What is Hapkido
The Way of Coordinated Energy
Hap – Coordinate or Unify Ki – Internal Energy Do – The Way or Path
The Korean martial art “Hapkido” consists of thousands of techniques that flow easily from one technique to another to provide the practitioner an infinite number of ways to defend oneself. A first glance at Hapkido might look like other martial arts like Tae Kwon Do or Karate when it comes to punching and kicking; the joint locking is similar to Aikido, the throwing techniques look like their from Judo and the grappling and escapes are similar to Jiu-Jitsu. The difference is that Hapkido has combined all these elements into one single art because it is a “combat” martial art.
Understanding the nature of Hapkido requires the knowledge of actual combat or self-defense situations. First, in real self-defense situations there are no rules. Second, there is no way to predict the situation an attacker will create. Third, the only way to defend against any given situation must be by reflex appropriate to a given attack. Obviously this requires a great deal of dedication to the art, but like life itself you get out of it only what you put into it! Although no one can learn every Hapkido technique overnight the average student should be able to defend themselves in approximately six months.
A unique aspect of Hapkido is in its emphasis of redirection of aggression, because strength is not a prerequisite it is ideally suited for men, women and children, whether tall, short, fast or slow everyone can benefit from Hapkido.
The Water Principle
The water principle has many meanings. First, look how water flows easily downhill when it comes to an obstacle like rock it flows around it. From this we see not to waste time and energy pushing against the rock but to simply flow around it. Second, when you put water into a container it does not matter what shape the container is, the water simply takes the shape of the container. Like water let Hapkido fit any situation. Third when water freezes it becomes hard like stone. When water heats up it disappears (evaporates) only to return later (as rain.) The Hapkido practitioner must be able to change states like water. If you meet a strong attack flow around it and redirect its strength or at times almost disappear and reappear as you adjust and change the situation. Fourth, water always flows down; always flow your spirit down and help others grow. As you learn more and gain more confidence, do not hesitate to come down and help those who need it. Never forget your roots and your foundation. As you obtain more strength then gain greater humility.
The Circular Principle
The circular principle can be seen from several different perspectives. This will show that the circular principle is not just a fighting method but also a universal principle of nature. It applies to all aspects of life; mental, spiritual, and physical.
First, let us see how the circular principle applies to respect. For example, when you come into the Dojang you bow to the instructor as a sign of respect. This custom eventually comes back in a full circle. After many years of study and practice, you become an instructor and your students bow to you as a sign of respect. Also, when a student bows in respect to his instructor the instructor bows in respect to the student. If an instructor shows bad manners, then the students learn bad manners. Conversely, when instructors behave properly with dignity the students will mirror this behavior. Those who give respect will have it returned to them.
In Hapkido techniques the circular principle is used in many ways. In defense, force is never met with force but deflected and redirected. Properly executed throws are a circular motion. Even breakfalls are performed in a circular rolling motion.
The circular principle is to accept nature without stress, achieve harmony where there is opposition and never apply force against force. When you are attacked, you and your opponent are like two separate pieces. Using the circular principle, you make the two pieces into one as you get into harmony with your opponent. For example, if you are confronted with anger and you return anger there will be a clash. However, if you are confronted with anger but you remain calm then the anger will dissipate, and an understanding can be achieved.