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Hapkido (In Hangul, 합기도; In Hanja, 合氣道) is a Korean martial art. The name means literally "joining-energy-way" and can be rendered as "the way of co-ordinating energy".

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History Hapkido history is rather confused, but many sources attribute it to two Koreans, Choi Yong Sul and Ji Han Jae. As a boy, Choi was sent to Japan and worked as a houseboy for the Aikijutsu master, Takeda Sokaku[?]. Choi proved adept at Aikijutsu, and was often sent by Takeda to meet challenges from other martial artists (another famous student of Takeda, Morihei Ueshiba, went on to found Aikido).

On his return to Korea, Choi began to teach martial arts. One of his students, Ji Han Jae, incorporated traditional Korean kicking and punching techniques (from tae kyon[?] and hwarang do[?]) and gave the resulting synthesis the name hapkido in 1959.

In addition to the work of Choi and Ji, credit should be given to numerous Korean houses who had been developing indigenous martial arts, which contributed to hapkido as we know it.

Techniques On the "hard-soft" scale of martial arts, Hapkido stands somewhere in the middle, employing "soft" techniques similar to Aikido and "hard" techniques reminiscent of Taekwondo. Even the "hard" techniques, though, emphasise circular rather than linear movements. Hapkido is an eclectic martial art, and different hapkido schools emphasise different techniques. However, some core techniques are found in each school (gwan ), and all techniques should follow the three principles of Hapkido:

  • fluid motion
  • circular motion
  • harmony in motion.

Core techniques

These consist of throws and locks derived largely from Aikijutsu. They are similar to aikido techniques, but in general the circles are smaller. Most techniques work by a combination of unbalancing the attacker and applying pressure to specific places on the body, known as hyul.


Yudo (Judo in Japanese) techniques are throws applied at closer range than the core techniques. The techniques differ somewhat because of the smaller circles applied to combat, and because of the types of application that are practiced in Hapkido.


The wide variety of kicks in Hapkido differentiate it from Aikido and make it distinctly Korean. In general they are similar to Taekwondo kicks, though again circular motion is emphasised. Some varieties of Hapkido only use kicks to the lower body, but traditional Hapkido also includes high kicks and jumping kicks. The kicks in hapkido are more extensive than in most other Korean arts, including very specialized kicks for all occasions.

Hand strikes

Like most martial arts, hapkido employs a large number of punches and other hand strikes. A distinctive example of Hapkido hand techniques is "live hand" strike,that focuses energy to the baek hwa hyul in the hand, producing energy strikes and internal strikes.

Training Hapkido training takes place in a dojang (Japanese dojo). While training methods vary, a typical training session will contain technique practice, gymnastics (nakbop), solo form practice (poomse), sparring and.exercises to develop internal energy (ki).

Although hapkido is in some respects a "soft" or "internal" art, training is very vigorous and demanding. However, strength is not a prerequisite of hapkido; what strength and fitness is necessary to perform the techniques develops naturally as a result of training.

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