Why Learn Martial Arts

August 7, 2013

By Dr. Ronald Stone

As both a father whose daughter grew up in the martial arts and an instructor with black belt rank in three different styles I feel somewhat qualified to comment on some of the observations I have made in over 40 years in and out of training.  I have visited numerous schools throughout the years and couldn’t help but notice that the more prestigious ones shared similar traits. Please note that I said “prestigious” not big or fancy, because while I truly believe quality and education should be rewarded economically, profit and prestige are not necessarily the same thing.  One only has to remember the first Karate Kid movie. I ask you, would you rather study with a humble but qualified Mr. Miyagi at the beach or with the financially successful owner of the Cobra Kai school with all his colorful mats, punching pads and large number of delinquent students? I thought so.  So what is it that all these schools I would have liked to study at have in common?

Dr. Ron Stone

Hapkido Master Dr. Ronald Stone

Forty years ago when I first went looking for a martial arts instructor I was more interested in the qualifications and knowledge of the instructor than the color of his floor mats but then I was a relative exception to the rule.  Most parents today don’t really do much research and confuse “showy” with knowledgeable or worse yet fun with education and preparation. Having a lot of kids laughing and running around may impress a certain number of uneducated parents but my experience is that they end up leaving all too soon due to a lack of support or long term interest. A wise man once said that you only have one chance to make a good first impression and that is certainly true in the martial arts.

You can be a great instructor but to teach you must first attract, sign up, and maintain students. I believe that parents or prospective students shouldn’t feel uncomfortable or out of place upon first entering a dojang.

Regardless of how humble or large the school is, an effort should be made to welcome strangers and make them feel at home. Questions should be answered and a place made available where they can watch.  Some sort of literature should be immediately handed to them in order to overcome any time constraints or in case they don’t know what questions to answer.  I am also a believer in using posted legitimate credentials as a subtle marketing device. Diplomas, trophies and other awards should be obvious but not blatant.  By this I mean they should be something the parent or student realizes but not one that is rubbed in their face (so to speak). I distinctly remember entering a dojang some years back and before anyone said hello or even inquired as to my previous experience they started bragging about all their trophies and the school’s success at tournaments. It was clearly a “my style is better than your style” situation and since humility is supposed to be part of the arts I left disgusted with their boastful attitude.

At the time I was more interested in self-defense than sport competition and consequently they were never given the chance to explain their capabilites in that type of instruction because they had jumped to the conclusion that I was ignorant of the martial arts. Listen to what the customer is interested in before beginning any sales approach.  Fulfill their needs not your own ego’s.

Cleanliness and first impressions are very important.  I’m not talking about fancy, just clean and orderly.  Many parents are also interested in the discipline aspect of the arts, and if they aren’t they should be.  In several of the schools I’ve attended a certain period of time before class even started was devoted to having students sweep the mats or vacuum and cleaning around the dojang.  It was explained to the parents from the outset that this wasn’t to replace a cleaning crew on the cheap but rather to teach students to take pride in their school and to teach them responsibility.

Class schedules were strictly enforced and parents were made to understand the importance of not interrupting by tardiness or by uninvited participation. While no one understands the difficulty of risking angering a potential paying customer, for every parent who leaves because his child’s arrival twenty minutes late meant he wasn’t allowed on the mat, others will leave if they perceive a lack of proper decorum and object to the interference or interruption of the class they are paying good money for.  The concept of respect for oneself and one’s classmates must be a hallmark of any martial arts school and this concept must be explained though the parents so they can help promote the concept. To avoid such embarrassments a large sign can be posted with a list of 5 or six major class rules (arrive on time, uniforms must be worn, they must be clean, etc.)

