Hapkido (“The Way of Co-Ordinated Power”) is an integrated martial art. Techniques familiar in other martial arts are used to accommodate any situation, whether the situation is on the feet, ground, or against multiple assailants. 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.
As in Aikido, the attacker is encouraged to over-commit their attack. The attack is received with minimal resistance, it is guided past the target and then the defender’s own force is added to it. The result is to unbalance and throw the opponent. However, opponents do not always attack with large movements. Often short jabs and kicks are delivered with such rapidity that it is very difficult to lead the opponent’s force. In these situations, the close quarter blocking and striking techniques of Hapkido gives the Hapkido practitioner knowledge of how to counter and overcome such attacks.
Many of the joint locks and throws of Hapkido are very similar to those of Jujitsu. Painful twisting of the joints and tendons along with the application of painful pressure to vital points, combined with a thorough knowledge of human anatomy help to control any opponent regardless of size or strength. These techniques are fine for close quarter attacks, however because Jujitsu practitioners do not practice their techniques against proficient kickers or punchers, they are vulnerable to such long range attacks. Hapkido fighters practice kicks and punches to a high degree of proficiency, thus the familiarity gained through practicing the techniques helps in defending against them.
Tae Kwon Do
Virtually all of the kicking techniques of Tae Kwon Do are identical to those of Hapkido. Spinning kicks, thrusts, circular kicks and sweeps are all used in sparring. Due to the fact that Hapkido is not a tournament-orientated style, other techniques like low spinning kicks, low-section kicks and knee strikes are also used. The basic hand techniques of Hapkido are similar to those of Tae Kwon Do, that is, mainly linear attacks with fist or knifehand. However in a confined space such as a crowded public bar or a narrow hallway, kicks are limited in their practicality. Self-defense tools such as elbows, knees, head butts and joint attacks are essential for survival in such situations. All these techniques are practiced in Hapkido to produce a thorough knowledge of all ranges of attack and defense.
In Hapkido, as the student advances past the basic hand techniques, more emphasis is placed on small circular techniques and fast close quarter parrying which resemble the techniques of Kung Fu. Advanced weaponry techniques using the long pole, Bo, and the fan are similar to those of Kung Fu.
Throwing plays an important role in Hapkido. The basic principles of Judo are used in Hapkido, that is, moving your opponent’s center of balance to a vulnerable position and using your leg or body to topple the opponent. As well, Hapkido uses strikes or pressure points to maneuver the opponent with less reliance on strength.
At advanced stages, students are taught Kumdo. Basic strikes and blocks are similar to Kendo, however circular and low section attacks typical of traditional Korean swordsmanship are taught once the basics have been learned.