Often described as a “graduate level” martial arts program, the extremely comprehensive nature of Kuk Sool Won continues — and, in fact, intensifies — after promotion to 1st Degree Black Belt. There are 10 levels of Black Belt in Kuk Sool Won with 10th degree reserved for the Grandmaster. White Belt is just the beginning of an exciting and challenging journey.
Whereas many styles of martial arts (especially the more modern creations which seem to view the Black Belt as an end in itself) have very little to offer after Black Belt, Kuk Sool Won stands apart in that it is after Black Belt that the training really begins. As vast as the Underbelt curriculum is, it really just forms the foundation on which your later training will build.
Below we lay out the requirements for promotion to the rank of 2nd Degree Black Belt with full descriptions of the forms, techniques and skills. Also understand that many of the techniques available in Kuk Sool Won are “special” forms/techniques that are not listed in the curricula (these include training sets, weapons routines, etc.).
1st Degree Black Belt Level: Jo Kyo Nim
Ki Bohn Bohn (10): (Fundamental Principle Techniques) As the name implies, these are the first basic throwing techniques taught in the elementary level of Kuk Sool Won and are designed to initiate Black Belt “Freshmen” to the more advance principles of throwing. A thorough knowledge of the Underbelt curriculum is necessary before beginning this level of technique.
Gahk Doh Bub (10): (Angle Principle) This set of techniques is designed to further instruct the beginning Black Belt student in angles so that they may better understand and apply the proper technique most effectively. Not only does this set of techniques lay a proper foundation for techniques to come, it should also help to make any techniques that the student has previously learned to be applied much more effectively and efficiently.
Juhn Hwahn Bub (10): (Spinning Principle) The techniques taught in this particular set teaches the student to apply the principles of YU-WON-HWA (“soft-circular-blending” are the three core concepts on which the art of Kuk Sool is based) in a smooth and circular manner while maintaining proper body motion in order to translate a rapid spinning motion into a linear force.
Goh Geup Sohn Mohk Soo (15): (Advanced Level Wrist Techniques) This is an advanced set of techniques forming a continuation of the first set of Wrist Techniques (called “Sohn Mohk Soo”) taught at the Yellow Belt Level and teaches the student to apply new principles to this type of technique for more effectiveness.
Goh Geup Eue Bohk Soo (15): (Advanced Level Clothing Techniques) Just as the technique set above was a continuation and expanding of an earlier set of techniques, so also is this set which teaches a more advanced and effective response to clothing grabs based on principles learned at the Black Belt level. The techniques are quite effective, but they are also somewhat more complex, requiring a firm understanding of the techniques learned at the Underbelt Level.
Jah Ki (15): (Techniques from a Seated Position) This set of techniques takes the principles and applications already learned and teaches the Black Belt student to apply them from a seated position. Though taught in a kneeling posture (a position much more common in Asia than in the US), these techniques can also be easily applied when seated in a chair.Â Because the kneeling posture precludes the possibility of retreat or motion in response to an attack, this set of techniques is also very effective in teaching effective blocking and redirection of an attack prior to the counter.
Wah Ki (15): (Techniques from a Recumbent Position) While certainly not a position to be preferred for defense, there are situations in which the student might be thrown to the ground and attacked and therefore it is necessary to know how to defend oneself from a position in which one is lying on the ground.Â This set of techniques teaches a response to various types of attacks from this position.
Ee In Jeh Ahp Sool (10): (Techniques Against Two Attackers) This set of techniques teaches the Kuk Sool student how to apply many of the techniques and principles learned previously against grabbing attacks by two attackers simultaneously. In addition to requiring proper technique, joint angle, pressure point attack and proper body motion, Ee In Jeh Ahp Sool also requires the student to perform these techniques with both hands (including the “weak” hand). This helps to build strength and dexterity in the application of techniques with BOTH hands.
Jahp Ki (20): (Grappling Techniques) Derived from Korean wrestling, Jahp Ki teaches the student to 1) “feel” for an opponent’s movements, 2) develop a quick reaction/response and 3) develop a repertoire of throwing techniques. A good understanding of pressure points and joint locking is necessary in order to perform these techniques effectively.
