Hapkido is a Korean martial art, and combines techniques from Karate, Aikido and Judo. It also draws influence from other native Korean martial arts. Characteristic for Hapkido are the wrist locks and throws that can look quite spectacular. Hapkido uniforms are available in white and black and have a characteristic diamond pattern.

Developed in the 1940s and 50s, its founder Grandmaster Choi had learned martial arts first in Japan, in a school of Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu, an ancient form of Jujutsu that was practiced mostly by Samurai.

On Choi’s return to Korea, he added many techniques to defend against particular types of attacks, and borrowed heavily from other styles. The name of what is known as Hapkido today changed several times, and famous students of Choi such as Ji Han Jae continued to develop the art and were instrumental in bringing Hapkido to the west, where it was taught to FBI and other US government agencies.

Hapkido aims to be an effective form of self-defense and employs joint locks, pressure points, throws, kicks, and other strikes. Hapkido practitioners train to counter the techniques of other martial arts as well as common "unskilled" attacks. There are also a range of cold weapons including short stick, cane, rope, sword and staff which vary in emphasis depending on the particular tradition examined.

Although hapkido contains both long and close range fighting techniques, the purpose of most engagements is to get near for a close strike, lock, or throw. Hapkido emphasizes circular motion, non-resisting movements, and control of the opponent. Practitioners seek to gain advantage through footwork and body positioning to employ leverage, avoiding the use of strength against strength.

The Korean Art of Self Defense, Hapkido is considered a "soft" style of Martial Art, as opposed to "hard" styles that practice the use of force against force, making the outcome a simple matter of size and strength. The Hapkido practitioner diverts or suppresses an attacker’s flow of energy peacefully, this diversion allows him to use the attackers power against himself leading to the attackers defeat. Through the use of pressure on certain skeletal joints and pressure points, very little strength is needed to overcome an opponent.

Hap Ki Do not only redirects the attack, but turns it back against the attacker and follows through with offensive techniques which may control his violence or render him incapable of further antagonistic actions. The Hapkido practitioner is in complete control of the confrontation defusing the aggression without the need for uncontrolled damage as seen in many "hard" styles.

Hapkido holds many throwing techniques in common with judo. 

Hap Ki Do provides complete physical conditioning which improves balance, posture, flexibility, timing, quickness, muscle tone, joint strength and most importantly, confidence through physical and mental discipline. Hap Ki Do is the most effective defense against most common and uncommon assaults. It is the world’s most mysterious form of martial arts, combining the locking and break-falling aspects of Aikido, the throwing aspects of Judo, the striking and kicking of Tae Kwon Do. It is an amazing art that has the power to unlock the hidden power of strength and confidence in even the smallest person, young or old, male or female.

Hapkido is based on three important basic principles:

1. The principle of the circle. All movements are round. The Hapkido fighter moves as inside a ball. Influencing forces are rerouted from the outside and neutralized at the surface of the "ball".
2. The principle of the river. As the river, which adapts extremely flexibly to the landscape and nevertheless in the moment the buildup develops an enormous strength, the Hapkidoka also sensitively reacts to his opponent, in order to let his pent-up "Ki" flow by the technique into the opponent in the crucial moment.
3. The principle of influence. By lightning movements, which hardly can be noticed the aggressor is arranged to reflex countermovements, which then are used in a subsequent technique.

There are two major personalities who have made Hapkido what it is today, Grandmaster Choi, Yong Sul and Grandmaster Ji, Han Jae. Due to the various and partially contradicting predicates it can not be determinated precisely who of these two can be regarded as the founder of Hapkido. However, the fact is that both were instrumental in bringing this development about and therefore both could be refereed to as founders of Hapkido.

Filed under: Martial Arts Styles

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