The Martial Art of Hapkido
For anyone interested in getting into martial arts, there is certainly no shortage of choices on what to study. Over the last year we’ve talked about some of the more “famous” forms – like karate, tae kwon do, and ninjutsu – but there are many others that are less well known. One of these is hapkido.
The Origins of Hapkido
Hapkido is relatively new on the martial arts scene, only going back to the years following World War II. Developed by a group of Korean students and teachers, who blended elements of Japanese aikido and judo with their own individual techniques, hapkido arose in South Korea and quickly gained popularity there. It shares a common style and ancestry with aikido – which is the Japanese version of the same name, hapkido – and it is generally translated as “the way of harmony” or “the art of coordinated power”. This is because of its focus on fluid movements, adaptability, circular momentum, and constant motion in order to redirect energy back towards an opponent.
The Principles of Hapkido
There are three main principles for hapkido: hwa (harmony), won (circular momentum), and yu (moving like water). Together, these form the basis of the discipline and influence the possible strikes, counters, and resistance for any fighterThe harmony principle means that students move with similar force – they will not directly push back against an enemy, for example, but would rather move with a potential attack in order to throw their opponent off-balance. When combined with circular momentum in such instances, that forward motion can be curved backward and added to a counter-attack, redirecting the force back to its origin. And when the water principle has been mastered, a fighter is adaptable, quick, and difficult to hit in a decisive way. Fluid movements and redirected energy are the core ideas of hapkido.
Hapkido Fighting Techniques
This martial art allows for many varied physical strikes, with much more emphasis on balance and circular motion. Techniques like bi-directional kicks, leg sweeps, and roundhouse kicks use great momentum in the legs, while elbow strikes, throat and eye punches, and even groin hits are taught and encouraged. Hapkido also allows joint locks, adding another element to their grappling – fighters can manipulate wrists, fingers, elbows, knees, or other body parts to cause pain and submission. Matches also include full-body throws, a practice which is likely due to influences from judo.
Hapkido is also one of the martial arts that allows and encourages weapon usage, ranging from small knives and batons to large staffs, ropes, swords, fans, and nunchaku. In fact, hapkido weapons knowledge and disarming techniques are so thorough and useful that many Korean law enforcement organizations use it in their officer training.
Benefits of Hapkido
While any martial art is beneficial for the body due to physical activity and discipline, this is one of the few that stresses neither absolute strength nor mindfulness and meditation. As students practice and learn more advanced techniques, they will naturally get stronger and more physically fit, but there is not a focus on developing that in itself. There is also not a requirement to develop the mind as much as the body, so if you are looking for something that is a bit more self-reflective, hapkido might not be for you.
If you are interested in learning more about martial arts and the benefits they can have for your mind, body, spirit, and health, let us know and we’ll be happy to share more information. We’ve been teaching kung fu for many years at our studio, and we can tell you from experience that there’s nothing else like it!