Body, mind and spirit: why I do Hapkido

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For a while now I’ve used this blog to talk about hapkido and explain it to people who may not know much about it. I’ve explained some of its basic tenets and why it’s endured the test of time (although it isn’t all that old) and why it’s been taken up by so many people from many different back grounds. As a huge fan of many martial arts, and a former practitioner of so many—even though I don’t think any one has enough time in their entire lives to learn them all—it is absolutely my favourite. For me the following trinity of body, mind and spirit can easily explain why it’s my favourite of my martial arts.

Body. The point of any martial art is to train the body and specifically to train it for combat, be it in an offensive or defensive capacity. There are sports from across the world that can teach this, but as I get older I find, as we all do, that I can’t easily do what I once could. Hapkido is by my reckoning one of the softer martial arts where impact is concerned. The fact that one can practise it without causing too much pain is one of hapkido main advantages over the some of the other martial arts I’ve dabbled in over the years.

Mind. I don’t know of a sport that isn’t at least a bit cerebral. Of course kicking a football across a pitch doesn’t require one to be one of the world’s preeminent thinkers but one can easily get involved in the science of sport. With so much of Hapkido’s focus on movement and energy efficiency, however, I’ve become more and more interested in the physics and physiology of the sport which has increased by interest in the sport and the natural world tremendously.

Spirit. Spirituality isn’t for everyone and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I like Hapkido because it’s not all that heavy on the spiritual side as some of the more ancient forms of marital arts are, like karate for example. Nevertheless some of the Hapkido breathing exercises have had a quasi-spiritual effect on me. Being able to practise theses exercises has taught me to be reflective and calm and to consider my place in the world and the universe at large. A bit esoteric perhaps, but it’s been a genuine boon for my life.

I’m not trying to say that Hapkido is best martial art and for anyone out there who’s thinking about taking up a martial art, it’s the best choice. There are literally hundreds of martial arts that one could practise. But for these reasons I am inclined to say Hapkido is the best. But you needn’t take my word for it as a couple of lessons and you’re likely to be hooked.