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There’s a proper form for every martial art, but executing practiced punches is not necessarily the best way to fend off attackers.

It’s a philosophy Green Turner embraces in his Hapkido classes at the Youth Center at RAF Mildenhall. Though the class is technically called Hapkido, Green combines the dynamic Korean martial art with combative tae kwon do, a more popular practice also from Korea.

"We focus on self defense vs memorization of movement," said Turner, who has been practicing and teaching the combined techniques for 25 years. "They need to be able to be ready to defend themselves vs. knowing the rules of a sport."

Hapkido trains students to counter the techniques of other martial arts as well as common unskilled attacks, which are more likely to be carried out by people who don’t play by the rules.

Practicing kicks, punches, rolls, dives and other elements of Hapkido and tae kwon do is integral to the training, and more importantly, its purpose: self defense. But Turner also incorporates the element of surprise during his classes to account for real-world situations his students may one day face.

For instance, Turner will sometimes simulate blows while students are practicing shoulder rolls, a crucial Hapkido move. Needless to say, his classes can get a little rougher than a typical martial arts class, said Turner, who wrapped up three days of Hapkido camp for children at the center last week.

"The goal is to have them react instinctively," he said. "I teach to stop bad things happening to good people. That’s the most rewarding part."

And while the children in Turner’s classes are clearly having fun, the point of it all is probably best appreciated by their parents.

"We like the self defense aspect of it so she can look after herself in any situation," said Claire Dorman, whose daughter, Lily, 7, has been taking Turner’s class for two years.

"We enrolled her as soon as she was old enough for class," said Dorman. "It’s also brilliant for teaching them to control their emotions and helps, in a certain sense, with developing respect for adults."

Two new Hapkido classes for adults will begin at the Youth Center in September.


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