Hapkido Rank Requirements to 1st Guep

May 21, 2010

I have posted this rank requirements outline from the Korean Hapkido Federation so that people can get a better understanding of what they should be learning at each rank on the way to black belt. These are the minimum requirements that are taught at Hapkido schools in Korea. I hope that you find the outline useful. This outline is used by more than 70 styles of Hapkido in Korea. So even if the individual techniques are different the order of teaching is the same that way people can continue to progress in rank even if they change styles in Korea. If you are looking for a great Hapkido school that teaches the Korean standards visit www.haemukwan.com .

To your success,

Richard Hackworth 



Kyung-Nae: (Etiquette): formal class opening and closing

Dojang Kyu-Chik: Learn Hapkido School Rules & Etiquette

SulYunsaeng Kyu-Chik: Learn Hapkido Student Creed & Student Oath

Soo-Chik: Students of the Korean martial arts adhere to the 4 fundamental guidelines of Mudo Philosophy:

1. To be Loyal to one’s parents and family

2. To be Brave during battle

3. To be living Honestly and cleanly both mentally and physically

4. To be Trustworthy and helpful toward others

Won-Ri 1: Principles of Non-Resistance: When pushed, Pull. When pulled, Push. This is the fundamental application of the principle of non-resistance.

Won-Ri 2: Principle of Off balancing: Breaking balance.

Epson Dan-jun Ho-hup: (Breathing) Ki exercises 4 standing

Chason Dan-jun Ho-hup: 4 seated

JaSe: Stances

1. Cha-yun Che: Natural

2. Cha-yun Che: Natural at 45

3. Ki-ma Jasae: Horse

4. Ki-ma Jasae: Horse at 45

5. Ki-ma Jasae: Horse from the side

6. Dweet-Ku-bi Jasae: Back

7. Bumsoegi Jasae: Cat

8. Ahp-Ku-bi Jasae: Front

9. KongGyok Jasae: Fighting Stance

10. SooBi Jasae: Blocking Stance

SonMokSool: Wrist grab defenses:

Wrist Grabs: Escapes 1-5 (Baygi)

Escapes and Strikes 1-5 (Chigi)

Sleeve Grab: 1-5 Breaks (Goki)

KiBon Jasae: Basic Tumbling and Rolling From kneeling & squating position

AhpGurugi: Forward Roll, DweetGurugi: Backward Roll, OkgaeGurugi: shoulder Roll

Nahk-bop: Falls: from kneeling & squating position

Chunbang Nahk-bop: Front Fall, ChaChukbang Nahk-bop: Left Side Fall, WooChukbang Nahk-bop: Right Side Fall, and HooBang Nahk-bop: Back Fall

TonJiGi: 5 Basic Throws from wrist grab

Shoulder Throw, Hip Throw, Major Reap, Leg Sweep, Shoulder Wheel

1. Shoulder- hook under shoulder

2. Hip- grab belt

3. Reap- their leg back

4. Leg Sweep- their leg forward

5. Shoulder Wheel- hook under other shoulder

DanShik Palchagi: Fundamental single kicks:

Ahp-chagi: Front, Yup-chagi: side, DweYup-chagi: back, DweKumchi Cha-Uligi: leg raise, Andari-chagi: inside, Pakahtdari-chagi: outside

Low Kicks (Knee to Foot) 1-5

Andaricha-noki: Scoop Kick to shin

Dwekumchi hataebu-doluchagi: Sweep Heel Kick (Inside of the Knee)

Chokdohadan-douchagi: Round Kick (to Outside of the Knee)

NopJukdari-chagi: Hook Kick (to the Outside of the Knee)

HadanYup-chagi: Side Kick (Front of the Knee)

Hadanchago-naryu-jiki: Side Kick and Stomp (Front of the Knee Top of the Foot)

PalBang Maki: Hand & Arm Blocks against punching

1. Rising, High

2. Down, Low

3. Inside, palm facing you

4. Outside, palm facing away

5. Parry, 45 degree angle down

6. Parry, 45 degree angle up

7. Cross Palm

8. Downward Palm

JiRuGi: Strikes against punches:

1. Inside

2. Outside

Note: Your body dictates whether it is an inside, or outside technique, not your hands. Both are knife hand strikes to the radial nerve point on top of the forearm.

