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What is Hapkido?


The word Hapkido is composed of three parts:

"Hap" means "co-ordinate" or “harmony”
"Ki" means "power" or “energy”
"Do" means the "way" or "discipline"

So the definition of Hapkido is “the way of co-ordinated power”.

Hapkido (considered a ‘cousin’ to Taekwondo) utilises hand strikes and kicks in long-range fighting techniques and also pressure point manipulation, joint locks and throws in close-quarter combat. Hapkido emphasizes circular motion, redirection of force and control of the opponent. Practitioners seek to gain advantage over their opponents through footwork, body positioning, momentum and leverage avoiding the need to use sheer strength against the opponent.

It also teaches the use of traditional weapons including knife, sword, rope, ssang juhl bong (nunchaku), cane (ji pang ee), short stick (dan bong), mid-length staff (joong bong) and long staff (jang bong).

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Hapkido originates from ancient times in Korea. However, modernisation of the martial art came about when the Japanese Army invaded and ruled Korea from 1910 through the end of World War II. During that period, it was not uncommon for Korean families and treasures to be relocated to Japan. One person that was relocated to Japan was a young boy by the name of Choi Yong Sul who by age 9 was alone and living with a group of monks in a Buddhist temple. Shortly thereafter, it became apparent to the monks that Choi Yong Sul was not suited for monastic life.

At this time, many great warriors, in accordance with ancient traditions, undertook annual pilgrimages throughout Japan to improve their martial arts skills. During their travels they visited local temples to offer prayers and donations. One such warrior, Master Sokaku Takeda, paid regular visits to the monastery where Choi Yong Sul resided. During one of Master Takeda's visits, the resident monks, seeing an opportunity, beseeched Master Takeda to take the young Choi as a disciple.

Master Takeda practiced the art of swordsmanship and a weaponless martial art known as Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jujitsu. This art emphasized the use of joint locks, strikes, and nerve attacks to neutralize an opponent. Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jujitsu, itself, originated from the united Shilla Dynasty of Korea. Sam Lang, Won Eui Guang, a Korean bureaucratic official, taught this art to Japan's Minamoto Shogunate, the ruling family of Japan during the Kamakura feudal era. The Shogunate, in return, passed the art to members of the Takeda Clan where it remained for over 35 generations. Master Sokaku Takeda was the 37th generation.

The young Choi served as Master Takeda's assistant and student. Consistent with the training methods of those days, Master Takeda's training of young Choi was both tough and rigorous.

Choi Yong Sul remained in Japan for 35 years training under Master Takeda. Near the end of World War II, Choi Yong Sul returned to Korea and opened a small school in Taegu, the third largest city in Korea. He began training a small group of students. Choi Yong Sul is credited with the founding of modern day Hapkido.

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