June 13, 2024


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12 Lessons in Character from the Art of Hapkido by KJN Jae Jeannotte

12 Lessons in Character from the Art of Hapkido by KJN Jae Jeannotte

Ernest Hemingway, the master of minimalist prose, once wrote, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” This sentiment resonates deeply within the Korean martial art of Hapkido. While self-defense is a core tenet, the true value lies in the journey – a path that refines not only the body but also the character.

Hapkido, meaning “the way of harmonizing energy,” emphasizes using an attacker’s momentum against them. Unlike forceful techniques, it prioritizes redirecting energy with fluid movements and joint locks. This philosophy extends beyond the physical, shaping the practitioner in profound ways. Here are twelve-character traits one can cultivate through the practice of Hapkido:

  1. Adaptability: Hapkido techniques are not rigid sequences. They are principles that adapt to the attacker’s size, strength, and aggression. The practitioner learns to “go with the flow,” remaining fluid and responding to the situation in real-time. This translates into life, where challenges often demand flexibility and the ability to adjust course effectively.
  2. Non-Violence: Hapkido prioritizes de-escalation and control over aggression. The goal is to neutralize a threat, not inflict harm. This fosters a mindset of seeking peaceful solutions in everyday conflicts. It doesn’t mean becoming a pushover; it means choosing a response that prioritizes safety for everyone involved.
  3. Balance: Hapkido requires a harmonious balance between physical strength and technique. A muscle-bound individual might struggle against a smaller, more agile opponent who understands leverage. This translates into life, where success often hinges on maintaining balance – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
  4. Humility: The road to mastery in Hapkido is long and humbling. Even experienced practitioners face challenges against more skilled opponents. This constant reminder of one’s limitations fosters humility, a crucial character trait. It allows one to learn from others, acknowledge weaknesses, and continuously strive for improvement.
  5. Respect: Hapkido emphasizes respect for oneself; one’s training partners, and even an attacker. It is a martial art built on cooperation, where partners train with the understanding that both benefit from the practice. This respect translates into everyday life, fostering positive relationships and fostering a sense of community.
  6. Discipline: Hapkido requires dedication and self-discipline. Mastering techniques takes consistent effort, pushing past discomfort and fatigue. This discipline spills over into other aspects of life, fostering a commitment to goals and the ability to persevere in the face of challenges.
  7. Patience: Learning Hapkido is a gradual process. Complex techniques are built upon foundational skills. Mastering a single throw might take weeks or months. This teaches patience, the ability to focus on the present moment and trust in the progress, knowing that mastery will come with consistent effort.
  8. Confidence: As skills develop in Hapkido, so does confidence. The ability to defend oneself and the knowledge of self-defense principles foster a sense of security and self-assurance. This newfound confidence translates into daily life, empowering individuals to face challenges and pursue goals with greater belief in their abilities.
  9. Awareness: Hapkido teaches constant vigilance and situational awareness. Practitioners learn to anticipate potential threats and identify escape routes. This translates into heightened awareness in everyday life, making one more observant of their surroundings and potential risks.
  10. Focus: Effective Hapkido requires laser focus. Each technique demands precise timing and coordination. This focus translates into life, where the ability to concentrate on the task at hand and eliminate distractions is paramount for success.
  11. Decision-Making: In the split second of a confrontation, a Hapkido practitioner must make a quick and decisive choice. The training scenario prepares one to assess the situation and react swiftly with the most appropriate response. This translates into sharper decision-making skills in real-life situations, allowing for clear-headed and immediate action when needed.
  12. Inner Peace: Hapkido is not solely about physical defense; it’s a journey of self-discovery. Through controlled breathing techniques and focus, practitioners cultivate a sense of inner peace and calmness. This translates into emotional resilience and the ability to manage stress more effectively in daily life.

Hapkido is more than just a martial art; it’s a philosophy for living. It equips its practitioners with the tools to navigate life’s challenges with grace, strength, and a quiet confidence. It’s a testament to Hemingway’s words – the journey itself is a rewarding one, shaping not just self-defense skills but also the very core of one’s character.

About the author: KJN Jae Jeannotte is a lifelong martial artist who has served as an officer in some capacity in several of the top Hapkido organizations in the world. He is the Founder of JaeMuKwan Hapkido which is recognized by several of the leading Korean organizations. KJN Jeannotte is also the Vice President of the USA Hapkido Union. For information on business coaching, hosting seminars or private lessons contact him through his Facebook page.

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