Grab and joint lock or break against punches 1-2

Grab and throw against punches 1-2 Head hook throw, Arm lock throw

JinTeSool: Advancing and retreating footwork



WiBok-sool: (Clothing Grab defense)

Sleeve Grab at the Wrist Top 1-5

Sleeve Grab at the Wrist Bottom 1-5

Sleeve Grab at the elbow Top 1-5

Sleeve Grab at the elbow Bottom 1-5

Sleeve Grab Under the Shoulder 1-5

Sleeve Grab at the Shoulder 1-5

Lapel Grab One Hand and Two Hand Grab 1-5

Lapel Grab Fist Up, Thumb Up, Thumb Down

Escape from the Mounted Position 1-5

Middle Kicks (Waist to Knee)

Inverted Round Kick

Round Kick (to the Thigh)

Up Kick (to the Groin)

Pushing Kick (to the Groin)

Heel Kick (to the Groin)

Single Kicks: Ax, hammer, outside cresent, inside cresent, push

Basic Tumbling and Rolling from standing position, return to stance

Forward Roll, Backward Roll, shoulder Roll

Falls (Naup-Po): from standing position

Front Fall, Left Side Fall, Right Side Fall, and Back Fall


DanJunKiBup: Ki breathing lying on back



Chest Grab with 1 hand 1-5

Chest Grab with 2 hands 1-5

Side Body Grab1-5

Arm Twist 1-5

Defense against choke from front 1-5

Defense against choke from rear 1-5

SuBakSool: Closed Hand Striking


Hammer Fist

Hapkido Back Fist

MuRyup-Chagi: Knee Kicks: front, side, round

Hold Downs 1-7

1 Handed Cartwheel

Kicking footwork for stepping, sliding, turning, hoping, step over, step behind



Belt Grab with Palm Down 1-5

Belt Grab with Palm Up 1-5

Push from Front, Rear, and Side

Chest Push with 1 hand same side attack

Chest Push with 1 hand cross body attack

Chest Push with 2 hands front, side, rear attack

Bear hug: from the Front with Arms Pinned 1-5

Bear hug from the Front with Arms Free 1-5

Open Hand Striking: Palm Heel, Ridge Hand

Defense Against Kicks (Bang Jok Sul):

Front Kick

Side Kick

Kick- Up

Defense against throws 1-5

Yi-bun-bop Kyun-hyung WonRi: Bisecting Principle: The imaginary line running left to right across the tip of the sternum. Striking above this point causes the body of your opponent to lean away from you. Striking below this point causes the opponent to lean toward you.

Sonsul WonRi: Neural Stun Principle: Used as a preparatory technique to create a distraction.



Sa-bun-bop Kyun-hyun WonRi: Quadrant Principle: Divides the body into quarters from above view. Manipulating the quadrants will redirect your opponent to the exact position needed for your follow up technique.

Redirecting your opponent using the quadrant principle:

5 primary hair handles for control. 4 quadrants, top of head.

5 secondary handles for control: Left ear, right ear, chin, nose, brow line.

Hair Grab 1-5

Headlock Defenses: Front, side, rear

Single hand Collar Grab Behind the Neck from front 1-5

Single hand Collar Grab Behind the Neck from rear 1-5

Rear Shoulder Grab 1 hand Top 1-5

Rear Shoulder Grab 1 hand Bottom (arm pit) 1-5

Front shoulder Grab 1 hand Top 1-5

Front Shoulder Grab 1 hand Bottom (arm pit) 1-5

High Kicks (Head to Waist)

Round Kick

Side Kick

Front Kick

Hook Kick

Back Kick

Front Handspring

Grab and joint lock or break against punches 1-2

Grab and throw against punches 1-2

Body Movements: Footwork: side-to-side, pivoting, back spin, back step



Rear Sleeve Grab 1-5

Rear Wrist Grab 1-5

Bear Hug: from the Rear with Arms Pinned 1-5

Bear Hug: from the Rear with Arms Free 1-5

Rear Shoulder Grab 2 hand Top 1-5

Rear Shoulder Grab 2 hand Bottom (arm pit) 1-5

Front shoulder Grab 2 hand Top 1-5

Front Shoulder Grab 2 hand Bottom (arm pit) 1-5

Open Hand Striking: Knife Hand, Spear hand, Claw, Arc of the Hand

Defense Against a Hand Grab 1-5

Jump Dive Roll

JoWulBup: Basic Tumbling and Rolling with jump

Forward Roll, Backward Roll, shoulder Roll

Falls (Naup-Po): with jump

Front Fall, Left Side Fall, Right Side Fall, and Back Fall



Full Nelson Defense 1-5

Reverse Full Nelson Defense 1-5

Elbow Strikes 1-5

Low Spin Kicks

Low Round Kick

Low Spin Heel Kick

Leg Sweeps 1-5

Basic Chokes 1-5

Defense against head lock from front 1-5

Defense against head lock from side 1-5

Defense Against Kicks (Bang Jok Sul):

Roundhouse Kick

Hook Kick

Bokshik Pal-Chagi: Combination Kicking

Aerial Cartwheel



Open Hand Striking: Spear Finger, One Knuckle Punch, Middle Knuckle Punch

11 Primary Eye Strikes (historically used to penetrate helmet eye shield): Punch, Elbow, Finger Fan, Spear finger, Spear hand, Scissor hand, Deer hoof, Thumb spike, Thumb knuckle, Tiger Claw, Cranes beak, Snake mouth.

