The Koreans have a way of doing things with elan and making it popular in the world. Be it the electronics giant Samsung or LG, be it annoying the US by being a 'rogue state' or be it the awesome martial art Taekwondo. Koreans have been there, done that. Keeping in with the tradition, there is another thing in Korea which is fast catching up worldwide. Yes, it is the quintessential Hapkido. Now what is Hapkido? It is a method of self defense, which is chiefly based on joint locks (a grappling technique where the joints are twisted), general primitive attacking methods, and other martial arts. Hapkido evolved from a Japanese art called Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu, and now is getting quite popular the world over.
Hapkido has a long range as well as close fighting techniques. Thus, it seeks to be a complete fighting style in itself. The self defense techniques consists of kicking, joint locks, hand strikes, throwing and so on.
Kicks in Hapkido are somewhat similar to those in Taekwondo. However, it is the variety of kicks in Hapkido that makes it a typical Korean Art. There is more of an emphasis on circular motion of the kicks. Greater weight commitment to the strikes during delivery is characteristic of Hapkido. Some of the kicks used in Hapkido are:
It is the simplest kick in any of the martial arts. It is done by lifting the knee straight ahead, keeping the shin and foot free or pulled at the hip, eventually straightening the leg in front of the practitioner, hitting the target.
The technique is almost the same here, as the front kick, though it is delivered sideways in relation to the body of the person who is kicking. Then there is a turning side kick, which is called the back kick.
Round House Kick
This is one move for which you need to be really flexible. To deliver this kick, an individual swings or spins his leg in a semi circular motion. It results in striking the target with the front part of the foot or leg.
This is a kick where you strike with your heel from the side or the flat of the foot in sparring. It is akin to a side kick but more powerful. In full execution the knee is bent and the foot is snapped to the side, hitting the target with the heel.
Inside and Outside Crescent
In this kick, which is an advanced version of the ax kick in Taekwondo, you can tackle an attacker taller than you. In outer crescent, you need to raise your leg as high as possible, sweeping outwards, on one side in a circular motion. The inner crescent originates outside the body, with the sideways circular motion coming in, towards the center of the body. If you are 5 feet 4 inches and the attacker is 5 feet 10, no problem, you have the ax and this crescent kick, to deal with that person.
There are quite a few other kicks in Hapkido (I wish I could describe all of them.) such as, the ankle scoop kick, cover kick - front kick, inside heel hooking-the-thigh kick, high spinning heel kick, low spinning heel kick, inside footblade kick, outside footblade kick, outside heel down kick, and a few more. But hand strikes are also an important part of Hapkido, hence, let us look at the punches and blocks.
Hand strikes mainly involve punches and elbow strikes. They are very effective to weaken the opponent. Unless in a competition, fingers and fingernails are also put to good use in addition to punches and open hand striking in Hapkido.
Joint Lock and Manipulation
Well, thanks to aikijujutsu, Hapkido has got its joint control techniques. This technique targets both the small as well as large joints. The method goes like this - apply force in the direction in which a joint moves naturally forcing the joint to be overextended. The other way is to force the joint opposite to the direction in which it naturally moves. This method cripples the opponent for sometime and then you can hit the person left and right or even throw him or her away. The prominent ones among these joint locks are wrist and elbow locks.
Throwing has two connotations in Hapkido. Either you throw following a joint lock, or throw sans the help of a joint lock. A throw refers to simply lifting and throwing the opponent. But this needs a lot of training and a highly skilled practitioner, as wrong throwing techniques can lead to either an injury to the opponent (in a competition) or the attacker himself.
Another point with regards to Hapkido and other martial arts is that they teach you concentration and give you peace of mind needed for logical thinking when you are in fight. Meditation techniques are also practiced by practitioners of martial arts. This reminds me of what Bruce Lee, the legendary Hollywood star and martial arts expert had said , I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.