WHAT IS HAPKIDO?
Hapkido (also spelled hap ki do or hapki-do; Hangul: 합기도) is a dynamic and eclectic Korean martial art. It is a form of self-defense that employs joint locks, techniques of other martial arts, as well as common primitive attacks. There is also the use of traditional weapons, including a sword, rope, nunchaku, cane, short stick, and staff (gun, 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, joint locks, 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 strength.
The art evolved from Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu (大東流合気柔術) or a closely related jujutsu system taught by Choi Yong-Sool (Hangul: 최용술) who returned to Korea after WWII, having lived in Japan for 30 years. This system was later combined with kicking and striking techniques of indigenous and contemporary arts such as taekkyeon and tang soo do. Its history is obscured by the historical animosity between the Korean and Japanese peoples following the Second World War
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 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--- for the earlier, more complex character.
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".
Although the arts are believed by many to share a common history they remain separate and distinct from one another. They differ significantly in philosophy, range of responses and manner of executing techniques. The fact that they share the same original Chinese characters, despite 合 being pronounced "ai" in Japanese and "hap" in Korean, has proved problematic in promoting the art internationally as a discipline with its own set of unique characteristics differing from those of the Japanese art.
The birth of modern hapkido can be traced to the efforts of a group of Korean nationals in the post Japanese colonial period of Korea, Choi Yong-Sool (1899-1986) and his most prominent students; Seo Bok-Seob, the first student of the art; Ji Han-Jae (born 1936), one of the earliest promoters of the art; Kim Moo-Hong, a major innovator; Myung Jae-Nam, a connector between the art of hapkido and aikido, Myung Kwang-Sik the historian and ambassador, all of whom were direct students of Choi or of his immediate students.
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