5 Directions of Eye manipulation with open hand strikes: In, Left, Right, Up, Down.

Open Hand Blocking: High open hand block, High X Block, Wrapping hand inside block, Wrapping hand outside block, Low X block, Low wrapping block, Inside Arm Wrapping block, Outside Arm wrapping block.

Short Stick Training: 10 Angles of attack, 7 fundamental strikes, 7 fundamental blocks, blocking & striking 2 man drill short stick vs. short stick, 2 man drill sword vs. short stick

Defense Against a Short Stick

Basic Jump Kicks

Side Lick

Front Kick

Round Kick

Advanced Combination Kicks

JunHaBup: Advanced Falling, Tumbling and Rolling with jump turning

Forward Roll, Backward Roll, shoulder Roll

Falls (Naup-Po): with jump turning

Front Fall, Left Side Fall, Right Side Fall, and Back Fall



Cross Wrist Grab Front and Rear 1-5

Both Wrist Grab Front and Rear hands together escapes 1-5

Both Wrist Grab Front and Rear hands apart escapes 1-5

Both Wrist Grab Front and Rear hands together techniques 1-5

Both Wrist Grab Front and Rear hands apart techniques 1-5

Defense From Kneeling Position

Front Attacks 1-5

Side Attacks 1-5

Rear Attacks 1-5

Jump Spin Kicks

Side Kick

Round Kick

Back Kick

Outside Kick

Heel Kick

Hook Kick

HyolDoBup: Pressure Point Techniques

Basic Pressure Point Striking to the front of the Body

(Sun Sul)

PoBakSool: Belt (Di as a weapon) Training

Defense Against a Club

Disarming Techniques

Defense Against a Knife from thrust, diagonal slash down, diagonal slash up, slash from left and right

Visit www.haemukwan.com to subscribe to a free hapkido training e-newsletter. Here is an example of what not to do in a Hapkido class http://www.gogvo.com/evp/video/23257/Fake-Grand-Master-Martial-Artists

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5 Reasons Adults Over 50 Should Learn Hapkido

January 12, 2010

5 Reasons Adults Over 50 Should Learn Hapkido

Dr. Ronald W. Stone

American Dragon Martial Arts Academy

Clermont, Florida

This month I celebrate my 57th birthday and my 39th year in the martial arts. I assume this qualifies me to discuss the benefits of Hapkido for adults my age.  Like many of my generation I am constantly amazed at the difference between the things my mind and heart are willing to do and the sad ability of my body to perform them.  With the passing of time I become more and more convinced of the old adage that a man is merely a boy grown into a bigger body.  The fellow who said “the mind is willing but the body’s unable” wasn’t kidding.

After I turned 45 years of age I began to notice aches and pains that I had never experienced before.  I can still remember the first time I jumped down off a ladder and felt a strange sensation through my knees.  When I was a youngster I didn’t even think about having knees.  They were merely areas where my leg bent.  Now with the passing of time they are a constant source of discomfort and a reminder the truth behind the aging process. Like many “baby boomers” I lived high and ate well.  Perhaps too well.  By 1996 I had been diagnosed with Type Two Diabetes.  I was never sick a day in my life until then and now not a day passes that I don’t have some physical malady.  Fortunately with modern medicine my diabetes improved and is relatively under control.  Truthfully though, the single most important recommendation ever given me regarding control of my disease was to reenter the martial arts and to get back into shape.  Although I started my studies in 1970 I had stopped training for a few years during which time I gained 95 pounds and grew apathetic.

Apparently I was not alone.  Any statistical analyis of those in the population of men over 50 years of age will surely include a dramatic increase in obesity, heart disease and arthritis.  Not all of this can be attributed merely to junk  food.  With modern transportation and an increasing dependence on television and the internet for entertainment, physical activity has decreased to an alarming degree.

Returning to the study of Hapkido has to no small degree been part of my salvation, and I am not referring simply to the benefits of exercise or to the control of Diabetes. 

