What is Hapkido?

Hapkido is a Korean coined-word made up of three words. Its purpose is expressed through this.

  • Hap - Harmony or co-ordinating
  • Ki - Universal life energy
  • Do - The way, method or path

Hapkido's beliefs are that diligent training will lead to mental well being, physical health, spiritual growth and perfection of character. All Martial Arts have different concepts that distinguish them apart from others. In Hapkido there are three concepts.

  • Harmony theory
  • Water theory
  • Circle theory

Harmony [hwa] theory

Bringing together the mind, spirit and body which is a long-term goal of Hapkido training. With all these elements acting together, movement in Hapkido becomes fluid and instinctive; there is no think, pause then reaction. This situation is known as empty mind and can be mastered through meditation.

Taoism believes that once you are totally in harmony with yourself and the world around you then fighting will become an unlikely event in one's life.

Water [yu] theory

Through a flowing river, water can always find its way overcoming any obstacles in its way.

Adaptability, constant flow and softness represent characteristics of Hapkido.

Constant flow is needed to take on different parts of Hapkido, especially in Hankido when you take on an opponent. Softness is blending with great flows of energy and harnessing them.

Circle [won] theory

The circle theory has great importance in Martial-Arts, especially in Hapkido. This can be represented within the Hapkido ranking system. A student begins at white belt and continues through the different coloured ranks until reaching 10th degree black-belt, where once again the student now Grand Master returns by wearing a white belt, a symbol of the start of a new cycle of learning.

Circular techniques are effective in Hapkido. You are less likely to be defeated in Hapkido if you can harmonize with the opponent's energy, your own and the universe.

Technical Principles

  • Redirection of force
  • Blending with force
  • Circular movement
  • Ki Power
  • Live Hand

Redirection of force

In Hapkido unlike other/harder styles of Martial Arts, an attack is rarely met head-on. An attacker's power/energy is used against them. The force from a kick or punch can be met by opposing the force, deflecting the force, absorbing the force or joining the force.

Blending with the force

Metaphorically speaking, blending with the force can be thought of as joining the force of a tornado, by matching its speed and motion, in Hapkido one tends to alternate between aggressive and defensive modes.

Circular Motion

Hapkido will use both small and large circles to execute the various techniques, whether they are blocks, locks, takedowns or strikes.


Ki refers to internal energy, which is also known as Gi, Qi or Chi in other countries.

Spiritually Ki refers to the Universal life-force which is an energy that permeates the Universe flowing through all things.

Scientifically, when we perform Ki exercises which involve breathing in and pushing down on ones tanjon area [one inch below navel], we can create adrenaline, adrenaline can also be achieved by mental visualization or by vibrating the molars by grinding them or letting go of an energy harmonizing shout, known as Kihap in Korean.

There are 3 types of Ki-Power.

  • Physical Ki Power
  • Mental Ki Power
  • Medicinal Ki Power

Physical Ki Power
Created by stimulating the body's release of adrenaline. This is the most reliable and easiest learnt method of producing internal energy.

Mental Ki Power
Developed by activating the mind to produce Ki energy. This by far the most powerful form of Ki energy. By using the mind in this way you can transport Ki energy to different parts of the body where needed. This energy can be used for destructive or healing purposes.

Medicinal Ki Power
Using internal energy to heal. This is widely practised throughout Eastern Asia and often as an assist to help medical procedures such as acupuncture or massage. In Hapkido this may be practised only at Master level training.

Live Hand

Refers to the way the hands and fingers are moving to increase the flow of Ki into these areas. Live hand techniques are of vital importance when executing Ki breathing exercises and stretching the hands and arms when performing escaping techniques.