With the circle, as with water, we see a form that is inherent in nature and that manifests itself in myriad ways within the world around us. The idea of circular motion is also central to the execution of technique in Hapkido. In many styles of martial arts the direction of movement, and thereby energy, is linear. While this type of movement is not to be underestimated, other styles of martial arts such as Tai Chi Chuan, Ba Gua Zhang, and numerous other “soft’ or “internal” styles, utilize primarily circular movements as a means of defense. In Hapkido, sweeps, throws, and joint-locks generally involve either a full or semi-circular motion in their execution.
The circular motion may be slow or rapid, graceful or powerful. This motion, when properly executed, can generate momentum forceful enough to subdue any opponent. Combining an attacker’s power with one’s own in a circular motion results in highly effective defensive maneuvers.
The three basic steps in completing a technique while applying the Circle principle are redirection, absorption, and joining.
- Redirection: While a defender might instinctively block an opponent’s punch, this reaction alone is ineffective. By quickly maneuvering into a more favorable position one can deflect the oncoming blow, instantly redirecting the opponent’s energy. Redirecting this power by a simple side step and parry motion allows a defender to reposition him or herself for a counterattack.
- Absorption: Once more favorably positioned the defender is prepared to absorb the energy of the opponent through an effective counter maneuver. Combining the power of the attacker with the energy generated by his or her own circular motion, the defender is able to complete the second step of the technique, absorption.
- Joining: Once the defender has successfully redirected and absorbed the force of the aggressor, he or she must only initiate a twist, throw, or joint-lock technique to neutralize the opponent. The synthesis of these maneuvers completes the physical concept of the circle principal. Diligent training will reveal to the Hapkido practitioner the relevance of the circular motion to not only martial arts, but moreover to life beyond the dojang (Hapkido School).