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One set of techniques that my dojang doesn't practice much with, but that I have seen in several other Hapkido sources (mostly "lightning patch" groups), are live hand variations on locks.

Explanations regarding ki notwithstanding, I've observed a major category where they seem to help: Showing new people how to balance the weight of their hand for locking. There seems to be a natural tendency with people learning wrist locks to put their force toward their own index fingers while letting the little and ring fingers float, while livehand locks emphasize shifting that weight back.

On the negative side, one generally doesn't one to leave one's finger extended through a technique (too easy to jam or get grabbed).

The question I have is: Is it worth explicitly training this as an illustration, dropping it as the student progresses and can more reliably get the technique, or is it more beneficial to just start with the version they will be using in the long run, even if it means that they might struggle more up front?

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2 Answers 2

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As a student and teacher of Aikido (obviously not Hapkido, so take with as much salt as you see fit), my inclination would be to introduce this as early as possible. Moreover, I think you've provided the answer yourself:

There seems to be a natural tendency with people learning wrist locks to put their force toward their own index fingers while letting the little and ring fingers float, while livehand locks emphasize shifting that weight back.

This is a good reason to include the practice earlier rather than later. If students have already learned to grab with their last couple fingers, you are losing part of the benefit of this practice. Of course, this wouldn't be a reason to not include it.

On the negative side, one generally doesn't one to leave one's finger extended through a technique

Another reason to introduce earlier rather than later. Older students will likely already have the muscle memory of withdrawing their fingers, so either you will program and then de-program this reflex, or they will simply not learn the new way to the degree it can be useful.

Explanations regarding ki notwithstanding[...]

This may be less important to you, but I would argue this as one of the most important reasons to introduce this practice as early as possible. Esotericism aside, ki is an interesting concept with regards to power generation and efficiency; if this practice enables the 'uninitiated' to harness greater levels of this, then by all means, practice away!

(one quick note: this may not be something for the absolute beginner, but introducing it as soon as the student appears ready would be my recommendation).

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In both Tomiki and Yoshinkan aikido, when we teach the relevant techniques, we do teach them to emphasize the pinky fingers and to avoid (over) using the index finger. We teach that not from a ki perspective, but from an effectiveness perspective. Specifically with respect to wrist grips and lapel grabs I've been told more than once to grip with my pinky. We wind up reinforcing the same concept later, because for some reason, people forget to grip with their pinkies and slip back to an index finger grip. (At least I assume that people other than me forget).

In point of fact our current Sempai does recommend keeping the index fingers extended - at least during kote hineri which is the reference technique that comes to mind. I'll have to look at some of the other techniques.

I can't find any citation or reference to teaching this way - that's just the way that it has been taught wherever I've studied.

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A reference that people forget? –  Robin Ashe Oct 2 '12 at 23:01

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