The principles of hapkido are the theoretical foundations of this art. The word Hapkido contains 3 ideograms: HAP (합), means union, harmony or balance, coordination; KI (기) means life force, spirit, energy and DO (도) means path, learning. Hapkido, then, means the path to the union of strength and spirit or path to coordination of energy.
This martial art is founded on three basic principles: the principle of non-resistance, the principle of water and the principle of the circle.
PRINCIPLE OF NON-RESISTANCE (“Wa” 화): One should not oppose to the opponent’s strength. When one has strength against strength, the winner is always the strongest one. One must use the strength of the opponent against him/herself. The idea is to have harmony between body, mind, situation or context and the technique to be applied. Being in harmony with him/herself it is possible to enter into harmony with the opponent thus evaluating the situation and taking advantage of the energy released by the opponent preserving his/her own.
PRINCIPLE OF WATER(“Yu” 유): Water is fluid, does not confront obstacles, but rather goes around it by keeping its natural shape. The principle of water teaches us that we must penetrate the defense of the opponent by being flexible and adapting to any situation. It is necessary for the practitioner to have clarity and patience not to rush into ineffective attacks.
PRINCIPLE OF THE CIRCLE (“Won” 원): The circular force uses the applied force of the attacker. It deviates from attacks by means of circular actions (kompop), so the energy of an attack of the opponent does not reach directly, but is diverted in a circular way unbalancing the opponent and making possible to use this movement against the aggressor itself. The circle has a natural and continuous movement. It is the universal principle, because it represents the return to the beginning of the cycle.
Hapkido training does not have an end. The black belt is not the end of a journey, but the restart of the journey. The circle also represents the harmony of opposites: positive and negative, death and life, day and night. Action is always dynamic and never static, the circle is also the representation of this dynamicity.