Johk Bahng Uh Sool (15): (Kicking Defense Techniques) This set of techniques teaches the student basic and fundamental defenses against various types of kicking attacks.Â In order to be applied effectively, the student must first thoroughly understand the biomechanics of various types of kicking in order to develop the ability to rapidly identify the type of kick and respond quickly based on the opponent’s body motion.
Keun Dae Ryuhn (8): (Close Range Sparring Set) A pre-arranged sparring set to teach principles of close-in sparring, Keun Dae Ryuhn teaches proper distance and timing in order to maximize the student’s defensive/offensive technique. This set should be practiced with various opponents with intensity, speed and focus.
Baek Pahl Ki Hyung: (108 Technique Form) This Kuk Sool Won hyung is also known as “Eliminate 108 Torments Form” based on the Buddhist belief that there are 108 “torments” (worries/troubles/etc.) that humans experience, and the idea that by doing this form everyday these “torments” can be worked out. The first empty hand form on the Black Belt Chart, Paek Pal Ki Hyung introduces a number of new techniques and reflects a highly advanced and difficult body motion. Paek Pal Ki Hyung sets the stage and prepares the student for even more complex and advanced forms to be learned later on as they progress through the various degrees of Black Belt.
18 Dahn Bong Hyung: (18 Movement Short Stick Form) A weapon of ancient Korea and developed within Family or Tribal Martial Arts systems, the “dan bong” is a short hardwood stick slightly longer than the student’s forearm. This form teaches 18 effective striking and blocking techniques in a “+” shaped pattern.
Joong Bong Il Hyung: (First Middle Staff Form) The Joohng Bong, or Middle Staff, is the most commonly seen staff used in Kuk Sool Won, and should measure in height between the student’s eyebrows and the top of the head. Primarily used as a single-ended weapon, the Joong Bong is used in a variety of different motions (striking, spinning, blocking, poking, pressing, etc.), all of which are used in this first form.
Juhng Guhm Hyung: (Straight Sword Form) The first sword form in Kuk Sool Won, Juhng Guhm Hyung is based on straight sword techniques — the first of the four types of sword principles taught in the Kuk Sool Wonâ„¢ curriculum (the others being Inverted Sword, Double Short Sword and Double Long Sword). Before learning Juhng Guhm Hyung, the student must first study and practice proper sword etiquette, sword meditation and drawing and sheathing techniques.
Bong Dae Ryuhn: (Staff Sparring Set) Designed to teach control, timing and speed in weapons use, Bong Dae Ryuhn is the first 2-man weapon sparring set learned in Kuk Sool Won and is designed to allowed students to go “all out” with a weapon with a minimal chance of accident or injury (with PRACTICE, of course). In order to have a proper foundation for this set, the student first begins by learning stationary bong spinning, moving bong spinning and the first bong hyung (Joong Bong Il Hyung, above) — only then are they considered to have developed the required proficiency to practice bong sparring.
At this point in their training the Kuk Sool Won student will have 11 Forms & 369 Techniques
“N” Cha Ki: A set of combination kicking (such as front kick/side kick or side kick/back kick) that emulate the shape of the Korean letter of that sound (which in the Western alphabet is somewhat similar to the letter “L”).
“L” Cha Ki: A set of combination kicking (such as round kick/hook kick) based on the shape of the Korean letter of that sound (similar to the shape of a backwards “S” in the Western alphabet).
Wahl Jahng Cha Ki: A set of specialty kicking techniques in which the students runs and jumps toward a wall, tree or some other stationary object, rebounds off of the supporting structure and performs a kicking technique. This type of specialty kicking technique is often seen in breaking demonstrations.
Ssahng Bahl Cha Ki: (Double Kicks) This set of aerial kicking techniques is concerned with kicking techniques using both feet together (such as a double front kick, double side kick, etc.)
Yahng Bahl Cha Ki: (Split Kicks) Similar in execution to Ssahng Bahl Chagi (above), this set of aerial kicking techniques is concerned with kicking techniques using both feet kicking in different directions (such as a spit front kick, side kick/round kick, etc.). A spectacular technique, this type of kicking is also seen very often in kicking demonstrations.