At least 7 Reasons Women Should Learn Hapkido
Dr. Ronald W. Stone
American Dragon Martial Arts Academy
In this day and age making a distinction of the benefit of martial arts training between men and women is becoming less pertinent. More simply put, as the role of women in the job force increases and with today’s recognition that women are capable of more tasks than previously were allowed in a male dominated society, the more similar will be the benefits that training in Hapkido offer both males and females.
Traditionally one of the first benefits discussed whenever the subject of women in the martial arts comes up is the self defence aspect. The “women are the weaker sex” argument is always mentioned as a reason for them to consider training in the martial arts. While it is true that they are typically smaler and less muscular than their male counterparts, modern scientific studies have concluded that in most instances women are capable of more endurance and have a more resilient cardiovascular system than men.
With modern weight training techniques women can actually train to be more fit. While statistics as a class indicate they will never equal men in raw strength they often will surpass men in size to abilty percentages.
What doesn’t change however is the basic core hormonanal differences that put women at risk to aggression. By this I mean that the testosterone driven male will always desire to overpower or dominate his female counterpart. Usually ths is harmless and is either buried subconsciously or manefests romantically which most women can more than adequately handle verbally or with body language. In a small percentage of males however the sex drive or the desire to physically dominate and control the oposite sex is overwhelming and can result in cases of sexual aggression or domestic abuse.
Any woman can fall victim to these sorts of predators and things like age or physical appearance are sometimes not factors the predator concerns himself with. Being old, very young or atypical in appearance does not automatically elimnate a female from the threat of a predator or stalker.
The beauty of Hapkido is that it combines three fundamental principles, the water principle, the circular principle and the sum principle into a martial art that is ideal for female learners. Since it is both a hard and a soft art it utilizes the concept of not meeting force with resistence but rather being fluid when necessary, hard whenever possible and learning to use the opponents force against himself while concentrating one’s own Ki energy in a focused manner against specific Ki and pressure points, against weak joint angles and using leverage against the opponent.
Instead of meeting hard force with hard force which will always give the advantage to the taller, more muscular oponent, Hapkido teaches its students to avoid, absorb, redirect, and trap the opponents atacks. It demonstrates the areas of the body that are vulnerable regardless of muscular strength and teaches Ki energy techniques to overcome an adversary. Obviously this is an ideal form of defense for a women to learn (or a man for that matter).
Women are faced with a myriad of stresses such as the difficulties that arise with raising a family, running a household, working for a living, and simply trying to survive in today’s difficult economy. Central to Hapkido practice is the concept of Dan Jun breathing, meditation, stretching, and development of self awarness and self control. All of these techniques have been shown to increase mental awareness by increasing oxygenation to the brain as well as the rest of the body and causing the release endorphins which decrease mental stress. Learning to focus on the physical aspects of Hapkido training and to concentrate on something other than the everyday worries caused by problems outside the dojang will also help relieve stress. Similarly the social interaction with other students in the class can in effect create a sort of group therapy. One should never underestimate the mental benefit derived from meeting and interating with new friends. Often the relationship between friends as well as the bond that develops between instructor and student can be the best form of therapy for life’s worries.
Needless to say as one becomes more proficient and succeeds from belt level to belt level, the constant positive reinforcement that occurs along with the satisfaction of accomplishing a difficult task will clearly help with self confidence. This is yet another benefit for many women who often go for long periods of time feeling unappreciated or unrecognized. This is especially true of the full time housewife who has little time to herself outdise the house, or whose husband is so preoccupied at work that he doesn’t demonstrate as much appreciation as he should.
Today’s western woman also faces nutritional difficulties that were unknown fifty years ago. The increase in precooked, proccessed, or “junk food” when coupled with the increase in technology has created an environment where less physical activity occurs in daily life (i.e. driving instead of walking) and where faster but less healthy nutritional choices are made. TV dinners started the craze and now we have a serious nutritional problem in our country with extreme consequences in our female population. Obesity has become a western epidemic and more and more women are having cardiac problems than ever before. Furthermore, improper nutrition has led to an increase in osteoporosis with the resulting decrease in flexibilty, posture and overall bone strength.
Hapkido study, Dan Jun breathing and the exercises that accompany them will help a woman’s cardiovascular function. Hapkido includes a variety of aerobic and muscular strength exerciss. Proper stretching and stance development will help with flexibility and posture and the overall training regime helps improve overall muscular tone. It should be stressed here that simple dieting or fasting without a proper exercise and weight training regime to accompany it can have detrimental effects. It has been shown for example that constant fasting without proper supervision will actually pull proteins from the heart muscle and weaken the cardiovascular system. Too rapid weight loss can actually lead to an increase probability of cardiac arrest or thromboembolism. Hapkido study provides a balance of exercise, lung and mental conditioning that are ideal to accompany a wise dietary program.
Whether a woman seeks to improve her figure through weight control, to improve her physical condition, whether she seeks self confidence or worries about self defense, or even if she merely seeks to “get out of the house” for recreation and companionship, Hapkido is an excellent choice.