Is Hapkido Effective? – A Complete Breakdown

Hapkido is a Korean style of martial arts and it is designed to be used in self-defense scenarios as well as effective in combat.

Is Hapkido Effective?

It is designed so it can utilized in street fights and to be adaptive enough that it will work well in unplanned realistic situations.

Hapkido is a very varied style that uses a lot of different techniques that makes it a good unpredictable choice to use in combat situations.

Hapkido uses both close combat as well as more ranged techniques and even teaches how to use some of the traditional martial arts weapons.

The mix of styles that are used in this form of martial arts is what makes it so effective.

Modern styles of Hapkido are primarily focused on self-defense making it a very useful style to learn and while it focuses on self-protection, some good damage can be dealt to your opponent.

Instead of dealing strikes like a lot of other martial arts, Hapkido focuses on redirecting the force of your opponent and staying in control of the combat scenario you are in.

This makes Hapkido a very accessible form of martial arts as it does not require the student to possess excessive physical strength to be able to get good use out of it.

This guide will cover the usefulness of Hapkido as well as acknowledging its weaknesses and what can be done to compensate for them.

The origins of Hapkido and how it is used will also be discussed. Read on if you want to find out just how effective Hapkido can be!

What Is Hapkido?

As previously mentioned, Hapkido is a style of martial art that originated in South Korea and was designed in reaction to the Japanese style of Aikido so it can be defeated.

The martial arts style was mostly created and formed in the early portions of the 20th century. 

The ideas and philosophies of Hapkido have roots in Buddhism.

This style of martial arts focuses on using joint locks, throws, and redirecting power and force.

While it is focused on keeping the user protected from their attacker, if you are trained in a specific way you can be relatively brutal with Hapkido as the attacks that it teaches are often used with the intention of incapacitating your attacker.

This is what makes Hapkido so popular within private security and law enforcement circles.

Some of the weapons that are used in Hapkido are short, medium, and long sticks, swords, knives, fans, and rope techniques.

Excluding Taekwondo, Hapkido is the most popular Korean style of martial arts and because of its usefulness it has gained widespread popularity. If you practice Hapkido, you are known as a Hapkido-in.

Is Hapkido Effective?

How To Learn Hapkido

It can be quite hard to find a reputable and affordable Hapkido school, especially if you are limited to only the options that are local to you.

Before choosing a dedicating yourself to a Hapkido school, make sure to thoroughly research the quality of the teaching and try a trial session before you commit to anything.

It is quite common for there to be Hapkido ‘masters’ who do not teach Hapkido correctly focusing more on the fighting than the self-defense.

A better Hapkido school will foster a comfortable environment that aims to bring students up to speed under controlled circumstances and focusing on the correct principles of the art.

When choosing a Hapkido school, before making your choice, make sure that the school practices Hapkido that will help in a real-combat scenario and will teach you real applications of your training.

If this is not a focus of the school you want to choose, it is unlikely you will be learning a very practical form of Hapkido.

Hapkido is designed to be approachable for any demographic and aims to let you gain control over combat scenarios no matter your capability.

This makes it a perfect choice for shorter people or women (see also ‘6 Best Martial Arts For Women To Learn‘) who sometimes feel more vulnerable in these situations. 

Hapkido is designed to work well against those with no clue how to fight properly, but also those who have received training.

However, Hapkido is not very effective against seasoned fighters unless you have other techniques to make up for this. However, if you are looking for a martial art style for self-defense on the streets, this is a great choice.

Self-Defense Techniques In Hapkido

The characteristics of Hapkido focus on circular and flowing styles of movement that utilize diverting force and energy use.

These styles of movement are what allows people who are physically weaker to dominate combat situations where they would usually be at a disadvantage. 

While most forms of martial arts rely on about 2 or 3 techniques, Hapkido encapsulates 7 being; evading, hitting, blocking, levering, weaponn use, and throwing.

You are also required to take advantage of breathing techniques, medittation, controlling internal energy as well as healing.

These techniques are not all learnt at the same time, while the earlier forms are taught in the beginner stages, arts like healing which encapsulates massage, medicine, and accupuncture are not taught until the master stages. 

The more physical techniques which are utilized and helpful within self-defense scenarios consist of phsycial hits and turning blocks into throws.

You utilize the force of your opponents and use circular and flowing movement to redirect it back against them.

A good mix of aggression and defense is what makes Hapkido a good unpredictable choice in a fight. 


Hapkido is a very mixed and varied form of martial arts that has a variety of uses which make it a popular choice for many.

What makes it even more attractive is its focus on accessibility, so if you feel alienated by other forms of martial arts due to physical attributes, this will not be an issue with Hapkido.

This is a very effective form of martial arts if you are looking for self-defense techniques, but if you prefer competition, there are much more standardized styles of martial arts that you will likely prefer!

Christopher Anderson
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