Feature Article

Kwan Jyel Sul (Joint Manipulation)
Grand Master James S. Benko, Ph.D.

History of Kwan Jyel Sul

There are no records which indicate exactly when kwan jyel sul (joint manipulation techniques) were first used. There is little doubt that there are many isolated examples of individuals using kwan jyel techniques. However, kwan jyel sul, as either a method of self-defense or a means of healing, can be traced back to Buddhist monks of India. Though many different countries practice some form of kwan jyel sul today, I shall direct my attention to the major uses of kwan jyel techniques of ancient times and today.

The development of kwan jyel sul is closely related to the creation of acupuncture and the healing arts, and the arts of self-defense. It is generally accepted that the idea of acupuncture began about 2698 BC. This is when the book titled, The Emperor's Internal Book, was written. Acupuncture is an oriental system of medicine in which needles are placed at different points in the body in order to help cure illnesses, relieve pain and stimulate the normal balance within the body. Part of learning the art of acupuncture was the practice of acupressure. Acupressure deals with curing medical problems such as pain, which can be caused by many things including; pinched nerves, dislocated bones, and sore muscles.

In order to help cure those who needed medical treatment, the monks used kwan jyel sul. The techniques used to help cure people were part of the healing methods which involved the manipulation of the joints. If a person had a pinched nerve in his arm, the monks would apply pressure to different portions of the spine as they manipulated it in different directions. Dislocated joints, such as elbows, were helped by re-setting the elbow by rotating and pulling on the arm until the joint was set properly. Headaches were cured by kwan jyel neck manipulation techniques. The manipulation of the joints, as the monks learned, worked not only the joints themselves, but the muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves, all at the same time.

The monks, with their vast knowledge of human anatomy through research in this area, were able to adapt this knowledge to their methods of self-defense. They learned how to use the joints to control an opponent. They used their kwan jyel sul for defending the monasteries. They also used their self-defense techniques to protect themselves from bandits and wild animals on their travels throughout the country.

As the monks traveled to different countries, they took with them their knowledge of kwan jyel sul. They spread these techniques and principles to China, Korea, and Japan. Kwan jyel sul took on other names, such as Chin-Na in China. Kwan jyel techniques were used by the military for defending their countries and driving off invaders. Many styles incorporate the use of kwan jyel sul as part of their training.

The guards were not allowed to use weapons on the palace grounds unless it became absolutely necessary. Therefore, they would rely heavily on their knowledge of kwan jyel sul, which was taught to them primarily by the Korean Buddhist monks. Any intruder who happened to venture onto the palace grounds quickly found himself on the receiving end of a kwan jyel technique.

Some of the women who attended to the needs of the ladies of the Korean royal court were also trained in the art of Koong Jong Mu Do, and thus, kwan jyel sul. In addition to their regular duties, these women were actually the bodyguards of the members of the royal court. They would gladly give up their lives for their lord or lady.

It was not uncommon for Korean noblemen to surround themselves with beautiful women servants. In actuality, these noblemen were protected by the most attractive but deadly bodyguards one could imagine. Though pleasing to the eye, these young women could easily dispatch anyone who threatened the safety of their lord or lady. Their knowledge of kwan jyel sul gave them the ability to neutralize an opponent with the use of little force.

The famed Hwa Rang warriors of the ancient Korean Kingdom of Silla were also well versed in the use of kwan jyel sul. The Hwa Rang was a group of young warriors who, during the period when Korea was divided into three different Kingdoms, became a main instrument in the victories of the Kingdom of Silla over the other two neighboring Kingdoms. Through their valiant efforts, they unified the Three Kingdoms and created one nation. Kwan jyel sul was one of the most important aspects of the Hwa Rang's training.

Won Kang taught many different forms of defense to the Hwa Rang including the use of kwan jyel sul (joint manipulation techniques), and hyel do sul (vital point techniques), plus how to use ji pang e sul (cane techniques), as well as a variety of different weapons. They learned how, by manipulating the joints, they were able to expose the hyel do points of their opponent and terminate him. They were taught how to position the joints so the opponent would be paralyzed. They were also taught how to heal their wounds through their knowledge of both Kwan Jyel Sul and acupressure.

Many of the soldiers who trained under their Hwa Rang leaders also learned some kwan jyel sul. There are those who claim only the Hwa Rang were taught kwan jyel sul and not the regular troops. This is not true! Many troops were trained by their Hwa Rang leaders or by other specially trained officers whose responsibility it was to train their men for battle. Though the average soldier did not have an extensive knowledge of kwan jyel sul, they did however have some knowledge of kwan jyel techniques. After leaving the military, or being transferred to another location, they began teaching others the self-defense arts they had learned, including the use of kwan jyel techniques. Thus, Kwan Jyel Sul continued to expand and develop as the martial arts and Buddhism spread. As you can see, wherever you found the martial arts, you found Kwan Jyel techniques. Wherever a Buddhist monastery was erected the techniques of kwan jyel continued to evolve and develop.

