Hapkido Philosophy

Hapkido Philosophy

All martial arts are created of a philosophy linked to particular techniques. At HCA, philosophy is an important part of the curriculum as success in martial arts is more mental than physical. These are 5 categories that will help you define philosophy in martial arts

1. The Arts Purpose

Hapkido’s purpose Is essentially expressed in its name “the way of co-ordinated power”.


Hap – meaning “co-ordination of harmony”, Ki – meaning “energy” or “power”, Do – meaning “the way”.

2. Belief System

An essential belief of Hapkido is the idea that martial arts training are a means to physical health, fitness, confidence, mental well-being, spiritual growth and an excellence in character. Strict physical training and written theory prepares the mind and body for the difficulties and challenges in life. Confidence in the ability to avoid violence leads to a passive and calm nature.

3. Moral Values

The moral values taught in Hapkido and here at HCA are similar to the values stressed in society as a whole:

Tenets of Hapkido

Hapkido aims to achieve, Modesty, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control and Indomitable Spirit

Modesty: Not to be vain or boastful in what you do.
Integrity: To have high moral standards and to be honest.
Perseverance: To keep on going even if you are tired.
Self Control: To have control over your emotions, not to show anger, frustration or fear.
Indomitable Spirit: To have a “never give up” attitude under any circumstances.

School Theme

We are a traditional school, we are dedicated, motivated and quest for the best

Dedicated: To devote or apply oneself to a purpose or goal.
Motivated: To have the inner drive or incentive to work towards a goal.
Quest for the Best: To seek or pursue the most excellent objectives.

Student Creeds

  1. I will develop myself in a positive manner and avoid anything that will reduce my mental growth and physical health.
  2. I will develop self discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and others.
  3. I will use what I learn in class constructively and defensively and help myself and my fellow man and never be abusive or offensive.

Living Rules for Children

children bowing to parents, HCA annual event 2008

  1. Children will respect and obey parents, teachers & others in authority.
  2. Children will enter the house with a cheery hello and leave the house with a cheery goodbye.
  3. Children will be kind to their brothers and sisters.
  4. Children will keep their household neat and clean, by doing all their house chores and helping their parents whenever needed.
  5. Children will keep their hair, body & teeth clean daily.
  6. Children will not interrupt adult conversations.
  7. Children will not use bad language at school or at home and will be courageous to stand by what is right.
  8. Children will get straight A’s daily.
  9. Children will not use Hapkido on their friends and family.
  10. Children will have a Black Belt attitude and give 100% effort in everything they do.

Living Rules for Youth and Adults

  1. I will respect and obey parents, teachers & others in authority.
  2. I will enter the house with a cheery hello and leave the house with a cheery goodbye.
  3. I will be kind to my brothers and sisters.
  4. I will respect public property and other people’s property.
  5. I will try my best in school and prepare for my future endeavors.
  6. I will be cheerful and look on the brighter side of things.
  7. I will be courageous to stand by what is right.
  8. I will do all my house chores and help my parents whenever needed.
  9. I will have a Black Belt attitude and give 100% effort in everything I do.
  10. I will work hard towards my goals to achieve my dreams.

Sparring Philosophy

Hapkido does not in any way promote street or sport fighting. Students are taught how not to fight! Sparring, however is an area where our spiritual strengths and weaknesses are revealed (anger, egotism, jealousy etc.). In this respect, sparring not only improves physical skills but purifies spiritual and emotional values as well.

4. Philosophical Principles

All martial arts are defined by specific philosophical ideas that determine the way in which the art is practiced. Hapkido is defined by three essential concepts:

Harmony Theory: Harmonising of body and mind. Every action becomes focused, perfectly linked to the moment of its existence. Empty mind and total awareness is developed. Thought and action are merged into a single purposeful act.

Water Theory: Relates ones actions to the flowing of water. Water always finds a way and can penetrate the strongest surface. Constant pressure, flow of movement, persistence, adaptableness, penetration and softness are the key qualities that characterise Hapkido’s combative nature.

Circle Theory: The circle is rich in meaning. It symbolises wholeness, unity and eternity. The circle also represents recurrence, vitality, endless movement and the many cycles that characterise the universe. Hapkido techniques are made up of many circular movements seen in body, foot and handwork (see picture below).

5. Technical Principles

All of Hapkido’s techniques are based on the following 5 principles:

1. Redirection of Force

In Hapkido, an attack is not met straight on. Power against power, preferred in “hard styles” is discouraged as it increases the risk of injury. In Hapkido an attacker’s power is used against them, by manipulating the attackers balance or redirecting their energy (external and internal) you increase the efficiency of your own technique.

2. Flow of Movement

Hapkido techniques are distinguished by a constant flow of strikes, blocks, locks and throws. Movement is constant and may incorporate circular and spinning actions. By constantly varying body movement you become more difficult to target and are much more likely to disorient and frustrate your opponent.

3. Circular Movement

Many Hapkido techniques are made up of circular movements (see picture above). Large or small circles can be seen in the motions of strikes, blocks, joint locks, chokes, takedowns and throws. Circles can also be seen in footwork and general body movements.

4. Ki Power

Ki-Power is referred to using internal energy (Ki). In essence Ki is adrenaline used to assist in the application of a technique. When fighting an overpowering opponent, the addition of Ki may be the difference between a technique that will work and one that fails. When adrenaline is released from the adrenal glands (located just above the kidneys), it produces cardiac stimulation, constriction of blood and bronchial relaxation ultimately elevating your performance. In Hapkido this is done through a visualisation of energy from the core (two inches below the navel) upward through the body and projected outward with a Ki-Yap (harmonising shout).

Attacks to Vital Points

Throughout the grades of Hapkido you will develop a basic understanding of anatomy and vital points. Advanced anatomy knowledge is taught at the master levels when learning healing techniques. There are roughly 2000 vital points in the body and around 200 of them are used in self defence.

By feeling around you can find some of these points as they are sensitive to pressure. It is commonly said that, “the points which hurt are the same points which heal”, therefore in addition to the fitness benefits of practicing Hapkido, repeatedly feeling the pressure on our vital points from joint locks and strikes, your health and wellbeing is improving as you are releasing pressure and improving the flow of Ki in your body.

For example, there are many points in the hand alone that effect Ki flow to the lungs, stomach, large intestine, kidneys, heart and many more organs or muscles throughout the body. The entire body is interconnected through these vital points from which Ki flows; therefore knowledge in this area is very useful in self defence and overall health.

5. Live Hand

The term “Live Hand” refers to the specific hand formations which are used to increase the flow of Ki into the arms. This will increase arm strength and power when required, such as during a wrist escape or application of a joint lock. Live Hands assist in many strikes, blocks, locks and throws, they are also used in breathing exercises. A typical live hand formation is an open hand spreading the fingers wide and slightly bending the finger tips inwards. The hand on the Korea Hapkido Federation logo is also another formation of a live hand when executing joint locks, throws and weapon techniques.


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