Hapkido is a Korean combat martial art that is a practical method of self-defense here in the United States. Take the foundation of Tai Chi, add on the best punches and kicks of Tae Kwon Do, and combine it with the throws, locks, and breaks of Jiu-Jitsu, and the end result is Hapkido. Hapkido techniques consist of precise joint locking, twisting and throwing and do not require great size or strength to be delivered effectively. The philosophy, principles, and techniques are often the keys to unlocking hidden wells of strength and confidence that lie deep within us all regardless of age, sex, or muscle mass.
To really understand Hapkido you must first break it down to it’s essential concepts:
HAP — meaning “together” is the harmony of the body and spirt.
KI — meaning “energy” is the life and body energy that is inherent in all things.
DO — meaning “way of life” or the way of learning.
Combine these together and you get Hapkido or “The Way (art) of Co-Ordinated Power“.
Historically, Hapkido was an art confined to the nobility and upper class society in Korea. Today, it is practiced by students of all backgrounds, ages and physiques. Hapkido can be applied from any position: standing, sitting or lying and from any direction.
Hapkido employs the philosophy of using minimal force to overcome a stronger opponent. Therefore, great strength is not needed to apply the techniques effectively. In addition, Hapkido uses pressure points to assist in controlling the opponent.
Hapkido has a powerful arsenal of kicks, thrusts and sweeps combined with hard and soft fist attacks and defense. Additionally, Hapkido uses nerve and pressure point attacks, wrist and joint locks, and many twisting and throwing techniques. Approximately 270 categories of special movements incorporating 3400 techniques are included in the study of Hapkido.
The popularity of Hapkido is due to the fact that anyone, young or old, male or female can practice this complete art of self-defense regardless of physical weight or strength. Health is improved through systematic training and exercise. Development of muscles and muscle tone, correct posture, control of weight, a sense of self-confidence, self-control of both mind and body, and spiritual fulfillment are just some of the benefits of studying Hapkido.
In Hapkido, linear techniques form a solid base upon which the skill of circular techniques can be developed. Everything is taught in correct order to produce a balanced martial artist able to handle any situation.
Hapkido history is the subject of some controversy. Some sources say that the founder of Hapkido, Choi Yong Sul, was a houseboy/servant (some even say “the adopted son”) of Japanese Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu GrandMaster Takeda Sokaku. In Japan, Choi used the Japanese name Yoshida Tatsujutsu since all immigrants to Japan took Japanese names at that time. Choi’s Japanese name has also been given as Asao Yoshida by some sources. According to this view, Choi studied under Takeda in Japan from 1913, when he was aged 9, until Takeda died in 1943. However, Daito Ryu records do not reflect this, so definitive confirmation has not been available. Some claim that Choi’s Daito Ryu training was limited to attending seminars.
Choi Yong Sul
Ueshiba Morihei, the founder of Aikido, was also a student of Takeda (this is not disputed). Hapkido and Aikido both have significant similarities to Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu, so it would seem that Hapkido’s link to it is real, regardless of how and where Choi was trained.
Choi returned to Korea after Takeda’s death and began studying Korean arts and teaching Yu Sool or Yawara (other names for jujutsu), eventually calling his kwan (“school”) the Hapki Kwan. Ji Han Jae is said to be the father of modern Hapkido. He began studying under Choi and eventually started his own school, where he taught what he called Hapkido. Along the way, Hapkido adopted various techniques from Tang Soo Do, Tae Kyon, and other Korean kwans (schools).
Korean sources may tend to emphasize the Korean arts lineage of Hapkido over the Aikijujutsu lineage, with some even omitting the Aikijujutsu connection. However, as noted above, the connection can be seen in the techniques.