What is Hapkido?
Hapkido is a self-defense art. What separates the techniques in hapkido from other forms of self-defense and is an important aspect in defining hapkido, as an art is the use of ki, or vital energy. Pursuing a understanding and use of ki is important for every hapkido practitioner. There are Three Pillars of Hapkido .
YU (Theory of Flowing Water) In Hapkido practice, one does not stop an attacker’s force directly with force, but redirects it. If one will imagine a stream flowing rapidly down a mountain, the problems to overcome if one decided to change the direction of the water flow becomes apparent. Constructing a dam perpendicular to the flow is obviously not the solution. However, if one would simply divert its flow, success would be realized. Hapkido theory follows the same approach. One does not stop an attacker’s punch by applying force in direct opposition to the attack. By applying force to the side, tangentially, the attack can be diverted and less energy expended. Water never struggles with any object that it encounters. If water cannot win the contact, it will not conflict. Instead it will join with its adversary, providing no friction. Although this is a demonstration of its ability to adapt, it is important to realize water never changes itself. Softness is another characteristic of water that relates to the understanding of Hapkido. We must accept the fact that softness has the capacity to win against hardness. A tempered steel bar will eventually break under enough stress. Water, on the other hand, though it may be made to break up, will invariably join together again.
WON (Theory of the Circle) The circle is an important figure in Hapkido. In movement it represents smooth flowing motion as opposed to straight or linear movement. Force is not met with force, rather it is redirected away from the defender. The circle also represents that invisible and ever changing range at which strikes and further out, kicks will be a danger to the Hapkidoin. Won also represents the circle of life. We start our hapkido life as a white belt beginner. After years of study and progression up the ranks, the student achieves chodan, only to find that they have come the complete circle and are now beginners again. Outside of the dojang, we begin life dependent on others. Often, after living a full life, the circle is completed as we end life again dependent on others. ￼ ￼
WHA (Theory of Harmony) In Hapkido training, there must exist a simultaneous combination of mind, body, environment, and techniques. Harmony is the most important element one should achieve in his training. After one achieves harmony with himself, the next requirement is to harmonize with one’s opponent. Accomplishing this, one will find it quite easy to read the minds of others. Following this, learning to harmonize with the environment is the next stage. The final task is blending the harmony that one has developed with himself, his opponent, and the environment with that of his techniques.