To understand all the benefits of Hapkido study for those over fifty years of age it is perhaps wise to review some of the needs of those in this age bracket.  Oten with age comes decreased physical fitness leading to:

1.  Cardiovascular weakness

2.  Obesity

3.  Decreased flexibility and ultimately arthritic changes

4.  Increased stress and loss of mental acuity

            5.  Victimology. In orther words the impression exists that the older you appear and the more out of shape you are the more likely you will be target for attack by felons.

        Financial and work-related responsibilities unique to those in this age bracket ofen interfer with family life and social interaction.  Very few men over fifty don’t wish that they had more time to spend with their children or in the case of  the typical working housewife could spend more time with husband and friends outside the house. 

            Hapkido is more than merely a set of self defense techniques.  It is a complete martial art grounded in time tested and proven methods for improving both mental, spiritual and physical fitness.

            Dan Jun breathing and meditation usually procede the typical Hapkido class.  The benefits of such mental and breathing exercises are legendary.  Stress is reduced, blood pressure is lowered and conentration is enhanced.  The body is hypoeroxygenated leading to pain control, improved circulation, and a sense of well being.  Abdominal and spinal muscule tone is improved, leading to an improvement in posture.   This in turn creates a sense of self worth and better confidense, so often lacking in the elderly.

            Hapkido training will by its very nature improve the cardiovascular status of any of its practitioners.  Hapkido offfers both aerobic, isometirc and isotonic exercises.
Ateriosclerosis, hypertension, excessive cholesterol in the blood, and weakening of the cardiac musculature are conditions that will all be improved by the exercises that are practiced in Hapkido trainng.  With proper training there will be a lowering of blood pressure, an increase in cardiac output and improved oxygen interchange, and a conversion of fat tissue to muscle, all benefits for those over 50.

            Proper stance and good posture are basic components of Hapkido.  This means that in order to correctly perform Hapkido techniques the lower legs, knees and spine must improve. Obviously the stronger one’s support sturcture becomes, the stronger the tendon’s and ligaments that support the joints are, the less the effects of arthritis or degenerative joint disease will be noticed.

            With increased Hapkido training, posture and lung capacity, the body’s flexibility will be improved.   When the  stretching exercises that are practiced at the beginning and end of class are coupled with the basic movements associated with Hapkido throws, strikes and kicks the muscular skeletal system will be strengthened.  It has been repeatedly demonstrated that such exercises will slow the natural process of osteoporosis or the deterioration of skeletal bone that often occurs with the aging process.

            It goes without saying that almost exercise regime will benefit those who are overweight.  Such regimes must however be balanced and appropriate.  (i.e. a beginner to weight training should not try to lift too much too quick or do so from a weak stance or injuries wil result).  The exercises, stances and technique movements in Hapkido training are all based on tried and true methodologies, such as the water principle.  Students are encouraged to learn at a brisk pace, but are not forced to overdo, to stress themselves unnaturally, or to attempt techniques before learning and understanding the fundamentals. Weight loss will occur as it should, in a healthy and gradual manner. 

            As body weight returns to normalcy, as lung capacity and tissue oxygenation improve and as pain and stiffness decrease the mind will improve.  From a scientific standpoint view, beneficial hormones called endorphins are released with exercise.  From a spiritual point of view Hapkido practitioners will learn to harness Ki energy in a positive manner.  Meditation will improve well being and the mind will be better able to focus.  Eventually self confidence and well being will result.

            Anyone who is working for a living will admit the irony  that adults eventually work to provide for our families but at the very same time that work often keeps us apart from the ones we love.  My daughter and I have been practicing the artial arts for many years and it has brought us tha much closer.  Often those in the family who don’t themselves practice the art will share in the successes of those who do.  This feeling of closeness seems to become more and more important and the years progress.

The exists a certain comraderie among Hapkido practitioners, a willingness to help each other learn and a closeness and pride that creates a bond among classmates.  They share each others triumphs as well as setbacks.  This is especially true of the bond between instructor and student.   Often the friendships that develop during martial arts training will last a lifetime.

Finally one of the sad facts of life is that while the world is filled with wonderful, kind and caring individuals, it is also home to evil doers  One pronounced characteristic of felons is that for the most part they lack the courage to attack people who are their physical equals.  The older one is the more prone he or she is to be the victim of attack by those seeking an easy victory.  Hapkido effectively teaches those of all ages to protect themselves.  Since it is based on the water principle and combines both hard and soft techniques it is ideal for those over 50 regardless of their physical status.  The concept of redirecting the attackers force and applying ki energy instead of brute strength is very attractive to those whose physical abilities have diminished with age.  Even those forced to walk with support will be delighted to master the art of the Hakido cane, which offers some of the most effective self defense techniques in the martial arts world.

