Hapkido is rendered "합기도" in
the native Korean writing system known as hangul, the script used most
widely in modern Korea. The art's name can also however be written "合氣道"
utilizing the same traditional Chinese characters which would have been used
to refer to the Japanese martial art of aikido in the pre-1945 period. The
current preference in Japan is for the use of a modern simplified second
character; substituting 気 for the earlier, more complex character 氣.The
character hap means "harmony", "coordinated", or "joining"; 氣 ki describes
internal energy, 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 "the way of coordinating energy," "the way of coordinated
power" or "the way of harmony."
It is a form of self-defense
that employs joint locks, the techniques of other martial arts as well as
common unskilled attacks. There are also traditional weapons including short
stick, cane, rope, nunchucks, sword and staff which vary in emphasis
depending on the particular tradition examined.
Hapkido contains both long and close range fighting techniques, utilizing
dynamic kicking and percussive hand strikes at longer ranges and pressure
point strikes, jointlocks, or throws at closer fighting distances. Hapkido
emphasizes circular motion, non-resisting movements, and control of the
opponent. Practitioners seek to gain advantage through footwork and body
positioning to employ leverage, avoiding the use of strength against
Hapkido makes use of pressure
points known in Korean as 'hyul' which are also used in traditional Asian
medical practices such as acupuncture. These pressure points are either
struck to produce unconsciousness or manipulated to create pain allowing one
to more easily upset the balance of one's opponent prior to a throw or joint
Hapkido emphasizes self defense over sport fighting and as such employs the
use of weapons, including environmental weapons of opportunity, in addition
to empty hand techniques. Some schools also teach "hyung," the Korean
equivalent of what is commonly known as "kata" in Japanese martial arts.
As a hapkido student advances through the
various belt levels (essentially the same as other Korean arts, e.g.
taekwondo), he or she learns how to employ and defend against various
weapons. The first weapon encountered is most often the knife (kal, 칼).
Another initial weapon used to teach both control and the basic precepts of
utilizing a weapon with Hapkido techniques is the Jung Bong (police baton
sized stick) Then, techniques and defenses against the [5 cm short stick]
(dahn bohng, 단봉), the walking stick or cane (ji-pang-ee, 지팡이), and the rope
are introduced in hapkido training. Many Hapkido organisations may also
include other weapons training such as the sword (Gum, 검), long staff (jahng
bohng, 장봉), middle length staff, nunchaku (Ssahng Jol Gohn, 쌍절곤), war-fan or
other types of bladed weapons such as twin short swords.