Life in Korea

Korean Martial Arts: A Deep Dive into Taekwondo and Hapkido

South Korea’s legacy in martial arts stretches far and wide, with Taekwondo and Hapkido being its most celebrated contributions to the world. These arts not only train the body but also the mind, instilling values like respect, discipline, and perseverance.

1. Taekwondo (태권도): The Dance of the Foot and Fist

Originating from ancient Korea, Taekwondo is a mesmerizing blend of elegance and power. It places significant emphasis on high, spinning kicks and rapid punch sequences, making it visually captivating.


Core Aspects of Taekwondo

  • Poomsae (품새): Choreographed patterns combining both defensive and offensive movements. Practitioners progress through different Poomsae as they ascend in rank.
  • Kyrougi (겨루기): The sparring component, where practitioners wear protective gear and score points by landing controlled techniques on opponents.
  • Breaking: A showcase of raw power, where practitioners break wooden boards, tiles, or bricks using various techniques.

Where to Learn Taekwondo in Korea

  • Kukkiwon (국기원): Located in Seoul, it’s the world headquarters for Taekwondo and offers training programs for all levels.
  • Taekwondowon (태권도원): Situated in Muju (무주), this is a comprehensive facility for training, seminars, and even boasts a Taekwondo-themed museum.

2. Hapkido: The Harmonized Art of Power

Hapkido offers a holistic martial approach. While it borrows some high-kicking techniques from Taekwondo, it also introduces practitioners to joint locks, throws, and ground combat, giving it a more rounded combat philosophy.

Core Aspects of Hapkido

  • Joint Locks: Techniques that focus on twisting and manipulating an opponent’s joints, causing immobilization.
  • Throws: Using an opponent’s momentum against them, these techniques can unbalance and bring the opponent to the ground swiftly.
  • Strikes: Unlike Taekwondo, which primarily focuses on kicks, Hapkido integrates a plethora of hand strikes, making it more versatile in close combat.

Where to Learn Hapkido in Korea

  • Korea Hapkido Federation: Based in Seoul, this organization is dedicated to the promotion and training of Hapkido, offering programs for both novices and experienced martial artists.
  • Sihn Moo Hapkido(신무 합기도): Founded by Grandmaster Ji Han-Jae, one of the highest-ranking Hapkido masters globally, this organization maintains its headquarters in Seoul and offers intensive training.

Making the Choice

While both arts are deeply rooted in Korean culture and ethos, your choice might depend on personal preferences:

  • Aesthetic vs. Practical: If high-flying kicks and sports competition appeal to you, Taekwondo is a good fit. If you’re leaning towards practical self-defense with a mix of techniques, Hapkido might be more up your alley.
  • Training Institutions: While there are numerous dojangs (training halls) across Korea, choosing a reputed institution like Kukkiwon for Taekwondo or the Korea Hapkido Federation for Hapkido ensures quality training.


Whether it’s the rhythmic motions of Taekwondo or the fluid yet forceful techniques of Hapkido, embarking on this journey in their homeland, Korea, will undoubtedly offer an unparalleled experience.

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