Just as it is for the young, Hapkido is a logical and advantagous choice for those who are approaching their golden years. 

www.americandragononline.com   www.worldmartialartsmagazine.com  www.haemukwan.com

Free Help for Martial Arts School Owners

December 7, 2009

The National Promoters League E-News is FREE for Martial Arts School Owners!

The NPL E-News is a powerful resource for your martial arts business. It provides you business success tips and information from the leading minds in the martial arts industry helping you build a successful school. Learn how school owners like Yong Hon Kim (22 Locations), Dong Kyun Kim (16 Locations), and Richard Hackworth (7 Locations) are creating martial arts schools that will be around for generations to come.

Read articles from world champion competitors and their coaches on how to develop team skills and warrior spirit in your students. This will fill your school with life long dedicated students!

Hear stories from martial arts school owners about how they overcame obsticles to change their schools and change their life! Get answers to some of the most difficult questions on how to turn a bankrupt school into “The” place to be for martial arts in your area!

Just visit www.nationalpromotersleague.com to start getting your weekly dose of martial arts business success. As a Special Thanks just for visiting the site we are going to give you two FREE GIFTS. First, you will get a free subscription to www.worldmartialartsmagazine.com,

the most popular online magazine in the martial arts world. Second, you will recieve our hot off the presses, highly controversial special report from the hosts of “The World Martial Arts Magazine Show” called “Why MMA is NOT the Future of the Martial Arts Industry”.

So head on over to www.nationalpromotersleague.com and fill out the form with your name and e-mail address to claim your free subscription and two bonus gifts as our way of saying Thank You.

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Learn Hapkido in Korea

December 5, 2009

Learn Hapkido in Korea

The Learn Hapkido in Korea blog is dedicated to providing information relevant to traveling to Korea to learn Hapkido. There will be Hapkido training articles and information on Hapkido organizations that can provide you with Hapkido training in Korea.

So if it is one of your life’s goals to visit Korea and learn authentic Hapkido while you are there then you need to visit www.learnhapkidoinkorea.wordpress.com and bookmark the site. Be sure to visit often as it will be updated weekly. Sponsored by www.haemukwan.com, www.worldmartialartsnetwork.ning.com  and www.worldmartialartsmagazine.

To your success!

hapkido schools hapkido books hapkido classes

December 4, 2009

Attention Korean Martial Arts School Owners: 

Does Your School Need…

 More Income & Improved Retention?

50-100 New Teen & Adult Students?

A Link To Your Martial Arts Roots?


Then Join The Korea Hapkido Federation HaeMuKwan!!!

Now Is Your Chance! Adding a Hapkido program can increase adult enrollments, improve retention, and boost profits. Hapkido has proven itself as the premier self defense art and an essential part of an effective self-defense program for elite Police and Military units and now it is available to YOU! Your school can have a successful Hapkido program!

Why Offer Hapkido At Your School? Hapkido is a great martial art for attracting adult students between the ages of 16-55 years old. This market wants to learn Hapkido. Now you can fill that need, make more money, expand your knowledge and earn your Black Belt in Hapkido.

But I’ve Never Done Hapkido? Our systematic program is designed so that you can learn enough Hapkido to begin teaching it at your school in as little as 1 week. If the US Secret Service can learn enough Hapkido in a few days to protect our President then YOU can certainly learn enough in a week to teach a beginner class. Haemukwan Hapkido is the most scientifically advanced and easy to learn program in the world. 

How Do I Learn and Get Certified? You will be a part of our Hapkido distance learning program with video training and practice the techniques everyday with a partner. Also, we are available for private lessons and seminars to help speed up your learning process. In order to earn rank, you need to meet the minimum requirements and pass each belt test set forth by the Korea Hapkido Federation HaeMuKwan.


Who Are You? I am Richard Hackworth, Grand Master of Hapkido with the Korean Hapkido Federation, founder of HaeMuKwan Hapkido. I am the editor of “World Martial Arts Magazine” and host of the “World Martial Arts Magazine Show” on the Action Radio Network. I have been successfully using this program since 1991 to train students and instructors.

