Joining a martial art can be intimidating; fear of injury or pricey memberships can put many people off. One club in Dennistoun is working to eliminate these deterrents, by adapting two martial arts into one accessible form; Hap-Jitsu.

Hap-Jitsu combines the Korean Art Hapkido and Japanese Art Ju-Jitsu, taking parts from each sport’s syllabus to make a new one focused on practical self-defence.

Club co-founder Derek White said: “As a group we don’t do competitions; we are not training for medals, we are training for real life situations of close contact.”

He continued: “Hap-Jitsu is easy to pick up because it’s user friendly. We use technique as opposed to strength; making it a good martial art for women and children, because smaller students can train on equal footing with bigger ones.”

This equalising method works to fill the age void of close-contact martial arts.

White explained: “As Ju-Jitsu and Hapkido are close-contact arts, they don’t have the same attraction for kids as those that involve competitive training from outside their fighting arc. So we have developed a Hap-Jitsu kid’s syllabus that incorporates katas, training drills and techniques that focus on defending from a distance as well as close contact.”

Contact levels differ across each Hap-Jitsu peer group, with junior classes covering ages 5 to 9, intermediate covering ages 9 to 13, and adult classes covering aged 14 and above.

The classes run a belt grading system where students learn a set number of techniques, then perform them in front of a grading panel, before graduating belt colours and moving up the syllabus.

White said: “The basic drills of Hap-Jitsu act as foundation stones to more advance techniques; as students gain more experience the technical level increases.”

This grading syllabus showcases the founder’s combined experience.

White explained: “I studied Hapkido for a number of years and the other founder, Andy Moran, had studied Ju-Jitsu for a number of years. So Hap-Jitsu was formed when the two of us came together, trained, shared our knowledge and qualified in each other’s art forms.

“As far as I am aware, we host the only Hap-Jitsu class in the world. Other clubs who have tried to bridge Hapkido and Ju-Jitsu haven’t lasted, because most of their instructor’s training lay in one field. However Andy and myself have an even split of skills, so we have managed to diversify the syllabus.”

This syllabus involves striking, kicking, throws, locks, blocks, and fitness training. However, White explained that the class also develops the mind.

“At Hap-Jitsu we promote discipline and mutual respect, but we do it while having fun. A lot of martial arts can be intimidating for less confident students, because they are at times overly uniformed and formal; but we create an atmosphere of equality.”

“When kids join the class their parents tend to notice they get more involved with their peers and gain confidence. This could be because the kids feel more able to deal with conflict or because they are in a group that encourages self belief and team work.”

This community spirit is reflected in the clubs’ mantra.

White said: “Dennistoun is my home town, I was born and bred here, and Andy (Hap-Jitsu co-founder) lives here too.

“We are well aware that we are in an area suffering social poverty and, in today’s society, people struggle to get by; so the club is reasonably priced, and we make it a priority to keep our classes available to everyone.”

“We are a voluntary organisation that runs to support itself; so we can afford to keep the costs low.”

Students get their first Hap-Jitsu class free, and can participate in sports-wear.

White said: “Anyone who is thinking of joining the class should just come along, see what we’ve got to offer and have some fun.”

For more information visit the Hap-Jitsu website.