The three principles of Hapkido

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The Korean martial art of Hapkido isn’t as ancient as some of the martial arts that have influenced it such as Taekondo and Tang Soo Do from which it draws some of the ‘hard’ techniques like the primary attacks, or Aikido and Jujitsu, whence it developed many of the ‘soft’ techniques, such as the movements and breathing exercises. In fact, at 100 years old, Hapkido is something of a baby in the martial arts world, but it has become extremely popular in the past 20 years and because of its diverse influences is one of the more common martial arts for actors and actresses to learn to help them in various film roles.

There are three main principles that govern Hapkido: nonresistance, the water principle, and the circle principle. The nonresistance principle make also be called ‘path of least resistance’. It has nothing to do with non-violence or submission as the name may suggest, but instead means that then an opponent is pulling, the Hapkido practitioner is pushing and when the opponent is pushing the Hapkido practitioner is pulling. In this way, we techniques for every possibility the idea is that the skilled Hapkido practitioner can be always in control of the conflict, regardless of how it was started.

The water principle is the emphasis on the soft techniques that are often overlooked in martial arts. These are not the attacks, but they are the movements, the manner in which one controls one’s body. It’s referred to as the water technique because the aim is to treat the attacker like the water and to direct them around one’s body and personal space as though they were water. Therefore, this aspect of Hapkido focuses not on strength but on movement.

Lastly, is the circle principle.This might best be described with the word ‘efficiency’ or with the two words ‘energy efficiency’. Directly related to the water principle that focuses on movement and flow the circle principle aims to create an environment in which energy, i.e. momentum, is not wasted. Another way of looking at this the practitioner shouldn’t have to return to a starting position in order to perform the next action. Wether standing or bending backwards to deflect a punch or after falling on the ground, the idea behind the circle principle is that the talented practitioner should always be able to practise the art of Hapkido.

While Hapkido isn’t as ancient or perhaps even quasi-mystic many of the better known martial arts that is in no way indicative of an underdeveloped martial art and as you can see there are many thought-through principles and even philosophies behind this fascinating martial art.