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Hankido is a martial art form that was created by an individual named Myung Jae-nam. This martial art style is relatively new and is characterized by a great many circular and fluid actions that stem from traditional dance moves in original Korean cultural dances. Myung Jae-nam had a background in traditional Korean styles of dance, so it is no surprise that his martial art form is largely influenced by the concepts of dance: fluidity and grace.


What’s In a Name?

The name of this martial art form includes a front half influenced by the name Hanguk, which is the Korean word for the area of South Korea. The name also includes a back half that is influenced by the popular martial art of hapkido. The resulting mashup is the name Hankido, a name that signifies the uniquely Korean origins of this martial art form. Hankido is meant to be a martial art form that is available to everyone for learning; it is truly an art form that is made for the people of Korea, regardless of economic background or previous training.


The three different hanja that make up the word Hankido also lend a great deal of insight into the philosophy behind this beautiful martial art form. Han, as mentioned before, refers to a broad knowledge of Korean culture and lifestyle. The second hanji is “Ki,” which is a life energy philosophy used in much martial arts training methods. The third hanji is “Do,” which can be translated as “The Way.” You do not have to be a rocket scientist to put together the meanings therein. The meaning behind this Korean martial art form’s name refers to the way in which the Korean peoples are able to increase and grow their inner strength and inner energy levels.



As mentioned before, Hankido was developed fairly recently by an individual named Myung Jae Nam. This man was a student of traditional forms of the martial art of hapkido, which he used as a backbone for the creation of his new martial art form: Hankido. Myung Jae Nam began to flesh out his ideas around the year 1980 and, upon establishing the art form, his idea was a rapid success among martial arts communities. His style mainly consists of graceful, elegant movements that are centrally focused on circular sequences and techniques. The use of these circle motions are intended to help an individual quickly gain control over his or her opponent. Since Myung Jae Nam was a very skilled dancer who specialized in traditional Korean dance forms, he was able to incorporate many dancing techniques into his martial art form. The dance aspect of Hankido even has its own name: Moo Yae Do Bub.


When Hankido was first introduced during the official games in the city of Seoul, the martial art form began to rapidly gain popularity throughout South Korea. Myung Jae Nam continued to develop his martial art form over the next consecutive years, and soon many of the martial art form’s weak points had been smoothed out. Soon, Hankido was one of the most popular martial art forms in the entire South Korean framework of martial arts communities. The martial art was made official in the year 1993, when it was given a trademark for the very first instance in history. Myung Jae was intent on spreading this martial art form outside of Korea. He began tours throughout Europe and the United States of America to aid in the promotion of his new martial art form until his passing eight years later. Many people around the world admire Myung Jae Nam for his creativity and passion for the martial arts.



Hankido techniques are varied and are considered to be aspects of an internal form of art in which a person’s inner energy and strength are more important than physical competence. The art form is considered very sophisticated by many practiced martial artists during present day. Before delving into the many different techniques of Hankido, we must first take a look at the three principles behind this martial art system. The principles and techniques listed may seem simple and even obvious to those who have never practiced martial arts, however you may find that they are far more difficult to act out than you may think.


The three principles of Hankido are collectively referred to as sam dae wolli. These principles are known as won, yu, and hwa. To learn more about these principles, review the following brief overviews:

      Yu. Yu is the principle that centers around fluidity and flow. If a technique goes badly and fails to flow in a natural fashion, the opponent is allowed to take a moment to regain his or her balance. A sense of flow also allows hankido students to “grow” their energy for an attack following the strike of an opponent. The flow of energy, or the concept of Yu, is often taught by making analogies. You may better understand the concept of flow by comparing Yu to a small ripple in an ocean that eventually turns into a huge wave, crashing violently against a cliff face.

      Hwa. This principle centers around the concept of harmony. Perhaps the most central principle behind the art form of Hankido, the principle of Hwa refers to the way in which a student must move initially “with” his or her enemy in order to take control of the situation. For instance, if you match your movements precisely with the movements of your opponent, you can “take” the action and make it your own, forcing your opponent to do what you want him to do. Hwa gives students ultimate control over opponents, which is a principle that is very necessary in this martial art form.

      Won. Won is a principle that describes the circular nature of Hankido techniques and movements. By working in a circular fashion, a student is able to successfully deflect his or her attacker’s movements by causing his or her opponent to experience a brief loss of balance. By accomplishing this, a student has truly weakened his or her opponent. Martial arts are very centered on the topic of balance, and nowhere could the concept of balance be more important than in Hankido. An opponent who has lost his or her balance is a weaker opponent since the opponent’s attacks can be counteracted and then controlled by the student upon the initial loss of the opponent’s balance.



The techniques used in Hankido are typically made up of three very fundamental exercise types known as jeonhwanbeop, simhwabeop, and yeognyubeop; these exercises refer to practice forms that more intensely study the circle principle, the flow principle, and the heart principle. These terms may be extremely daunting for those who have little background in martial arts systems. If you are feeling daunted or intimidated, we would like to encourage you to continue reading. While the terms may seem new and strange at first, you will soon find that the terms are second-nature. After taking a series of Hankido classes, you will begin to quickly develop a new and deeper level of perception of the martial arts.


There are twelve fundamental techniques used within Hankido for self-defense. The twelve self-defense techniques are closely intertwined with a group of 24 complimentary breathing techniques. Each of these 24 breathing techniques can be divided up into categories of “sky techniques” and “earth techniques” which reflect the concept of the well-known Chinese principle, Yin and Yang. Obviously, Hankido is not as simple as learning a set of techniques. It is far deeper, rich, and complex than that. However, learning the fundamental techniques act as a great way for beginners to learn the “backbone” of the art form. Each student of Hankido is expected to practice each of the techniques listed thousands of times until the technique is mastered:

      Self defense

      Dancing techniques

      Techniques involving strikes

      Techniques involving sparring

      The use of weapons

      Ki techniques

      The use of certain pressure points

      Visualisation and meditation

      A variety of breathing exercises


To learn more about the techniques behind Hankido, try taking the time to look up information found in other resources such as books, tapes, online articles, training manuals, etc. Most of these resources are easily accessible through a local bookstore or even the public library. The time and energy it takes to research Hankido more in depth is well worth the effort; you may discover a new favorite pastime and even a new way of life.


If you are interested in learning more about this beautiful and sophisticated martial arts system, try contacting a local teacher of a Hankido school near you. Most instructors are very friendly and would be more than happy to help answer any questions you may have concerning this much-loved form of martial arts. If you are a beginner, there is no reason to be daunted when you decide to take up martial arts. The majority of instructors are excited to welcome beginners and martial artists of all skill levels. 

Learn more about Hankido and Japanese samurai swords here at Swords Of The East.