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The word hapkido can be translated by parts into English as the following:
hap (to combine harmony, unity)
ki (power of mind, body and spirit, inner strength)
do (the way of, art)
A broad definition then is of hapkido as a martial art centered on a person's inner strength (Tan-Jon).
In other words the "way of co-ordinated power" or "the way of strength and harmony". Hapkido employs the basic philosophy of using minimal force to overcome a physically stronger opponent. Therefore, great strength is not needed to apply the techniques effectively and as such is suitable for both men and women.
Against a stronger opponent a hapkidoist can use pressure points to aid in applying a technique. Circular motions (pivotting) is stressed in classes - this is used to divert the attackers energy flow using the
least amount of force. Some evidence can be seen in the gallery section of this site. The emphasis is not on hurting others but on being able to protect yourself and others around you (read the self-defence
article). Many of the techniques will meet an opponents attack, reverse/negate it, and follow throw with offensive counter if required.
During much of this century Korea was under Japanese occupation and the practise of Korea's traditional martial arts was suppressed. After the end of the Second World War, the traditional martial arts reappeared and the modern form of Hapkido was born, based on Daito-Ryu Ju-jitsu and TaeKwonDo. However, the origins of Hapkido go back at least 2000 years and these were practised by the "Hwa Rang" - a warrior elite similar to the knights of medieval Europe. (reference).
In more recent times hapkido is seen as a "total" martial art combining: the locks and joint manipulation of Daito Ryu Ju-Jitsu; the throwing aspects of Judo, hand striking aspects of Karate, and the kicking techniques of TaeKwonDo. As well as the uses of kicks, punches, locks, and throws, hapkido uses nerve and pressure point attacks. Hapkido is the Karean martial art of self-defence. It is interesting to note that every Korean in the armed forces learns TaeKwonDo but Hapkido is reserved for those training in the special
 forces. (reference).
The Water ("Yu") Principle
The first principle we will look at is the water principle. You will see that the water principle has many meanings.
First, look at water flowing easily down hill. When it comes upon a stone or solid rock, it flows around it. From this we can see not to waste time and energy pushing against the rock but simply flow around it.
Observe that a single drop of water has no power or strength. However, many drops of water one drop at a time, will eventually wear away stone. One drop of water will inflict no pain, but a torrent of water can cause great pain.
Similarly, one punch may have little power, but many punches in the same spot will wear the opponent down. Focus on the one spot.
When you put water in a vessel it fits no matter what the shape. If the vessel is round, the water will become round. If the vessel is square, the water will fit squarely. Like water let Hapkido fit any situation. Whether standing, sitting or laying, Hapkido defense should fit the situation. Whether you are tall, short, fat, or thin you should
adapt your Hapkido to fit.
When water freezes it becomes hard like a stone. Conversely when water is heated it disappears (evaporates) only to later return (as rain). You must be able to change states like water. You are normally soft, but with training you can become hard like frozen water. You can learn to move like fluid water, or at times almost disappear only to
reappear as you adjust and change.
Water always flows down. Leaking water always drops downward. A river of water always flows down a waterfall. Likewise, always flow your spirit down. As you learn more and gain more confidence do not hesitate to come down and help those who need it. As you obtain more strength then gain greater humility.
The Circular ("Won") Principle
The circular principle can be seen from several different perspectives. This will show that the circular principle is not just a fighting method but also a universal principle of nature. it applies to ail aspects of life; mental, spiritual and physical.
First, see how the circular principle applies to respect For example, when you come into the Dojang you bow to your instructor as a sign of respect. This custom eventually comes back in a full circle. After many years of study and practice, you become an instructor and your students bow to you as a sign of respect. Also, when a student bows in
respect to his/her instructor the instructor bows in return to the student. If an instructor shows bad manners then the students will learn bad manners. Conversely, when instructors behave properly with dignity the students will mirror this behavior. Those who give respect will have it returned to them.
The circular principle is evident in nature. For example night and day revolve in a never-ending cycle as the earth revolves on its axis. The four seasons of summer, autumn, spring and fall flow in a continuous circle as the earth rotates around the sun. This implies that in nature the circular principle is the basis of harmony between apparent
In Hapkido techniques the circular principle is used in many ways. In defense force is never met with force, but deflected and redirected. There are also many circular techniques: inside/outside crescent kick, spinning heel kick, roundhouse kick, hammer strike, and spinning side chap. Even the linear reverse punch requires a circular turn at
the waist when properly executed. Throwing techniques are always circular. Instead of force against the force of your opponent you use his/her momentum not your own strength. Performing an armbar correctly for example you consider yourself to be the "center" and thus move your opponent around you. Even if you are thrown the proper break fall is a circular rolling motion (rolling break fall).
