Hapkido (also spelled hap ki do or hapki-do) is a fully comprehensive Korean fighting style developed from different jiu jitsu styles combined with kicking and striking techniques of indigenous and contemporary arts. The style developed into an efficient self defense system that uses joint locks, pressure points, throws, kicks, and other strikes to counter the techniques of other martial arts as well as common unskilled attacks.

Principles and Categorization

Hapkido contains both long and close range fighting techniques, combining dynamic kicking and percussive hand strikes at longer ranges with pressure point strikes, joint locks, or throws at closer fighting distances. Hapkido also combines elements of soft style martials arts, with hard style techniques reminiscent of taekwondo and tang soo do.  All techniques follow the three principles of Hapkido, typical of soft styles, such as circular motion (Won, a way to gain momentum for executing the techniques in a natural and free-flowing manner), non resistance (Hwa, the act of remaining relaxed and not directly opposing an opponent's strength) and adaptability/flexibility principle (Yu, the opponent's strike is deflected much in the same way as water moves around an obstacle). So, even the "hard" techniques emphasize circular rather than linear movements.


Hapkido tactics typically combine footwork and body positioning with a series of kicks and hand strikes to bridge the distance with an opponent, though always avoiding the use of strength against strength. Kicking and striking techniques stem from indigenous and contemporary arts such as taek kyun and tang soo do.

Unbalancing the opponent typically occurs by manipulating the head and neck, followed by a take down or a joint twisting throw. Pressure point techniques are used to produce unconsciousness or to create pain allowing one to more easily upset the balance of the opponent.

Hapkido training also involves defense against traditional and other weapons. The initial weapons are usually the knife, followed by police baton (Jung Bong), short stick and walking stick or cane and rope. Other weapons include nunchacku, sword and staff which vary in emphasis depending on the particular tradition examined.

Hapkido: the Korean Art of Self Defense
FullContactMartialArts.org © 2009. All rights reserved.
Photos by Gregory Brophy (hand wraps), Gerville Hall (TaeKwonDo girl), Lucian (Karate fight).
Reproduction strictly prohibited.
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