What is Hapkido?

Hapkido is a Korean martial art that originated in the mid-20th century. It is a comprehensive system that incorporates a wide range of techniques including strikes, kicks, joint locks, throws, and grappling. The name “Hapkido” can be translated as “the way of coordinated power” or “the way of harmony and energy.

Hapkido was founded by Choi Yong-Sool, who was heavily influenced by his experiences with Japanese martial arts, particularly Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu. Choi Yong-Sool combined elements of traditional Korean martial arts, such as Taekkyeon and Subak, with techniques from Japanese martial arts to create Hapkido.

Key aspects of Hapkido include:

  1. Joint Locks and Throws:Hapkido practitioners learn to manipulate joints and use an opponent’s energy against them, often employing joint locks, throws, and takedowns.
  2. Strikes and Kicks:While joint locks and throws are emphasized, Hapkido also includes striking and kicking techniques for both offensive and defensive purposes.
  3. Grappling and Ground Fighting:Hapkido practitioners are trained in grappling techniques for close-quarters combat and ground fighting.
  4. Weapons Training:Hapkido includes training with traditional Korean weapons such as the short staff (dan bong), cane (ji pang ee), and sword (kum).
  5. Philosophical and Spiritual Aspects:Like many traditional martial arts, Hapkido emphasizes the development of mental discipline, respect, and self-improvement along with physical training.

History of Hapkido

The history of Hapkido is closely tied to its founder, Choi Yong-Sool, and the development of martial arts in Korea during the 20th century.

  1. Choi Yong-Sool:Choi Yong-Sool is considered the founder of Hapkido. Born in 1904 in what is now North Korea, Choi was adopted by a Japanese family at a young age and spent much of his youth in Japan. During his time in Japan, Choi learned Japanese martial arts, particularly Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, under Takeda Sokaku. This training heavily influenced the development of Hapkido.
  1. Return to Korea:After World War II, Choi Yong-Sool returned to Korea. It is said that he began teaching his martial art to a select group of students, including a young man named Ji Han-Jae, who would go on to become one of the foremost figures in the spread of Hapkido.
  1. Expansion and Development:Ji Han-Jae played a significant role in popularizing Hapkido both in Korea and internationally. He founded theKorea Hapkido Association in 1965 and introduced the art to the United States and other countries. Ji Han-Jae also further developed Hapkido, emphasizing its practical applications for self-defence and introducing new techniques.
  1. Organizational Growth:Over time, various organizations and federations dedicated to Hapkido were established, each with its own curriculum and approach. These organizations helped to standardize training and promote Hapkido both within Korea and around the world.
  2. Continued Evolution:Hapkido continued to evolve and adapt, incorporating influences from other martial arts and refining its techniques and training methods. Today, there are several different styles and approaches to Hapkido, each with its own emphasis and characteristics.

Throughout its history, Hapkido has faced challenges and controversies, including disputes over lineage and the authenticity of its techniques. However, it remains a popular and respected martial art practiced by individuals worldwide for self-defence, physical fitness, and personal development.

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