The circular principle is to accept nature without stress, achieve harmony where there is opposition and never apply force against force. When you are attacked, you and the opponent are like two separate pieces. Using the circular principle you make the two pieces into one as you get in harmony with your opponent. For example, if you are confronted with anger and you return anger there wil1 be a clash.
However, if you are confronted with anger but you remain calm then the anger will dissipate and understanding can be achieved.
The Sum ("Wha") Principle
This is the third principle of Hapkido. It is the combination of the water and the circular principle or the "sum principle."
The sum principle is natural and has many examples in nature. For example, yin and yang are always shown together.
They represent balance in the universe between opposite principles. Together they never end and when they are together there is harmony; like night and day. Further information can be found in the section on the Korean flag.
They can be taken separately since each one is a complete and distinct principle unto itself. However, philosophically, it is the interaction of yin and yang that influences the destiny of creatures and things. Therefore it is the combination of yin and yang that is important.
The sum principle is seen in many other ways. Work and rest are separate and different. But, we must have both to achieve proper balance. Men and women are different. But men alone or women alone cannot make babies. We need both together to complete the cycle of life.
Thus, in Hapkido the sum principle achieves balance and harmony by combining the water principle and the circular principle. When attacked deflect and redirect the attack (circular principle), then now around and through your opponent defenses to counterattack (water principle). Also, the sum principle means concentration where the spirit
 and body work together.
 Hapkido Membership Oath

We, as members, train our minds and physique under strict knighthood.
We, as members, are united in mutual friendship.
We, as members, will comply with regulations and obey our Instructor.
1) What are the colors of the belts in Hapkido ?
   The belts are normally used in this order in Korean Hapkido schools. White, yellow, green, blue, red, brown and black.
   This is to say that almost all academies world-wide use most of these colors if not all, and they follow more or less   this order. It is also possible to find other colors, and in some schools fewer belts with more levels.
2) What is the color of the dobok (uniform) ?
   The Doboks (uniforms) normally used are black and white. The Korean Hapkido Federation, which is the largest federation
   of Hapkido, uses white Doboks with black borders (except on the sleeves). In Korea, children and even black belt   instructors can use various colors from to yellow. Although black and white are the dominant colors.
3) Who founded Hapkido ?
   It can be said that Young Sul Choi was the first person this century to practice torsions and projections in Korea.
   Young lived in Japan by the name of Tatujutsu Yoshida. He practiced Daytoiu Aiki Jiu Jitsu at the Sokaku Takeda School  where Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido, also practiced. Other people around the globe and in Korea have Ji Han Jae as founder, a student of Young Sul Choi. Ji Han Jae was able to project in Korea not only for being the chief of presidential guard security but also for act with Bruce Lee in the film The Game of Death. All this and high level of technique, made
   Ji Han Jae very famous. The answer to the question depends on the point of view of the student.
   Dr. Kimm He-Young, Korean Martial Arts Researcher, said after many years of research:
   "We can accept that Choi lit the match, but Ji made the fire".
4) Is there fighting in Hapkido ?
   Hapkido is a very versatile Martial Art, which uses the legs and arms to block, torsions, projections and immobilizations
   (locks). Imagine two people fighting Judo, each trying to throw the other, when suddenly one of them punches or kicks th other. It isnt Judo anymore. Imagine two people fighting TaeKwondo kicking or using their hands to attack, when suddenly one of them holds the other. It isnt TaeKwondo anymore.
   As we have already said, Hapkido is a very versatile Martial Art, which has all of these fundamentals in its arsenal.
   At present in Korea a federation (WGHF) is trying to create rules which permit the student to use the maximum possible  of their potential. Hapkido has originally always been practiced by one person attacking and the other defending. At  traditional academies Hapkido has and always will be practiced in this way. Although this doesnt impede any instructor  from any academy to develop or simply invent a type of fighting.
5) Is there an international organ that controls the Hapkido ?
   No, most of the time the Instructors and Korean Masters when they leave their countries, open a school but never use  their federation of origin, rather they establish their own federations, and promote themselves to 10th Dan. The organs  that control Hapkido in Korea generally have no influence on these schools or federations of these Masters who call  themselves Presidents or Grand Masters. Note: The four principle Korean federations are presented in this site.
6) How many techniques are there in Hapkido ? Is it true that there are more than 10.000 techniques ?
