What Is Hapkido? – All Your Questions Answered

Hapkido is a Korean art of self-defense, and someone who practices Hapkido efficiently will be able to have control over a combat situation using the discipline as well as the confidence gained from studying this unique form of martial arts.

What Is Hapkido?

What characterizes Hapkido is the focus on joint locks, dynamic styles of kicking, and throws.

It stands out from other Korean martial arts like Tang Soo Do and Taekwondo for how it emphasizes deflecting opponents attacks in contrast to the usual forceful blocking.

Hapkido was designed to be an ‘anti-martial art’ which means it was made to defend from attacks instead of instigate them and use martial arts to overcome the attacker. 

Hapkido has strong roots in Aiki-jujitsu but builds on it by adding strikes and punches to the throws, grappling, and joint-locks.

This means it is one of the original forms of mixed martial arts. But what makes it different from more modern forms of MMA is the base Hapkido provides in differing forms of defense.

The strategy of the defense in Hapkido follows the principles of water, circle, and harmony which gives its followers a framework to work off of when it comes to actual combat scenarios to ensure that they properly defend themselves.

Hapkido is designed to allow its students to subdue their opponents to make it so they are unable to cause any harm and aims to give complete control over any physical confrontations.

This martial art emphasized precision instead of brute strength and allows a Hapkidoist to specify damage to avoid creating any unwanted injury to an opponent.

This is why Hapkido is so popular for private security professionals as well as within some groups of law enforcers.

While some damage can be done in real combat scenarios is necessary and with enough training, the main aim of Hapkido is self-defense.

What Does Hapkido Mean?

Hapkido is a combination of Korean characters. The ‘Hap’ part of the word means ‘combine’ or ‘co-ordinate’. The ‘Ki’ part means the technique and can also be seen as meaning ‘inner strength’ or ‘power’.

And ‘Do’ simply means the way (this is why a lot of Korean martial arts end in ‘Do’). Altogether Hapkido translates into ‘the way of co-ordinated power’.

What Are The Characteristics Of Hapkido?

As previously mentioned, Hapkido aims to use co-ordinated, and therefore minimal force to overcome an opponent who may be stronger physically.

This is good for people with limited force as you do not need massive strength in order to be effective in this martial art.

As well as not needing massive force Hapkido also utilizes knowledge over pressure points to help control your opponents.

As well as this, Hapkido uses a variety of different types of attacks including; spinning kicks, sweeps, and thrusts, as well as using a combination of both soft and hard fist attacks and defenses to make a varied style of combat.

Hapkido also uses the aforementioned pressure points to do both pressure point and nerve attacks as well as joint and wrist locks in conjunction with throwing and twisting techniques.

It may seem overwhelming but with every element of Hapkido combined there are about 270 categories for different types of movements and within this there are about 3400 different techniques. 

Hapkido has gained its popularity for how accessible it is. Hapkido is designed for people of any age group, any gender, any weight class, or any other factor within reason to be able to practice the martial art to some degree. 

If people continue to rigorously practice Hapkido it is proven to improve the health of those who practice it, as well as developing muscle tone, fixing posture, helping control weight, improving mood and self-confidence, as well as more control over body and mind.

All of these benefits put into perspective why so many people are attracted to this specific form of martial arts.

The way Hapkido is taught is that some linear techniques will form a base on which the circular techniques will be based and developed from.

Techniques are supposed to be taught in a specific order to help balance the martial artist who practices them to allow them to be able to control a wide variety of combat situations.

What Are The Key Principles Of Hapkido?

What Are The Key Principles Of Hapkido?

As previously stated, Hapkido translates into the ‘way of co-ordinated power’ and while this encapsulates a lot of varying techniques, all of them have been somehow based off the 3 principles that makes the foundation of this martial art.

These are the principles of harmony, the circular principle, and the water principle. 

The idea of these three principles is hard to explain concisely but they are designed.

So the user is able to instantly change and adapt their fighting style to fit any combat scenario which is what makes it such a popular fighting style for those who often need it in real-life combat scenarios.

While not completely unique, Hapkido is also one of the forms of martial arts that has a focus on anatomy making it, so followers have an understanding of the human body and, more importantly, its weak and vulnerable points that are easy to expose during combat. 

Depending on where the student learns Hapkido, there is a chance they will get a good foundational knowledge of Korean history as well as philosophy, so followers get a proper understanding of where Hapkido came from.


So now you hopefully have a good foundational knowledge of what Hapkido is about and where it is most commonly used.

As previously mentioned, this martial art has gained popularity for how it is accessible for such a wide demographic so if you want to learn as a group activity, this could be a very good choice.

However, when choosing a martial art to learn, consider how easy it will be to access classes as well as comparing it to other similar martial arts to see if these will fit your circumstances better.

Christopher Anderson
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