There seems to be a tendency to modernize the martial arts with name changes like “Modern this” or “Combat that” but truthfully I believe the core student population prefers stability and evidence of martial art longevity and traditional success.  Uniforms and required routines like bowing in, facing the flag, addressing the instructors properly etc. help set the stage for that impression.  Another more “modernized” school I visited in Miami in the 90’s was a classic example of how to turn away a serious martial artist.  I was looking for a school to train my 5 year old daughter so naturally I chose the closest one in the style I desired. What I didn’t know however was that this particular school was one of a franchise chain. The school was situated in an upscale neighborhood and in a rather pricey mall.  With all the signage and location I expected to find a successful martial arts school.  It may have done well financially but when I entered I immediately noticed the number of parents and students walking around the mats with shoes still on. The noise was deafening and not from Ki-ahps but rather from parents talking and kids running around unsupervised.  One young student ran up to me with a uniform emblazoned with so many patches he looked like a Nascar driver. On his belt were several stars and stripes. When I asked about the stars he informed me they were not from success in the art but rather because he had finished his homework or because he got a good grade in school on a report. In spite of the current politically correct mentality of child rearing I personally do not believe giving awards for merely showing up is in the long run a good idea. If everyone in class recieves a promotion simply for showing up then where is the pride in accomplishment? What does an “A” in school mean if everyone gets one.

Most of us remember the boring teacher in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Bueller, Bueller, anyone?) and trust me that attitude will lose students faster Bruce Lees one inch punch.  The instructor must convey a sense of enthusiasm and vary the class routine.  While repetition is essential to proper martial arts training it can still be achieved with moving drills and games that emphasize proper technique while still make the time go quickly.  Such things as coordination exercises (crossing lines back and forth at a jump, maze drills, dodge ball, column moving drills etc) make the children feel like they are at play while still instructing them and helping increase strength and reflexes.

I am firmly convinced that the success of a child martial artist is due in large part to the “soccer mom” attitude of the parents.  To succeed in the martial arts someone has to take the child to class two to three times a week for years and put up with temper tantrums, pleas to quit and do other things, financial hardship etc.  Therefore it is essential to educate the parents as well and to allow them to participate in some fashion.  Whether it be in hosting a birthday party, or helping organize a demonstration at a school or church.  Whenever possible I like to have a couple of willing parents hold the kicking pads so I can do maze or speed drills.

It gives them a feeling of sharing the experience with their children and occasionally some of the parents end up taking lessons as well. A decent dojang should pay attention to detail.  Having a place to put one’s shoes lends an impression of orderliness. The same is true of the locker room. Trust me, trying to change clothes in a bathroom so small there is no room to place to turn around or to hang one’s things is annoying.

Pads should be but away in an orderly manner, not left lying around.  There is nothing wrong with not having the most expensive pads or kicking dummies (remember Mr. Miyagi’s “paint the fence or “wax on wax off?”) but what you do have should appear well maintained.  Some of the best and most entertaining drills I remember were trying to kick a simple tennis ball suspended from a string or trying to block or kick a series of rubber balls thrown at the student.(Dodge Ball.)  At the end of class however they should be collected and put in a bin or drawer.

I remember a rather small two story dojang taught by a Taekwondo master.  The upstairs mat area was not big enough to both hold class and at the same time allow parents to watch.  The master cleverly solved the problem by installing a camera upstairs and video screen downstairs so the parents could watch and comment without disrupting the class. A coke machine for the parents even helped a little with the school’s finances.

Finally the better dojangs are those who have instructors trained in a certified curriculum, not in a monkey see monkey do approach to the martial arts.

These types of schools often confuse endless exercises with martial arts instruction or disguise their lack of knowledge with a narcissistic attitude.  Exercise is important but not to the extent that you lose students who don’t yet have the conditioning necessary or worse yet spend so much time with push-ups they never learn to defend themselves from a trained attacker.

Martial arts exercise is supposed to limber the student for class to avoid injury and to build the stamina and flexibility necessary to learn the necessary techniques.  In the end however it is the technique one is supposed to learn not the exercise.  The end goal having a superior self-defense capability not merely a superior physique.

So in the end there is no magic to what is mentioned above.  Most partents teach it to their children early on.  Respect, integrity, humility, cleanliness, promptness and education.  Trust me, the discerning parent looks for the same philosophy when selecting a school for their kids. I know I did. As a martial arts instructor and student I try to implement all of the above tips into our Hapkido school in Ocoee, Florida.


Benefits of Meditation for Hapkido Students

March 31, 2012
winter garden martial arts school

Master Ron Stone and Andrea

By Dr. Ronald W. Stone

American Dragon Martial Arts Academies
Clermont, Ocoee and Orlando,Florida

Meditation benefits those in the martial arts because it develops both mind, body and spirit.  It has a number of health and psychological benefits. Because it reduces stress and lowers heart rate (which is beneficial to the body) meditation prior to training can make the experience more enjoyable.

