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What Students of The Korean Hapkido Academy Have to Say About Training with Chief Instructor David Hastings.

David Hastings is a superb martial artist, of a quality almost impossible to find in the modern world.

Dave has lived his art. If he didn't understand how to make it work, he wouldn't be alive to teach it. If you're after realistic self defence, where substance trumps style and technique trumps strength, Dave is who you're looking for. There is no teacher in the area who even begins to compare with his level of experience.

I consider myself extremely lucky to be his student, and my road to finding him is telling for what he is and what he does.

I've seen what works in martial arts. Back in 2004, I was privileged to be a private student of a special forces instructor. I can still honestly say I've never experienced anything as good as what Dave offers.

I've also seen what doesn't work in martial arts.
Due to career responsibilities, I had to leave my old instructor.

Years later, I resolved to return to martial arts. The schools I found, even travelling far outside Leamington Spa, did not compare. While many instructors can teach people to punch and kick and grapple, very few understand their art well enough to make it effective under pressure. Worse still, many techniques are ill-informed at best, and utterly fanciful at worst.

At last I came upon David Hastings, and my arduous, often nauseating journey was over.

I have never been happier with my martial arts than I am now. A true master is hard to find, and harder still is finding one with a realistic mentality. Dave offers the only knowledge worth seeking: the truth.

Luke Richards
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.


Hi Dave

I see you have a new website and a page for testimonials, and would like to contribute the following comments if you're happy to use.

I first came across HapKido in an article when I was a teenager and was hooked on the art that was described and shown in that magazine. High kicks, grappling, sticks and kung fu like strikes.

Eventually around 1987(?) I found a school in Central London, and loved the lessons there but thought it was different from the art in the magazine.

I can't remember how, but later on I came across Dave's school in Leamington Spa, and after speaking with Dave I went up to meet and train with him. After that first time, I was enlightened in more ways then one. This was the HapKiDo that had impressed me initially and was similar to the article, a comprehensive system.

Technique wise, Dave pointed out some of the errors in my application and why they weren't effective. Though they were small changes, the results were quite impressive. He was also honest enough to admit that not everything in the art was practical, and this judgement has to be respected because Dave was working the doors when I first met him. He's still in one piece today!

I never got my wish to train properly and fully in SMK HapKiDo under Dave as I have lived in various parts of the country after meeting him and due to other personal problems in my life, but I do still occasionally visit Dave and seek guidance in the practical side of the art.

I was a Psychiatric Nursing Assistant for 2 years and can say confidently that the techniques of pinning/immobilising someone effectively were learnt from Dave.

I'm not an aggressive person, so even though I have trained in some of the 'fighting' arts and thought I could punch reasonably well at one point, in real life this all fell to pot, and it was an open handed technique taught by Dave that was enough to put off further aggression by someone who once grabbed me.

For those of you who are small in stature, don't have an aggressive attitude or find it difficult to be loud and angry to deter would be threats, I would urge you to do some training with Dave. Some of the things he teaches are usable with immediate effect and don't require you to become an asshole for 10 mins.

For those who are looking for a beautiful art to learn, look at the videos and pictures in the website, and I'm sure you will get an idea of the standard and beauty of traditional HapKiDo that Dave teaches.

I've travelled the world and now one of my final ambitions remain to actually train properly and fully with Dave. I'm hoping 2016 allows me that opportunity.

Saki Choudhury
London, 2nd May 2015.

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