Why Should I Choose Your Program? Because I know what busy school owners like you need! Simply look at the class calendar, see what section you need to teach, look in the Instructor Handbook at the specific techniques you need to teach and practice the techniques on the video. It is that easy. Our curriculum is the most scientifically advanced self defense system in the world and that is why we are so successful. Plus we have the most complete marketing program ever used in the martial arts industry. Your school will dominate your area as a member of the Korea Hapkido Federation Haemukwan.

What Does Your Program Include?

Beginner/Intermediate Hapkido Curriculum DVD or Video

Korea Hapkido Federation Haemukwan Instructor Certificate (must qualify)

Belt Testing Requirements

Instructor Handbook

Class plans for 1 year and Attendance Cards (Master copies)

Korea Hapkido Federation Haemukwan School Affiliate Membership

Korea Hapkido Federation Haemukwan School Certificate

Korea Hapkido Federation Haemukwan Flag and Patch

Free Directory Listing for Your School In Our Official Website

Annual Private Guided Training Trip to Korea

For more information on our HaeMuKwan Hapkido Instructor Training Program:
Call Today! 352-536-1122
or visit us online at www.haemukwan.com

Best Regards,

Richard Hackworth

P.S. Korea Hapkido Federation Haemukwan members qualify to be invited on our private guided tour to Korea where you will get to learn from the top Grand Masters, Elite Police and Military Instructors and much more!

P.S. Join by January 1st 2010 to help celebrate our 10 year anniversary as an official member of the Korean Hapkido Federation and get a Free Subscription & Directory Listing on The World Martial Arts Magazine Website and a Free Membership & Directory Listing on The National Promoters League Website.

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Benefits of Hapkido Ki Breathing

December 1, 2009

The Benefits of Hapkido Ki Breathing

By: Dr. Ronald W. Stone, Hapkido Instructor, American Dragon Martial Arts Academies Clermont, Florida. Certified Hapkido Black Belt with the Korean Hapkido Federation

The most widely practiced controlled breathing exercise in Hapkido is identified as “DAN JUN Breathing.”  This strengthens the thoracic musculature, the diaphragm and oxygenates the body in an effort to build a strong union between mind, spirit, and the body’s muscular skill and availability

The Dan Jun is believed by Hapkido practitioners to be the center of energy (KI) in the human body. Dan means red or fire and Jun means field, so Dan Jun can be interpreted as meaning the active source of power in the body. As the center of energy, it is the key to human vitality and strength.

Dan Jun is interpreted by some Hapkido masters as meaning the active source of power in the body. As the center of energy, it is the key to human vitality and strength.  The Dan Jun is believed to be the center of energy (KI) in the human body and is located about three inches below the navel. Through repetitive and continual Dan Jun exercises, each individual will eventually determine the location of their own personal Ki energy center.

            Physiologically the type of breathing performed during Hapkido Dan Jun exercises is described as Thoraco-abdominal breathing.  During this type of inhalation and exhalation air is consciously drawn into the lower lungs by the strong use of the abdominal musculature rather than the normal and automatic shallow pattern which primarily passes air into the upper lungs.

For Hapkido practitioners it important to understand that the process of breathing has two components, ventilation and respiration.  Ventilation is defined as the process by which air is moved through the respiratory system from the nose or mouth downwards through the trachea into the lungs.  Ventilation can be automatic, that is controlled by the body’s autonomic nervous system, or it can be slowed or accelerated by conscious intention.  The amount and rate of air flow will be determined by the size of the respiratory organs (nasal openings, throat, trachea lung capacity etc.) and the action of the respiratory musculature (intercostal muscles, diaphragm). 

            Respiration is the interchange of oxygen from the air with the tissues of the body.  It is the reason ventilation exists.  In the human body neither can exist without the other.  Air must be moved into the lungs (ventilation) but oxygen must be able to leave the air and enter the bloodstream (respiration) in order to supply cells with this basic need for energy.

            Learning Hapkido Ki breathing will enhance these basic life support mechanisms.  The better you breathe better you feel and perform.  Better oxygenation improves alertness, reduces stress and creates a sense of well being.  New studies have also demonstrated that increasing the blood’s oxygen level decreases perception of pain.

 To the contrary, improper breathing such as hyperventilating (excessively rapid and shallow breathing) or holding ones breath due to fear, anxiety or stress will lead to a buildup of toxic substances such as carbon dioxide.  This deprives both mind and body of the ability to function properly.

Just as a pearl diver learns to increase the lung’s ability in order to perform deeper and longer dives, proper Hapkido Ki breathing will train the respiratory system as well as the mind to handle situations that require more energy and more lung capacity.

