Comparison to Other Martial Arts


So many martial arts are available these days and it can be very confusing and difficult to compare what is being offered to decide which martial art is best for you. The following comparison will help you understand what is different about Hapkido when compared to other martial arts.

This comparison is not saying that Hapkido is better than other martial arts.

If you are considering starting a martial art we suggest you sample several different styles before you commit to one. The most important criteria to consider when choosing a martial art are:

  • Convenience – if it is hard to get to, you will find it harder to continue in your training.
  • Friendships – you may join because of a particular style or a particular instructor – but you will continue because of the friends you make in that club.
  • Quality and Expertise – you want to learn quality techniques that are effective in the real world.
  • Affordability – if the costs are too high then you will not be able to sustain your involvement, learning a martial art takes years, not months. 

Think carefully, look around, then once you make a choice commit fully.


As in Aikido, the attacker is encouraged to over-commit their attack. The attack is received with minimal resistance, it is guided past the target and then the defender’s own force is added to it. The result is to unbalance and throw the opponent. However, opponents do not always attack with large movements. Often short jabs and kicks are delivered with such rapidity that it is very difficult to lead the opponent’s force. In these situations, the close quarter blocking and striking techniques of Hapkido give the Hapkidoist knowledge of how to counter and overcome such attacks.


Many of the joint locks and throws of Hapkido are very similar to those of Jujitsu. Painful twisting of the joints and tendons along with the application of painful pressure to vital points, combined with a thorough knowledge of human anatomy help to control any opponent regardless of size or strength. These techniques are fine for close quarter attacks, however because Jujitsu practitioners do not practice their techniques against proficient kickers or punchers, they are vulnerable to such long range attacks. Hapkidoists practice kicks and punches to a high degree of proficiency, thus the familiarity gained through practicing the techniques helps in defending against them. 


Virtually all of the kicking techniques of Tae Kwon Do are identical to those of Hapkido. Spinning kicks, thrusts, circular kicks and sweeps are all used in sparring. Due to the fact that Hapkido is not a tournament orientated style, other techniques like low spinning kicks, low-section kicks and knee strikes are also used. The basic hand techniques of Hapkido are similar to those of Tae Kwon Do, that is mainly linear attacks with fist or knifehand.  All these techniques are practised in Hapkido to produce a thorough knowledge of all ranges of attack and defence. 


In Hapkido, as the student advances past the basic hand techniques, more emphasis is placed on small circular techniques and fast close quarter parrying which resemble the techniques of Kung Fu. Advanced weaponry techniques using the long pole Bo,  cane and the fan are similar to those of Kung Fu.


Throwing plays an important role in Hapkido. The basic principles of judo are used in Hapkido, that is, moving your opponent’s centre of balance to a vulnerable position and using your leg or body to topple the opponent. As well, Hapkido uses strikes or pressure points to manoeuvre the opponent with less use of strength. 


At advanced stages, students are taught Komdo (The Korean version of Japanese Kendo). Basic strikes and blocks are similar to Kendo, however circular and low section attacks typical of traditional Korean swordsmanship are taught once the basics have been learnt.


MMA has enjoyed a huge boom in recent years with the popularity of UFC (cage fighting) events on television. It is mostly popular with younger students who want to experience full contact and enjoy the competitive aspects of this sport.

Hapkido does include sparring in most classes, however Hapkido sparring does not normally involve full contact without protective equipment and even though we do have tournaments, they do not normally involve full contact.  Hapkido sparring focuses more on correct timing and distance and encourages a more co-operative approach where you and your sparring partner can both improve your skills in a live situation without fear of being seriously injured.

Care and respect for your training partner is of utmost importance in Hapkido and safety is an important part of all classes to ensure you can continue to study and train in Hapkido for a long time with a minimum of injuries and pain.


Brazilian Ju Jitsu is a form of grappling started by the Gracie and Machado families in Brazil and focuses on grappling on the ground against a single opponent. Their techniques are learnt and refined through countless hours of “rolling” on the mat with other students.

Hapkido does include groundwork learnt through the practice of groundwork drills to strengthen your body and practice specific groundwork skills. Free sparring is allowed to continue if it goes to the ground. However groundwork is not the major part of our classes.

Due to the practical disadvantages of being on the ground when facing multiple attackers, Hapkido students focus on learning how to escape from a grappling situation as quickly as possible using any technique (including eye attacks, hair pulling, finger locks, etc) to try and return to a standup situation where other strategies like running away are possible.