Martial Arts; Self Mastery through a Warrior Tradition

Hapkido, the Way of Harmonious Power, is a dynamic Korean martial art.

Benefits of Hapkido

Regular practice of Hapkido can achieve:

  • flexibility and strength of the whole body
  • improved posture, balance and co-ordination
  • increased circulation and weight control
  • deepened breathing, stress release and emotional balance
  • enhanced clarity, focus and calming of the mind
  • greater self-confidence and inner strength

Its philosophy draws from Asian spiritual wisdom, including the Buddhist values of non-violence and respect for all life. The long-term aim of training is the cultivation of many positive values and attributes such as respect, kindness, helpfulness, patience, courage, integrity, perseverance, honouring commitments, appropriate use of force and taking responsibility for one’s action. The combative techniques of Hapkido are to be used only for self-defence or the protection of others.

Inside the Dojang (Training Hall)
The Dojang is a safe, friendly and supportive environment. Students practise with enthusiasm and dedication that greatly contribute to the quality of their martial art and to the inspiring atmosphere of the Dojang.

The syllabus is well structured and follows a clear path of steadily increasing skill. Discipline and creativity go hand in hand, promoting an alive and spirited class with clear boundaries of training etiquette and mutual respect. Students learn to respect the art and to never misuse what they learn.

Meditation – preparing the mind
Classes begin with a simple breathing meditation for students to focus and calm the mind. With conscious awareness of the breath the mind is brought into stillness. This practice develops greater emotional stability and inner peace. Students can draw on this resource throughout training and in daily life.

Tanjen breathing exercises
Exercises are practised to cultivate the flow of internal energy throughout the body. The Tanjen is the body’s centre of ‘ki’, or vital energy and the foundation of human power.

Kicks and strikes
The martial training begins with a general exercise routine of footwork, balancing exercises and stretching, to warm up the muscles, tendons and ligaments. This is preparation for the Kicking and Striking Drill which is practised as a solo exercise and develops a strong, assertive, yang power.

Power kicking
Power kicks are delivered onto hand held kicking targets or bags, so that students can explore the expression of their physical power. A loud ‘Ki-Yup’ (Warrior’s Shout) is encouraged to express feeling through the voice and to focus energy and power. Power Kicking is an excellent method for releasing stress and channelling aggression in a safe and controlled way.

Breakfalling skills
A Breakfall is a particular method of falling designed to protect the head, spine and vital organs from damage as one hits the ground. Fear of falling can be overcome as confidence is gained in the ability to land safely out of every kind of push, or throw, whether forward, backward, to the side, or downward.

Students partner up and train practical self-defence together. One student is the attacker and the other is the defence. Attacks take the form of kicks, hand strikes, pushes, grabs, holds, short sticks and (rubber) knives, as well as multiple attacks from a number of opponents. A good, clear, strong attack is required for effective self-defence training.
An important principle of self-defence is to get out of the way of the attack and in so doing minimise or completely diffuse the force of the attack. This is the Yin, or yielding aspect and is known as ‘soft defence against hard attack’. We are not using force against force to defend, but rather circling around and harmonising with the opponent’s intention to off-balance them before applying a counter technique.

Understanding of ‘relaxed power’ is introduced along with the ability to remain centred and aware when under the pressure of applying self-defence techniques to strong and fast attacks.

Students learn how to help each other, understand and practise the many techniques of self-defence. Older students guide those that are younger and less experienced and in this way, learn about their personal authority and to respect and value what they know and what they have to give.

Free sparring

We complete the physical training with the striking and kicking game, Free Sparring. Played with a partner Free Sparring develops good reflexes, agility, and correct distance, speed and timing. Anything goes as long as there is no contact to the head or body -‘Safety First’ is the number one rule of the Dojang.


This free-form game is both spontaneous and strategic. Students are encouraged to be as creative as possible and to think about the use of the techniques they have learned throughout the class. Point scoring is included adding the element of healthy competition. As you may win or lose at any time, free sparring teaches self-control and how to play fair. Points are won and lost in good humour and fun, creating a lively spirit of friendliness.

Slowing down again—completing the class

To warm down we stretch again – more slowly and deeply this time. This is especially beneficial for boys who often need more flexibility in the legs.
We then move quietly into a sitting meditation, focusing inwards, our minds resting in our Tanjen centres – calm and peaceful. Then it is time to go home, relaxed and happy after a quality training session.

Published in byronchild/Kindred, issue 4, Dec 02

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