Tag Archives: hapkido

Do women in martial arts prefer men who also do martial arts?

Do women in martial arts only date men who also do martial arts? That seems to be a common perception, at least among men. In fact several men who have contacted me through this blog have expressed the opinion that women who are skilled martial artists would not be interested in a man if he is not also an experienced martial artist. The reason, according to these thoughts, would be that the woman may not “respect” or feel physically attracted to a man if the traditional (or stereotypical) gender roles of the man as the “protector” are reversed in the sense that a woman with advanced martial arts skills will be the superior fighter in a relationship with a man without this kind of training.

But is there really any merit to this perception? Or is it just another myth involving women in martial arts? I discussed topic with three women who practice martial arts: my wife (Leticia), one of her friends (Katia) and one of her students (Linda).

Leticia, was the fact that I am not into martial arts ever a factor for you when you decided to get into a relationship with me?

Leticia (hapkido instructor – and my wife)
(Laughter) no it was never a factor.

Frida and Katia, do your boyfriends practice any martial art? And if so, was that a factor in any way when you started dating them?

Katia (hapkido practitioner)
No he doesn’t and no that doesn’t bother me at all.

Linda (learning hapkido based self defence)
No and no. I mean when I met him, none of us were into martial arts at all. Or actually, he did do karate for a year or so when he was a kid, but I don’t know if that counts here haha.

No I’d say it doesn’t really count in this context.

So for you, it doesn’t feel awkward or anything to be the ones in the relationship with the martial arts skills?

Katia (hapkido practitioner)
No not at all! I don’t see why it would.

Leticia (hapkido instructor – and my wife)
No. As you know, I have been practicing all my life basically so I am used to be “the one with the martial arts skills”.

Linda (learning hapkido based self defence)
No. But to be honest, my boyfriend is still… I mean I am not at a level where I am better than him at fighting. He is quite athletic so he is definitely the “protector” in our relationship hahaha.

I understand. And if you would reach a skill level that made you better than him at that?

Linda (learning hapkido based self defence)
I don’t think so. I mean it would be so cool to have their skills (referring to Leticia and Katia)!

And you don’t think women in martial arts feel less respect for men who are not trained fighters?

Katia (hapkido practitioner)
Again, my answer is not at all! If a person is nice and respects me, I too respect that person, regardless of gender.

Leticia (hapkido instructor – and my wife)
No. My respect for a man has absolutely nothing to do if he is into martial arts or not. And I am absolutely sure almost all women in martial arts feel that way. In fact, something that does make me respect a man more in this context is if he is able to admit it and be ok with it if I am better than him at fighting. I know that is not necessarily easy for a man for a number of reasons, so I think that it shows strength and maturity if a man is able to do that.

Linda (learning hapkido based self defence)
I agree with Katia and Leticia.

Ok! But still, isn’t it rather common for female martial artists to have relationships with men who practice martial arts too?

Katia (hapkido practitioner)
I think it might be, but that is probably just because they have a shared interest and maybe even met while practicing. I mean it happens all the time in other places that couples meet through shared interests and at work. So why not in martial arts?

Leticia (hapkido instructor – and my wife)
I think that is basically it.

Yes, that sounds pretty logical to me. So would you say that the woman being the better fighter in a relationship with a man is much more of a factor and a potential problem for men dating (or thinking about dating) women who do martial arts, than for the women doing martial arts?

Leticia (hapkido instructor – and my wife)
Yes, I know some men have all sorts of problems with that. But I don’t think women in general care about that at all. Or if we care, to be honest, in most cases I’m sure it’s just a positive thing to know that you are better at fighting than your man or boyfriend. I mean, to me it is. I feel it’s very empowering for me as a woman!

Katia (hapkido practitioner)
Haha yes, if I would get there, that would be very empowering!


This conversation also touched on other topics and I’ll probably come back to some of those in another post.

