Skip to content

What Is Hapkido?


Thanks to Martial Arts Guy for the image.

Even though Hapkido is Korean and Aikido is Japanese, they use the same three characters for their names. Of course, the characters are in a different order to give the names different meaning. Hap means coordinated or joining. Ki means internal energy, spirit, strength, or power. Do is the way of doing something.

This martial art is sometimes known as “the anti-martial art” because of its differences with other martial arts. For example, in Hapkido, you practice defense and attacks. Many of the martial arts are structured as a means of self-defense and don’t teach attacks. Also, it’s possible that in Hapkido, you won’t practice forms, which are a staple of many martial arts.

Here’s more about this unique Korean martial art.


According to Wikipedia, Hapkido is  an “eclectic Korean martial art. It is a form of self-defense that employs joint locks, grappling, and throwing techniques similar to those of other martial arts, as well as kicks, punches, and other striking attacks. It also teaches the use of traditional weapons, including knife, sword, rope, cane, short stick, and middle-length staff.”

Students practice defense and attacks with joint locks, throws, and kicks. Unlike other martial arts, Hapkido focuses on deflecting attacks instead of forceful blocking. This allows for smaller or weaker individuals to best larger attackers. Some consider Hapkido one of the original mixed martial arts.

The History of Hapkido

I know that you’re going to be really surprised, but Hapkido (like Aikido) is an adaptation of jiu-jitsu. Unlike many of the other martial arts, though, Hapkido is attributed to the collaboration of several individuals.

After World War II, Choi Yong-Sool returned home to Korea from Japan. While in Japan, he studied Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu. According to Wikipedia, Hapkido was created by Choi’s disciples as a fusion of Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu with “kicking and striking techniques of indigenous and contemporary arts such as taekkyeon and Tang Soo Do; as well as various throwing techniques and ground fighting from Japanese Judo.”

The individuals responsible for this blend of activities include Ji Han-jae, Kim Moo-hong, Suh Bok-sub, and Myung Jae-nam. That is not to say that they are the only individuals responsible for the forming of Hapkido, but they are the most widely acknowledged for their contributions.

Hapkido Class

According to, Hapkido class “typically begins with Ki (‘energy’) development exercises and deep breathing, warmup and stretching, and meditation. Then students practice kicks and strikes before pairing off to study self-defense techniques. Class ends with meditation, often accompanied by Ki breathing.”

Interestingly, there are no forms in Hapkido. Philosophically speaking, all attacks are unique. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to do drills that teach that one move follows another. Instead, students learn the blocks, strikes, and throws that are part of forms in other martial arts and use whatever seems best for the situation.

Hapkido Uniform

As with other forms of martial arts, students wear a loose jacket and pants with a colored belt. In Hapkido, the uniform is called a dobok.

Much like other martial arts, the belt color system varies depending on which school you attend. According to, there may be as many as 11 belts used in Hapkido. They are:  white, yellow, orange, green, purple, blue, brown, red, red & black, black & white, then black.

Find Hapkido Near You

Per usual, I recommend Google to find a Hapkido school. Be aware that, if there are no Hapkido schools in your area, you may get information on local clubs or other forms of martial arts in your area. This is a great way to shop around and find exactly what you’re looking for. Go check out the websites and ask questions. Our world is full of resources.

Don’t forget to check with your friends as well. I like Facebook as a quick way to ask my friends if they have opinions or experiences with local businesses.

Have you practiced Hapkido? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for reading this article. If you enjoy the information supplied, please consider supporting this website!

Sign up for our newsletter to get more tips for health and happiness! Also, you can find us on FacebookYouTube and Pinterest as Custom Pilates and Yoga.

Sharing is caring!

About Sarah Stockett

Hi! I'm Sarah, and I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. When I'm not working with clients, I'm researching the best ways to get rid of pain. Do you want to learn how to practice yoga and Pilates safely in your own home? Or, do you want to know all my tips and tricks for pain relief? Join my mailing list and receive free goodies to help you.

Scroll To Top