It is a well recognized phenomenon that when a person is faced with a major physical threat to life or limb there is a discharge of body chemicals (adrenaline rush).  This is often described as the “fight or flight reflex.”  One side effect of this emotional shock to the system (fear factor) is a dramatic change in breathing patterns from normal to a rapid shallow pattern.  Eventually hyperventilation occurs and as previously mentioned the end result will be an abnormal and detrimental change in the acid base balance of the blood to the point where unconsciousness may even result

            Hapkido breathing not only expands lung capacity but it allows one to train the body to relax and to gain control over both emotion and body function.  Even the Dan Jun stance taken in order to practice Ki breathing has its advantages such as improved posture, better muscle tone, alignment of Ki centers and improved vascular flow from the legs.

Hapkido Ki breathing benefits are many:: improved focus, stress reduction, improved circulation, cleansing of the body, increased ki energy, improved oxygenization of blood for increased alertness.

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Hapkido Stances by Dr. R.W. Stone

December 1, 2009


Dr. Ronald W. Stone, Hapkido Instructor American Dragon Martial Arts Academies Clermont, Florida

     Like any other technique in Hapkido, the importance of stance should be studied with regard to three factors:

1.  Importance of the technique to a proper defence

2.  Importance of the technique (stance) to a  proper offense

3.  Importance of the technique to the formation of the individual, the development of Ki energy, and the martial artist’s performance

The way we communicate with others can be broken down into the following categories:

Physiology (dilated eyes, breathing patterns, perspiration etc) = about 55%

Psychology (posture, body movements, fisting, gestures, etc) = about 35%

Words +10%

This illustrates that body language is often as important as verbal communication skills.  The way a person positions himself (takes a certain stance) at any given moment is an expression of mental attitude as well as physical ability.  This is one reason why the elderly, the infirm, or the weak minded are so often singled out by social predators for attack.  The very nature of the victim portrays and projects an image of susceptibility, of weakness and of fear. 

 Most attackers are by nature cowardly and prefer to strike by surprise.  They choose to win by stealth, intimidation or overwhelming force of numbers.  If such an attacker has to choose between an old man walking down the street bent over or limping, or a self confident man who walks erect, is well balanced and exudes an aura of strength, the criminal will almost certainly attack the weaker target. 

An attacker can read non-verbal cues.  He can tell just by looking at someone and by the way they “hold themselves” whether that person is weak, frightened, confident, or alert.  Hapkido stances should allow one to look like a victor not a victim.   Predators always prefer to attack the weaker members of the herd. It is wise to remember the old axiom; “When you are strong appear weak, and when you are weak appear strong!”

This same non verbal communication effect is often noticed in martial arts tournaments at the start of a match.  When two equally matched opponents face each other, victory often goes to the one who initiates the match from a power leg forward, chin tucked aggressive stance as practiced in Hapkido.  This position will off balance the opponent who fights from a defensive stance.  The effect is not only a physical one (positional advantage and speed) but a psychological one as well.

When studying the importance of proper stance for defense in Hapkido it should be remembered that its purpose is to create a physical barrier between yourself and your potential attacker without creating a negative image that might initiate a fight.  A proper stance conveys the message that while you do not wish violence, you are clearly willing to defend yourself if you have to.  Coupled with aggressive and confident verbal skills it is often all that is necessary to fend off an attacker. 

The objective of the defensive stance in Hapkido is to protect as much of your body as possible, to prevent being thrown off balance, and to allow for an effective counterattack should the need arise.  An example of this might be:

1.     Tucking the elbows in to protect the mid section

2. Raising one’s hands to cover the face and chin,
3.   Bending the knees slightly for enhanced balance and to fend off kicks
4.  Turning the shoulder to form a tight and compact defense
5.    Tucking the chin in for protection while at the same time lowering the head slightly and narrowing the eyes in order to create an aggressive attitude.

As difficult as it may be to properly relax the body into a well balanced stance during a stressful or dangerous situation it is vitally important.  This seems to be a strange recommendation for dealing with a threat response.  After all, many other martial arts teach their students to harden themselves at the first sign of trouble and to fight with as strong a body as possible.  Hapkido however is best applied with a relaxed mental attitude and with proper utilization of Ki energy, speed and flexibility.  As Grandmaster Hackworth once pointed out, no matter how strong one trains to become, and no matter how tall or hard one’s body is, there will always be someone born stronger, bigger or taller.  There will always be someone else who started training earlier, trained harder or longer.  You can’t fight genetics or the clock. 