Women have some advantages in martial arts

The general advantages of men when it comes to hand to hand combat are of course widely known, for obvious reasons. Strength and size, largely due to testosterone, gives men a very big advantage from the outset in this domain. When it comes to martial arts this is also true, even within martial arts styles where qualities such as skills, speed and flexibility are much more important than sheer muscle strength and physical size. All else being equal though, in terms of skills, being strong and more “robust” is always a good thing.

However, women actually also have several advantages over men when it comes to learning these kinds of martial arts. This is much less known and it may even sound a bit strange at first, but it actually makes sense.

Here are three of the main advantages that women have over men, when it comes to learning martial arts:

  1. Women are naturally more flexible than men. Testosterone makes men stronger than women, but it also makes men less flexible.
  2. Women have a lower point of gravity. In other words, women are shorter than men and have broader hips, so women have naturally better balance than men. Basically, while women’s bodies are shaped more or less like an “A”, men’s bodies are shaped more like a “V” – hence women’s better balance.
  3. Women are better at learning martial arts techniques. Many of the techniques in for example hapkido are quite counter intuitive – for example instead of resisting and trying to overpower the opponent, you should follow and redirect his momentum, in order to get him off balance or “trick” him into an unfavourable position or a lock. As men we are usually very accustomed to relying on and using our strength while wrestling or fighting someone. It’s like a reflex for us, so it is often quite difficult for us to “unlearn” this. Women, in general, have less of a problem with this.

I read that in ancient China, the men actually understood the female body was better suited for mastering kung fu techniques than the male body.  That is why girls there were only allowed to learn martial arts from women – who were in turn not allowed to learn the entire martial art system.  This was to make sure men would always be the best fighters…

Practicing martial arts does not make a woman any less feminine

The other week, a blogger named Joanne Reed wrote a very good text recommending girls to learn martial arts to empower themselves. Joanne was also nice enough to ask my wife to give her point of view on the article – so she did. One thing that both me and my wife liked about the article was it’s emphasis on the fact that practicing martial arts does not make a woman less feminine. As Joanne says in her article:

“To all the girls and women out there, feel empowered, learn the art of self-defense, learn martial arts. You can be feminine and strong at the same time. Don’t be a victim, be a warrior! “

This is very true – and yet there is a stubborn stereotype that persists, that women who practice martial arts become masculine, “butch” and aggressive! In reality though, several very effective martial arts (including hapkido, which is the martial art that my wife teaches) are very suitable for women because they do not emphasise typically male features as muscle strength and size, but rather other factors, namely:

Reading/anticipation
Through practicing martial arts, you can learn how to read and anticipate the attacker’s moves and thus always be one step ahead. Thus you are able to take the right action in order to counter and even using his attacking moves to your advantage.

Reactions
Martial arts practice can radically sharpen your reaction speed, allowing you to move much more quickly in response to an attack and then taking the right actions without really having to think, but rather almost as a reflex.

Technique
Within a martial art like hapkido, there is an immense array of different techniques that allow a small woman to effectively throw, kick, strike, control and immobilise a much bigger and physically stronger attacker – sometimes by using his own size, strength and momentum against him.

Attitude/emotions
Martial arts practice can give you the confidence and calm that you need a potentially dangerous and violent situation, in order to not run the risk of panicking, freezing or acting irrationally and inefficiently. The mental strength, calmness, focus and discipline that you gain by practicing a martial art can serve you in basically any situation in your life – like work, studies or relationships.

Balance
Perfecting your balance is key concept in several martial arts is. This allows you to learn how to keep your own balance in order to fall or lose control – and how also to use gravity, leverage and physics to unbalance the attacker.

Speed
As mentioned above, martial arts training can give you the capability of instinctively anticipating and knowing how to respond to an attacker’s moves. And not only will an accomplished martial artist know what to do, the training will also develop her capacity to do it very quickly. For example, when showing me some of her hapkido skills, my wife has executed kicks and strikes placing her foot or hand inches from my face literally in the blink of an eye, before I even knew what “hit me”.

None of these six factors to become an expert martial artist causes a woman to lose her femininity in any way. Nor are they inherently masculine or more difficult for a woman to master than for a man.

