Re: Aikido v.s. Hapkido
There isn't much difference in the principles of the two arts. In HKD, the 3 core principles are:
Circular Motion (fairly obvious, same as Aikido)
Efficiency (maximum result for minimum effort)
Water (strong and unyeilding, yet capable of conforming to the true shape of the container without loosing its true esscence)
These pretty much mirror the same in Aikido, though expressed in different terms (eg diamond, water, willow, ki). Both focus a lot on internal energy development: you'll see the same sorts of exercises such as unbendable arm et al. The one small difference that I tend to see is that HKD puts a lot of focus on what is called hara breathing in Aikido and developing that right from the start: It is fairly usual for a lesson to start or finish with 5 minutes of breathing exercises.
On the spiritual level, I think you'll find far more religous overtones in Aikido than you will in HKD. I think you'll find this derives from the differences in how the founders viewed the world. O'Sensei wanted to unite the world and had very strong religious influence in his personal life. Choi was very practical and most of his early students had already studied other striking arts or Judo and it was being used for real martial purposes (body guards for the Korean politicians, special forces etc). As a result there's far less of the "lofty goals" that you normally see associated with Aikido. Most of the training and written words about HKD tend to be about the techniques, and not where to go in life.
The only other area that seems to be quite different is their approach to change. Aikido teachers and practitioners seem to be very focussed on the core art and trying to refine their understanding of it and the principles involved. Hapkido tends to go the other way - adapt to whatever is current and add new techniques as needed. There's a story about how the founder got started in Korea after returning from Japan where Choi had learnt the art (FWIW, the early history of just where Choi got his training is subject to quite a lot of controversy - many claim that there's no possible way that Choi learnt Daito Ryu from Takeda). The first time he was challenged in a line waiting for some rice and a he dropped the challenger quickly and effortlessly. The owner of the mill happened to witness this and invited Choi to teach him. The owner was already proficient in Judo, so Choi started adding techniques to defend against Judo attacks. Later on, the young fit guys were doing a lot of kicking from Karate and the early days of Tae Kwon Do, so kicking was added to the art. Even more recently, a lot of grappling has been added. I once read a quote that sums up HKD's approach, that I quite like - "Hapkido, the original MMA".
Dirk: The fitness/athletic ability thing is highly dependent on the school. My own school does not work on that much at all. We focus on fitting the art to the person's capabilities, whatever they are. For example, one of the two head teachers has congenital knee defects, so kicking and pivoting on the knees are torture to her, yet the other head teacher does really high jump spinning kicks in his sleep. That teacher with the bad knees had both of them replaced last week, so it's pretty likely her training will take a further change in approach in the future. However, neither is any less effective than the other in free practice.
I think that covers anything. Feel free to keep asking more questions. I'll try to answer to the best of my knowledge and without favourtism to either side (I train in both concurrently, as well as some TKD and Tai Chi as well so I have a reasonably balanced view of strengths and weakness of each).
Last edited by justinc : 05-02-2006 at 10:51 PM.