By Yanyi Ma
This martial art trend is easy to learn and you don’t have to be a musclehead
With summer upon us, and school out of our heads, it’s time to get active and in shape! Amidst the growing popularity of yoga, Pilates and kickboxing, fitness enthusiasts are looking to a new form of workout that transforms spiritual energy into kick-butt actions. A lesser-known martial art called Hapkido uses circular, flowing motions rather than straight-angled moves. It’s easy to get into its spirit of fun and empowerment.
Prior to steadily becoming a North American fitness trend, Hapkido was one of the most popular martial arts in Korea. It started in the 1940s and is actually about defense, not offense (the most popular actor known for training in Hapkido—among other martial arts—is Jackie Chan). The principles of Hapkido involve circular energy, flow, and balance. It is all about using the opponent’s power against him- or herself. Its gentle and graceful style and movements are based on being in harmony with the circular motions of nature. This makes Hapkido unique among martial arts, because it emphasizes flowing techniques rather than force. Because of this, it is easy to learn, and great for anyone looking for a good workout and self-defense skills without needing to earn a black belt. It also uses a variety of arm and leg joint locks, throws, kicks, hits, and weapon-based and nerve pressure techniques.
Hapkido is a growing martial arts form that teaches self-defense and builds self-esteem, discipline, and self-respect, making you happier, healthier, safer, and smarter.
Editor’s Note: One of the most famous and charismatic figures alive today in Hapkido is Master Hwang In-shik. He has trained many but none more famous than Jackie Chan while he worked in the Hong Kong martial arts movie scene in the 1970s. From there he moved to Toronto and opened his own Hapkido school, and taught the founder of Faze and her teenage niece! Interested? Check out Eagle Hapkido.
What is it about martial arts?
The majority of modern martial arts originated in Asia (some more well-known martial arts include Judo, Karate, and Kung Fu), but other popular martial arts include Brazil’s Capoeira and American Boxing. Martial arts have gained popularity with classic action films featuring Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li. More recently we are seeing female martial artists, such as Uma Thurman, Ziyi Zhang (Memoirs of a Geisha, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon), Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Garner (as Sydney Fox in Alias), and Zoe Bell (Grindhouse).
Martial arts classes are offered at most fitness club and community centres. Part of their appeal is their multipurpose training: self-defense, self-esteem, self-respect, and better self-image. They are a great workout because they are strenuous but do not require much physical strength. Also, martial arts are a way of pumping up your adrenaline, and exerting the pent-up energy accumulated over the school year. And did you know that working out produces hormones called endorphins that make people healthier and happier? Experts have also concluded that teens should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. Taking up martial arts is a much more interesting and exciting way to burn calories and get in shape than running for an hour on a treadmill (if you can manage even that). Not to mention that exercising in general helps people age better and live longer.
More Fun Workout Ideas
Work up a sweat with moves that you can use at parties.
Try this mixture of breakdancing and martial arts and learn Halle Berry’s secret for squeezing into that Catwoman outfit.
Use a fitness sword to shape the upper and lower body while building strength (think Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill movie series).
Develop an awareness of balance and relaxation. Strengthen muscles like you do in yoga, minus the flexibility.
Old school hula-hoops are back. This hybrid incorporates Pilates with core routines using hoops, fitness balls, bands, and foam tubing.