The most common form of mediation in Hapkido occurs from a particular sitting position.  It is inevitable that there will be both physical and physiological benefits, as well as the more recognized mental effects.

The concept of mediation implies obtaining personal control of one’s mental state and entering a higher plane of relaxation.  The object is to create a greater awareness of the subconscious mind.  To do so requires mentally overcoming and ignoring the body’s aches and pains, and developing a greater control of breathing and circulation.

Physical effects can be noted starting with during initial phase of pre training meditation. Meditations begins with the correct positioning of the body into a sitting position with the legs crossed and the hands resting on the knees.  The practitioner should not slouch.  In this manner Ki energy centers are aligned, or in more western terms, posture is improved with correct positioning of the spine.  Sitting in this manner will strengthen back, neck and abdominal muscles, and help stretch leg muscles.  At the same time this position helps flex the knees and hips.  Initially this is a slightly painful or stressful position especially for the untrained, the elderly or the infirm (i.e. Arthritis).  Eventually the Hapkido practitioner will improve back, leg, and lower joint strength, posture and flexibility.

From a more physiological standpoint meditation will lower blood pressure.  According to masters of meditation there are two elements making up meditation: the “jing,” which means calmness and stillness, and the “ding,” which stands for concentration and focus. Calmness is directed towards cutting off external factors of disturbance and enabling one to direct attention towards the inner self.  By allowing the mind to concentrate, a state called “one-pointed awareness” is achieved.  This state allows a deep concentration, allowing the practitioner a better understanding of any elements that are focused on. There should be no, or very limited, distractions during this heightened awareness state. This technique may be used efficiently to find solutions to problems presented by the outside world. It also prepares one to deal with such difficulties.

There are different thought processes (mental tricks if you will) that can help the practitioner achieve these higher levels of relaxation.  One common method is to picture in one’s mind an image of a flowing river with large waves.  Concentrating on slowing the river and calming the waves is an effective technique.  Another image that is often used is that of a flickering candle.  During deep meditation the idea is to slow and eventually stop the movement of the candle light.  During such meditation the practitioner must learn to ignore sound, light and smells that might otherwise create distractions.  Focusing solely at first on breathing patterns and heartbeat will help in achieving this goal.

In more medical terms, as the mind and body relax and jing is reached the heart rate will slow down and blood pressure will drop.  Body tissues metabolism slows thus requiring less energy and oxygen.  This allows more oxygen and energy to be diverted to the brain and its thought processes.  Endorphins are also released further enhancing this state of calm.  As the Hapkido student repeatedly practices mediation the body will become more accustomed to the correct position and less effort will be expended by the mind to overcome physical discomfort, again allowing for more energy to be diverted to the brain.

An important aspect of meditation is the control of breathing.  As one learns meditative breathing there will be various results.  Correct breathing should include a slower and deeper rhythmic pattern with inhalation occurring through the nose and exhalation through the mouth with a slow yet vocal expulsion of air.   The inhalation increases Ki energy, helps slow heart rate and creates the sense of ding,” which stands for concentration and focus. Calmness is directed towards cutting off external factors of disturbance and this enables the practitioner to direct more attention towards the inner self.  This pattern of meditative breathing brings Ki energy in and the vocal expulsion eliminates negative energy.  In western medical terms such breathing patterns allow for hyper oxygenation of tissues and the strong exhalations eliminate carbon dioxide and prevents detrimental lactic acid buildup.

While trying to achieve a higher mental state of calm and awareness (jing and ding) it is necessary to ignore physical discomfort, focus on breathing and allowing the conscious mind to relax.  Through this process one should achieve a state called “one-pointed awareness.” In this state it is easier to achieve a deep level of concentration, allowing a better understanding of any elements that are focused on.  There should be no, or very limited, distractions during this heightened awareness state. This technique may be used efficiently to find solutions to problems presented by the outside world. It also prepares one to deal with these difficulties.  Creating a rhythmic “drumbeat” breathing pattern helps increase internal energy and helps block out outside interferences.   This state is very similar to descriptions of the level achieved during autohypnosis.