And lastly, to really dispel the myth that martial arts training makes women masculine – here below is a little picture collage of women who have all practiced for years to become extremely good at different martial arts – yet obviously do not look masculine in any way.

(A pregnant) Mackenzie Dern (jiu jitsu expert and professional fighter), Katheryn Winnick (actress and 3rd-degree black belt in tae kwon do, and a 2nd-degree black belt in karate), Neetu Chandra (actress and 4th degree black belt tae kwon do), Nia Sanchez (former miss USA and 4th degree taekwondo black belt and, my wife Leticia (self defence teacher, martial arts instructor and hapkido expert).

Reader question: “Do you feel like less of a man?”

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A while back, I received a message from a guy who had read sa couple of posts on this blog. He asked me if my wife’s martial arts expertise and the fact that she can easily “kick my butt” in any way made me feel like less of a man in my relationship with her.

I can see where he is coming from and why he would pose this question. I know that for many men, getting your butt kicked “by a girl” is a huge embarrassment and basically means that you should “turn in your man card”. On the other hand, for many others, the whole thing is a total non-issue because martial arts is a skill like any other and relationships aren’t about two people beating each other up anyway, so obviously it doesn’t make a guy any less of a man.

So does my wife’s martial arts expertise and training make me feel like less of a man? No, it doesn’t. But it has challenged how I think of manliness and what it means to be a man (hence, one of the reasons I started this blog two years ago).

Even though I have been in a relationship with my wife for quite a long time now and years have passed since she first gave me a first hand demonstration of her martial arts skills and the effectiveness of hapkido techniques, I can still feel a certain level of embarrassment thinking and talking about it. It still “hurts my pride” to some extent and there is a sense of frustration that I, as a man with a significant size, weight and strength “advantage” over her, am not able to simply overpower her in a physical contest. But none of these feelings really affect me in my day to day life. To sum it up, I would say that it’s basically just a fact of life that I accept. Besides, the positive sides of my wife’s martial arts training (mostly for her of course, but also for me) are so much bigger and more important than any annoying feelings or stereotypes that I may sometimes experience.

However, I do think that to some extent I really would have felt less of a man if I hadn’t be able to admit that – because of her years of martial arts practice and natural talent for that – my wife is way better than me at fighting and self defence. I mean if I had tried to make up excuses or if I had been lying to others and maybe to myself about it. So I would say my advice to other men in a similar situation is to simply be honest, accept it and give the woman credit for the talent and hard work she has put down to achieve these skills. Be proud of her!

Interview with a woman in martial arts – 3: Frida (hapkido)

 

 

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Here is my third interview with a woman in martial arts (here are the first and second). This time it’s Frida, who took up martial arts (with my wife, Leticia, as instructor) in January this year, in order to learn some self defence.

Name: Frida
Age: 26
Martial art style: hapkido
Time practicing martial arts: 5 months

How come you started practicing hapkido?
I had been thinking about learning self defence for maybe 10 years! I want to be able to defend myself if I ever need to. But I was hesitant to start. Seems like I always found a reason not to. Then I met Leticia and I finally “took the plunge” and started taking her self defence classes. I appreciate that she, as the instructor, is also a woman – and about my age too! Practicing here is a safe, relaxed and encouraging environment.

What made you hesitate for so long about taking up martial arts training?
Maybe to some extent it was just laziness. But on the other hand I have been going to the gym and done some dancing and earlier I did gymnastics. So it wasn’t just that I was too lazy to get going. I guess I was a bit scared of it, to be honest. And I think I also kind of doubted my abilities. I never saw myself as someone who would fight physically.   

What do you like so far about your hapkido training?
I enjoy it! I didn’t really expect it before I started, but the training is actually lots of fun! And as I learn some techniques, it’s also very empowering. I feel these are things that I could use in a real life emergency situation. For me it’s great that it’s about techniques and timing and hitting the right spots – not just being strong physically. And now that I know I am able defend myself I feel much more confident and less nervous in certain situations and places.

