Sunday, 30 April 2017

Respect in Hapkido

The Hapkido that I teach was not designed to be conducted like an aerobics class. Hapkido, generally speaking is military in its origins. The formalities, and by this I mean all the bowing, showing respect to higher ranking students and instructors and anything else a lay person might view as not furthering the study of Hapkido, are in place for a reason.

Some people have felt that bowing interferes with some religious beliefs. Hapkido is not religious. Bowing in Asia is like shaking hands in the West, there is nothing religious about bowing. It is simply a sign of respect. Bowing before entering the dojang to train is to show respect for the training hall. It also shows respect for all those coming before you. It is also checking your ego at the door. Understanding that you do not already know all there is to know is very important in Hapkido. If you feel that you know all there is to know, it would be impossible to learn anything new. Or as the old adage goes, a cup that is already full can hold no more.

Where else do formalities come into play? There is a general level of respect that should be transmitted between those that we train with. We have to trust each other; this is absolutely vital. I can’t say this strongly enough, it is VITAL that we TRUST. We are striking, throwing, and doing other techniques of supreme unpleasantness to each other. We have to trust that our partners will use control and precision in their techniques. If they don’t we will be seriously injured at minimum. If we do not have the proper respect for each other we might not take our endeavour with the seriousness required. Mutual respect is so important in Hapkido and it cannot be understated. You can’t play with death and serious injury in a haphazard method. Formalities are used to foster this mutual respect.

What about rank? As one moves through the belt system of Hapkido expectations on that student increases. The more advanced the student the more they are looked at to be not just examples of excellent form and technique but also to be models of humility and respect within the Dojang. A black belt or high ranking colour belt is an example to the lower students. The high ranking students set the tone for the lower students. This is in terms of how people are addressed and how formalities are conducted in the school.

In short, formalities is about respect. The building of respect is necessary in military organizations and it should be no surprise that it exists in Hapkido. Respect for the training area and each other is necessary due to the serious material that is covered in traditional Hapkido. A lot of what happens inside the training hall may look strange to the lay person but there is a reason and it has nothing to do with people trying to feel self important or superior to others

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