Secret of Hap Ki Do


Peel an onion sometime. Strip the skin, pull off the first layer and there's another like it below. Pull off the second, you find a third ... strip the third and there's a fourth ... all the way to the core.

Do the same to your martial art. What happens when you peel away the punches, the kicks, the forms and the sparring? Do you find more of the same? Is that all there is?

The ancients taught us that form rules substance. Within everything, there is a quintessential essence, a guiding spirit, a "form" which gives it its true and unmistakable identity. It's in the onion, even though we can't see it. It's in the martial art, even though we may have yet to discover it.

Whatever your style, martial arts are the transformation of concept into reality. Fundamental to growth in the martial arts is adherence to a strict philosophical course which ultimately leads to indomitable spirit,  impeccable attitude and ability to convert your knowledge into action.

Photo Sequence #1

The principle of non-resistance is as simple as escaping from a choke by stepping back with your left foot. The final image demonstrates how this position opens up opponent's vital facial targets to counter.

Practitioners of Hap Ki Do underscore the spiritual/philosophical foundations of the art. The name Hap Ki Do translates to the "way of coordinated power", but also gives rise to other translations, such as the "centered path", or the "way of the unified spirit". Whatever the translation, the implication is clear that Hap Ki Do changes the practitioner, elevating him or her to a new level of consciousness.

It brings to mind the story of the magician's apprentice. The disciple was commanded to learn the "secret of water." His task was to take a container of water, freeze it and thaw it for one thousand cycles, then report back to the wizard with the "results". Some years later, the apprentice was asked the "secret of the water." Having mastered the discipline and patience necessary for the experiment, he replied, "I am the secret of the water. It is I who have changed," after which he brazenly drank the water, to prove his point. His teacher smiled with satisfaction.

In Hap Ki Do, there are three guiding principles, and from these three wells spring the distinct combination of philosophy, physical movement and fighting style which is uniquely Hap Ki Do. Like the magician's apprentice, the student of Hap Ki Do embarks on a course of discovery lasting years and ends only when he or she has come to terms with the "secret of Hap Ki Do."

The Principle of Non-Resistance

First comes the principle of non-resistance. Philosophically, this parallels Funakoshi's Shotokan maxim that, "The first move holds no real advantage." The principle of non-resistance sets the standard that the student of Hap Ki Do is not to be the aggressor. Still, the concept runs deeper. Resistance is a tactic of size and power. Non-resistance is a strategy of mind and technique. The starting point in Hap Ki Do is the premise that you study the art to cultivate peace and harmony. However, if threatened, you will have the discipline to accept your adversary's attack or aggression and to neutralize it through correct application of strategy and technique.


The Circular Principle

In Hap Ki Do, the student learns that power travels in circular arcs. Learning how to package power in circles, and to use circular movement to your advantage adds a new dimension to your self defense strategies.

Have you ever played "Battle of the Titans" with a sparring partner? That's when both of you have such similar fighting habits that you begin to feel like you're standing in front of a mirror. When you throw a kick, your opponent throws a kick, feet sometimes colliding in mid-air. As the fight unfolds, bodies bang, legs crunch and noses bleed. Bowing out, you wonder whatever possessed you to do martial arts in the first place.

Mastering the circular principle means goodbye "Battle of the Titans". When your opponent attacks, you instantly glide to where his attack will not connect and from where you can safely counter.


Photo Sequence #2

Employing "circular" power, defender flows away from opponent's punch, cups his right hand around opponent's neck, and literally "slams" opponent onto the ground.

The Water Principle

The blades sparked in the moonlight as the attacker lunged forward to deliver the fatal stroke. The defender's dark figure appeared to embrace the incoming silhouette. Suddenly, the cold sound of metal dancing on concrete. The defender and the attacker appear to be moving not as adversaries but as one person, except that the defender's control is absolute. In seconds, the attacker is on the ground, completely subdued.

This is the water principle. And whether you know it as the water principle or not, it symbolizes the highest level of martial arts development.

Just as water can shape mountains and carve canyons, the first step in understanding the water principle embodies the apparent contradiction that even while enacting the most effective defense, we merge with our opponent, embracing his directed energy, and in the embrace, cause his energy to dissipate. When he thrusts, we recede; when he retreats, we fill the void. That is the water principle. Though we are initially apart from our opponent, by applying the water principle, our movement becomes one with his. We, together, become as one. In the end, there is only one movement.

Mastering the water principle means always having the next move at hand. Water flowing downhill comes upon innumerable obstructions, yet always enacts the perfect response. No matter how the opponent attacks, we are confident and at home knowing that without even thinking about it, we will produce the right move to neutralize our opponent's intent.



Photo Sequence #3

The water principle...defender simply "accepts" the attack, then systematically erodes attacker's power and stance.  Notice defender's placement of right knee into opponent's rear right leg and how that move can become a knee dislocation when attacker is brought to the ground.  Now, look at the second picture.  Can you see that defender's right leg was already in position when he executed the initial block?  That's the water principle!














The Secret of Hap Ki Do

The principle of non-resistance, the circular principle and the water principle characterize the essence or soul of Hap Ki Do. The student who has mastered the art of Hap Ki Do is guided by the three principles at all times, whether at the gym, at the office or idling in traffic. These same three principles make the student a better martial artist and a better human being. As with the magician's apprentice, the Hap Ki Do student may also expect the day when the master will ask, "What is the secret of Hap Ki Do?" The response can only be, "Sir, I am the secret of Hap Ki Do." And looking at your progress over the years, the master grudgingly approves, knowing that student and art have again become one.













Photo Sequence #4

Tying it all together...can you identify the three principles of Hap Ki Do in this photographic sequence?



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