Hapkido is a dynamic and highly eclectic Korean martial art. It is a form of self-defense that employs joint locks, grappling and throwing techniques of other martial arts, as well as kicks, punches, and other striking attacks.
There is also the use of traditional weapons, including knife,sword, rope, jool bong (nunchaku), cane, short stick (dan bong), and middle-length staff (joong bong, gun, bō(Japanese)) which vary in emphasis depending on the particular tradition examined.
Hapkido contains both long- and close-range fighting techniques, utilizing jumping kicks and percussive hand strikes at longer ranges and pressure point strikes, joint locks, or throws at closer fighting distances.
Hapkido emphasizes circular motion, redirection of force, and control of the opponent. Practitioners seek to gain advantage through footwork and body positioning to incorporate the use of leverage, avoiding the use of strength against strength.
The art adapted from Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu as it was taught by Choi Yong-Sool when he returned to Korea after World War II, having lived in Japan for 30 years. This system was later combined with kicking and striking techniques of indigenous and contemporary arts such as taekkyeon, as well as throwing techniques andground fighting from Japanese judo. Its history is obscured by the historical animosity between the Korean andJapanese people following the Second World War.
Hapkido is rendered “합기도” in the native Korean writing system known as hangul, the script used most widely in modern Korea. The art’s name can also however be written “合氣道” utilizing the same traditional Chinese characterswhich would have been used to refer to the Japanese martial art of aikido in the pre-1946 period. The current preference in Japan is for the use of a modern simplified second character; substituting 気 for the earlier, more complex character 氣.
The character 合 hap means “coordinated” or “joining”; 氣 ki describes internal energy, spirit, strength, or power; and 道do means “way” or “art”, yielding a literal translation of “joining-energy-way”. It is most often translated as “the way of coordinating energy”, “the way of coordinated power” or “the way of harmony”.
Although aikido and hapkido are believed by many to share a common history, they remain separate and distinct from one another. They differ significantly in philosophy, range of responses and manner of executing techniques.
The fact that they share the same original Chinese characters, despite 合 being pronounced “ai” in Japanese and “hap” in Korean, has proved problematic in promoting the art internationally as a discipline with its own set of unique characteristics differing from those of the Japanese art.