   Some instructors say there are 3876. Others, to draw attention say there are 10,000. This is ridiculous. Someone who  knows 1 attack in Martial Arts could know all. In modern Hapkido (Hankido) there are 12 basic techniques which when mixed together can result in other techniques. In traditional Hapkido there are some basic locks and torsions that can be  complemented and have some different details at the time of execution, so the Koreans make all the possible combinations with these techniques and arrive at absurd numbers.
   E.g. you take a frontal kick and a side kick. Total of two kicks. A Korean thinks in this form:
   Frontal + Side = 1 Kick
   Side + Frontal = 2 Kicks
   Front foot + Back foot = 3 Kicks
   This is how they create an infinite number.
7) How long does it take to be "good" (black belt) at Hapkido ?
   To answer this question we consulted "Kodo Ancient Ways" by Kensho Furuya.
   "Most people would be overjoyed if I woud say it takes just a couple of years to get a black belt, but unfortunately it does not. And though I am afraid most people would not be happy with my answer, I think the general miconception about
   "What is a black belt?" should be clarified as much as possible. This is not a popular   subject to discuss in the way I  am going to. Indeed, I warn my students not to ask this question in the first place, The answer is not what they want to   hear.
   How do you get a black belt ? You find a competent teacher and a good scholl, begin your training  and work hard.
   Someday - who knows when - it will come.  It may take one year; it may take ten years. You may never achieve it. When you come to realize that the black belt is not as important as the practice it self, you are probably approaching the black  belt level. When you realize that no matter how long or hard you train, there's a lifetime of study and practice ahead of  you until you die, you are probably getting close to a black belt.
  Train hard, be humble, don't show off in front your teacher or other students, don't complain about any task, and do your best in everything in your life, This is what it means to be a black belt.
   To be overconfident, to show off your skill, to be competitive, to look down on other, to show a lack off respect, and  to pick and choose what you do and don't do (believing that some jobs are beneath you dignity) characterize the student  who will never achieve black belt. What they wear around their waists is simply a piece of merchandise bought for a few   dollars in a martial arts supply store.
   The real black belt, worn by a real black belt holder, is the white belt of beginner, turned black by the color of his blood and sweat.
8) How old is Hapkido ? Is it true that it's over 2000 years old ?
   The name Hapkido arrived in the 50s. Korean Martial Arts for sure have existed for a long time. In the beginning names  like Judo, Karate, Aikido, TaeKwondo didnt exist, but what existed in Korea were different types of Martial Arts like, So  Do Moo Sool (Tribal Martial Art), Ui Moo Sool and Kung Joo Moo Sool (Martial Art from the Imperial Guard). These Martial  Arts were practiced by different classes. In these existing forms of fighting no techniques of torsion have been registered,  which indicates that there is a great possibility of the techniques of torsion coming from Japan. Its important to explain
   to the student and others who have little knowledge of Martial Arts that the Korean people were prohibited to practice  Martial Arts by the Japanese who at the time dominated Korea.
9) How many weapons are used in Hapkido ?
   Originally short staffs (Dan Bon), and long staffs (Jan Bon), a sword and cane or walking stick. A popular weapon used  in Korea with Chinese influence is the fan, which is greatly used in Kuk Sool Won. Of course any instructor can add   whatever weapon they want.
10) What are the differences between Hapkido and Aikido ?
    Hapkido and Aikido were influenced by the same Japanese Martial Artof Dayto-ryu Aikijujutsu, an art that emphasizes on  torsions, locks projections, immobilizations and falls. Both founders of Hapkido and Aikido practiced this art with the  same Master. This is where the similarity of the two arts comes from. YOUNG SUL CHOI took this art to Korea and ended up  adding some Korean techniques, like kicks for example, and developed Hapkido. During the course of time more and more  Korean techniques were added and this created Hapkido, as it is known today.
    Aikido established itself in Japan and Morihei Ueshiba, the founder, principally changed the base of philosophy, which until today, is the most emphasized element in Aikido. Summarizing we can say that Aikido has no kicks but in no way is   it an incomplete Martial Art.
The most basic weapon in Hapkido arsenal is actually the foundation for all Hapkido technique. Originally the art of Hapkido
 was developed by applying motions from sword fighting to unarmed combat. Study of the sword technique begins with the use of
 a strung bamboo 'Kumdo" sword and graduates to a hardwood "Bokum" sword before the student ever comes in contact with an
actual bladed weapon.
A large and colorful weapon, the staff is best used as a defense against multiple attackers. Study of the six foot staff as a weapon is physically grueling.
The most subtle weapon used by a Hapkido practitioner, the Hapkido cane is a typical hardwood cane with a hook at the top.
Cane technique uses many of the circular motions used by Hapkido itself, and it is well suited to study by young and old alike.


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