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Hapkido is a Korean martial art practiced the world over. Characterized by joint locks, throws, and dynamic kicking techniques, it is unique among Korean martial arts in its emphasis on deflecting an opponent’s attacks instead of forceful blocking.

Hapkido is the “anti-martial art”.  It was designed as a way to defend against and overcome an attacker with skill in many forms of martial combat. With roots in Aiki-jujitsu, Hapkido adds striking and punching to joint-locks, throws, and grappling, making it one of the original mixed martial arts

For a technique to be included in Hapkido it must work based off three founding principles:  The technique must be one of non-resistance, the second is that it must follow the circle principle and the third is that it adheres to the water principle.

     1. Nonresistance is the act of remaining calm and relaxed during combat and not trying to directly oppose his or her opponent’s strength. If they push, you pull, if they pull, you push, constantly following their movement and momentum throughout the fight.

     2.  The circle principle is a way for you to gain momentum in your movements, so that techniques can be executed swiftly and cleanly. When the opponent attacks directly the Hapkido practitioner can circle the attack away, directing that force away from the body in an efficient manner.

     3.  Finally, the water principle follows Hapkido’s use of soft techniques which don’t rely upon your own physical strength.  Like water, these techniques can deflect a opponent's strike, allowing you to flow around the attack.

Hand Strikes

Hapkido practitioners employ a full range of hand fighting techniques. Not restricted to purely punching techniques the Hapkido practitioner is free to attack most parts of the opponent’s body.

Both open hand strikes and the elbows can be used to subdue and opponent. Offensive striking combinations are taught, as are counter-attack techniques, many of which are taught to the student at the earliest opportunity.

Kicking Techniques

Like many Korean martial arts such as Taekwondo, Hapkido incorporates a number of different kicking techniques. Unlike many of its Korean counterparts however, the majority of its kicks are aimed at below the opponent’s waist, using a number of hooking and sweeping style attacks.


Hapkido practitioners are taught to put large amounts of weight behind their kicks, being less concerned with the need for having to quickly draw the leg back into a defensive posture, may be seen with many Taekwondo and Karate techniques.

Throwing Techniques

The throws in Hapkido can either be performed with or without the use of some form of joint lock. The use of a joint lock before throwing your opponent helps to (for a short moment) take your opponent off balance, leaving them much more open to attack.  


Many of the throwing techniques used are common to some other traditional martial arts, a number can be found in Judo, which have been adapted slightly to fit the more self defense role which Hapkido has.


Joint Manipulation Techniques

The techniques which attack your opponent’s bodily joints form a large part of Hapkido. They can be used to attack the neck, elbow, shoulders, hips and legs. There are also techniques for attacking small joints to, such as the wrists, fingers and even jaw.  


The majority of joint attacks however focus on the wrists and elbows of your opponent. Many of these techniques are thought to have derived from Aikido and Jujutsu.

Hapkido is designed to allow a martial artist to rapidly subdue an opponent and render any attacker completely incapable of causing harm. Since Hapkido affords total control over a physical confrontation and emphasizes precision over brute strength, the hapkidoist can localize any damage dealt to an opponent and avoid creating unintended injury.

For this reason, it is very popular among private security and law enforcement agents throughout the world.

But make no mistake, Hapkido also enables the practitioner to leverage extremely powerful and even deadly force if absolutely necessary, such as in a life-or-death confrontation.  The art’s primary emphasis is on practical self-defense.

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