For me the training has also been a good way to relieve stress and anxiety. I feel I am in better shape today, both physically and mentally, after taking up hapkido! It’s partially because of the work out in the training, but also from other exercises we do, that are basically like meditation. In her classes, Leticia focuses a lot on staying calm and concentrated… so hopefully we won’t panic or anything if we find ourselves in a threatening situation. And I feel this kind of mental preparation is something that you can use in lots and lots of situations in life – definitely not just when it comes to physical self defence. I feel I am growing as a person.

Anything you don’t like?
Hm, honestly, so far not really. I can’t think of anything!

How have people reacted to your new activity?
Positively! I’ve only had positive reactions so far. My boyfriend seems a bit worried that I will get injured or so though while training. But he is supportive.

Interview with a woman in martial arts, part 1: Leticia (hapkido)

Considering the main theme of this blog, I thought it could be nice to do a couple of interviews with women who are practicing martial arts. The idea is to get opinions and perspectives from women who have been doing different kinds of martial arts for different amounts of time and for different reasons. I’ll get this “interview series” started today by interviewing my wife – Leticia! So here we go!

Name: Leticia
Age: 23
Martial art style: hapkido
Years practicing martial arts:
17 years and she is now a 4th dan black belt.

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What made you get into martial arts in the first place?
I think I became interested in martial arts for various reasons, including my parents who were very encouraging. One particular moment that I remember and that really inspired me was when I was six years old and I saw two teenage girls doing taekwondo on tv. It looked like a lot of fun! And I remember I thought the girls seemed so confident, strong and beautiful. And they were kicking butt! I thought it looked really cool! It was a huge inspiration for me and I remember I wanted to be like them!

There are so many martial arts styles around. How come you chose hapkido?
Well one reason is simply that by coincidence there was a hapkido school not far from where me and my family lived. And already at that time, I didn’t really want to do a lot of competitions, but rather learn the techniques, have fun, be active and kick some butt (laughter) – so hapkido was a good choice for those reasons. My parents also told me it would be good for self defence – which is very much true. Then I tried it and I immediately loved it – so I stayed! The principles and techniques of hapkido also suits me very well as a smaller, not very muscular woman, as they allow me to compensate the lack of size and upper body strength with skills, speed, balance, flexibility etc. For example by using an attacker’s own weight, momentum, strength against him.

Are there many women practicing hapkido?
I definitely think there are more and more women in hapkido. Men are still the majority, but for example where I practice it’s almost 50% women (not counting the women’s self defence class).

Why, in your opinion, should women get into martial arts?
Oh, there are many reasons! First of all, it’s a lot of fun. It’s great in order to learn how to defend yourself. It’s also a great way to stay (or get) in shape. It is empowering and it boosts self-confidence!

You teach hapkido and you also do separate classes focused on self defence for girls and women? How come you started with that?
I think it’s important to teach girls and women self-defence. You just have to take a look at the world around us and you’ll see that there is a lot of abuse and men taking advantage of women. Many women feel they don’t have the means to stand up for themselves and they feel unsafe in their day to day lives. I don’t really view myself as a feminist but I see that women are exposed to this and many feel powerless to do anything about this.

So I aim to help by giving young females the confidence, skills and self-assurance so that they first and foremost are empowered enough to walk away from a situation where they see signs of abuse and to physically defend themselves and handle a dangerous situation if they have to.

Obviously you are very much better than me at fighting and physical self defence. In a way this turns the gender roles in our relationship around, compared to traditional expectations. Did that ever feel weird or funny to you?
(Laughter) No not at all! I know you feel, or felt, a bit embarrassed about it. You shouldn’t, but I guess it’s a guy ego thing right? In fact I would feel quite “weird/funny” if you had been able to kick my butt, even though you have no martial arts training at all! That wouldn’t reflect well on me as hapkido teacher would it (laughter)? It’s not about gender or being big and strong, it’s about skills and experience. That’s one of the beauties of hapkido. It’s no issue at all for me in our relationship.