The benefits of meditation will to a certain extent vary with the goals and philosophy of the practitioner.  The belief system of the martial artist, whether it be Taoist, Buddhist, Hindu or Western cannot help but influence the end results of meditation.  Regardless, all those practicing meditation will benefit to one degree or another, whether that benefit be spiritual, medical or corporal.

It is interesting to note that since Hapkido is at the same time both a hard and a soft art; it’s most strenuous and rigorous training regimes are initiated with pre-training medication to prepare mind and body.  Meditation during the day will help the strongest and most dedicated to relax and to control their emotions.

Since Hapkido teaches that those who lose their temper, tire first or are overly stressed will suffer most during a fight, medication becomes an essential aspect of training.  Meditation benefits Hapkido martial art training because it develops mind, body and spirit. It reduces stress, creates a sense of well being, and makes Hapkido all the more enjoyable.

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Hapkido Training Improves Flexibility In Adults

January 2, 2012

Hapkido Training Increases Total Body Flexibility for Adults

At Korean Hapkido Federation schools we know that flexibility is an important aspect of overall health. There are many benefits of flexibility training, including a lower risk of back pain, increased physical performance, improved posture, reduced muscle soreness and much more. Practicing Hapkido is a great way to increase flexibility and get all of the wonderful benefits. It is a great alternative to yoga that many people enjoy. Plus it brings the added benefit of learning self-defense. If you are looking for ways to increase your total body flexibility check out the Hapkido schools in your local area.

martial arts school winter garden florida

Hapkido Self Defense Instructor in Clermont, Florida

Hapkido is an excellent martial art that serves as a powerful method of self-defense. This eclectic Korean martial art uses joint locks, kicks, punches, and some techniques that are borrowed from other martial arts. Students also get to learn how to use many traditional weapons. Practicing this martial art is good for your health and a whole lot of fun. Adults can build their confidence as they increase their flexibility and become well trained in the art of self-defense.

Good Hapkido schools give their students all of the tools they need to stay physically fit and mentally powerful. Some adults think that losing flexibility is a thing that just occurs over time, but that is not true. However, regular exercise is simply not enough. In order to flexible adults must focus on flexibility training. Hapkido training not only serves to help adults maintain their current level of flexibility, it allows them to increase it. Those who use Hapkido as an alternative to yoga are impressed at the great results they experience after only a few practices. The proof of effectiveness that appears in their own body and the fun that they have while attending one of the great Hapkido schools is what helps keep them motivated.

So, rather you are looking to learn methods of self-defense, improve your health, or increase your level of flexibility Hapkido training is right for you. There are many Hapkido schools and it is not hard to find one that you like. Hapkido training can literally change your life for the better. As your level of flexibility goes up you look and feel much better. Having better health automatically reduces stress greatly. In addition Hapkido training enhances your mental focus. Hapkido schools can give you the tools you need in order to be successful.

self defense martial arts instructor in Winter Garden, Florida

Hapkido self defense instructor in Winter Garden, Florida

There are so many benefits to Hapkido training that the list can go on and on. As for flexibility, Hapkido training is the best alternative to yoga that you can find. This is a great way to enhance your life and get rid of some of the things that has been bothering you. Take the necessary action to make a significant change in your life by visiting one of the Hapkido schools in your area and signing up. You can experience the benefits of better flexibility for yourself. Every joint in your body will be healthy and able to move much better. It is amazing what Hapkido training can do.

About the author: Richard Hackworth is a multi-arts Grand Master and the host of the World Martial Arts TV & Radio Shows. He is also the Editor of World Martial Arts Magazine and the author of more than forty books on the topics of health, wealth and success. He can reached via his website at http://www.worldmartialartsmedia.com .

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Real World Street Self Defense for Adults

October 8, 2011

Three Hapkido techniques that make effective streetwise self defense

At the Korea Hapkido Federation Haemukwan schools we teach real world street self defense skills through the martial art of Hapkido.

1. Off-Balancing for self defense:
One of the first concepts a student learns in Hapkido self defense class that is effective on the streets is Off-Balancing. Its one thing to be off-balance and fall in the Dojang on safety mats, but quite another on the hard streets. If an attacker is manipulated losing control over his own body then he is much less likely to succeed in his attack. When we are off balance our mind can only concentrate on regaining this balance. So as Hapkido practioners we strive to set our
techniques up by first creating an off-balancing situation that results in an over-reaction from our opponent. This will feed into finishing the fight with kicks, strikes, joint manipulations/breaks and throws.

