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What is Hapkido? – A Complete 101 Beginners Overview! (2023)

Did you know that Hapkido, a Korean martial art, is not just about combat training and self-defense? It’s a holistic practice that combines martial arts techniques with personal development.

In this article, we will explore the question “what is hapkido?”, equipment needed, benefits, and how to get started.

Whether you’re a beginner to hapkido or looking to expand your martial arts repertoire, this guide will provide you with valuable insights and tips.

A man and woman practicing karate on a dark background, learning hapkido techniques,


Hapkido has a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century in Korea. It was developed by a group of martial artists who wanted to create a comprehensive self-defense system that could be used in real-life situations.

Over the years, Hapkido has evolved and incorporated techniques from various martial arts styles, making it a versatile and effective combat art.

Today, Hapkido is practiced worldwide and has gained recognition for its practicality and effectiveness. It emphasizes fluid movements, joint locks, throws, and strikes, making it suitable for people of all ages and physical abilities.

Equipment Needed

One of the great things about Hapkido is that it doesn’t require a lot of specialized equipment. Here are the essential items you’ll need to get started:

  • Martial arts uniform (gi): A comfortable and durable uniform designed specifically for martial arts training.
  • Belt: A colored belt that represents your rank and progress in Hapkido.
  • Protective gear: Depending on your training level, you may need protective gear such as a mouthguard, groin guard, and shin guards.

While these are the essential items, there are additional accessories that can enhance your Hapkido experience, such as training weapons and focus pads. However, these are not mandatory for beginners.

When it comes to budget considerations, it’s important to invest in quality equipment that will last. However, if you’re on a tight budget, there are affordable options available online and in local martial arts stores.

Two people in karate costumes on the beach practicing hapkido. featured image for "what is hapkido" article.

What is Hapkido Used For?

Hapkido offers a range of personal benefits that make it a worthwhile hobby to try.

Here are some reasons why you should consider practicing Hapkido:

  • Personal Benefits: Hapkido helps improve physical fitness, mental focus, and self-confidence. It also teaches discipline and self-control.
  • Community Aspect: Hapkido provides an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals through training sessions, seminars, and competitions.
  • Educational Value: Hapkido is not just about physical techniques; it also teaches valuable life skills such as problem-solving, perseverance, and adaptability.
  • Health Benefits: Regular practice of Hapkido can improve cardiovascular health, flexibility, and overall body strength.
  • Creative Outlet: Hapkido allows practitioners to express themselves through fluid movements and creative applications of techniques.
A man and woman practicing martial arts in the desert

How to Get Started

If you’re interested in starting your Hapkido journey, here are some steps to help you get started:

  1. Research: Begin by researching Hapkido to understand its principles, techniques, and training methods. Reliable sources include books, websites, and online forums dedicated to martial arts.
  2. Basic Training: Look for local Hapkido schools or dojos that offer beginner classes. These classes will provide you with a solid foundation and help you learn the fundamental techniques.
  3. Joining Communities: Join online forums or local Hapkido communities to connect with experienced practitioners. They can offer guidance, share their experiences, and provide valuable insights.
  4. Setting Up: Acquire the necessary equipment, such as a martial arts uniform and belt. Prepare a suitable space or find a local training facility where you can practice Hapkido safely.
  5. Practical Tips: Practice regularly, be patient with yourself, and focus on mastering the basics before moving on to more advanced techniques. It’s also important to listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard.
  6. Seeking Help: If you encounter any challenges or have questions, don’t hesitate to seek help from your instructor or fellow practitioners. They can provide guidance and support to help you overcome any obstacles.

Hapkido vs. Other Similar Martial Arts

When considering Hapkido, it’s valuable to explore other martial arts that have overlapping techniques and principles.