Do you feel women are treated differently compared to men in martial arts ? And have you met any prejudice as a female instructor?
I would say most men into martial arts do not view or treat women any differently really. But it is not that unusual for people who have no real clue about martial arts to express more or less prejudicious ideas, like for example that “girls can’t fight”, that I am “good… for a girl” or that women who do martial arts necessarily aggressive, “butch” or masculine. I have also been told that “it’s cute” that I do martial arts and I have been asked (by different men!) if my boobs don’t get in the way when I dod martial arts! There are many more examples. I think some guys feel threatened by a woman being good at martial arts.

And yes occasionally I have encountered prejudice as a female instructor – and that might have to do with me being rather young too. A blatant example was one newbie guy who told me he didn’t want to learn to fight from girl. But I do want to stress that these are rare exceptions.

On the other hand I also get a lot of positive feedback for being a woman teaching martial arts – especially from other women and girls. And that makes me very happy and motivates me even more to keep going!

“She could kill you with her bare hands”

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Stock photo.

At one point last week my wife Leticia came around to meet me at the gym after my workout there. One of the guys there saw her and he commented on that yesterday, when I met him again at the gym. He said Leticia is very beautiful and that I am a lucky guy to have her. I thanked him for the compliment and we talked a bit more,  while working out, about our respective professions and relationships and so on. When he asked what Leticia does I of course truthfully answered that she is a self defence instructor with a 4th dan black belt in hapkido.
“Wow, you’re a very brave man” he then said.
“How so?”, I asked, a bit surprised.
“Well, she could kill you with her bare hands, you know!” he said and looked at me as if he was revealing some new sensational information to me.
I didn’t expect that comment at all, so I didn’t know what to say at first. I guess he interpreted that as a confirmation that he really was revealing some shocking new info to me, and said something like “She could! Hapkido is a really mean martial art! If she is that highly ranked, she is a real badass. She could kill a guy! No problem!”.
Before he could continue further, I said that I knew about that and that Leticia had explained a lot to me about how hapkido works and that I had “practiced” a couple of times with her, so I was very much aware of how effective and powerful those techniques can be. But I also told him I wasn’t at all worried that she would use her skills to “kill” me or beat me up. Among other things, I pointed out that Leticia is a very nice, calm and peaceful person, which are some of the reasons I married her in the first place.

Later yesterday evening, I thought about this conversation again and the more I think about it the less it makes any sense. I mean theoretically, any woman might use a gun, knife or some other improvised weapon to injure or kill a man. Although it is true that Leticia, as a martial arts expert, could also use hapkido to do it, that doesn’t mean that she is anymore likely (or rather less unlikely) to commit such an act of extreme violence than any other woman. Practicing a martial arts doesn’t turn a woman into a murderous psycho – that should be pretty much obvious to everyone. Quite the contrary in fact, as hapkido helps teaches you how to control your emotions, to keep calm and to not use violence except as a last resort in self defence.

Yet, the guy in the gym apparently thinks that I am being brave and facing up to some serious danger, just for being married to a woman who happens to be a martial arts expert. I have noticed this reaction among some other men too, though mostly they are not as blunt when expressing what they think. But I have been asked if I am afraid of Leticia.

So do people think that practicing martial arts and learning self defence turns you (or at least women) into out of control violent persons? Or are there some other psychological mechanisms at work here? 

Today, I challenged my wife to a fight…

It had actually been well over a year since last time I did any hapkido with my wife. As some people have pointed out to me, it would be somewhat of a waste on my part not taking advantage (at least occasionally) of having a martial arts teacher as wife and thus access to free hapkido classes. So I guess it was about time to let her be my “personal trainer” again and this morning we went over to the martial arts studio where she gives her classes. We had two hours alone there and she started off by showing me some basic kicking and striking training, using boxing bags and a kind of mockup life size human torso (with a somewhat creepy head) made out of rubbery plastic.

After doing that for a while, I couldn’t resist the temptation of “challenging” her to a “fight”. During the last 14 months or so, I have read quite a lot about hapkido and martial arts (also written about it on this blog), learned about the theory behind them and I am also proud to be able to say I have gained a couple of kgs of muscles, from my own regular work outs. Would my increased theoretical knowledge of martial arts and my additional muscle strength make any difference facing a professional hapkido expert like my wife? While all logic and my brain said no, I admit my ego still kind of hoped it would: that maybe I’d be able to surprise her and just maybe I could find a way to take advantage of being so much taller, heavier and stronger than her.

