In the Korean language, “Han” means nation or country and “Ki” means life energy or inner power. When we observe universal ki, we see that there is negative and positive energy. The term “Hanki” therefore refers to the inherent spirit of the Korean nation. Hankido is thus a uniquely Korean creation that reflects the history and culture of the people that created it.
The geographic meeting point between Japan, China and Russia, Korea has been invaded many times by its more powerful neighbors. As a result, the Korean people found it necessary to develop different kinds of defensive systems to combat these invaders. Taekwondo and Hapkido are some of the most well known examples of these martial arts. One of the modern descendents of these defensive systems is Hankido, which draws heavily on Hapkido’s circular motions.
Korean martial arts draw heavily from traditional Asian philosophies, such as the belief in ki. Ki always flows in a circle, and Hankido involves harnessing the circular flow of ki. The universe revolves and pivots; these movements are reflected in hankido’s circular motions based on pivotal points.
These motions are neither violent nor linear. Instead, they are gentle and circular. Thus, when you make yourself the center and produce a flow like a whirlpool emanating from the eye of a storm. The highest perfection is attained and you will feel an indescribable peace. Also, when you bring your opponent into your circle or adapt yourself to your opponent’s circle, you can control him or her.
In Hankido many joint-locking or bending techniques are used to control the opponent as well as a wide variety of kicking and striking techniques. Many Hankido schools teach weapon techniques to their students: short and long sticks, nunchakus, knives, belts or ropes, canes, and swords.
Hankido movements follow the principles of nature, so one can achieve perfect movements. These are the movements that set Hankido apart from other martial arts.
Hankido is primarily intended to be a defensive martial style and should be used for purely defensive purposes. When an attacker confronts a Hankido practitioner, he or she should endeavor to use the least amount of force in order to control the situation. One of the goals of Hankido is the development of a non-violent attitude, which can be achieved through self-control, patience, and forgiveness. Because of this, a strict ethical and moral worldview is therefore inherent to Hankido. This is manifested in the four basic elements of courtesy, respect, right attitude and the understanding of one’s own center. It is non-competitive and not combat oriented.
In Korea there are numerous types of martial arts, but most of them do not have an easy approach to learning new techniques. In order to rectify the situation, the Korean government tried to consolidate and develop a unified martial arts system. Unfortunately, none of these ideas came to pass.
The late Grandmaster Myung Jae Nam developed Hankido in order to be easy to learn. Grandmaster Myung was born to a family of martial artists. A student of martial arts for over 50 years, he became a master of Hapkido and teacher in 1959 and later established the International Hapkido Federation in 1981. Hankido is one of his most significant achievements, has been in the making since 1985 and was publicly introduced in 1992. Hankido is a modified version of older Korean martial arts techniques that emphasizes an easier learning curve and ease of application.
In the course of his research, Grandmaster Myung would wake up early in the morning to practice his breathing techniques. One day he had an inspiration and started practicing what would soon be Hankido techniques in front of a mirror. During the practice he realized how easily these new techniques were developed. First he practiced by counting out loud. Later developments came while practicing to music.
Hankido consists of twelve basic self-defense techniques (Ho Shin Ki) that are connected to twenty-four breathing techniques. Twelve for the defender called: Hwan Sang Do Bup and twelve for the attacker called: Ho Shin Bat Ki (also refered to as Jeon Ki Bup and Ji Ki Bup). The practitioner hopes to harmonize the 12 Jeon Ki Bup and 12 Ji Ki Bup techniques to obtain a harmonious balance. Hankido practitioners should carefully and correctly practice the twelve basic techniques slowly and quietly several thousands times. Since there are only twelve basic techniques, mastery can come easily and quickly compared to other martial arts that require you to learn several thousand techniques. The basic punches, kicks, locks and throws can be learned in a very short period of time, probably three to four months. Hankido is a very versatile martial art; practitioners learn how to perform their techniques using both the left and right side of their bodies.
One other facet of Hankido is that it can be practiced virtually anywhere. It can be practiced alone or with another person. It can be used as both a self-defense technique or as exercise. Practiced alone, the practitioner must visualize an imaginary opponent and apply techniques as if this opponent were real. Instead of concentrating on the presence of an opponent, the practitioner should instead execute techniques with precision and power. Hankido techniques are practiced at an intentionally slow pace, although these same techniques would be performed more quickly in an actual self-defense situation. The twelve techniques can also be learned in a dancing form, which makes Hankido really accessible to everyone.
Every movement in Hankido is very rational and scientific, which means that no overstrains are followed by a Hankido exercise. Movements in Hankido prevent deterioration and aging of the body by promoting blood circulation to every corner of the body and self-regulation of the nerve system. It develops the brain through stimulation of joints and pulse of the body.
The turning techniques (Jeon Hwan Bup, Young Yu Bup, Shim Hwa Bup, and Han Kum Bup) found in Hankido movements are circular in nature, similar to that of a sphere. All of the movements faithfully follow the movements of nature and stem from a central point. The subtle aspects of Hankido can be found in the free and various turning techniques. These movements are so simple that anyone, young or old, male of female can easily practice.
Offensive techniques (Jeon Ki Bup or positive energy) are intended to increase the practitioner’s internal power or ki. Defensive techniques (Ji Ki Bup or negative energy) will improve muscles, bones, and organs. Offensive techniques are important but cannot stand-alone. In order to become a great martial artist, the harmony that defensive techniques provide must be utilized. Without these the Hankido practitioner cannot be truly effective. Defensive techniques are also noteworthy for their health benefits. By practicing defensive and offensive techniques together as an interconnected whole, the practitioner will radiate ki, the ultimate power of Hankido.
Jeon Hwan Bup, the “circling arms step exercise,” is Hankido’s basic block. Mastery of this technique is instrumental for the Hankido practitioner. The object of this block is to deflect the opponent’s punch and spin in one of the eight different directions. The eight directions are similar to the compass directions. It has been said that you should practice this technique at least one thousand times a day for a minimun of three years.
The second technique is Young Yu Bup or the “wrist lead exercise.” The object of this technique is to use your attacker’s force against him.
This exercise is designed to coordinate your defensive circular motion with an attacker’s motion convergence. When your attacker grabs (or attempts to grab) your wrist, his movement will follow yours in the direction of your fingers while your center of power controls that movement. You will then be able to lead him into any one of the eight directions.
The third fundamental Hankido technique is Shim Hwa Bup, the “rowing exercise.” Shim Hwa Bup is an exercise that helps develops a centralized extension while in motion.
Hankido is intended to represent Korean morals and ethical relationships between people. Following the Confucian model, students traditionally treated their masters with admiration and respect. Good effort and devotion were both to be emphasized during practice. Hopefully, people will admire trainees in the art for their techniques and characteristics.
Hankido originated from human survival techniques and a desire to promote justice. It is therefore not a sport, since there is neither competition nor judging. Hankido should not be used to attack or hurt other people. Instead, it should be used to control mental and physical abilities though a high degree of patience.
“It is better to practice one technique a thousand times, then to learn a thousand techniques and practice them once.” – Doju Myung Jae Nam