Hapkido is a dynamic and highly electric 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 nunchaku, cane, short stick (dan bong) and staff (bong, gun, bo) 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 points 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 character 合 hap means, “Coordinated” or “joining” 氣 ki, describes internal, 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 “way of coordinating energy, the “way of coordinated power” or the “way of harmony”
Hapkido seeks to be a fully comprehensive fighting as such tries to avoid narrow specialisation in any particular type of technique or range of fighting.
It maintains a wide range of tactics for striking, standing joint locks, throwing techniques (both pure and joint manipulating throws) and pinning techniques.
Some styles also incorporate tactics for ground fighting although these tactics generally tend to focus on escaping and regaining footing and controlling, striking and finishing a downed opponent rather than lengthy wrestling or submission grappling engagement.
Proper Hapkido tactics include using footwork and a series of kicks and hand strikes to bridge the distance with an opponent.
Then to immediately control the balance of the opponent (typically by manipulating the head and neck) for a take down or to isolate a wrist or arm and apply a joint twisting throw, depending upon the situation.
Hapkido is a comprehensive system and once the opponent’s balance has been taken, there are a myriad of techniques to disable and subdue the opponent.
Hapkido makes use of pressure points known in Korean as hyeol (혈; 穴), which are also used, in traditional Asian Medical practices such as acupuncture point. These pressure points are either struck to produce unconsciousness or manipulated to create pain allowing one to more easily upset the balance of ones opponent prior to a throw or joint manipulation.
Hapkido emphasizes self-defence over fighting and as such employs the use of weapons, including environmental weapons of opportunity, in addition to empty hand techniques.