As you might have guessed, when I faced Leticia this morning it quickly became very clear that logic and my brain was was very much right and my ego very much wrong. I certainly gave it my best effort, but just as before, Leticia had an answer to everything I could come up with. The result was the familiar scene of me getting repeatedly thrown, flipped and swept to the floor and having my limbs tied into knots and joints bent into highly uncomfortable positions – and having no choice but tapping out and declaring my surrender, to get out. I kept trying for about 30 minutes, until I felt my butt had taken enough of whooping for one day (and with my frustration levels hitting the roof haha). By then I had lost count on how many times she had put me on the floor or made me tap.

So after a quick break and drinking from the water bottles, we went back to her showing me how to best kick and punch the mock up torso guy with the weird head. She also showed me how to get out of some common grabs and holds. On the whole the two hours with my wife in the martial arts studio turned out to be a lot of fun and quite the work out. I still feel now, hours later! It was also a reminder of just how skilled she is at her martial art and what a huge difference those skills make.

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The five best martial arts for women’s self defense

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On this blog, I have focused on hapkido as a martial art and a way of self defense for women – obviously because this is the martial art that my wife teaches. Of course there are several other great martial arts out there. So I thought it could be interesting to make a list of what might be the five most effective martial arts for women’s self defense. So here we go!

Jeet kune do

Jeet Kune Do was founded by the famous martial artist Bruce Lee, who aimed at taking most effective martial arts techniques from several different of styles and mix them into a new martial art. Jeet Kune Do teaches its students to deal with attacks as quickly and efficiently as possible – and to not shy away from fighting “dirty”. Among other things, Jeet Kune Do students learn how to hit the closest target on an attacker, with the closest/fastest way available. As I understand it that for example means you don’t kick the attacker in the head, if your hands are closer to his head than your feet are. Striking an attacker in the eyes with the fingers would be an example of a Jeet Kune Do defense. Jeet Kune Do is a good art for women to learn because it teaches women how to escape dangerous situations as quickly as possible, before the danger has an opportunity to escalate.

Taekwondo

Just like hapkido, taekwondo is a Korean martial art – however it is much more widely spread and well known than hapkido. After all tae kwon do is even an olympic sport. The term Tae Kwon Do more or less means “the way of kicking and punching.”  However, taekwondo has many effective self-defense techniques. Taekwondo is particularly well suited for women because of the art’s emphasis on kicking. As everyone knows, men generally have more upper body strength than women, which can leave women at a disadvantage when attacked by a man. However, taekwondo equips women with an arsenal of devastating kicks that can help combat the upper body strength of male attackers.

Brazilian Jiu jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – or BJJ – has become very famous, since many competitors in the UFC use Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in their matches. The grappling techniques of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be very beneficial for women to learn for self defense. Sexual assaults and other attacks against women often end up on the ground. Because Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has a strong emphasis on ground fighting, it can help women learn how to defend themselves when on the ground and even when pinned underneath male attackers. You learn a variety of submissions. Chokes, cranks and joint locks are are examples of submissions taught to students. Chokes cut off an opponent’s air/oxygen supply, joint locks put add breaking pressure on a joint and cranks twist an opponent’s bodies into unnatural positions, which causes a great deal of pain.

Another reason why BJJ is great for self-defense is because the techniques use leverage instead of pure strength, so size doesn’t matter. Apart from the ground techniques, you also learn how to take an opponent to the ground using throws and sweeps. Through physics, you can turn a bad position into an advantage. Trapping the legs and arms of an opponent can put them off balance and move you from being pinned on the floor to being in charge. BJJ teaches fighters to use leverage and proper weight distribution to defeat larger and/or stronger opponents.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga is an Israeli art that has gained some popularity. It is the official self-defense system of the Israeli Defense Force and it teaches its practitioners how to deal with armed and unarmed attacks. Women can benefit from Krav Maga because it helps the students to keep calm and focused when under the extreme stress of an attack and how to use various parts of their bodies, like elbows and knees, as weapons when necessary.

