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A group of around fifteen Tech students and community members came together on the fourth floor of the CRC for one of three weekly sessions to practice hapkido, an art defined by the World Hapkido Association as “the Korean style of self-defense.”

Hapkido is a distinctively different style of workout compared to more traditional paradigms such as lifting weights and running, and even other styles of martial arts.

“I’ve seen plenty of people who are in really good shape from running, lifting weights and everything, but there are other muscle groups you wind up working in martial arts: dynamic balance muscle, stuff like that.  I’ve actually seen really in shape people cramp up.  It just works different muscle groups.  I personally think they’re a little bit more useful muscle groups because you’re using them all dynamically,” said Daniel French, the Hapkido instructor and second-degree black belt.

Hapkido training not only aims to improve physical techniques, but also helps to teach the student self-defense skills that can be applied in real life.  The class cycles through seven main topics which together form the overarching practice of Hapkido: grappling, strikes, weapons, joint locks, throws and falls, kicks and self-defense.

Unlike the popular “hard-style” martial arts taekwondo and karate, hapkido is mostly a “soft style” art.  French explains the difference between hard and soft style martial arts as a difference in the attitude towards usage of force.  Whereas hard style arts respond to force with opposing force, soft style arts such as hapkido and jujitsu emphasize the redirection of force into actions such as throws, grappling, and joint locks. Though hapkido leans more towards the soft style end of the martial arts continuum, it is still a general style that incorporates useful elements from other martial arts.

“We have hard technique as well as traditional soft techniques, so we still do punches and kicks because they’re actually really useful.  We blend those together,” French said.

Students and faculty members thinking of trying hapkido are advised to refer to the basic class schedule available on the CRC’s website. Class meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at 7:00 p.m. in the CRC’s Studio A and lasts until 8:30 p.m.

The class’s cost of $50 per semester is less expensive than most fitness classes and a good deal compared to some martial arts classes.

The instructor emphasized that  hapkido is open to all interested students and faculty who just want to try it out.

“Everybody’s always welcome to come and take classes.  You can watch, [or] you can come and participate in the class. People are always welcome to try it out,” French said.