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World Sin Moo Hapkido Association of Northern Virginia

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Differences Between Hapkido and Taekwondo: After the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910–1945) ended, various martial arts masters dedicated their lives to developing and bringing back the native martial arts of Korea. After almost 40 years of war and occupation the Korean culture had been all but decimated and replaced by a forced Japanese culture imposed by the occupiers. It is during this time period of social instability and political turmoil that Taekwondo and Hapkido established a relation that will last until today.  While both systems of fighting evolved side by side and cross-pollinated and continue to do so, they are in themselves two unique systems of fighting. Taekwondo has grown to be the national sports of Korea and Hapkido the single most respected system of combat and self-defense taught to military and civilians.  Bellow we depict the differences between both arts in order to clarify the long standing question: Should a person train (or need to train in both arts?



General Choi Hong Hi


Choi Yong Sul (b. 1904, d. 1986) - Ji Han Jae (b. 1936 )

Korean hanjatae (태; 跆) means to trample with the foot; kwon (권; 拳) means fist; and do (도; 道) means way, taekwondo is loosely translated as to the foot and hand way


Hapkido (합기도) -合氣道, -合hap means "harmony", "coordinated", or "joining"; 氣 KI describes internal energy, spirit, strength, or power; and 道 DO means "way" or "art", yielding a literal translation of "joining-energy-way", but it is most often rendered as "the way of coordinating energy", "the way of coordinated power" or "the way of harmony".

Hard Style Martial art


On the "hard-soft" scale of martial arts, Hapkido stands somewhere in the middle, employing "soft" techniques similar to jujitsu and aikido as well as "hard" techniques reminiscent of taekwondo and Tangsoodo. Even the "hard" techniques, though, emphasize circular rather than linear movements. Hapkido is an eclectic martial art, and different Hapkido schools emphasize different techniques. However, some core techniques are found in each school (Kwan), and all techniques should follow the three principles of Hapkido.

Olympic Korean martial art


Dynamic and eclectic Korean martial art.

Combat sport


Combat Art

National sport of South Korea


South Korean Military, Secret Service, SWAT H2H combat system

Olympic sport


form of self-defense

Sparring (kyeorugi)over the belts  kicks and straight punches


Sparing – over and bellow the belt Kick, various Punches, Takedowns, and Grappling

self-defense, sport, exercise, meditation and philosophy


Combat techniques, self-defense exercise, meditation and philosophy.


Emphasizes kicks thrown from a mobile stance, employing the leg's greater reach and power (compared to the arm). Circular motions that generate power are of central importance. Also important to the generation of power is the movement of the hips while performing a punch or a block.


Contains both long and close range fighting techniques. The purpose of most engagements is to get near for a close strike, lock, or throw.

Hapkido emphasizes circular motion, non-resisting movements, and control of the opponent. Practitioners seek to gain advantage through footwork and body positioning to employ leverage, avoiding the use of strength against strength.

Taekwondo training generally includes a system of blocks, punches, and open-handed strikes and may also include various take-downs or sweeps, throws, and joint locks.


Employs joint locks, pressure points, throws, kicks, and other strikes. Hapkido practitioners train to counter the techniques of other martial arts as well as common "unskilled" attacks. There is also a range of traditional weapons including short stick, cane, rope, sword and staff

Some Taekwondo instructors also incorporate the use of pressure points, known as ji ap sul as well as grabbing self-defense techniques borrowed from other martial arts, such as Hapkido and Judo


Hapkido seeks to be a fully comprehensive fighting style and as such tries to avoid narrow specialization in any particular type of technique or range of fighting. It maintains a wide range of tactics for striking, standing joint locks, throwing techniques (both pure and joint manipulating throws) and pinning techniques. Some styles also incorporate tactics for ground fighting although these tactics generally tend to be focused upon escaping, controlling, striking and gouging tactics over submissions and emphasizing the ability to gain one's feet and situational awareness over pins.