Krav Maga was originally developed specifically for the Israeli military and draws on techniques from other martial arts, including jiu jitsu. It is very good for women’s self-defense because you are taught to go for the vulnerable parts of an attacker – like eye gouging, foot stomping, and kicks to the groin. Unlike some martial arts that spend time teaching students how to get points in competitions, the only goal of Krav Maga is to defend yourself.

Hapkido

As readers of this blog know, I can personally testify to the effectiveness of hapkido for women’s self defense, as my wife has showed me. One of the reasons is that hapkido students are taught how to redirect an attacker’s force and use it against him. This means it does not require the woman to be very strong in order for her to defend herself against a big and strong male attacker. Hapkido also teaches a wide variety of techniques for joint locks, throws, sweeps and submission holds, as well as Krav Maga style “dirty” fighting with strikes and kicks to the most vulnerable parts of an attackers body.

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Non Resistance to Force – how smart skills beat size and raw strength

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I am a fit, healthy man – 184 cm (about 6’1”) tall and weighing 85 kg (187 lbs). My wife is significantly smaller, lighter and physically weaker, at 167 cm and about 57 kg. Yet, as noted before on this blog, there is no way I can overpower her, no matter how hard I try, because of her expertise in the martial art of hapkido. One of the main reasons this is possible, is the principle of non resistance to force – a fundamental concept in hapkido. 

Curious as I am, I’ve listened to my wife explaining how this non resistance principle works and I’ve also searched more information about it online, to better understand how it works. I find it very interesting! So in the post, I’ll try to explain the basics of it and how it can be so powerful and effective as a principle of self defense!

Behaving like water
In hapkido theory, the principle of non resistance is often compared to water, as a metaphor. Water is a simple substance, yet it is one of the key building blocks of all life on this planet. As a liquid, water has the ability to flow continuously in a steady stream and to adapt to changing circumstances it encounters. Ideally this is how the energy of a hapkido practitioner should work to! For example, if a big heavy rock is placed in its path, water adjusts its course to flow around, over, or under the obstacle. Similarly, the hapkido practitioner doesn’t try to force her defense against the power and momentum of the aggressor. Instead, she “fluidly” adjusts her own position and adapts to the attacker’s moves and momentum. While maintaining balance and adjusting to the speed or angle of an assault, the primary objective is to harmonize with the aggressor’s movements, using his own energy to counterattack. Thus, adding very little additional effort, the defending hapkido practitioner is able to re-direct the attacker’s power against him. This causes the attacker to lose his balance. Studying hapkido revolves a lot about the ability to adapt and respond to any given situation. With enough practice (and I would assume talent) the techniques will flow naturally, instinctively and effortlessly through the practitioner.

Water wave

Use the attacker’s own momentum and force
In other words, the principle of non-resistance, is very much about remaining calm and relaxed in the face of a physical attack and not directly opposing the attacker’s strength. As a practical example, if an attacker grabs the hapkido practitioner and pushes her in order to force her down on the ground, rather than resist and push back, the hapkido practitioner would avoid a direct confrontation by moving in the same direction as the push and utilising the opponent’s forward momentum to throw him.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall
Similarly if an attacker tries to hit the hapkido practitioner with a punch or knife stab, she would redirect the attacker’s force and thus adding the attacker’s own momentum and energy to her own. Once she has redirected the attack, the hapkido practitioner can execute any of a huge variety of techniques to incapacitate the attacker. If these principle and associated techniques are mastered and executed to perfection (which I understand is very much easier said than done) it then follows that the bigger the attacker is and the more energy he has, the better it is for the hapkido practitioner! Given the huge difference in skills and experience between me and my wife, this is exactly what happens when I face her. The harder I try to overpower her, the easier it becomes for her to defeat me!

 

skilled girl kick

Yes I know, this gif doesn’t really have much of anything to do with this particular post, other than being really cool and kick-ass lol.