What is Hapkido's greatest strength and at the same time it's greatest weakness? I think it's the fact that you need an uke. Uke is the word Japanese and Korean grappling arts use for a training partner.
You really only need three things to learn Hapkido. A teacher, a student, and ...an uke. This sets Hapkido apart from almost every other Korean martial art.
For example one could do Tae Kwon Do forms solo all day and get a pretty good workout. But Hapkido has no forms. I was once asked to give a demonstration of Hapkido and all I could do was smile and say well... grab me. Without a physical person in contact with you Hapkido is too abstract and to ethereal to even really demonstrate.
Often the Hapkido Online students greatest challenge is to simply find a person to regularly practice with. For those of you that are married with an understanding and patient spouse you have an edge. If you have mostly grown children that happen to have an interest in Hapkido then you
have Hapkido training wealth.
The uke is also what makes Hapkido great! How many other martial arts show you so graphically what your techniques can accomplish?
Unlike learning a form applying a technique to an uke actually puts you
in contact with another human being and teaches you volumes about humans and movement, every time you do it.
While almost all martial arts have sparring (Hapkido too) the reality is that sparring must be safely kept under control or people will get hurt. Applying techniques to a Hapkido uke is also done with great control to prevent injuries. But each technique is carried till uke feels pain and taps. Hapkido people are accustomed to pain because they feel it every practice and they know how to deal pain out to an opponent.
The best uke's are noncompliant. The very best have a scale of compliance. The first few times you do a technique they are relatively compliant but as you gain skill a good uke increases the difficulty level. When you are
highly advanced doing the techniques an uke makes it a challenge for you. A good uke makes you earn every single joint lock, the hard way.
One thing that might set Hapkido Online apart from traditional Hapkido training is that while we learn break-falls and rolls we rarely employ them in actual practice. We instead prefer to do a technique till the uke is about to tip over and is in pain and tapping. We call this Tipping Point training. In so doing, believe it or not, our training is actually more realistic. It's more realistic because on the street the average person doesn't have
the wherewithal to roll with a joint lock. The lock that might have thrown an
experienced uke that rolls with it would actually cause absolute joint
destruction to a non trained person.
Also I've seen way to many flashy Aikido and Hapkido schools that get so caught up in the roll they seem to have lost the technique that might (I stress might) have caused the roll to begin with. It looks impressive to see a full grown person get thrown through the air and roll and pop on their feet.
But... We aren't here to impress. We are here to learn Hapkido.
True Hapkido isn't really all that visually impressive or pretty. A Hapkidoin
moves his joint lock just a fraction of an inch and his attacker cries out in
pain crashes headlong into the very, very, solid ground ruined.
I believe a standing uke simulates these conditions far better than one
preparing to tuck and roll.
So in summation, the uke means you need a friend to learn. You cannot learn alone. While this is a weakness because you must have another person on hand to practice; in a way it's also a strength. This keeps Hapkido from wandering away from combat effectiveness. Have you ever seen Tai Chi
practitioners in the United States and compared them to Tai Chi in China. The U.S. version is with rare exception little more than dance. It is best
to embrace Hapkido's social necessity and just start a club that meets
regularly. You will find that you look forward to having a good laugh while you and your friends practice Hapkido together.
Teacher and Hapkido Online Developer.