2. Transitional Flow for self defense:
When you train in a Hapkido self defense class you will learn that REAL fights are unpredictable. A victim might get punched, kicked, tackled, from the front, from behind, etc. So the ability to switch techniques on the fly are vital in surviving an attack. If an attempt at one wrist lock fails, switch to another without breaking a sweat.

That is where the value in Hapkido lies, obtaining the ability maintain control loosely leading the opponent into an ever worsening position. This ability is much like a chess master biding his time for check mate.

3. Seize/Control/Pain Compliance for self defense:
When you study at a licensed Korean Hapkido Federation self defense school you learn that by following the procedures of seizing an opponent, controlling and then providing pain compliance, victory can be achieved. It goes back to the theory that once contact is made by an enemy you must turn the tables on them, not letting go until the fight is ended. Once you’ve gained control over an opponent then it becomes a matter of applying pain through
kicks, strikes, throws, joint breaks, pressure point and vital point compliance total defeat of an attacker.

Please leave your comments below and share your Hapkido self defense tips. Thank you.

Hapkido – A Unique Martial Art For Developing Wisdom

June 22, 2011
Rizwan Mustafa Zubairi

Prof. Dr. Rizwan Mustafa Zubairi

HAPKIDO- A Unique Martial Arts for Developing Wisdom.

In the nations culture they have some-thing to contribute into martial arts and have an understanding that what technique they are going to teach and of what benefit the practioners will get it. The most popular martial arts for self-defense in modern times is given to the world by Korean culture and we all now call it HAPKIDO.

Hapkido is a pure traditional martial arts used for self defense in south Korea. The art is previously practiced mainly by buddhist temples ,royal court ,sun and presidential body guards of Korean. Today in the millennium years, the South Korean Hapkido martial art has been flourished all over the world and practiced by many nations. Few nations have made high superiority in Hapkido techniques with its birthplace practioners. Hapkido is mainly focused on self-development skills and motivate personal confidence and strength in human personal life, which ultimately makes a person successful in every corner of life.

The technical areas focused in Hapkido teaching from white belt to black belt is composed on basic exercise , special breathing techniques ,Self-defense, kicking, board breaking and sparring. In self-defense techniques, joint locks, pressure points, ground fighting techniques, blocking. It’s curriculum also includes selected weapons. There are many Non-Korean masters in the world who develops unique methods or styles in Hapkido and get recognition from leading Hapkido world wide organization according to the needs of their nation and members.

The Hapkido unique techniques are composed of soft and hard. The soft techniques e.g. are throwing, chocking, paralyzing, and twisting, while hard techniques e.g. punching, kicking. The Hapkido practioners not only redirects the attacks but turn it back against the attackers and follow through with offensive techniques if require. Hapkido students can learn the concepts that are based on scientific principals of anatomy and biokinetics, as well as psychology and strategy. The great emphasis is on redirecting the assailant’s force and controlling the attackers with minimum efforts on the student’s part. The ideal Hapkido practioners could be any one-e.g. men, Women, Business man, Law enforcement agencies, Police, military , busy professionals as well as students of schools, college and universities.

Studies have shown that Hapkido system is also ideal for senior citizens as well. Hapkido is strongly oriented to practical self-defense rather than the competitive or sports oriented approach. The modern approach in training of Hapkido provides any of its practioners to deal in real fighting situation in the streets, parking lots, stores etc.

As a Hapkido master instructor in today’s modern world I suggest every one to go into Hapkido training and develop his mind, body and soul to live longer, happier, healthy and wisely. So in true sense one who has been master in Hapkido techniques by the passage of time in years can be considered a wise man than a normal human being. A wide range of martial arts people around the globe including Hapkido practioners are of the opinion that the new concepts in martial arts are turned into sports and many martial arts are become Olympic sports like Judo and Taekwondo, and many others are in process of getting recognition with Olympics like, Wushu, Karate, Thai kick Boxing, Pencak Silat, Ju-Jitsu etc, and some gets recognition at some stages.

