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Martial arts fall into two categories: hard or soft.


Hard martial arts involve meeting force with force. If someone attacks you, you attack back with equal (or more) force. Karate and taekwondo are examples of hard martial arts.


Soft martial arts involve deflecting an attacker’s move in a way that is disadvantageous to him or her. The defender expends little energy to do this. Soft martial arts are much more defense-based.


Hapkido leans more towards the soft martial arts. It involves using these techniques to subdue or injure an attacker:


• Joint locks on the attacker’s wrist, elbow or leg that will either temporarily incapacitate them or severely injure them by dislocating or breaking the limb

• Striking the attacker in sensitive areas

• Grappling to position yourself in a way that the attacker can’t hurt you and give you the advantage

• Throwing the attacker, once you’ve obtained the physical advantage through grappling


Hapkido can involve using weapons like swords, knives, ropes, and sticks.


There are three general principles that guide the hapkido practice:


1. Nonresistance involves remaining relaxed and not meeting force with force, as you would in hard martial arts techniques.

2. The circle principle means you need to use circular movements to ultimately control your attacker. Circling will also help you gain momentum to execute your own techniques.

3. The water or flexible principle is about deflecting an attacker’s strike and using it to your own advantage.


All these principles hold one core value: you will inflict as little or as much damage as you need to with the least amount of exertion on yourself. You will also actively keep as much distance between you and the attacker as possible.


Don’t let the “soft” category throw you! Hapkido training is just as vigorous as other martial arts. It carries the same physical and mental benefits, with the additional benefit of superior self-defense skills. If you’re interested in learning Hapkido, give UMA Tae Kwon Do - Hapkido school a try!

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