Soo: (23) Defenses Against Grabs From The Rear
Kwahn Juhl Ki: (13) Offensive Joint-Locks
Too Ki: (13) Throwing Techniques
Mohk Joh Leu Ki: (5) Choking Techniques
Bahng Too Ki: (10) Defenses Against Throws

Black-Brown Belt
Geum Moo Hyung: Sword-Dance Pattern
Yahng Sohn Mohk Soo: (15) Defenses Against Both Wrists Grabbed
Ssahng Soo: (15) Defenses Against Double-Hand Wrist-Grab
Dahn Doh Mahk Ki: (15) Defenses Against Knife Attack