Let’s compare Hapkido to five similar martial arts:

Hapkido vs. Aikido

Comparison AspectHapkidoAikido
EmphasisSelf-defense and close-quarters combatEnergy redirection and harmony
Key TechniquesJoint locks, throws, and strikesThrows, joint locks, and energy redirection
VersatilityEffective for various combat situationsFocuses on non-aggressive self-defense
Sport AspectLess emphasis on sport; more on practicalityLess of a sport and more of a martial art
PhilosophyVaried techniques for self-defenseEmbraces harmony and non-aggression
arnis/kali/escrima martial arts, featured image

Hapkido vs. Krav Maga

Comparison AspectHapkidoKrav Maga
EmphasisSelf-defense and close-quarters combatPractical self-defense and hand-to-hand combat
Key TechniquesJoint locks, throws, and strikesFocuses on practical and efficient techniques
VersatilityEffective for various combat situationsDesigned for real-world self-defense scenarios
Sport AspectLess emphasis on sport; more on practicalityNot a sport but a combat system
PhilosophyVaried techniques for self-defenseEmphasizes practicality and instinctual responses

Hapkido vs. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

Comparison AspectHapkidoBrazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)
EmphasisSelf-defense and close-quarters combatGround fighting and submission techniques
Key TechniquesJoint locks, throws, and strikesGrappling, ground control, and submissions
VersatilityEffective for various combat situationsFocuses on ground combat and submissions
Sport AspectLess emphasis on sport; more on practicalityPopular sport with competitions and tournaments
PhilosophyVaried techniques for self-defenseEmphasizes technique and leverage in ground combat
Two women in blue judo uniforms fighting on a blue background

Hapkido vs. Judo

Comparison AspectHapkidoJudo
EmphasisSelf-defense and close-quarters combatThrowing techniques and grappling
Key TechniquesJoint locks, throws, and strikesThrows and ground control
VersatilityEffective for various combat situationsFocuses on throws and ground combat
Sport AspectLess emphasis on sport; more on practicalityWidely practiced as a sport with tournaments
PhilosophyVaried techniques for self-defenseEmphasizes using an opponent’s force and balance
A group of people practicing Taekwondo in a gym.

Hapkido vs. Taekwondo

Comparison AspectHapkidoTaekwondo
EmphasisSelf-defense and close-quarters combatHigh kicks and fast strikes
Key TechniquesJoint locks, throws, and strikesDynamic kicking techniques
VersatilityEffective for various combat situationsEmphasizes speed and precision
Sport AspectLess emphasis on sport; more on practicalityPracticed widely as a sport and an Olympic event
PhilosophyVaried techniques for self-defenseCompetition-oriented with points and sparring

DIY Tips and Tricks

If you’re looking to enhance your Hapkido experience, here are some DIY tips and tricks:

Cost-Saving Tips:

  • Practice at home using improvised training equipment, such as pillows or cushions for striking practice.
  • Look for online tutorials and resources to supplement your training and save on additional classes.

Creative Ideas:

  • Create your own training drills and sequences to challenge yourself and improve your technique.
  • Experiment with different training environments, such as practicing outdoors or in different rooms of your house.

Tutorial Resources:

  • Explore YouTube channels and websites that offer free Hapkido tutorials and guides.
  • Consider attending workshops or seminars to learn from experienced Hapkido practitioners.

While practicing Hapkido, it’s important to be aware of legal and safety considerations:

Legal Aspects:

Check local regulations and laws regarding self-defense training and any permits or licenses that may be required.

Safety Tips:

  • Always warm up and stretch before training to prevent injuries.
  • Listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself beyond your limits.
  • Use proper protective gear during sparring or contact training.


Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

As with any hobby, Hapkido comes with its own set of challenges.

Here are some common challenges beginners might face and tips on how to overcome them:

  • Challenge 1: Learning complex techniques – Break down the techniques into smaller steps and practice them individually before combining them.
  • Challenge 2: Lack of flexibility – Incorporate stretching exercises into your routine and gradually work on improving your flexibility over time.
  • Challenge 3: Fear of sparring – Start with controlled sparring sessions and gradually increase the intensity as you gain confidence and experience.
  • Challenge 4: Fear of Falling – Hapkido involves throws and takedowns, which can be intimidating for beginners. Work with a qualified instructor who can guide you through proper falling techniques and help you build confidence in executing these moves safely.

