Gongkwon Yusul

What is Gongkwon Yusul?

Gongkwon Yusul is an art dedicated to developing practical fighting and self defence skills. It encompasses skills at all ranges, including punching, kicking, elbows, knees, throwing, takedowns, ground striking and grappling: all of which are intended to be applied in practical, free-flowing situations.

Gongkwon Yusul combines the effective, practical self-defence techniques often seen in sport focused “mixed martial arts” (MMA), while maintaining traditional philosophies such as respect for others, personal development and combative (non-sporting) techniques.

Developed by Master Kang Jun, Gongkwon Yusul is the next generation of Korean martial arts, and traditional martial arts in general.

Developed over the course of decades, Gongkwon Yusul blends elements of Hapkido, Judo, Jujitsu and Kyutooki (Korean kick boxing) into a new, refined art that is broad in it’s philosophy and application of technique.\

Technical Aspects of Gongkwon Yusul

Gongkwon Yusul is an all encompassing martial art, that has a range of techniques that can be applied at all distances with maximum efficiency.

The essence of Gongkwon Yusul is it’s ability to seamlessly integrate striking techniques such as punches, kicks and knees to close the distance into grappling range.  Once within grappling range, and variety of takedown techniques can be employed including throws and sweeps.  The final part of the equation is the ground grappling game.  Once the opponent has been taken to the ground, the objective is to submit them as quickly as possible using a large range of ground fighting techniques.

Gongkwon Yusul is unique in the sense that none of these various techniques is seen as seperate; rather they are thought of as one sequence of techniques.  The objective of Gongkwon Yusul then could be thought of as a way of entering your opponents space using striking, which leads to a takedown, which then leads to a submission on the ground, finishing the fight.

Technical Overview

Striking (takyeogi)

Striking in Gongkwon Yusul utilises all parts of the body and includes: punching, empty-hand striking, elbows and knees. As you would expect with a Korean martial art, it also incorporates a wide variety of kicking techniques drawn from both Korean and non-Korean sources.

Throwing and takedowns (Maechigi)

Includes throws using the hip, waist, legs, shoulders and upper body. Also encompassing a wide range of sweeps, reaps and tackles. Takedowns are learned from standing, sparring and kneeling applications.

Standing grappling techniques (Sulgi)

This includes grappling both with and without the gi/dobok. Includes joint locking (Matdeygi) using any of the major joints such as the wrist, shoulder, elbow, ankle and knee. It also uses muscle locks, chokes and strangles.

Ground grappling techniques (Wasul)

The integration of groundwork skills is important in Gongkwon Yusul comprising around 30% of the total system. As mentioned above it includes: joint-locks, chokes and strangles, positioning and pinning as well as strikes while on the ground.

Partner drills (Mat Dae Ki)

Mat Dae Ki (back of the hand partner drills), is the commencing distance in GKY sparring. You commence by touching the back of your partners hand and perform various sets of techniques ranging from hand striking, leg striking, throwing and joint locks.


Samwonbon encompasses much more than just basic repetition of techniques. In Samwonbon individuals apply the techniques of Gongkwon Yusul in a semi-cooperative fashion in order to develop an understanding of the principles behind Gongkwon Yusul. A single Samwonbon sequence may include the full range of techniques (striking, takedown, locking and or ground work) within the flow of the sequence. Samwonbon may be instigated from sparring, kneeling or grappling positions.

Sparring application (Dae Ryon Bon)

This may include pre arranged partner work as well as free flow sparring. Sparring is conducted in one of 4 formats:

  • Stand-up free sparing (no takedowns)
  • Stand up with takedowns (no head punching)
  • Groundwork only with no striking
  • Light contact-utilising head-gear which allows kicking and hand strikes, takedowns and groundwork with striking.


At higher Black Belt Degree (Dan) levels, training is undertaken in both traditional and non-traditional weapons.


Just as we know that there are no rabbits on the moon, even though we have never been there, one does not have to start training Gongkwon Yusul in order understand the principles on which it is based.

I think it is important to give accurate information on the principles and the techniques of Gongkwon Yusul. I consider this especially important since there are people who consider Gongkwon Yusul merely an eccentric method of fighting, or who got the wrong impression that Gongkwon Yusul is a kind of imitation of other martial arts like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kyokushin Karate or MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) after watching a few videos.

One keeps hearing that high-ranking black belts from Korea and other countries commend Gongkwon Yusul for containing the best program. The reason for this may be that they have seen an unprecedented and unseen ’variety of techniques’ as well as the ’autonomous realisation of the principles by the students themselves’ in Gongkwon Yusul. Therefore, no other martial artist who already experienced Gongkwon Yusul doubts that Gongkwon Yusul will become a representative martial art of Korea.

When a beginner starts to train Gongkwon Yusul, they might not even perceive the structure of the programme. It would be for them as if he was walking in utter darkness. But if they continued training for about 6 months, they would amazingly acquire the techniques and philosophy of Gongkwon Yusul on their own. It would be as if a match was ignited in the darkness and could suddenly recognise and distinguish things. The feeling of this moment of recognition makes your skin tingle. It is beyond words.

I developed Gongkwon Yusul having the hope that future students can experience the same joy and enthusiasm that I experienced by training Gongkwon Yusul. I am proud that such a martial art, based on a solid and fundamental theoretical background, emerged in Korea.

In Gongkwon Yusul, there are four unique principles that cannot be found in other martial arts. Some say that these principles are a milestone in the world of martial arts, others call them 'brilliant' and 'ingenious'. This can, however, also be seen as a reflection of the fact that the martial arts are meeting the changing needs of society and our age, and are constantly evolving.

Grandmaster Kang Jun