In other words, when hard body meets hard body straight on, both suffer damage.  A proper Hapkido defensive stance should therefore allow one to both absorb the attack without suffering injury, and to rapidly counter.  A good stance allows the practitioner to rapidly shift into another stance should it become necessary without loss of time and without making oneself more vulnerable.  It is best to remember that Hapkido is at the same time both a hard and a soft martial art and is therefore not limited by mere physical strength.  If Hapkido teaches us anything it is that speed, flexibility and quick thinking will always provide the superior weapons.

There are numerous Hapkido stances from which one can either attack or defend.  All share similar characteristics.  A proper stance must allow for balance, flexibility, speed and strength of attack or counter.  The practitioner must understand the fundamentals of stance, since all other techniques flow from a proper base.  Blocks, throws, strikes and kicks all depend on the martial artist having a proper stance.  Correct body position allows practitioners to perform without fatigue, muscle cramping or loss of balance.

In a proper offense just as in defense it is important to first evade the opponent’s attack by avoiding, blocking, trapping or absorbing the blow or kick.   Once the Hapkido practitioner has elected to take the offense with an attack or a counter, the technique, whether it be kick, throw or hand strike, must deliver Ki energy, speed, accuracy, power and focus directly into the target area.  Most of the thrust of the attack will project from the legs and hips upward into the point of contact.  Simply being off balance will jeopardize the effectiveness of any of these techniques.  A proper stance in offense can provide a strong base from which to launch a powerful blow or perhaps create a springboard which will add speed and focus into a fast attack.

Learning the proper Hapkido stances will improve posture, temper our emotions and help control our thoughts.  The mind doesn’t like to stay focused on one thing for very long, particularly if that one thing is difficult, painful, or unexciting.  Stance training is an ideal way to calm and control the mind.  Just like sitting meditation or concentration exercises, stance training correctly positions and stills the body and allows for more astute observations and mental control.

In meditation one tends to sit comfortably and forget about the body. Hapkido stance training is unique in that the body, though still and unmoving, quickly begins sending messages to the brain regarding muscular exertion and pain.  With practice and patience this can eventually be overcome, thus bestowing greater confidence and self control.

Perhaps the greatest reason for stance training is to cultivate Ki or inner energy.  While holding stances in Hapkido, you don’t need to consciously think about or manipulate your Ki; the process is automatic. Some martial artists believe that you have to control and direct Ki with your mind to make it flow through the body’s many meridians, reservoirs or orbits. While such control can be practiced by high level students to “fine-tune” the Ki flow, for most people this attempt at controlling Ki is both unnecessary and potentially damaging.  More attention should be paid to correct posture, proper rooting, releasing the mind and body, and breathing naturally and correctly. If you follow these simple guidelines, an increase in energy and Ki will come naturally and in time will spread throughout your body of its own accord.       

From a purely western medical standpoint we know that the leg and thigh muscles comprise the majority of the body’s musculature and make up a greater part of the vascular supply.  An increase in utilization of these muscles will in fact burn off more fat and energy than upper body exercise training alone.  It will also improve overall circulatory function.  An example of this would be the current popularity of stair stepping machines which have been shown to have more benefits than simple flat treadmills. 

The same effects can be achieved with correct Hapkido martial arts stance training.  If one examines the horse stance for example it quickly becomes obvious that when correctly performed the back is straight, the pelvis is tilted forward, the legs move apart and the knees are bent.  This stance aligns the Ki centers of the body, improves the posture of the spine, and strengthens the leg muscles supporting the knees.

Each Hapkido stance has its own advantages and disadvantages.  Some stances are maintained by positioning the body into a low and wide base, such as the traditional low front stance.  Others are created in a base narrow flexed position, such as the Tiger stance.  Some provide strength and power from a side to side direction (such as the lower horse stance), while others offer better balance to counter a frontal attack.

Regardless of the benefits of each individual stance it must be noted no one position will offer a perfect solution for all threats or all directions.   It is for this reason that Hapkido training emphasizes the development of strength, balance and Ki energy in an individual position while at the same time teaching the student how to rapidly flow from one position to another.  Speed, inner strength, and flexibility must be the hallmarks of any stance training.  The benefits will become immediately obvious whether one speaks of defense, offense, mental or physical health.

Whenever proper stance is discussed in the martial arts a reference to the tree and its roots is inevitably mentioned, and perhaps with good reason.  Just as the roots must give solid support to the tree trunk, so must a good Hapkido stance allow for a strong base.  It is wise to remember the adage however that the tree that doesn’t bend with the wind eventually breaks.  The correct Hapkido stance must therefore not only provide strength and rooting, but also allow for flexibility.  Hapkido is both hard and soft, just as is the proper stance.

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