    Remember, challenges are a natural part of the learning process. With consistent practice and a positive mindset, you can overcome any obstacles that come your way.


Hapkido is a fascinating Korean martial art that offers a wide range of benefits, from self-defense skills to personal development. By practicing Hapkido, you can improve your physical fitness, mental focus, and self-confidence. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced martial artist, Hapkido provides a challenging and rewarding journey.

Take the next step and start your Hapkido journey today. Join a local Hapkido school, connect with the community, and immerse yourself in this dynamic martial art.

Remember, the best way to truly understand Hapkido is to experience it firsthand.

FAQ’s about Hapkido

man looking confused, looking at laptop, has questions (FAQ)
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Here are some frequently asked questions about Hapkido:

Q: What is Hapkido?

A: Hapkido is a Korean martial art that focuses on self-defense techniques, joint locks, throws, and strikes.

Q: Is Hapkido suitable for beginners?

A: Yes, Hapkido is suitable for beginners. It’s a versatile martial art that can be adapted to different skill levels and physical abilities.

Q: How long does it take to become proficient in Hapkido?

A: The time it takes to become proficient in Hapkido varies from person to person. Consistent practice and dedication are key factors in progressing in this martial art.

Q: Are there any age restrictions for practicing Hapkido?

A: Hapkido can be practiced by people of all ages. However, it’s important to consult with a qualified instructor to determine the appropriate training program for children.

Q: Can I practice Hapkido for self-defense?

A: Yes, Hapkido is an effective self-defense system that teaches techniques for real-life situations.

If you have more questions or want to connect with the Hapkido community, visit our website or join our online forum.

Glossary of Terms

  1. Hapkido: A Korean martial art that emphasizes self-defense techniques, joint locks, throws, and strikes.
  2. Dojang: A formal training hall or studio where Hapkido practitioners train and practice.
  3. Grappling: A technique used in Hapkido involving close-contact holds and locks to control or immobilize an opponent.
  4. Joint Locks: Techniques that involve manipulating and locking an opponent’s joints to control or incapacitate them.
  5. Throws: Techniques used to throw an opponent off balance and bring them to the ground.
  6. Strikes: Hapkido includes various striking techniques, such as punches, kicks, and elbow strikes.
  7. Ki (Qi): The concept of vital energy or life force, often incorporated into Hapkido training for focus and power.
  8. Poomsae: A set pattern of movements or forms practiced in Hapkido to develop balance, technique, and muscle memory.
  9. Dan: A ranking system in Hapkido, similar to black belts, indicating the practitioner’s level of expertise.
  10. Ki-Hap: A shout or yell used to focus energy and power during a Hapkido technique.
  11. Do Bok: The traditional uniform worn by Hapkido practitioners, typically consisting of a jacket, pants, and belt.
  12. Suh Bok: The colored belt worn by Hapkido practitioners to indicate their rank and level of expertise.
  13. Sin Moo Hapkido: A modern style of Hapkido that incorporates elements of traditional Hapkido with additional self-defense techniques.
  14. Hoshinsul: A Hapkido term referring to practical self-defense techniques used in real-life situations.
  15. Hwa: The concept of harmony and balance in Hapkido, emphasizing using an opponent’s energy against them.
  16. Kyusho: Pressure points on the body targeted in Hapkido techniques for control and incapacitation.
  17. Gwonbeop: The study of joint manipulations and locks in Hapkido.
  18. Mudo: The martial way or philosophy behind Hapkido, which emphasizes self-improvement and ethical conduct.
  19. Yudanja: A Hapkido practitioner who has achieved black belt status.
  20. Hoshin: The Hapkido principle of “Self-defense without injury,” highlighting the art’s focus on control and restraint.



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Two people in karate costumes on the beach practicing hapkido