Hapkido also need a strong unification at organizational level and to make Hapkido under one umbrella, which is a very big task, for its leaders to full-fill. Its time now for Hapkido leaders to think over what and where they want to take Hapkido to make it most popular martial arts in the world with all its modern and traditional ways.

About the author:  Prof Dr Rizwan Mustafa Zubairi is a highly respected International Master Instructor-5 th Dan. He is also President & Founder Pakistan Hapkido Federation, the official Hapkido branch of the Korean Martial Arts Instructors Association in the country of Pakistan and a master of Haemukwan Hapkido.  Professor Zubairi can be reached by e-mail at zubairihapkido@yahoo.com . Be sure to read his articles in World Martial Arts Magazine.

A Little About Hapkido

June 22, 2011
Hapkido self defense teacher Darren Norris

Master Darren Norris

Learn A Little About Hapkido
By Master Darren Norris

What is the Korean martial art of Hapkido? Let’s take a look at the basic definition of the word Hapkido to beging.

Hap = unity, eclectic, gathering

Ki = inner strength

Do = art of, the way

What we learn from this definition is that Hapkido is an ecclectic art centered around inner strength. Some people might even consider it to be the original Korean Mixed Martial Art with roots in Japan. As the story goes, Dojonim Choi-Yong-Sool was abducted as a child and taken to Japan. There he lived and trained with Aikijutsu Master Sogaku Takeda from 1916 until the time of Takeda’s death in 1943. Choi returned to Korea where Korean Yudo (judo) and the Korean style of kicking influenced his Jujitsu art. He eventually remnamed his modified style Hapkido.

Thanks to the Grand Master Ji Han Jae, Hapkido is curently well known throughout the world for it’s outstanding and realistic self-defense techniques. He was one of Choi’s early students and became the President of the Korea Hapkido Association which later became known as the Korea Hapkido Federation. This more modern form developed by Choi Yong Sool uses the striking & kicking skills popular in styles like TaeKwonDo and blends them with the ease and flow of arts like Aikido.  Much like it’s Japanese counterpart Aikido (who’s founder also trained with the same master), the Korean art of Hapkido uses the opponent’s energy against himself while simutaneously building the defender’s personal power.

I like to tell students that the art of Hapkido is a blend of the soft and hard. It is also a blend of offensive hand and foot techniques, defensive throwing, rolling and restraining techniques. This is what make Hapkido a realistic self defense art. We see that any valid technique can be incorportated. With its underlying theme of obtaining physical and mental balance and confidence in oneself it is an ideal develpmental art for both genders as well as for adults and children as long as it is properly supervised.

Members of the Korea Hapkido Federation Haemukwan learn breathing exercises are also incorporated to strengthen “ki”, or internal power.  Hapkido teaches one to become more “centered” in mind body and spirit. Hapkido movements originate from a relaxed and natural position from whence opposing energy is controlled and redirected. This is whey Men and women of all ages benefit from participating in classes.

Hapkido, as taught at Korean Hapkido Federation Haemukwan schools, is an excellent vehicle to acquire self defense and family protection skills, self-confidence, discipline, fitness, focus and self-esteem while at the same time enhancing non-violent conflict resolution, goal setting abilities and strength of character.

About the author: Master Darren Norris is the US Representative for the Korean Martial Arts Instructors Association, A certified master of Hapkido and Korean Weapons and owner of Aikido Hapkido of Hendersonville, NC. He can be reached via his website at www.masterdarrennorris.com . To find a Hapkido school teaching self defense classes in your area visit http://haemukwan.com

New Hapkido School in Clermont, Florida

August 17, 2010

American Dragon Martial Arts Academies is EXPANDING! We have become so popular in Lake Country that we are adding a second location to better serve the community.

We now have a second Hapkido and Taekwondo location serving the West Clermont, Groveland and Mascotte area.

The location is at 1158 Fifth St. Clermont, FL 34711 at the intersection of Fifth Street and Hwy 50, just two blocks West of the Winn Dixie shopping center with classes in Taekwondo and Hapkido. The Chief Instructor is  former Korean Marine Corp Demonstration Team Captain 5th Degree Korean Hapkido Master KiPyo Lee serving as Hapkido teacher. Grand Opening Party announcement coming SOON! Call 352-536-5063 for registration details. Registration starts August 17th, 2010.


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