Black belts: Cops earn Hapkido certification

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Every day, police officers come into contact with dangerous, violent people.Every day, police officers come into contact with dangerous, violent people.

That's why Hapkido instructors Sgt. Marvin Cameron and Sgt. Larry Mullen of the Craig Police Department are trained to capitalize on a single swing from a suspect. Their years of training in offensive martial-arts maneuvers can de-escalate just about any hand-to-hand sit-u-ation.

"This is not what you need to know when you're mad at your neighbor," Mullen said. "It's for the one time you need to know it to save your life."

Mullen and Cameron share the responsibility of teaching Hapkido classes at Trappers Health Club in Craig.

The two secured first-degree black-belt certifications re--cently from the Western Slope Combat Hapkido group. The highest level is a fifth-degree black belt, which generally is revered as the highest form of certification.

Combat Hapkido is a series of practical self-defense moves that redirect the assailants' aggression back toward them using minimum force and effort. It is a modern version of Hapkido that was developed by Grandmaster Pellegrini. It differs from other styles of the art form in technical and philosophical ways, according to the group's Web site.

For Cameron, knowing self-defense tactics has the potential to save his life when he's on the beat. Although officers carry weapons to defend themselves, regular duties can bring an officer in close contact with a wide array of individuals.

"It's better to know it and not need it, than not know it and need it," he said of Hapkido. To date, Cameron said he has not had to use his martial arts training in his 16 years on the Craig force. Neither has Mullen in his four years as a Craig officer, but that doesn't change the duo's drive to continue with the training. Each said they would continue trying to increase their black belt status.

In addition to Hapkido training, Cameron has earned his red belt in Taekwondo. Mullen has earned a brown belt in two styles of karate.

Mullen and Cameron said they've trained some police officers on the force in a couple Hapkido moves. Those involve some tactics to deflect punches or swiftly take a gun out of someone's hand.

"From one punch, I can take a man's hand and put it in a handcuff," Mullen said, while demonstrating the move on Cameron. "This is intended to be used as self defense. We're not teaching people how to go out and fight. We teach respect of other peoples' rights."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdaily-press.com.

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