Hapkido is a Korean Martial Art of self-defense and is suitable for all ages and abilities. Hapkido is an easy-to-learn, complete art teaching:
- Kicks & Punches
- Joint Manipulation
- Pressure Points
- Free Fighting (non-contact)
Direct translation of Hapkido is roughly “the way of coordinated power”.
Many other martial arts are “hard” – they rely on physical power and are offense oriented. Hapkido is “soft” and defensive, emphasizing throws, joint locks, and pressure point techniques.
Other martial arts emphasize tournaments, street fighting, and competitiveness. Hapkido emphasizes self-discipline and personal development.
Hapkido minimizes injuries with techniques that completely subdue the opponent. In order to defend against attacks, Hapkido teaches corresponding offensive techniques. For instance, before teaching defence against kicks and punches, kicks and punches are taught. Before learning defences against weapons, students must learn how to use those weapons.
Ki Meditation is a unique blend of breathing exercises, stretching, and meditation to help you relax, become more flexible, and to harness your inner energy. Meditation can help to counteract the stress response. It does this by slowing heart rate, improving oxygen consumption, re-balancing hormones, settling the mind, and boosting energy levels. Simply sitting quietly by yourself and bringing your attention to your breath is a great way to start reaping the benefits of meditation.
Grand Master Gedo Chang originally learned Hapkido from his father, a Buddhist monk. He was also a contemporary of Master Ji. In his twenties Master Chang left the mountains of Chungnam province and the monastery he had grown up in. Arriving in the city he became formally recognised as a master (1964) by the newly created Korean Hapkido Association. He then opened his school in Korea and called it Wol Ge Kwan which means “The Victor’s Laurel”. He was the first to develop Hapkido techniques specifically for police personnel. His teaching abilities so impressed the Korean Government, that they created a special award for “Best Martial Arts Instructor”, and presented it to Master Chang. In 1973, Master Chang moved to the United States of America and settled in Lombard, Illinois where he opened his first U.S. School, “Chang’s Hapkido Academy”. Since then he has demonstrated and taught throughout the USA and is currently President of the World Hapkido Union.
The three Hapkido principles aim to describe the philosophical ideas that define Hapkido. These fundamental concepts have relevance on both a physical and spiritual level
WON – Circular Motion
The circle symbolises natural and continuous movement. In relation to an attackers punch – instead of blocking it with a direct counter block (meeting force with force), the circular principle is used to deflect or re-direct the force of the punch. Utilising a circle not only disrupts an opponent’s force, but also sets the position for a counterattack. In everyday life the same principle can be applied – if someone makes negative comments then these should not be countered with negative returns but be deflected in a circular way with positive ones.
The circle can also be thought of as an invisible area around oneself – if the attackers punch does not come inside this circle there is no need to block. Circular motion is also important in relation to the education of students. Techniques need to be revisited with the added knowledge acquired from having completed the circle.
HWA – Non-resistance or Harmony
At one level the harmony or non-resistance that we are trying to develop is within us – linking mind and body. In simple terms, one should be making sure that the body or senses are not dictating actions.
At other levels we should be trying to be in harmony with our environment and our opponent. In relation to a punch even though the force is directed straight at us, we should not oppose that force but instead go with it. In this way we harmonise with the force becoming one with it. In everyday life we should also be ensuring that there is harmony between mind and body, so that we are following the right path. Closely linked to harmony theory is the concept of “empty mind” – a mind free from impurities.
YEW – The Water Principle
Two of the characteristics of water are softness and adaptability. Softness in general is linked to life, whereas, hardness or brittleness is linked to death. Softness has the capacity to win against hardness. Hapkido is “soft” and defensive, emphasising throws, twists and pressure point techniques. As compared to some other Martial Arts that are “hard” – which rely on physical power and are offence-oriented. When training in Hapkido both the body and mind should become softer. Adaptability can be described in terms of deflecting an attacker’s punch; we are like water that has been penetrated by a stone: no sooner has the stone divided the water than it flows together again to surround and envelop the stone. Adaptability, constant flow, penetration and softness apply to actions within the do-jang as well as to life in general. For example, adaptability refers to adjusting positively to changing circumstances and finding the best path.