“HAP-KI-DO” literally means “Mixed Martial Art.”

Dependant upon the system, association or school, much more is read into those few words than otherwise might explain this Korean art form. Traditional Hapkido, has no Forms (Poomse) as in Taekwondo. There were no tournaments until the past few years. Tournaments were frowned upon as Hapkido’s application was reserved for actual Combat.

The “mixed” connotation comes from a variety of sources. Explosive Dynamic Aerial Kicks of Taekwondo; Devastating Joint Manipulation and Grappling of Jujitsu; with the Striking Capabilities of Mui Thai and Japanese Karate. In practical application, the employment of 36 basic attack points is expanded to include some 360 pressure points. Specific targeting against joints is applied, as well as heightened execution of throws. All reflecting the practitioner’s control of fluidity and ever-changing axis of the body. The degree of threat directly affecting the practitioner’s response.

Hapkido styles can be represented as Hard or Soft Styles. Generally the combination of both is incorporated, resembling Chinese Kung Fu. The “centered” application of which maintains complete control over one’s body and balance at all times.

Many training centers apply the names Taekwondo and Hapkido interchangeably. This generalization precludes the uniqueness of Hapkido technical structuring. Hip placement is a factor and centered gravity of positioning is sought after in all cases. By example; the simplicity of a front kick can extend to 6 different types of “Front Kick”:

  1. Front Snap Kick
  2. Front Thrust Kick
  3. Front Pushing Kick
  4. Front Checking Kick
  5. Front Rising Kick
  6. Front Heel Kick

Many extend their kicks by “reaching” – their grounded leg moves upward onto their toes in execution. The Hapkido practitioner, realizing the centered balance will reach greater extension by dropping their center of gravity, providing a more balanced platform and greater execution. Once again, dependent upon the desired technique’s outcome.

The past few years have shown a number of schools opening up throughout the world that expand upon Hapkido’s original teachings. Centering more on an “art” form, public acknowledgement of Hapkido’s prowess is increasing. Where demonstrations exists, the audience is treated scenarios such as:

Four adversaries to one “potential” victim…

The first Attacker swings a tire iron.

The Practitioner moves 45 degrees left, removing himself from the path of the weapon. Doing so, he extends a low Side Snap Kick to the Attacker’s right knee joint, while grasping the wrist during the downward swing. Circular movement collapsing the wrist joint while reversing his direction, dropping low to the ground taking Attacker 1 down in a forward throw while sweeping the opponent directly behind him.

Attacker 2 is blocked from Attacker 1.

Attacker 3 is swept at the ankle joint, with a slight hook.

Attacker 4 is met as our Practitioner rises to full extension, jumping to execute a follow-through uppercut fist, elbow, then knee to chin.

Attacker 2 rushes and grabs our Practitioner’s shoulder.

Our Practitioner pins Attacker 2’s hand to his shoulder, turning inward, creating a spiral fracture to Attacker 2’s forearm, lifting him to his toes. Sweeping the pinned arm forward our Practitioner circles the head with his own arm, while keeping the Attacker’s arm trapped and immobile.

At the completion of circular movement a ridge hand strike crushes the windpipe, while our Practitioner executes a Reverse Hip Throw against the throats lever.

Confidently backing away without indication of threatening gestures. Our Practitioner calmly inviting all combatants leave of the battlefield.


Is this possible or practical? While it may look to be the choreography of a particularly good martial arts motion picture such as the above example, applications such a these are commonplace in the world of the competent Hapkido practitioner. The execution of this scenario can be found browsing the Internet. The difference in comparison to Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Karate, etc., becomes evident.

One comparison would be like watching world class surfing. The waves roll in to the beach as riders on surf boards are met with a secondary wave – appearing to come out of nowhere. An arbitrary, contrary force, devastating the surfer, whether or not aware of impending disaster. The constant shifting of angles, combined with the diversity of flow, result in a most powerful Hapkido tradition.