3. Bowing in Martial Arts
In hapkido, as with most other martial arts, bowing is a symbol of respect. For example, bowing when entering or leaving the dojo or when stepping on or off the mats shows that you respect the facilities where you are training.
In addition, we bow in at the start of each class. With everyone on their knees, we face the flags on the wall and bow. We then face the instructors, bow, and say, “hapki,” which means power in harmony.
Finally, before and after we pair up with someone for a drill, we bow to show that we respect each other.
We all have moments when we are too timid to ask a question about a technique in class. However, waiting too long to ask a question about a technique can actually be detrimental to your training because you might end up practicing that technique wrong. This will build bad habits that you will have to eventually break.
Questions are a key part of a rich learning environment. If you have a question in class, don’t be shy. Remember, the only stupid question is the one left unasked. Also keep in mind that other students might benefit from any clarifications or repeated demonstrations that arise out of questions you ask.
5. The Tenets of Martial Arts
Becoming a martial artist is about more than developing athletic skills. A martial artist also has integrity by demonstrating control, confidence, respect, teamwork, self-discipline, and focus. These tenets will improve your martial arts skills by enabling you to perform better in class.
6. What Is “Kihap” and Why Do It?
Kihap (similar to the Japanese “kiai”) is the practice of using a short yell to enhance your performance while doing a technique. When you kihap, you increase the intensity of your technique while ensuring that you don’t hold your breath.
When should you kihap? Kihap upon impact of a kick, strike, or break fall; on every step of a technique; and when going into fighting stance.
7. Practicing Outside the Dojo
Practicing outside of class is crucial to advance to the next level. If you practice only inside the classroom, you will struggle to develop the muscle memory your body needs to master a technique. But how can you practice without mats, a Wavemaster heavy bag, or a partner?
The key to practicing at home is to focus on your form. You can practice kicks and strikes in front of a mirror, keeping a keen eye on the details we cover in class, including keeping your arms in and rotating your hips. For drills that require a partner, ask your friend, roommate, parent, or imaginary friend to join you while you slowly walk through all the steps just before the actual throw or joint lock. Remember, the more you put into martial arts, the more you will get out of it.