China also used kwan jyel sul in their military arts of self-defense and in the healing arts. Their country uses the term chin-na. It deals not only with the physical principles of joint manipulation but with the concept of Chi (pronounced chee). Chi (Gi "Gee" in Korean, Ki "Kee" in Japanese), is our life energy. Without it we would die. Our body is filled with Chi which is continuously entering and leaving our body as we exert energy, either through physical activity or mental activity. Chi enters our bodies through the air we breath and the food we eat. If an imbalance occurs in our chi, we become sick. If we fail to correct the imbalance and it grows worse, we could die. Using the meridians (paths which Chi follows throughout our bodies), the Chinese were able to execute kwan jyel sul and control their opponent or inflict damage upon their enemy either instantaneously or delay the opponent's reaction until a much later time. The techniques of kwan jyel sul used in Chinese chin na are, if studied for a long period of time, quite effective.

Kwan jyel sul can also be found in Japan. It was used by the infamous Japanese ninja. They developed kwan jyel techniques to a fine art and used them with extreme effectiveness and deadly cunning. Kwan jyel sul flowed into almost every form of martial arts of Japan. It can be found being taught to the Japanese military and the police. The Japanese marital arts of aikido, and jujitsu rely to a great degree on kwan jyel techniques.

Kwan jyel sul can be found in almost all forms of the martial arts; in China: chin-na, and other styles of the Chinese fighting arts. In Japan: aikido, karate, jujitsu, judo, and ninjitsu. In Korea: TaeKwon-Do, hapkido, hwa rang do, yudo, kuk sool won, yu sool, and many other Korean styles.

Kwan jyel sul helps doctors cure the ill, law enforcement personal apprehend criminals, and individuals defend their family and loved-ones. We all use it in everyday life. Most of us, without thinking about it, or some who do not realize it at all. Kwan Jyel Sul has always been a part of something else, never something which was recognized as being as important as it really is to all of us. The history of Kwan Jyel Sul shows without a doubt that kwan jyel sul is indeed useful and necessary for all who practice the arts of healing or self-defense.

The Principles of Kwan Jyel Sul

In order to practice Kwan Jyel Sul (Joint Manipulation Techniques), you must learn the Principles of Kwan Jyel Sul.

The principles, when applied properly, are what insure your techniques are applicable. If you do not employ the principles when constructing and creating your Kwan Jyel techniques, then the techniques will lack power, accuracy and practicality. Study the principles of Kwan Jyel Sul carefully. Commit them to memory and use them for analyzing all of your Kwan Jyel Sul and self-defense techniques.

There are six principles of Kwan Jyel Sul. The six principles of kwan jyel sul are:

  1. Manipulation of the Joints.
  2. Controlling the Muscles.
  3. Regulating the Breathing.
  4. Restraining the Blood.
  5. Direction of Force.
  6. Body Reaction.

All six of these principles are interrelated. They flow from one to the other until the techniques develop themselves through almost every movement you or the opponent makes. Remember, let a "qualified" instructor guide you in your studies of Kwan Jyel Sul.

The following techniques are from Grand Master Benko's book: "Kwan Jyel Sul: Joint Locks, Holds, & Throws For Self-Defense" . The techniques are performed by Grand Master James S. Benko, Edna T. Benko, and Curtis Christner.

Opponent seizes your right wrist
with his right hand.

Move your left foot forward slightly as your left hand thrust toward his face and your right arm bends upward, as you grab his right wrist.

Both hands grip his wrist as you turn slightly to your right, placing your left forearm on top of his forearm, applying pressure toward him.

Rotate your hip to your right as you apply downward pressure to his forearm, locking his arm. Rotate his wrist so his palm faces downward as you apply pressure.

Keeping his arm tight against your body and pressure on his wrist, extend your left leg and sit down.

Your body should rest against his back and downward on his shoulder, while you maintain pressure to his wrist as you apply an armbar and wrist-lock.

Opponent places his right arm around your neck as his left hand grabs your left wrist.

With your right hand, grab his right hand as you quckily bend your left elbow to break his grip on your wrist.

Continuing to pull his hand away from you, push your hip back sharply to off balance him as you punch forward with your left arm.

Drive your left elbow into his mid-section rotating to your hips and face to your left forming a back stance while twisting his hand so his palm faces upward.

Continuing to rotate his right wrist with your right hand, lift his right arm over your head and place your left palm behind his elbow, bending his arm.

Step back with your left foot while continuing to rotate his wrist downward as you apply downward pressure to his elbow. (His elbow must face upward).

Copyright © 1998- James S. Benko and ITA Institute.
All rights reserved.

If you would like to learn more, you may wish to order the following DVD videos:

"Kwan Jyel Sul (Joint Manipulation)"
"Advanced Kwan Jyel Sul"

You may also wish to order the following book:

"Kwan Jyel Sul: Joint Locks, Holds, & Throws For Self-Defense"

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